NEVILLE TWP.,Pa — It all looked good for the Robert Morris Colonials through 35 minute of hockey on Saturday night. They’d built up a 2-1 lead over the Army Black Knights with less than a handful of minutes remaining in the second period. They’d been skating stride for stride with their opponent and winning battles in all three zones and were just 25 minutes away from a three point weekend. But a surge of hard work, scoring skill and physical play from the Knights completely put the momentum on their side as they put two pucks behind Colonial net minder Francis Marotte in the final two minutes and thirty seconds of the second frame and never looked back en route to a 5-2 victory.
“Obviously it’s a tough loss,” Colonial captain Brandon Watt said. “I think the worst part is over the last 25 minutes we got out muscled, outplayed, and they really took it to us. I think the only thing we can do right now is learn from it and come to work on Monday and take the loss to heart, but try to learn from it and be better because we have to be ready for RIT.”
It was a difficult night for the Colonials. The loss seemed to be rooted not only in a lack of battle level following the Black Knight scores at the end of the second period, several unnecessary penalties, and a lack of shots and scoring chances at even strength as they failed to reach the 30 shot mark for a fourth straight game.
“We’re a lot better than we showed tonight,” Watt continued. “We don’t like losing battles. We just need to drill down what Colonial hockey is. We have a very skilled team but we pride ourselves in working hard every night.”
KNIGHTS USE BALANCED SCORING IN WIN
Army used contributions from five different goal scorers en route to victory and for a second straight game they opened the scoring as Eric Butte tapped in a feed from Alex Wilkinson at the 7:41 mark of the first period. The Colonials responded with goals off the sticks of red hot forwards Nick Prkusic and Justin Addamo less than three minutes apart to take the lead into the dressing room at the end of twenty minutes.
But the onslaught for the Black Knights put the game out of reach in nearly six minutes of time between the end of the second frame, continuing into the final period. Goals from Zach Evancho, Mason Krueger and Colin Bilek seemingly put the game out of reach. Krueger’s goal seemed to cut the deepest as his shot from near the top of the circles on the power play slipped past Marotte with just :13 left in the second period. Dominic Franco who managed 3o points last season for the Knights, managed to add the final marker on the power play.
NO ANSWER FROM COLONIALS
Playing at home in the third period, down by a goal to a rival and conference foe would have seemed to be enough motivation to push the Colonials to a higher sense of urgency in the third period, but it was not to be. Robert Morris was out shot by a 13-6 margin in the final frame and failed to produce much in the way of scoring chances despite three power play opportunities. The Black Knights put an exclamation point on the win by controlling the territory in addition to the shots and seemingly got stronger as the game went on.
“We had a 2-1 lead with two minutes and thirty seconds left in the second period and we made some mistakes and took some penalties and got in trouble that way,” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said. “Next thing you know, Army seized the momentum and I thought they were really good down the stretch and we didn’t have an answer for them.We have to play with what makes us successful and that’s putting pucks below the goal line, play heavy and play a two hundred foot game and right now we’re not doing that. ”
The Colonials resume play next Friday and Saturday night as they host the RIT Tigers at the Island Sports Center with both games starting at 7:05 PM.