Robert Morris falls in Atlantic Hockey tournament final
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The dream of another Atlantic Hockey title and an NCAA Tournament berth came to a crashing halt Saturday night for the Robert Morris hockey team.
Myles Powell scored twice and set up two other goals, and Liam Kerins had a pair of first-period goals as Rochester Institute of Technology defeated the Colonials, 7-4. The loss in front of 3,372 mostly orange-clad fans at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial ended Robert Morris' season at 24-11-4.
The Tigers (18-14-6) became just the second school to repeat as Atlantic Hockey tournament champions. Air Force has done in three times.
“It was just an incredible feeling last year, and all the returning guys wanted that feeling again,” RIT captain Josh Mitchell said. “We were hungry for it all year.”
RMU goalie Terry Shafer had hoped to enjoy the ultimate homecoming by winning the AHC title in his backyard. He's from the Rochester suburb of Penfield. He also was hoping to provide a title-game victory as a birthday present for his grandfather, Bill Shafer III, who turned 85 on Saturday.
But Shafer allowed three goals on the first six shots he faced as RIT built a 3-2 lead in the first 15:06 of the first period.
“Obviously, we didn't play our best game,” RMU coach Derek Schooley said. “We were too loose. We turned too many pucks over.”
Danny Smith and Powell scored second-period goals, and the Tigers took a 5-3 lead into the third period.
Schooley was hoping the nine-member senior class could add to a legacy that includes two Atlantic Hockey regular-season titles, two Three Rivers Classic championships and an AHC playoff title.
“Yeah, it stings, but it's not going to be lost on the legacy of those nine senior hockey players,” Schooley said.
“They got us to our first NCAA Tournament (in 2014) you can't discount that, what they've done. Those nine players made me a better coach.”
RIT goalie Mike Rotolo made 30 saves. Shafer stopped 19 shots.
The Colonials jumped ahead 1-0 when Greg Gibson scored just 1:23 after the opening faceoff.
Liam Kerins tied it by rifling a wrister from the right circle into the top left corner at 4:59.
Greg Amlong put RIT ahead 2-1 just 2:33 later by one-timing a slap shot from the top of the left circle on a power play, but the Colonials retaliated with a power-play goal of their own. David Friedmann's wrister eluded a screened Rotolo at 10:10.
Another wicked wrister from Kerins put the Tigers back on top at 15:06.
Powell sent Smith away on a breakaway and the fourth RIT goal at 8:35 of the second period for a 4-2 lead.
The Colonials' Brandon Denham converted a pass from Friedmann off a two-on-one fast break 6:09 later, trimming the Tigers lead to 4-3.
Down 6-5, RMU defenseman Chase Golightly had a short-handed breakaway but lost control of the puck.
Kevin Oklobzija is a freelance writer.