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Robert Morris completes comeback, advances past Bentley

| Sunday, March 13, 2016, 10:23 p.m.

The comeback is complete for Robert Morris.

After falling to Bentley in Game 1 of the Atlantic Hockey Conference quarterfinals, the Colonials rallied to win the final two. A five-goal surge in the second period Sunday gave them a 6-3 win over the Falcons in Game 3 at the RMU Island Sports Center's 84 Lumber Arena.

“Give Bentley credit because they played well. It's good adversity for our team to face elimination a couple of times,” said Robert Morris junior winger Daniel Leavens, who had a pair of goals.

“We stuck to the process, and it really showed in the second period when we took over the game.”

Top-seeded Robert Morris (23-10-4) advanced to play Army (14-14-9) in the semifinals Friday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.

“It's our goal to get back to Rochester,” said Robert Morris senior winger David Friedmann, who had two goals and an assist. “That's three years in a row now. We won two years ago, and we know what our end goal is this year.”

For the first time in the series, Bentley (14-20-6) scored the first goal. A loose puck squirted from in front of the Robert Morris goal to the top of the left faceoff circle. Matt Blomquist elevated a slapper into the net 8 minutes, 51 seconds into the game.

Shaler's Zac Lynch almost tied the score 2:58 into the second period. He corralled a loose puck in the high slot and unleashed a hard wrister, but it clanged off the near goalpost.

That was a sign of things to come as Robert Morris scored three goals in a 4:56 span to take control.

“I think the bounces just started going our way,” Friedmann said. “It was nice that it happened there.”

The Colonials broke the shutout with 12:22 left in the second. Leavens took a pass from Chase Golightly in front of the goal. He chopped the puck toward the net, and it trickled through goaltender Gabe Antoni's legs for the equalizer.

Robert Morris went ahead 1:55 later when Leavens stuffed a rebound past Antoni on the far post.

Friedmann pushed the advantage to 3-1 when he roofed a pass from Brandon Denham over a sprawled-out Antoni with 7:26 remaining.

Friedmann cashed in again 1:40 later. He took a cross-ice pass at the near faceoff dot and ripped a shot over Antoni's right shoulder for a 4-1 lead.

Lynch redirected Greg Gibson's cross-ice pass into the net for a power-play goal and a 5-1 lead with 2:09 left in the period. It was the Colonials' first man-advantage goal of the series. They were unsuccessful in their first nine attempts.

That outburst was too much for the eighth-seeded Falcons, who played their sixth game in a 10-day span after beating Sacred Heart in the first round.

They got a goal back when Michael Reardon scored on the power play 7:58 into the third period. Robert Morris wrapped up the win when Golightly scored with 2:33 left. Bentley's Tyler Deresky scored as the buzzer sounded.

Robert Morris goaltender Terry Shafer made 31 saves, including a pair of highlight-reel stops in the third period.

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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