PITTSBURGH– The Robert Morris men’s hockey team (5-4-0, 5-1-0 AHA) has had a great start in the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA), and this continued this weekend with a sweep over Canisius (1-6-0, 0-2-0) during a home and home weekend series. Robert Morris was able to defeat Canisius in New York 4-2 on Friday thanks to a three-goal second period. Robert Morris was then able to defeat Canisius at home 4-2 with a three-goal first period Saturday.
This game was also the “Hockey for Heroes” night, which recognizes active members of the military, veterans and first responders. All of these members were given free admission to the game and were honored on the ice during the first intermission.
Robert Morris came out strong in the first, scoring three straight goals in less than seven minutes. The first of which being a nifty goal, as Jacob Coleman put a pass through his legs towards Grant Hebert as he tapped it in back-door. Brendon Michaelian also scored on a wrist shot from the left point that beat Jacob Barczewski. This marks back to back goals for Michaelian for the first time at the NCAA level which Derek Schooley calls “a player of the week type week for a defensive player.”
Then, only minutes later, Grant Hebert scored his first of the season as a pass into the slot found its way through bodies, and into the back of the net. For the second time in this series, Robert Morris had scored three quick goals in the period.
“Especially with it being a Saturday night I think we know we had to get going early trying to get the sweep. I think we did a good job of realizing what we had to do and we just kept working hard and putting pucks on net and good things happened,” stated sophomore defender Brendan Michaelian, who was given the locker room powdered wig as the player of the game.
Coach Schooley offered his thoughts on the Colonials’ big first period by saying: “We outplayed them big time in the first period.”
The second period saw much less action in terms of goals, with only one being scored. Luke Lynch buried home a one-timer on the first power-play of the night for RMU. This marked Lynch’s first goal of the season but Lynch is no stranger to scoring goals, Lynch was second on last year’s team with 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points in 40 games.
Despite a goal from a senior in Lynch, this year’s team has shown progress through the young freshman from last year’s team developing and becoming more confident as sophomores. Players such as the aforementioned Grant Hebert and Brendan Michaelian, as well as guys like Justin Addamo, Nick Lalonde and Aidan Spellacy have all established themselves as core members of this team moving forward.
“All the freshmen from last year have made big steps and big strides and I think we just have to keep doing that. The more we play I think that helps everyone’s confidence and we get used to it. So we just have to keep taking strides and we can be a really good D-core if we keep taking strides” added Michaelian on the sophomores on defense.
Going into the third period, the Colonials carried a 4-0 lead, but that changed halfway through the period as Canisius broke the shutout. Matt Long was able to chip in a dirty goal for the Golden Griffins and shorten the lead to three. Canisius then scored another goal short-handed thanks to J. D. Pouge, who slipped one past Justin Kapelmaster. RMU was able to hold on to the lead and closed things out with another 4-2 win over Canisius.
“It is tough to stick to your details when you got a 4-0 lead. It is human nature to relax, and both times in the third period we have relaxed and made the game closer and tighter than it should be. But I would rather learn to play with a 4-0 lead than trailing 4-0, that’s for sure,” stated head coach Derek Schooley postgame.
“You never want to let them back in the game, especially when you are up 4-0. I just think we have to have confidence in our group and we know we trust each other to get the job done,” commented Brendan Michaelian.
Justin Kapelmaster stopped 36 of 38 shots and has continued to be strong since coming over from Ferris State. Kapelmaster is currently sitting at a .961% save percentage and is one of the biggest parts of the Colonials’ early success thus far. Also, RMU is now 5-1 against AHA opponents despite being predicted to finish seventh in preseason polls.
“We wanted to prove them (preseason polls) wrong and come out hot. So far we have and have to keep it going now,” stated sophomore Grant Hebert.
Up next for the Colonials, they will take on yet another AHA opponent, this time on the road for both games. RMU will travel to Waltham, Massachusetts, for a match-up against Bently (3-5, 2-4 AHA) with games on Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday at 5:05 p.m.