NEVILLE TWP.,Pa- Santeri Hartikainen’s shot from the top of the circles 4:04 into overtime gave the Robert Morris Colonials a season extending victory over the Holy Cross Crusaders in a hard fought 2-1 victory at the Island Sports Center on Saturday night. The win set up a game three for Sunday night with the winner advancing to the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs and perhaps gave Robert Morris a much needed boost of confidence.
“I think it was a bouncing puck coming though the middle and I just picked it up and settled it down and just let it rip,” Hartikainen said. “It was unfortunate to lose Jake Coleman and Darcy but we’re confident we have the next guy step up. We just keep going no matter who’s in the lineup.”
The Colonials proved to be a resilient bunch having lost a tough 2-0 decision in a tooth and nail contest on Friday night. On Saturday, they were behind the eight ball as they lost senior forward Jake Coleman to a game misconduct in the first period and an injury to freshman forward Darcy Walsh.
“We had to do a good job killing penalties tonight and we were running out of players with Jake and Darcy out and our guys really dug deep,” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said. “Credit to Holy Cross, they blocked a lot of shots and they sold out but we had a really good shift in overtime. We finally got pucks to the net instead of passing pucks around the outside.”
Colonials Strike First
Once again the Colonials got good chances in the first period on Saturday night and they cashed in. On a critical opportunity at 7:32 , junior defenseman Nick Jenny beat Crusader goaltender Matt Radomsky with a shot from the top of the right circle on the power play to supply his team with the early lead. It was a goal that held up for the Colonials through numerous Crusader power plays including a five minute major at the start of the second period that saw the Colonials laying the body down left and right blocking shots while goaltender Justin Kapelmaster made one save after another with his second straight standout performance in the series. Kapelmaster stopped 38 of 39 shots in the victory.
“We blocked a lot of shots on the penalty kill,” Schooley said. “Brendan Michaelian took one in the hand and one in the ankle and Justin Kapelmaster was outstanding on the penalty kill. But I’ll tell you, that was a good, hard fought game. It’s been two that way. We used a lot of energy tonight and we have to make sure that we stay focused and determined to do it again tomorrow.”
Crusaders Find Lucky Bounce Once Again
Once again, the Crusaders were able to beat Kapelmaster, but only once. And for the second straight night in a row, it was a rare bounce that found his way past him. Crusader forward Pete Kessel found the puck on his stick at the side of an open net courtesy of a strange carom of a Kapelmaster save which was preceeded by a fortunate bounce at the blue line that went the Crusaders way as well as the play stayed onside. Kessel’s tally came at 12:04 of the second period. Despite the game tying goal, the Colonials set their sights on a knockout punch for the remainder of the game and out shot the Crusaders by a combined 16-7 over the third period and overtime as they tilted the ice with shifts in the Holy Cross end that extended longer as the game headed to overtime.
Robert Morris and Holy Cross will play the final game of their first round series Sunday night with puck drop scheduled for 7:05 p.m.