MOON TOWNSHIP– Despite a valiant comeback, the Robert Morris University men’s hockey team (9-11-3, 9-7-3 AHA) dropped their Friday night matchup against last season’s conference champion, the American International College Yellow Jackets (12-11-1, 12-5-1 AHA).
In the first period, not much action occurred in the first ten minutes, with both teams trading a few shots, and Justin Kapelmaster leading the Colonials. It was AIC that struck first, as Yellow Jacket Martin Mellberg found paydirt, beating Kapelmaster during a scramble in front of the Colonials net.
RMU answered quickly, however, as Justin Addamo was able to fire a wrister past AIC netminder Stefano Durante to tie the game up at one goal apiece. At the first intermission, it was the same scoreline, 1-1. AIC had outshot the Colonials 15-11 in the period.
Midway through the second, the wheels started to fall off of the bus for the Colonials. Sophomore defenseman Nolan Schaeffer was given a game misconduct for an elbow with contact to the head, a penalty of which Coach Derek Schooley said “that was the right call,” going on to say, “as far as the rest of the game’s officiating, I won’t comment on that.”
The Yellow Jackets stung the Colonials twice on a five-minute powerplay. First, a cross-crease pass by Luka Maver found the stick of Nicolas Luka for the senior defenseman’s seventh career tally and furthering the Yellow Jacket’s momentum.
Less than thirty seconds later, AIC yet again found the back of the net as the AIC captain Hugo Reinhardt was able to beat Kapelmaster to increase the lead to 3-1.
AIC capitalized again on a powerplay as Colonial killer Blake Christiansen slotted home a Tobias Fladeby pass to put the Yellow Jackets up 4-1 heading into the third period.
Up to this point, Justin Kapelmaster had saved 27 of 31, but Coach Schooley pulled the plug on the Ferris State transfer, sending out junior netminder Dyllan Lubbesmeyer for his third appearance of the season.
Just over five minutes into the third period, Michael Coyne started the comeback for the Colonials, poking a loose puck past Durante to cut the lead to two.
After the game, Coach Schooley praised his team’s effort, saying, “We could have easily packed it in; commend our guys for hanging in there. That’ll give us some confidence headed into tomorrow.”
After Coyne’s goal, RMU gained some energy; as did the rest of Colonials Arena.
Bobby Mo again gave the Colonials faithful some hope as halfway into the final frame, the Finnish freshman, Santeri Hartikainen scored his third goal of the season on a laser of a wrist shot that beat the Yellow Jacket’s goaltender high.
On Hartikainen, Schooley mentioned, “We’re putting our guys who are our goal scorers out there [with the man advantage], the guys who’ve produced for us this year. It was a great shot; he started as out 13th forward and we gave him more ice time as the game went on. I expect us to have to give him more ice time tomorrow.”
RMU and AIC will rematch on Saturday, Jan. 25 at Colonials Arena on Neville Island. Puck drop for the game will be at 5:05 p.m.