RMU’s Cinderella story ends against Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minn. – The Robert Morris University men’s hockey team came into Saint Paul to face an opponent it had never taken on before. That opponent, the University of Minnesota, was also the number one-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament.

Although the same squad left the Xcel Energy Center with a 7-3 defeat Saturday evening, they have nothing to be ashamed about.

“We never quit. I am really proud of our hockey team. I thought we played hard,” said head coach Derek Schooley. “It’s a team that didn’t quit, a team that worked so hard. Our goalie was very good and I thought we created a lot of chances. Our goalie gave us a chance and we never quit. I am really proud of our hockey team. I hope everybody in Minnesota now realizes our team and how hard we play.”

The first frame may have been one of RMU’s cleanest periods to date. Although they failed to convert on two power plays, which involved a five-on-three advantage at one point, passes were tape-to-tape and the defense stood tall.

The Colonials looked like they belonged on NCAA Tournament ice.

The only thing that could have been changed was the level of aggression. Thus far, Colonial hockey has been that of persistence. Tonight however, loose pucks that might ordinarily have been snatched up were left for the Gophers.

Extended amounts of time were spent in the defensive zone. This, combined with the aforementioned, allowed the University of Minnesota to score three consecutive, clean goals in the final four minutes.

“Looking back, we didn’t think we played that poorly in the first period,” said senior Colin South. “We let it get away from us a little with six minutes to go, but overall, I thought we played pretty well in the first 10 minutes of the game especially and our attitude was still pretty positive even though we let the three goals in towards the end of the period.”

Period two was a roller coaster for assistant captain Cody Wydo. First he was sent to the box for two minutes on a hooking call. Next, with a pass from Scott Jacklin, he backhanded the puck in for his record-breaking 65th career goal.

Another penalty came to the forward at 13:48. Instead of working hard on the penalty kill in his usual place, he was waiting in the box for an uncharacteristic unsportsmanlike conduct call.

Soon he was back on the ice, and with an assist. Jacklin passed the puck to Wydo at the edge of the faceoff circle. Wydo then chipped it across the slot Zac Lynch for the goal.

The goals scored by the first line are just two of 15 goals in the postseason. Along with 20 assists, they have accumulated 35 points total in the postseason.

Throughout the second period, the defense kicked it up. Each defensive pair stood tall and protected the net. By the end of the night, the Colonial blue-liners blocked a total of 16 shots.

The third period brought opportunities abound, but the Colonials had difficulties finishing what they started, thanks to a stubborn Golden Gopher defense. Although defense was firing on all cylinders, Minnesota managed to pick up three more goals by the end of the game, one of which was empty net after Dalton Izyk was pulled.

After catching a deflected shot from South, David Friedmann scored the lone Colonial goal in the final frame.

When the going got tough, the tough got going. Across 60 minutes, Robert Morris kept its mind the way its been all season.

“We’ve had the same mindset all year,” explained Lynch. “From the midpoint of the season, when we were 2-12, we never got down on each other and never got down on the team so, it’s been pretty easy to keep moving forward. Everyone is confident in this team. We never get down on each other.”