Robert Morris evens Atlantic Hockey series, forces deciding Game 3
Robert Morris responded Saturday night.
Facing elimination, the Colonials upended Bentley, 4-1, in Game 2 of the Atlantic Hockey Conference quarterfinals at RMU Island Sports Center's 84 Lumber Arena.
Top-seeded Robert Morris (22-10-4) takes on the Falcons (14-19-6) in the final game of the series at 7:05 p.m. Sunday at 84 Lumber Arena. The winner advances to meet defending champ RIT, which swept Mercyhurst, in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals Friday in Rochester, N.Y.
“We realize we have to play with some sense of urgency and desperation. We have to play every shift like it's our last,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “This is a team that has not lost two games in a row to a league opponent or lost two games in a weekend to the same opponent all season.”
The Colonials, who reached the NCAA Tournament in 2014, are trying to avoid an early postseason exit for the second consecutive year. Last season, Robert Morris won the Atlantic Hockey regular season and swept Niagara in the quarterfinals but fell to Mercyhurst, 3-2, in overtime in the single-elimination semifinals.
Robert Morris extended its season Saturday. Like in Game 1, the Colonials struck for the first goal. Brady Ferguson cut to the net and chipped a shot past goaltender Gabe Antoni for a 1-0 edge 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the contest. Shaler's Zac Lynch picked up a secondary assist on the play to increase his program-best career points total to 152.
Ferguson pushed the Robert Morris lead to 2-0 early in the second. At the near post, Ferguson took a pass from the back of the net and jammed it past a sprawled-out Antoni 6:48 into the period.
Brandon Denham gave the Colonials a 3-0 advantage with 10:04 left in the second. After a Bentley turnover in the neutral zone, David Friedmann fired a pass to a streaking Denham. He slipped through the defense and fired a wrister from the slot past Antoni.
Bentley broke the shutout late in the period. Cody DePourcq deflected Max French's shot past Terry Shafer with 4:46 remaining.
Timmy Moore gave Robert Morris a 4-1 advantage 1:33 later. After a blocked shot at the blue line, Moore chased after the puck on a breakaway and roofed a shot under the crossbar.
The Falcons' Andrew Gladiuk, who had a goal and two assists Friday, did not dress Saturday because of an injury. He's part of Bentley's dangerous first line with Kyle Schmidt and French. The three combined for three of the Falcons' four goals and eight points in Game 1.
“They are great players all around. We can count on them in all situations. They are great defensively and very gifted offensively,” said Bentley freshman second-line center Danny Kucerovy, a Bethel Park graduate. “We have been battling a lot of adversity all season. We've had lots of ups and downs. It was nice to get the win in Game 1. Hopefully, we can get a second one.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.