Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Robert Morris

Puck luck among missing elements to Colonials’ start

Defenseman Eric Israel looks for a shot against Holy Cross in the 2017 Atlantic Hockey playoffs. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

One factor every successful hockey season includes is puck luck, and for Robert Morris this season, it has been in short supply through seven games thus far, according to head coach Derek Schooley

Coming on the heels of a rare sweep by Ohio State, the Colonials will look to rebound against a Holy Cross team that has had an impressive start to their 2017-18 campaign and will be looking for a measure of revenge as they return to the place where their season ended last year.

Though Robert Morris comes into the weekend with a 2-5-0 mark, their spirits are up and the effort has been there on most nights.

“We’ve been close in every game,” Schooley said. “We had unlucky bounces against Niagara earlier, we had a goal disallowed last week at a critical time. So, you flip those two games and we’ve got a winning record. The bounces haven’t gone our way but you earn your bounces with your work ethic and in some of the games I don’t know if we deserved to win but we had an opportunity to win.

“So I think if we can get the mindset of it’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be something that we can take for granted that all of the sudden just because we get one win, we’re going to get another. We’ve got to play the right way for 60 minutes, and then play another 60 minutes, then if we find the chemistry and the work ethic and we put it all together, then we’ll see where it goes. But we have to bring a consistent, focused and determined effort.”

An encouraging sign this week for the Colonials has been the effort in practice, despite the discouraging results.

“I really like our week of practice,” Schooley said. “We had two really good days on Monday and Tuesday and [then Wednesday], we had one of the more energized practices we’ve had. Our guys spirits are still up and we still believe in what we do and we believe in this hockey team.

“We’ve just been the victim of a bunch of bad breaks and misunderstandings. I don’t think we’ve seen everybody going at the same time. We need to make sure that everybody’s game is work ethic based. We can’t be cheating, hoping to score. We can’t be neglecting our defensive duties, we’ve got to get everybody going at the same time to be a successful team. If not, you’ve got a whole bunch of things that go well, but then you’ve got a couple of weak links and we can’t afford to have weak links.”


Power plays are a constant work in progress for almost every team, and after a slow start, the Colonials have been getting more looks, more chances and more goals. After some adjustments and some focus on scheme, the results are starting to reflect the attention being paid as they managed power play goals in both games last weekend versus Ohio State.

“We need to make sure we don’t get away from what we want to accomplish as a group,” Schooley said. “We don’t want to get to individualistic and force some things when things are tough. We want it to be pretty, we want it to be easy but we’ve got to realize that we’ve got to play within the structure whether you’re getting hard pressure or not getting pressure you’ve got to stay within the structure of what you’re trying to accomplish, and we got away from that a little bit. I thought we did a good job capitalizing on the opportunities we had and hopefully it’s a step in the right direction.”


The Crusaders come in with a mark of 3-1-2, including a recently snapped five game unbeaten streak. The task at hand for the Colonials will be a tough one against a veteran team that may have a chip on their shoulder regarding their loss at the hands of the Colonials in the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals last march. Robert Morris swept the Crusaders, but it was not a lopsided series by any stretch.

“Obviously when you end a team’s season from the previous year and they return a lot you have a memory of your last time in this building. And that’s a memory Holy Cross probably has. When we played UConn in the playoffs back to back years we had remembered that they had knocked us out the previous year. Is it going to provide any extra emotion? I don’t know because they’re different hockey teams and different personalities but the returners will definitively remember that, and we’ve got to be ready for them. They’ve had great starts. They’ve come out very well. They’ve had very good starts to their games and we’ve got to be cognizant of being ready to go from the opening drop of the puck whether they remember or they don’t remember. ”

Up front, the Crusaders are led by senior forward Scott Pooley who has seven goals in his first six games while at the backline, All-Conference hopeful Trapp and Coughlin lead the way with five points each. In the net, senior Paul Berrafato is off to a tremendous start with a 2.27 GAA and a .934 save percentage.

“They’ve got a lot of older team leadership type players,” Schooley said. ” TJ Moore, Spencer Trapp and Johnny Coughlin who aren’t seniors but are guys that have played a lot of hockey. They’ve got some offensive weapons and you throw that into a well coached hockey team by David Berard, that’s playing with some confidence right now, and it’s a dangerous opponent. We need to be prepared to face a very similar team to the one that we played last year as far as personnel goes and systematically as well.”


Picking up where they left off at the end of last season are three Colonials players who have brought their game to a new level at the start of this year’s campaign and have been going above and beyond the expectation level, according to Schooley.

“I think Spencer Dorowicz has been consistent with his effort in his play in every game we’ve played,” Schooley said. “We know what we’re going to get out of Spencer Dorowicz. Would we like to see some more production? Absolutely. But he’s going to give us an effort, he’s going to get chances and he’s going to play to the best of his ability every night.

“Luke Lynch has started off very hot, he’s got five goals in seven games and I think he’s played his best hockey since he’s been here. Jake Coleman has done a very good job providing energy and spark and fore checking and we need him to expand his offensive role and produce a little bit more because he did it in junior hockey and he’s got that in him.”


The Crusaders will bring a stout effort this weekend without question, however, the Colonials may be hungrier for points and could be due some of the aforementioned puck luck. The teams skate to a 3-3 tie on Friday night while the Colonials take a 5-3 win on Saturday.

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