Robert Morris hockey ends Penn State unbeaten streak
Backed by a crowd chanting “we are” through Consol Energy Center, the Penn State hockey team controlled the action early.
On the other side of the glass, Robert Morris junior forward Daniel Leavens provided an unconventional answer.
Leavens took a loose puck behind the net and banked a shot off the back of Penn State junior goalie Eamon McAdam's mask that found its way into the net to give the Colonials an early lead.
The lead would hold after 99 shots and 10 goals as a contest between teams tied for the second-most goals in college hockey (70) did not disappoint.
Robert Morris beat No. 14 Penn State, 6-4, to snap the Nittany Lions' team-record nine-game unbeaten streak and advance to the championship of the Three Rivers Classic.
“I think I just took two or three years off my life, but it was an entertaining game,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said.
Though the goal stoked Robert Morris (10-4-3) on the scoreboard, the momentum hardly shifted as the Nittany Lions (11-3-3) continued to pepper senior goalie Terry Shafer throughout the first period, a futile effort that ended the frame with a 21-7 shot advantage but nothing to show for it.
“I thought offensively we did some very good things,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “(In the first period), we had some good shots, good opportunities, and they came down and the puck bounced off the goaltender's head, and it's 1-0.”
The Lions evened it in the second period with an Eric Scheid short-handed tally at 2:30, but senior defenseman Tyson Wilson restored the lead less than two minutes later on a power-play goal.
“In the end, I think we gave up too many odd-man rushes and gave up too many penalties to a team that has the best power play in the nation,” Gadowsky said.
The Colonials tacked on another when sophomore center Spencer Dorowicz put a puck past McAdam.
Thirteen minutes in, Robert Morris right wing Brandon Denham found himself on the receiving end of a two-on-none and converted, putting the Colonials ahead 4-1 in a period that ended in frustration for the Lions. Several Penn State scoring chances were snuffed out by Shafer saves. He stopped 38 of 39 shots by the end of the period.
“Terry did a pretty good job of controlling (rebounds) until the third period,” Schooley said.
The Lions got goals from senior defenseman Luke Juha and senior left wing Curtis Loik in the third to cut the lead to one, but center and Shaler native Zac Lynch, who is sixth in the nation with 25 points, put the Colonials up for good minutes later with a diving rebound on an odd-man rush.
“I think we saw Christmas break come into play in the third period,” said Schooley, of nearly blowing a three-goal lead.
Robert Morris will play No. 8-ranked Massachusetts-Lowell in the title game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Penn State plays Clarkson in the consolation at 4:30 p.m.
Mass.-Lowell 3, Clarkson 0 — Kevin Boyle stopped all 25 shots as No. 8 Massachusetts-Lowell (11-3-4) beat Clarkson (7-7-2) to advance to the title game.
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.