Preview: Men’s hockey looks to sting Yellow Jackets

Photo+credit%3A+David+Auth
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Preview: Men’s hockey looks to sting Yellow Jackets

Photo credit: David Auth

Photo credit: David Auth

Photo credit: David Auth

Photo credit: David Auth

Jonathan Hanna, Contributor

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SPRINGFIELD, Ma. — After a three-week holiday vacation, the Robert Morris men’s hockey team (7-8-1, 6-5-1 AHC) restarts their season this weekend as they visit the AIC Yellow Jackets (7-7-1, 7-4-1 AHC).

The first game is Saturday, December 29 at 7:05 p.m., while the second game is Sunday, December 30 at 3:05 p.m. Both games are at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Recapping RMU

The Colonials last saw action three weeks ago, as they took on the lowly Holy Cross Crusaders (2-11-2, 2-7-1 AHC) at Colonials Arena. In the first game, Francis Marotte earned a 36 save shutout for Robert Morris, while both Michael Coyne and Luke Lynch scored for a 2-0 Colonials win.

However, in game two of the weekend series, Holy Cross got only their second win of the year, shutting the Colonials out 2-0. Michael Laffin scored twice in the game for the Crusaders, and Erik Gordon made 26 saves in the win. After the loss, defenseman Nick Jenny said that “We’re pretty banged up right now so it’s nice to have a good long break”

Special teams wise, the Colonials are currently operating at a .169 power play percentage, which places them 35th in the NCAA. Whereas the penalty kill is ranked 16th, with a .848 kill rate.

Defensively, the Colonials are allowing 2.94 goals per game, which places them in a tie for 36th in the NCAA with perennial powerhouse, Boston University (6-8-2, 5-5-2 Hockey East).

Scouting AIC

Coming into this weekend’s matchup against Robert Morris, the Yellow Jackets have been on a roll, winning four in a row, and showing why they are in a three-way tie for second place in Atlantic Hockey. In AIC’s last series, also against Holy Cross, the Jackets swept the series.

American International won the first game 4-2, with Kyle Stephan, Luka Maver, Blake Christiansen, and Jared Pike each scoring. In the second game, Tobias Fladeby scored twice, and both Joel Kocur and Hugo Reinhardt scored to give AIC a 4-3 win.

For AIC’s special teams, the power play is currently operating at a paltry 8/56, or .143%, No. 49 in the NCAA. The penalty kill is 46/60 on the year, which is a .767 kill rate.

On average, the Yellow Jackets are outshooting their opponents, 26.7 shots per game compared to 25.9 shots allowed.

Players to watch

Francis Marotte (RMU): A solid presence in between the pipes for the Colonials, the junior from Longueuil, Quebec has allowed only seven goals in his past six games, and currently holds the school’s all-time record for goals against average with a career 2.42 GAA.

Eric Israel (RMU): A long-time defensive stalwart for the Colonials defensive corps, Israel is currently third on the team with 12 points in 11 games, and leads the team with 27 blocked shots.

Justin Addamo (RMU): Although currently on a bit of a cold streak, with only one point in his last four games, the French freshman has had a decent first season, scoring eight points on the year. Where it doesn’t show on the scoresheet is when Addamo uses his 6’6” frame to screen the opposing goaltender.

Blake Christiansen (AIC): Currently sitting at 15 points in 15 games, Christiansen is the leading scorer on the Yellow Jackets by three points, and has had at least a point in each of American International’s last five games.

Prediction

Robert Morris will work their way back up the conference standings this weekend by winning both games. Francis Marotte will let up one goal the entire weekend, while Eric Israel gets late holiday presents, four points in the weekends two games.

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