Colonials tie Yellow Jackets in first of two game weekend series

Amy Shubilla

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Friday night, the Robert Morris Colonials hit the ice against the American International College Yellow Jackets for game one of a two game weekend series at the 84 Lumber Arena.

The Colonials came out the locker room with plenty of energy, possessing the puck for most of the first half of the period. Brandon Denham nearly gave Robert Morris the lead at the midway mark, but his sneaky shot from the high slot rung off of the crossbar.

“We had a good jump in our game,” said captain Colin South. “A lot of energy, getting pucks on net, getting pucks deep.”

A few minutes later, AIC capitalized on the powerplay with a one timer from Dominic Racobaldo that sailed over the catching glove of Colonial netminder Terry Shafer for the first goal of the game.

Five minutes later, Jon Puskar put AIC up 2-0 with a shot that trickled over a diving Terry Shafer.

With just over three minutes remaining in the period, Jeff Jones shot a pretty backhander over the glove of Hunter Leisner to lessen the Colonials’ deficit to one goal.  The first period ended with the Colonials trailing 2-1.

“With a couple mistakes, we were down two nothing right away,” South said. “[We] don’t like playing from behind. It’s pretty draining mentally, especially because everyone thought we had a really good start to the game.”

Early in the second period, the Colonials came out red hot again. While on the powerplay, Scott Jacklin rifled a wicked wrist shot to the top right corner of the net to even the game at two.

A few minutes later, as the Yellow Jackets flipped the puck out of their defensive zone, a Colonial defensemen jumped for the puck, but it bounced off of his glove. The puck landed in front a streaking Jason Popek, giving him a breakaway. He fired a shot past Terry Shafer, and just like that, AIC regained the lead.

It only took Robert Morris about twenty seconds to respond. Matt Cope fed Brandon Denham a pass from behind the net, who then lit the lamp for his third goal of the season to re-tie the game.

“I thought Denham, Cope and Gibson were outstanding in the first two period,” said Robert  Morris head coach Derek Schooley. “Their energy really filtered down to the rest of the team.”

With another penalty to the Colonials, AIC managed to capitalize on another powerplay as Blake Peake put the puck in the twine. The net dislodged just as the puck was crossing the goal line, and the referee signaled good goal. The second period ended with Robert Morris trailing AIC 4-3.

Nearly two minutes into the final period, Colin South gathered a puck that had found its way to the left circle with a pass from Jeff Jones. With a quick flick of the wrist, Hunter Leisner had no chance to get across the crease, and South put the puck into a wide open cage.

“[Jonesy] slid it out to me and I had a wide open net,” said South. “It’s not something you’d get every night, and I haven’t scored a goal in a while, so it was really nice to see.”

Both teams stuck to their defensive games for the conclusion of the third period, and the game headed to overtime.

The overtime period saw multiple scoring chances by both teams. With less than two minutes left, Robert Morris made a potential game changing mistake, as Zac Lynch was called for slashing. The penalty put AIC on the powerplay for the fifth time in the game. The Colonial penalty killers struggled for most of the game, but managed to hold the Yellow Jackets scoreless on the ensuing power play to leave the game in a tie.

“We don’t kill the penalty, we lose the game; we don’t get a point,” South said. “That [penalty kill] salvaged the game for us.”

The Colonials will take on AIC once again tomorrow, January 18, at 4 p.m. at the 84 Lumber Arena.

“We played with a lot of desperation and urgency. We didn’t really give them anything in overtime,” Derek Schooley said after the final buzzer. “That’s something we’ll try to build off of tomorrow.”

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