Two games remain on the pre holiday slate for the Robert Morris Colonials as they host the Holy Cross Crusaders this weekend at Colonials Arena. The games represent two chances for the Colonials to carry some momentum into the nearly three week break. It’s a weekend that brings an opponent that has seen their season come to an end at the hands of the Colonials for two years in a row as they face yet another young and hungry member of Atlantic Hockey.
Slow Starts Figure Into Split
It was another young team that defeated the Colonials for the first time in the history between the two schools last weekend as the Sacred Heart Pioneers managed a 2-1 victory on Friday night. For Robert Morris, a slow start and failure to get to their game quickly enough was a big factor.
“Give credit to Sacred Heart, ” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said. “They came out and pushed the pace and we didn’t have our legs going as much as I would have liked for a good portion of the weekend. We lacked some focus in our game. With that being said, hats off to our guys we found a way to get two points out of the trip.”
On Saturday night, forward Michael Louria delivered a game winning goal nearly halfway through overtime to give the Colonials a 2-1 win, reversing the late game trend from the night before. For Louria, it was a welcome goal in a season that has seen him provide a strong effort night in and night out but not always receive the deserved reward.
“Mike’s always been a streaky scorer,” Schooley added. “Obviously we expect a lot of offense from him. It’s not from lack of effort or lack of chances, the puck’s just not going in for him. I thought he was very good on Saturday, I thought he was one of our more impactful players. You could just feel it with the chances he was getting and the way he was shooting the puck. I thought he would have a big impact on the game and he did in overtime.”
Colonials Keeping Pace In Tight Standings
The split with Sacred Heart saw the Colonials hold their place in the ever tightening Atlantic Hockey standings where they find themselves in a three-way tie for fifth spot with a record of 5-4-1 and 6-7-1 overall. They currently have at least two if not three games in hand against some of their conference mates occupying the top four positions as the second half of the schedule comes into clearer view in the coming weeks.
It’s too early to get a good feel for how the standings might look come March and what teams will need to do to earn things like home ice and/or a bye in the first round of the playoffs. However, The Colonials effort within the conference so far has put them in position to achieve the things that come with being a top four seed. However, it will be a challenging task to say the least as sweeps in the league so far have been few and far between for most teams.
“Every point matters, it’s getting tougher and tougher to win,” Schooley said. “There used to be a top and a bottom. Now, there’s everyone. That’s a credit to all the teams, the coaches and the people involved in Atlantic Hockey for making it a league. Before, it was a few good teams and then the rest. Now, it’s a top to bottom league. It’s tough, tough to win back to back and you can see it within the standings.”
Scouting The Crusaders
Holy Cross comes into the week as a team that’s not exactly what it’s record indicates. The Crusaders have just one win on the season so far, compiling a 1-10-2 mark. However, they’ve been close to earning points in most of their games, losing seven of them by either one or two goals thus far. Freshman, Matt Barry leads the way among forwards with 11 points so far and on the blue line, the duo of Johnny Coughlin and Spencer Trapp provide both offense and defensive savvy with a mix of talent and experience.
“Obviously we’ve played them in the playoffs in the past two years and they did graduate a large senior class, but they still have a lot of quality pieces in that locker room. They’ve got Johnny Coughlin and Spencer Trapp on defense. They have a freshman in Matt Berry who’s been playing very well. David Berard has always been a very detailed, systematic oriented coach and he’s got that imprint on his hockey team and he’s a good coach. I expect it to be a challenging weekend and I expect us to have to bring our focus and our physicality. We’ve got to be ready to play right off the bat and if we can do that we’ll have success and if we can’t we’ll be in another dogfight.