PITTSBURGH- On Saturday night the Robert Morris men’s hockey team (3-4-1, 2-3-1 AHC) looked to pick up the weekend sweep against the Niagara Purple Eagles (3-5, 3-3 AHC). Unfortunately for the Colonials, for the second weekend in a row, RMU squandered away the opportunity to pick up both wins in a weekend series with a Saturday night loss. Saturday’s loss saw the Colonials end up on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline.
Leading the charge on the night for the Colonials was freshman Nick Lalonde. Lalonde picked up both tallies for RMU on the night pushing his total up to three on the young season. Coach Derek Schooley said after the game about Lalonde’s performance, “Well Nick [is] a goal scorer and we expect that out of Nick.”
Another major contributor on the night for RMU was defenseman Eric Israel who assisted both of Lalonde’s goals on the evening. Israel also tallied an assist Friday night in the Colonials 3-1 victory.
As for the game, it was a close-knit affair and one that could just have easily gone in favor of the Colonials. However, this was not the case on Saturday. The first goal came in the latter stages of the first period as Niagara’s Alex Truscott buried a loose puck behind Colonials goaltender Francis Marotte to put the Purple Eagles up 1-0.
After the first intermission, it would not take much longer for the Purple Eagles to double their lead. Just over a minute into the period Pittsburgh native and redshirt sophomore Eric Cooley would cash in to make the game 2-0 in favor of Niagara. Cooley’s first goal of the season was assisted by sophomore Justin Kendall.
However, RMU would not go down quietly as they would answer back with a goal of their own towards the end of the period to cut the Niagara lead in half. Lalonde scored his first of the night by redirecting a shot from Israel. Kip Hoffman also assisted on the goal that brought the Colonials closer to Niagara at 2-1.
The Purple Eagles would retain their lead heading into the third period. Then just over five minutes into the period Niagara would restore their two-goal lead as a Ryan Cox beat Marotte to make the score 3-1.
Down two goals and with time winding down the Colonials turned up the heat on the Niagara defense. It seemed as though the puck could not leave the Purple Eagles zone for the better part of the third period as RMU poured on the pressure.
The Colonials pulled Marotte and added an extra attacker for as the clock continued to get closer to zero. As all hope was fading away Lalonde buried the puck past Niagara goaltender Brian Wilson to cut the Purple Eagle’s lead down to one with just under a minute remaining in regulation.
Unfortunately for RMU, the final nail in the coffin would come when Kendall would tack on an empty-netter to make the score 4-2. That would be all she wrote for the contest on Saturday evening.
Overall, the game was extremely chippy and saw each team take numerous trips to the penalty box. Combined, the two teams were called for a jaw-dropping 15 penalties. Several of these came as a result of roughing from post-whistle scuffles.
After the game, Schooley touched upon his team’s offensive performance. Schooley said, “We had 80 plus attempts, we had 34 shots, we just need to bear down around the net, we’ve got to start capitalizing.”
Up next for the Colonials are the Penn State Nittany Lions. PSU entered this weekend ranked sixth in the country in the USCHO.com poll. However, the Nittany Lions received their first loss of the season Saturday night as they were bested by the Arizona State Sun Devils 4-3 in overtime. This loss drops PSU to a record of 6-1.
RMU and Penn State will square off in a home-and-home series next weekend with the first game being at the Pegula Ice Arena on Friday night. This will be followed up by a Saturday night contest at Colonials Arena.