Penalty kill shines while power play struggles

Alissa Dorman

Brooke Smith, Sports Editor

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  No team will ever be perfect.  They will all have their ups and downs and that is especially true for the Robert Morris University NCAA men’s hockey team.  While their power play has had their fair share of struggles, the penalty kill has been consistent for them all season.

  The Colonials currently have the top ranked penalty kill in the nation right now, going 120-129 on the penalty kill with a 93% success rate. They attribute their success to multiple things.  “There’s not one person trying to get rid of the puck on their own, we use each other to get the puck out,” said senior defenseman, Josh Jones.  “Plus I think everyone that’s on the PK has been on it three and four years so we have the system down and we know what it takes.”

  Senior captain, Trevor Lewis added, “I think we don’t really think about it too much.  We get a penalty and everybody is ready to go and we have the have the mentality that we will kill it with no problems.”

  While the penalty kill has been successful the power play has been struggling and they are working to figure out why. 

  “We couldn’t really tell you right now, we’ve been trying to figure that out all year. One thing that we know is that from being on the power play, we know we need to move the puck as quick as we can, we have the skill to produce on the power play,” said junior forward, Zach Hervato.  “It’s just when we try to do too many things or hold the puck too long we just have to stick with the plan, so it’s more or less just getting it in our minds that once we move the puck quick and get teams running our power play and our strategies will come through.”

  With the power play struggling, the Colonials are fortunate that they have a very successful penalty kill. 

  “It’s nice to have the PK going we’re both not struggling there,” said Jones.  “It’s coming around, but it’s nice to have the PK going.

  “That helps.  It’s good for us because it kind of gets evened out since our power play has been so poor this year,” said Lewis. “It’s something we’ve been working on a lot and hopefully we can get it going before and during playoffs and it’s something we can capitalize on when we get the chance.”

  Fortunately the Colonials have at least two more weeks until their first playoff game to get things turning in the right direction for the power play. 

  “Special teams are going to be huge come playoff time, the games are going to be tight 2-1, 1-0 games,” said Jones.  “There aren’t going to be big 6-4, 7-5 games so it’s going to be huge.”

  “You want to carry a lot of momentum into the playoffs, you don’t want to go in their cold, but at the same time you cant let stuff like that get in our heads because if we do have struggles with either of our special teams we cant let that effect the way we play in the playoffs,” added Hervato.  “Obviously we want to go into the playoffs with everything clicking as opposed to last year where we teaterd downwards towards the  end of the year and this year we want to move forward and have everyone clicking going into the playoffs instead of what we did last year.” 

  Hervato also noted that the team does not want a repeat of last season’s first round playoff loss to Mercyhurst.

  “Losing in the first round wasn’t fun, and we spiraled downwards at the wrong time so I think it’s important to get our special teams going,” said Hervato.  “At the same time, I think if we think about it too much we just get too rattled, and we can’t be doing that.”