Atlantic Hockey: Leavens' three points propel Robert Morris past Niagara

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Going in, this game was technically a mismatch.

One team is pretty good, while the other one is bad. The records of the two clubs clearly illustrated that. And what was supposed to transpire definitely did, as Robert Morris University pummeled Niagara, 6-2, in front of 750 mostly quiet fans in Dwyer Arena.

After a bye week, Robert Morris will play Holy Cross in the Atlantic Hockey tournament in two weeks.

“It was a difficult game to play in because there was no flow,” said Colonials coach Derek Schooley, whose club improved to 14-10-3 in Atlantic Hockey action and 18-11-4 overall. “There were a lot of breaks, there were a lot of timeouts, reviews and all of that, but we did a very good job on special teams.”

The Colonials scored three power-play goals and a short-handed goal.

RMU scored the eventual game-winner when Alex Tonge deflected Brady Ferguson’s shot from the point past Niagara goaltender Jackson Teichroeb 3:39 into the second period to give the Colonials a 3-1 lead.

Ferguson and Timmy Moore each had a goal and two assists, while Daniel Leavens, Eric Israel, and Ben Robillard also scored for the Colonials.

Stanislav Dzakhov and Derek Brown scored for the Purple Eagles, who are now 3-22-2 in conference play and 3-27-3 overall.

“It is the first time this semester we had 12 forwards and six defensemen,” said Niagara coach Dave Burkholder. “That didn’t really help us, because we did not have too many guys that punched the clock and got after it. That was disappointing.”

The Purple Eagles will reportedly open the Atlantic Hockey tournament on Friday on the road in a best-of-three series at the Rochester Institute of Technology on Friday. However, Niagara officials were still awaiting confirmation from Atlantic Hockey.

Niagara will play the Colonials in its final regular-season game tonight at Heinz Field in downtown Pittsburgh. It is the second outdoor game for the Purple Eagles, who tied RIT, 2-2, on Dec. 14, 2013, at Frontier Field in Rochester.

RMU’s appearance in the outdoor game against Niagara is also the second in school history. The Colonials tied Bowling Green in Toledo back in 2012.

Sunday’s outdoor game is the second between Atlantic Hockey teams this season; Bentley played Army on January 5 at Boston’s Fenway Park.

Atlantic Hockey roundup

Sacred Heart 3, at Air Force 2 (OT)
Jordan Minello scored in overtime to give Sacred Heart an unlikely victory over the Cadets. Stephen Hladin scored twice for the Falcons. Air Force scored twice on eight power-play opportunities. The loss prevented Air Force from capturing the Atlantic Hockey regular-season title, which was taken instead by Canisius.

AIC 2, at Army 1  (OT)
Janis Jaks scored the winner in OT to lift the Yellow Jackets over the Cadets. Nicolas Luka tied the game late for AIC before Jaks won it in overtime. Taylor Maruay scored the lone Army goal.

Holy Cross 2, at Bentley 2 OT
Kyle Schmidt tied the game at 12:03 of the third period on a power play to give Bentley a 2-2 tie with the Crusaders. Max French scored the other Bentley goal, while Pete Crinella and T.J. Moore scored for Holy Cross.

RIT 7, at Mercyhurst 1
Seven different Tigers scored as RIT hammered Mercyhurst in its own building. Matt Abt led RIT with a goal and two assists. The Tigers outshot the Lakers 41-21.

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