Billings lifts Niagara in double-overtime, forces decisive third game


Walker Sommer attempts a shot against Noah West in the Purple Eagles’ 3-2 double-overtime win against RMU. Photo Credit: Nathan Breisinger

Tyler Gallo

NEVILLE TWP– Forward Darcy Walsh, who played the role of hero in the first game of the series in overtime, said, “the toughest game is ending someone else’s season.” The Colonials were aiming to do just that in the second game of their series against Niagara.

Niagara made that sentiment reign supreme as they took part in the longest game in Robert Morris history, winning it 3-2 in double-overtime.

Despite the loss, head coach Derek Schooley praised his team’s effort in overtime and looks to tomorrow for a stronger effort.

“I thought we were outstanding in the first overtime,” Schooley said. “We played hard down low, but we got a little fatigued [in the second overtime]. No shot in overtime is a bad shot, and [Niagara] proved that today.”

Around nine minutes into the frame, the Purple Eagles had the best offensive chance for either side to date following Geoff Lawson took an interference penalty. The Colonials made quick work of the early penalty kill after a few Niagara shots.

Similar to last night, Niagara struck first after Grant Hebert blocked a Walker Sommer shot. After a brief scramble in front, Jack Billings rifled a shot by Noah West to give the Purple Eagles a 1-0 lead.

All season long, the Colonials had a potent power-play, sitting at around 25-percent efficiency for the full season. This rang true on their first man-advantage of the night when Nick Prkusic made a sweet touch-pass to Justin Addamo in the right circle, who proceeded to fire it behind Chad Veltri and knot the game at one.

The Colonials faithful barely had time to sit back down as 52 seconds later, Ludwig Stenlund sat all alone in front of the net and made RMU pay, burying the puck to reclaim the Niagara lead. The score would remain this way at the end of the first period.

Robert Morris came out with a different energy in the second than displayed in the first period, hemming Niagara in their zone for several extended sequences. Their efforts finally paid off when captain Nick Prkusic made a beautiful windmill deke past Zac Herrmann, who lost his stick on the play, and scored to tie the game at two.

Both teams went on their respective power plays in the middle minutes, and despite heavy stress on the penalty kill in both teams’ offensive zones, neither side could get the tie-breaker.

The teams battled hard for the remainder of the second period, but neither side could crack the scoresheet, and like the first game, headed into intermission tied at two.

Eerily similar to the night before, the teams once again played tough to start the third with no team scoring in the first ten minutes of action. Prkusic gave Niagara a big chance to score by taking a tripping penalty, but RMU stood tall and killed it off.

Even with the energy being more intense and the teams fighting hard late in the third, the deadlock persisted and the game headed to overtime for the second-straight night.

As overtime began, RMU couldn’t sustain any zone time until about five minutes in when they got a few shots on Veltri, including a partial break from Justin Addamo that was snuffed out.

More scoreless time passed and the Colonials had a chance to score when they broke into the zone on a 3-on-2. Jordan Timmons had a wide-open chance to score, but Veltri snagged it and covered.

The teams played two extra-time games the regular season and made it two in the postseason tonight. After duking it out for another 20 minutes, the game headed to a second overtime.

On a broken play with 12:25 left in the second overtime, Jack Billings shot a bad-angle shot that snuck in over the shoulder of Noah West to seal Niagara’s victory and force a decisive game three tomorrow.

Veterans Justin Addamo and Nick Prkusic scored the goals in the game and Schooley looked towards them to potentially secure the victory in the third game.

“We have to draw from those [veterans] tomorrow if we want to win,” he said. “All of our guys need to step up. Every game from here on out is an elimination game, and we know what we have ahead of us. Hopefully, we can win game three.”

The deciding third game of the series will take place Sunday at 7:05 p.m.