Penn State penalty propels RMU into title game


Kyle Gorcey

Brady Ferguson stick handles past PSU’s David Glen and Patrick Koudys Monday night during RMU’s Three Rivers Classic win over the Nittany Lions.

Nick Buzzelli and Nick Buzzelli

Derek Schooley and Guy Gadowsky have a lot in common.

Both individuals are the first and only head coaches their respective programs have ever known and they acknowledge the fact that the Robert Morris Penn State rivalry is helping to grow the game of college hockey in the Keystone State.

However after Monday night’s Three Rivers Classic matchup, the most notable thing that set both bench bosses apart was their stance on a crucial officiating decision.

Midway through the second period, with the game deadlocked at zero, PSU’s Nate Jensen was flagged for a contact-to-the-head penalty – which automatically garners a game misconduct as well – after he, according to the referees, struck an RMU skater’s helmet.

“… I’m not saying it was exactly mistake free or anything, but I thought it was a really good hockey game and obviously that [penalty] was the game,” Gadowsky said. “And to use your words, a call out of nowhere, that’s certainly how we felt. And a five minute major for that? I tell you this, so we watched it over and over and we’re going to tell Nate Jensen to make that exact play the exact same way every single time.”

In Schooley’s eyes, the Colonials were granted a break and took full advantage of it.

“The referees made the call. We had a five minute major and we capitalized on our opportunities. I’d have to look at it again, I missed it up on the Jumbotron, but live, it looked like there was contact to the head,” he said. “One of the things they’ve done in college hockey is they want to protect the student-athletes from concussions and … it’s a point of emphasis in our sport.”

Because Robert Morris was given a five minute power play as a result of the hit, the Colonials (12-2-3) tallied two goals in a 30 second span and added two more in the final period to cap off a 4-2 victory over the Nittany Lions (9-5-2) at CONSOL Energy Center.

Despite a slow first period in which both teams went 0-2 on the power play, RMU was able to strike first in the second frame after freshman Brady Ferguson’s wrist shot beat PSU goaltender Eamon McAdam five hole.

Moments later, defenseman John Rey fired a soft wrister that found its way through traffic and into the back of the cage, giving Robert Morris a two goal advantage.

“We had a couple shifts in that power play where we built up the momentum and had some great chances and then we found two seeing-eye goals,” said Schooley, who is in his 11th season with RMU. “And that’s hockey.”

Scott Conway’s tally later in the second put Penn State on the board, but a Chase Golightly shot from the point that was redirected by Daniel Leavens at the 4:36 mark of the third proved to be the game winner.

“This was my first time actually playing Penn State, I was out of the lineup last year when we played them,” Leavens said during the press conference. “For me, watching the guys play last year, especially losing here, I could see the anger and how much we were rivals and tonight it was good to get them back and get two points.”

Even though Penn State’s Casey Bailey cut the deficit to one with 1:49 remaining after McAdam was pulled from the net, a Zac Lynch empty netter one minute later preserved RMU’s win.

Because of the distinct brand of hockey both programs put on the ice, Gadowsky envisions plenty of exciting games to come from these two teams.

“Our rivalry will help both programs in the future,” he said. “…It’s too bad that the whole game was changed on one call because it was an excellent hockey game and I think you can expect many more in the future.”

RMU will face off against Colgate – which topped Western Michigan, 2-1 – Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Three Rivers Classic championship contest.