One of the marketing slogans the Pittsburgh Penguins are using to commemorate the inaugural season at CONSOL Energy Center is “History Will Be Made Here.”
|Robert Morris forward Chris Kushneriuk (17) tied the game for the Colonials with a second-period power-play marker. |
History was made inside the Penguins sparkling new building on Sunday night as the Robert Morris University men’s hockey team achieved the first 4-0 start in school history by coming from behind to defeat Air Force, 3-2, in the fifth annual College Hockey Showcase.
Robert Morris overcame an early 2-0 first period deficit by tallying late in the opening frame on a Trevor Lewis goal to get themselves back in the game.
Chris Kushneriuk drew the Colonials even with a power-play marker at 17:30 of the second period, setting the stage for Nathan Longpre’s dramatic game-winning breakaway goal late in the third period.
Colonials head coach Derek Schooley was pleased to see his team rewarded with a huge victory against an Air Force team that has made NCAA Tournament appearances in three of the past four seasons despite RMU not playing its best game.
“We just found a way to get it done,” Schooley said. “I don’t think that we had our ‘A’ game. At the end of the day I think we just found a way to compete and fight our way through it. … I’m really pleased that when we didn’t have our best game we found a way to get it done.
“We got a lot better as the game went on. We had a very good third period. We scored some very opportunistic goals.”
Robert Morris probably wouldn’t have made their comeback had Lewis not finished off a scramble in front of the Falcons net by sweeping a loose puck into the cage one second before the first-period buzzer to cut Air Force’s lead to 2-1.
“I think that was huge,” Schooley said. “We got totally outplayed in the first period. We were really sloppy. It was a scramble around the net and we were opportunistic. I think it would have been a lot different hockey game if they would have come out of there with a 2-0 lead.”
Robert Morris fed off the Lewis goal, dominating the second period, as the only thing that prevented the Colonials from scoring was the stellar play in goal by Air Force netminder Jason Torf.
That all changed on a power play at 17:30 when Denny Urban stayed with his own blocked shot and sent a cross-ice pass over to a wide-open Kushneriuk, who slid the puck under Torf to make the score 2-2.
It appeared as though the game was heading into overtime when Longpre played the role of hero when he picked up a loose puck at the Falcons blue line, skated in alone on Torf and made a great backhand to forehand move before tucking a shot into the far side of the net to finish off the 3-2 victory.
|RMU netminder Brooks Ostergard was solid in goal with 36 saves as he improved to 4-0 on the season. |
“I just went down and skated as fast as I could to the net,” Longpre said. “I dropped my shoulder and brought it towards the net. I shot it and it went into the net.”
RMU’s win not only gives the team a perfect record as it begins its first season in the Atlantic Hockey Association, it also has the Colonials on the cusp of the first-ever national ranking in school history.
Last week the Colonials received 11 votes in the USCHO.com Top 20 Poll and one vote in the USA Today Top 15 Poll, so look for RMU to receive even more national recognition when this week’s rankings are released on Monday.
Earning a spot in the national rankings would be just another indication of how quickly the program is rising under the direction of Schooley.
Robert Morris has a bye week this coming week. They will be back in action on Oct. 29 when they travel to New York to face defending AHA league champion and 2010 NCAA Tournament Frozen Four finalist RIT.
The Colonials return home to Pittsburgh for a doubleheader on Nov. 12-13 when they host Sacred Heart at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center. Game time is set for 7 p.m. both nights.Women’s, Club Results
In earlier action, the Robert Morris women’s team fell to Northeastern, 4-3. Cobina Delaney scored early in the first period off a pass from her sister, Brianna. Whitney Pappas knotted the score at 2-2 early in the second period, and Sara O’Malley brought the Colonials back to a one-goal deficit when she found the back of the net with 5:11 remaining in the third.
The Colonials had a chance to tie the game thanks to a Northeastern penalty with 45 seconds left. RMU had several great shots, but Northeastern goaltender Florence Schelling shut the door.
In the second game of the day, RMU’s American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I club team defeated the University of Pittsburgh, 6-3. It was a tight game throughout two periods. Pitt took the early lead when the puck bounced off a Colonial defenseman and into the net past Robbie Fallick.
With RMU clinging onto a 3-2 lead to start the third period, the Colonials exploded to seal the victory by scoring three goals in a five-minute span. Trey Milstead led the Colonials with one goal and two assists.