NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — It was a case of so close but so far away for the Robert Morris Colonials.
A late third period goal propelled the Air Force Falcons to overtime on Saturday night at RMU Island Sports Center as the Colonials were less than four minutes away from a potential hard fought 1-0 victory.
In the second round of that overtime which included the first three-on-three segment in program history, Falcons forward Max Harper slid a puck on the backdoor past Colonials netminder Justin Kapelmaster to give Air Force the extra point in a 2-1 victory.
The overtime loss gave Robert Morris one point in the standings but saw the Falcons skate out of town with five points on the weekend as they limited the Colonials to one goal in 120 plus minutes of hockey.
“It’s a shame,” Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said. “It’s a shame to waste these kinds of goaltending performances. We’ve got to do a better job capitalizing on good goaltending. We have to score two goals to win games right now. We’re giving up two goals and losing hockey games and it’s a shame.”
From the drop of the puck, Robert Morris looked as if they had more energy and determination than they displayed in a 2-0 loss the night before and got on the board quickly as forward Michael Coyne put his side up early in the first period when he threw a puck from a missed Sean Giles shot past Falcons goaltender Alex Schilling at 2:44.
Following the goal, Kapelmaster and Schilling both looked impressive in making spectacular saves look routine for the remainder of the night. Meanwhile, both penalty kills were perfect for the second straight night as room to make plays was in short supply in man advantage situations.
“We definitely played better tonight than last night,” Coyne said. “We’ll try to take some positives from it, we got a point but we’ve got to score more than one goal on the weekend though. Our goalie plays great on both nights and we’ve only got one goal on the weekend. It’s a tough pill to swallow. I think we just got a little too overconfident. We were in first place. We had a couple of good weekends in a row and it’s just kind of a wake up call for us. One point at home just isn’t good enough and we have to bounce back next weekend.”
For as good as the Colonials’ penalty kill performed, their power play performed in an opposite manner for a second straight night as they failed to find the back of the net and often times were chasing down pucks sent out of the zone. Robert Morris found itself with several glorious chances to find an insurance goal in both the second and third periods, but the failure to convert left the door open for Air Force.
FalconS forward Willie Reim let a shot go from the top of the circles that deflected off a Colonial player and past Kapelmaster to tie the game at 16:35 of the third period as the Falcons got the break they needed to extend the game to overtime.
Kapelmaster’s effort between the pipes was nothing short of brilliant both on the night and weekend. The senior transfer from Ferris State stopped 41 of 43 shots on the night including six saves on a first period five on three penalty kill, and a second period breakaway.
“We wanted to get more pucks to the net and we thought we did,” Schooley added. “I think our power play let us down this weekend. We need our big guns to step up in those scenarios. We need our top guys to step up. We had some glorious chances too. Luke Lynch had a couple and didn’t convert, Grant Hebert had a wide open net and put it high. I thought our penalty killing was outstanding.
“The biggest problem that we had came up in the three-on-three overtime which is we lost so many faceoffs. We have to bear down on those because that’s posession and we didn’t start out with the puck very much and right now with Daniel Mantenuto out, who’s been our best face off guy, we have to make sure we do a better job.”