PITTSBURGH — The Robert Morris Colonials spent little time in dispatching of the rust and got straight to business on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena. Sparked by three-goal first period and strong performances from leading scorer Brady Ferguson and linemates Alex Tonge and Timmy Moore, the Colonials advanced to the championship game of the Three Rivers Classic with a 5-0 win over the Lake Superior State Lakers.
Ferguson and Moore figured in on all three first period scores as Moore took Ferguson’s backhand pass and put it past starting Lake Superior State netminder Mareks Mitens to give the Colonials the early 1-0 lead. For Ferguson, it was a continuation for his recent return to form that has seen him manage points in six straight games, including 10 points in his last three games.
Tonge has been a more frequent visitor to the score sheet lately, as well, coming off a six-point weekend at Mercyhurst in his last action and was a big factor in the first period as well. Tonge took a pass from Ferguson down low and buried it to finish a well-executed two-on-one that doubled the Colonials’ advantage 12:15 into the first period. Meanwhile, Moore finished the first frame with three points and has seen a difference in his team in recent weeks.
“I think we’re just getting back to hard work and having confidence in ourselves and believing in each other and knowing that if we make the right play in our end that the other two guys will be there and take care of offensive zone,” Moore said. “It’s obviously shown in the past couple of games.”
From then on, the Colonials were off and running as Ferguson added one a goal for himself to close out the scoring in the first period with a determined individual effort, producing a highlight reel goal to widen the gap before the first intermission. It was a night that saw a continuation of the recent stretch of play that has seen the Colonials return to form so to speak, a return sparked by belief in each other as a team. And it began in a recent game at Penn State, a loss that saw the team battle, compete and play at a level they’d been looking to get to for most of the first half of the season.
“I asked a question in our meeting before that game and I said maybe we’re just not good enough,” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said. “And the resounding answer I got from the team, and I knew the answer but I wanted them to say it, was that was completely not true, we just haven’t played to our potential. We’ve already had our launching pad, now it’s up to us to sustain it. We can’t let any negativity draw into that.”
Freshman Nick Jenny added his first career goal with a rising shot from the right wing circle and looked very comfortable once again on a top defensive pairing with senior captain Alex Bontje. In between the pipes, Francis Marotte wasn’t tested often, but when he was, he rose to the occasion as he stopped all 19 shots en route to his thirds shutout of the season.
Marotte seemed confident in the team in front of him, and what they had potential to do in yet another title game at PPG Paints Arena.
“I’m just going to be ready just like I was today and I’m sure our team is going to show up and play hard like they did today.
The elements to the recipe for success came together for the third game in a row as the Colonials punched their ticket to Saturday night’s championship game where they will face Providence at 7:30 p.m.