Robert Morris wins Three Rivers Classic
Robert Morris came into Tuesday night's Three Rivers Classic championship game against UMass-Lowell looking to break through in more ways than one.
Aside from having not won the tournament since its inauguration in 2012, the Colonials ranked just outside the USCHO Top 20 Poll going into the event at Consol Energy Center.
Midway through the third period, college hockey's top power play got them that victory — and may have helped the Colonials (11-4-3) crack the list.
Brandon Denham put home a power-play tally midway through the third period to break a tie and lift the Colonials to their second win versus a ranked team in two nights, defeating eighth-ranked UMass-Lowell, 5-3.
“I really liked the resiliency of our hockey team,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said after his team rallied from a two-goal deficit. “We had a choice, were the wheels going to fall off the bus or were we going to right the ship, and we did the latter.”
The Colonials, coming off a 6-4 win over 14th-ranked Penn State in a game that featured nearly 100 shots and 10 combined goals, toned it down against a more balanced UMass-Lowell squad that featured 17 players with at least one goal.
Sophomore center Brady Ferguson took a feed from senior defenseman Chase Golightly through all four River Hawk defenders for a breakaway power-play goal.
That set the tone early, but UMass-Lowell struck back just before the buzzer. With 25 seconds left, UMass-Lowell defenseman Chris Forney pushed a slow power-play one-timer through the wickets of junior goalie Dalton Izyk.
After a Joe Gambardella goal early in the second, UMass-Lowell (11-4-4) put the Colonials back on their heels with a Ryan McGrath goal from the slot to make it 3-1.
The reaction from senior right wing and Pittsburgh native Zac Lynch was swift and immediate.
Lynch, named the tournament MVP, took a Greg Gibson feed from behind the net and finished past senior goaltender Kevin Boyle to cut the lead in half.
“You have to respond to a goal-for or goal-against with a great shift and we didn't do that,” UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin said.
Minutes after the Lynch goal, junior left wing Matt Cope tied the score, 3-3, with a feed from sophomore center Spencer Dorowicz. Lynch, ranked third in the NCAA in scoring, added an empty-net goal in the third period.
“You would expect our guys to get down in that situation,” Lynch said. “Last year, we got down early (in a 6-1 championship loss to Colgate) ... we jumped right up and tried to take it to them.”
Robert Morris would take control in the third and not look back. The Colonials clamped down for the final 33 minutes of the contest to preserve the victory for Izyk, who ended up with 27 saves on 30 shots.
Penn State 5, Clarkson 1 — McKees Rocks native and senior goaltender Matthew Skoff shined for the Nittany Lions, stopping 36 of 37 shots to lead Penn State (12-3-3) over Clarkson (7-8-2) in the consolation game. Forwards Kenny Brooks and Eric Scheid added a goal and assist each, and defenseman Luke Juha added two assists for the Lions.
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.