Robert Morris hockey team falls to Bentley in series opener
Robert Morris is down, but not out.
Eighth-seeded Bentley stunned the Colonials, 4-3, on Friday night in Game 1 of the Atlantic Hockey Conference quarterfinals at the RMU Island Sports Center's 84 Lumber Arena.
Top-seeded Robert Morris (21-10-4) takes on the Falcons (14-18-6) in Game 2 of the best-of-three series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at 84 Lumber Arena.
“Every game is an elimination game from here on out. It'll be good for us to get into some of that (pressure),” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “We'll draw on our veteran leadership, and we'll draw on our seniors. If a team comes in and wins two games in our building, then they deserve to advance and we don't.”
Shaler's Zac Lynch reached another milestone in the defeat. The senior forward, who leads the nation in short-handed goals, tallied his eighth shorty for a 1-0 Colonials lead 6:16 into the game. He deked goaltender Gabe Antoni and backhanded the puck into the net. That gave Lynch 151 career points, which pushed him past former linemate Cody Wydo (150 points) as the program's all-time points leader.
Bentley tied the game 1:49 later. Matt Blomquist's slapper from the point sailed through traffic and beat Terry Shafer.
Max French converted on the power play to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead with 2:10 remaining in the first. He roofed a shot from the slot just under the crossbar.
Robert Morris pulled even in the second period when Timmy Moore lifted a rebound into the goal with 8:37 left. Brady Ferguson's wraparound chance at the near post squirted out to Moore, who elevated the puck over Antoni's left shoulder.
Bentley regained the lead, 3-2, with 3:42 remaining in the second. Andrew Gladiuk converted after a loose puck bounced to his stick deep in the Colonials' zone.
Robert Morris forward Matt Cope tied it at 3-3 with 5:49 remaining in the third. Following a scrum in front of the Falcons' goal, his first shot was blocked. The puck squirted back to him in the slot and he wristed the rebound into the net.
The stalemate lasted 37 seconds. French's long wrister from the high slot gave Bentley a 4-3 advantage.
“They had a pushback every time we scored,” Schooley said. “Hat's off to them.”
With Shafer pulled and the Colonials on the power play, Lynch nearly tied it in the final 10 seconds. However, his shot from the slot was blocked and Bentley cleared the puck to seal the win.
The Colonials held a 48-28 edge in shots. Antoni stopped 45 of them to earn the victory. Shafer had 24 saves.
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.