Four games into the 2018-2019 season, one thing is clear for the Robert Morris Colonials. Their best effort will need to be demonstrated consistently for sixty minutes, every game, and against every opponent for them to achieve the type of success the program has grown accustomed to. They’ve started 1-2-1 against two quality opponents in Bowling Green and Army which might seem appropriate young team. However, the effort put forth has been uneven and will need to improve starting with Friday’s contest against an impressive RIT squad as they begin their two game series.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Robert Morris is coming off a one point weekend versus the Army Black Knights. They tied the first game 2-2 and suffered a 5-2 loss the following night.
“We had an inconsistent effort and compete level,” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said. “We need to play 60 minutes.”
The Colonials skated stride for stride with the Black Knights on Friday night, dominating the shots and territory in the final frame and in overtime in a game that nearly saw them take the win. Their Saturday performance saw them give away a 2-1 lead late in the second period. In the final frame on Saturday, Robert Morris mounted very little in the way of push back as they gave up two more goals while getting out shot for the remainder of the game.
“It comes down to our identity as a program,” Schooley continued. “Even in the early years where we probably didn’t have as much skill or talent as other teams, we gave a consistent effort. Nobody has ever been able to walk out of our arena and say we didn’t work hard or didn’t give it everything we had. I don’t know through the last three games, that we’ve been able to say that we’ve given it everything we have. That’s something that we need to strive for. We’ve got a lot of young kids that need to learn what it takes to be successful at this level, but we can’t use youth as an excuse.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Freshman forward Justin Addamo and senior Alex Tonge lead the attack for the Colonials with two goals and four points, each with a good deal of that production coming via the power play. Sophomore Nick Prkusic has also chipped in with two goals and looks to be on pace for a breakout season following his six goal freshman campaign. Beyond the individual stats though, lie the facts that the Colonials have been struggling to get pucks to the net at even strength thus far. Through four games, they haven’t registered more than 28 shots on net. In the net, Francis Marotte has started all four games thus far and brings a 3.88 goals against average into the weekend’s games.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
The RIT Tigers have not achieved results at the level they’d liked to have in each of the past two seasons, missing the Atlantic Hockey semi-final round in each of them. Their post season misses were due to a variety of reasons as both injuries to key players and shaky goaltending had an equal hand in derailing their seasons. However, early on in the season, they seemed to have returned to the form that saw them at the top of the conference for years. They bring a 2-1-0 record into the weekend and they’re coming off a pair of impressive non-conference victories. The first, a 5-4 road victory at Massachusetts-Lowell, followed by a convincing 6-1 win over Colgate at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Arena in Rochester.
The Tigers are led by Adam Girduckis and his six points. But it’s a deep attack for RIT and it contains players whom have all left their mark in games against Robert Morris over the years. RIT returns top scorers Erik Brown, Jake Hamacher, Gabe Valenzuela and Shawn Cameron who all look to be on the other side of 30 point seasons when all is said and done this season. In between the pipes stands sophomore Logan Drackett, who’s managed a 2.34 goals against average while stopping 93.3% of the rubber sent his way thus far.
“They’ve got some veterans that are doing an outstanding job,” Schooley said. “Valenzuela, Girduckis and Brown are all legitimate high end players in Atlantic Hockey. On the blue line they’ve got Brubaker who’s been an all league defenseman since he’s arrived and some other guys that have been very good for them as well. The one thing recently that had been holding them back had been their goaltending, but Logan Drackett has been outstanding for them. It seems like right now they’re firing on all cylinders. It’s going to be a challenge for us.
Schooley knows what his side will have to do to earn points this weekend, aside from an increased effort standpoint.
“We’ve got to make sure that we limit their chances. Erik Brown has the most goals in college hockey since the start of last year including 30 last year. We have to make sure we’re aware of him. We have to bring out a high compete level at all times and we need to get more shots on goal. We can’t afford to pass up any shots, we haven’t been shooting enough.”
The two teams will face off this Friday and Saturday night at the Island Sports Center with the puck drop scheduled for 7:05 p.m. each night.