Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Robert Morris

Colonials set for non-conference showdown with Buckeyes

Robert Morris forward Spencer Dorowicz protects the puck against Ohio State. -- ALAN SAUNDERS

The time has come for the Robert Morris Colonials to step away from Atlantic Hockey action for a weekend and move on to a very familiar non-conference foe.  The Ohio State Buckeyes play host to the Colonials on Friday night and will invade RMU Island Sports Center on Saturday for the final game of their home-and-home, two-game weekend set.

Robert Morris comes off a weekend split with Army that saw them move forward towards their goal of playing complete minute games with strong efforts in both contests. Indeed, had one nearly perfectly executed odd-man rush, shot and goal not taken place with just over a minute remaining in regulation on Saturday night, the Colonials looked to have a three point weekend in their pocket. But even though the results were disappointing, the effort pleased Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley.

“I though we were really good both game minus a few minutes of the third period on Friday night where they took it to us a little bit but when you’re trailing, you’ve got to expect a team to take it to you,”  Schooley said. “It’s tough to be really disappointed in our effort  or our play. We’re disappointed with the result on Saturday, we gave up one-five on five scoring chance and that was the game winning goal. If you play games like that more often than not you’re going to get rewarded with the result at the end.”

The weekend saw improvement in several areas of the Colonials game, however there is still work to be done. The power play managed just one goal on the weekend in 13 opportunities.

“We’ve improved on a lot of aspects of our game that we needed to work on and now we need to get our power play cooking a little bit and I think if we can get that going, we’ll have all facets of our game going,” Schooley said.

SCOUTING THE BUCKEYES

Ohio State comes into the weekend with some good early season results behind them including a win on the road at #12 Wisconsin and a sweep at UMass last weekend. They’re led up front by the dynamic Mason Jobst who managed 55 points last year and on the back line by senior Matt Joyaux who tallied 11 points in 2016-17. In the net, Sean Romeo, a University of Miami transfer, leads the way with a staggering 1.30 goals against average thus far.

“They’re always a very skilled team, they’re a team that plays hard, they’re well coached and they have some high skilled offensive players that you have to be aware of,” Schooley said. “They’re solid at the back line and in goal. We’ve got to be ready to play. I think if you can get off to a good start on Friday night and set the tone for the weekend that will help. They’re going to be a very good challenge for us coming off of five straight conference games.”

POWERS HAS ARRIVED

The defensive corps has quietly been a strength early on in the season thus far and took even more strides this past weekend. The Colonials held Army to five goals last weekend, with the fifth being an empty net tally, and limited their opponent to 21 shots for the game in Saturday night’s action. 

The spotlight shines brightest perhaps on puck-moving maestro Eric Israel and team captain Alex Bontje, but the depth of the unit can’t be understated, and a large part of that depth has come from senior Robert Powers, who has delivered quality minutes to start the season and has seen his play improve significantly when compared with his first three seasons.

“Rob is a very good skater and he’s got some good puck handling abilities and the ability to make a first good pass. What’s haunted him his first three years was his inconsistency,” Schooley said. “But I can tell you since day one of training camp this year that he has been a very consistent player for us. He’s playing more physical, and he’s getting back to pucks as well. His consistency has been his greatest strength right now.”

BOLD PREDICTION

This series has contained some very entertaining hockey over the years and the results are often as close as they come. If the Colonials can solve their power play issues, they’ll be in the hunt for the win on both nights. However, the Buckeyes will not be looking past them whatsoever and have some great goal tending to lean on. We’ll see the home teams hold serve this weekend as the Buckeyes take a 4-3 win on Friday night while the Colonials are one goal better on Saturday as well with a 3-2 win.

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