Five thoughts on RMU’s thrilling overtime Victory over Niagara

Five thoughts on RMU's thrilling overtime Victory over Niagara

Amy Shubilla

Wagon Wheel Line keeps rolling

Once again, head coach Derek Schooley started off with the third line trio of sophomores Matt Cope, Greg Gibson, and Brandon Denham, a line that seems to always play well in the host city.

“They [play] very well in Rochester. I think they played very well at RIT earlier in the year…their energy is just outstanding and it really helps our hockey team,” said the bench boss.

The self-dubbed “Wagon Wheel “ line once again brought the energy and force and made an early statement as Gibson scored under three minutes in, while Cope added a goal mid-way through the second period.

Ever since being put back together late in the season, this line has been a source of energy for Robert Morris, and tonight as no different.

They weren’t afraid of getting in the face of the Purple Eagles. The line accounted for four points (two goals and two assists) and 14 of 43 shots. The trio was also the only set of forwards for RMU to have plus ratings in the third period.

The Purple Eagles turned on the pressure in the third frame, pinning the Colonials and the “Wagon Wheel” line deep in their own end. They forced bad shots and even though they weren’t able to clean the puck for what seemed like half an hour, they stood tall in front of freshman goaltender Dalton Izyk and were able to give energy to RMU when they needed it most.

They would be call upon to show the girt they’re known for in overtime, diving after pucks and charging hard into the corners and doing whatever was asked of them.

In Schooley’s words, “They gave it their all.”

Pedal to the Metal

Robert Morris set the tone in the first period, being very aggressive on the fore check and catching the Purple Eagles off guard, putting the pressure on Niagara goaltender Jackson Teichroeb.

On the back end, the defense did a great job of forcing Niagara to take bad percentages shots, with most rushes into the offensive zones, ending with one shot on net and the Colonials going on the offensive.

While Niagara did outshoot Robert Morris 55-43 overall, the Colonials definitely had the much better grade-A chances. From Cody Wydo’s two breakaway oppurtunities in overtime to Zac Lynch’s odd-man rush with a shot that ended up hitting the post to Scott Jacklin point blank chances in overtime, Robert Morris floored the preverbal gas pedal and never let up.

Surviving the Second

Even Superman has his Kryptonite, and for Robert Morris this season, it’s been the second period.

The Colonials jumped on Niagara in the first, but it was the Purple Eagles who caught the Colonials off guard in the second. The ice was tilted heavily in favor of Niagara for the first ten minutes.

Niagara put immense pressure on Robert Morris and freshman goaltender Dalton Izyk. The freshman and the team responded, blocking shots and taking the body forcing Niagara to go wide when entering their offensive zone and making them take low percentages shots.

The result was a goal off the stick of aforemention “Wagon Wheel” line memberCope that got passed the glove of goaltender Jackson Teichroeb.

While the shot total for the second period said Niagara out shot Robert Morris 18-7 it was RMU who walked out of the second up 2-1.

 Dalton Izyk proving once again that’s he’s no ordinary freshman

In another outstanding performance, Robert Morris’s freshman goaltender Dalton Izyk played like a well-tested Stanley Cup Playoff veteran goalie.

The Oswego, New York Native, playing only an hour and a half drive from his hometown, stood tall in net for Robert Morris, stopping a career high 51 shots. With Niagara peppering Robert Morris with shots, Izyk did an incredible job tracking the puck, including making a few amazing saves during Niagara’s four power play chances.

After 60 minutes of regulation and giving up the two goals that would help Niagara tie the game with less than four minutes left.

Izyk’s thought process was an interesting one for a player who had just played 60 minutes and stopping 42 pucks.

“To be honest I felt better in overtime then in the previous period,” said the netminder.  “I got my second wind and I played really well.”

Izyk’s record has improved to 4-0-0 in his season’s A-H-A playoffs.

Get the dancing shoes

Reaching the AHA semifinals at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York was a baby step into uncharted waters. The Colonials now look to take a leap into those waters.

With a victory Saturday night over Canisius, the reigning tournament champions, the Colonials, for the first time in the program’s ten year history, will punch it’s ticket to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Making it to the 2014 Frozen Four at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelpha, PA would be the icing on the cake of what has been an incredible turnaround for RMU.

Especially after finishing 2-12-2 in the 2013 portion of the season, the Colonials turned it around in the second half, going 11-4-3. Now they’re just one game away from the big dance.

When Schooley was asked about the Griffins, who themselves are coming off a double overtime win over top seed Mercyhurst and looking to repeat as tournament champions, he kept it short and simple.

“To be a champion, you got to beat the champion.”