NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — A patient and determined Robert Morris squad used timely goals and a shutout performance from goaltender Justin Kapelmaster to propel themselves past the visiting Bentley Falcons by a score of 3-0 on Saturday night at RMU Island Sports Center.
Sophomore Grant Hebert and junior Nick Prkusic came up with with the offense in a game where open ice and clean looks at the net were difficult to come by, thanks to strong defensive efforts from both sides. The win gave the Colonials their first Atlantic Hockey Association points of the season.
“We didn’t play our best first two periods but we found ways to win each period,” head coach Derek Schooley said. “I thought Justin Kapelmaster was outstanding tonight. It was a good first impression for him last weekend and an even better impression tonight.”
To say Kapelmaster’s performance was solid would be an understatement. The senior transfer stopped 35 shots in all and a good many of those shots were of the variety that could give many goaltenders issues. He was able to keep a determined Falcons squad from gaining any momentum following an early onslaught of shots in the first period until the Colonials could find some offense later in the period.
He then stood tall in the final frame as he turned aside a breakaway and follow up chance from close range with just over nine minutes remaining.
“I worked really hard in the offseason to get where I am today,” Kapelmaster said. “The first game last weekend was good and good to get that under the belt and I just wanted to start off playing well again tonight and the team played really well in front of me. They had a couple of breakaways and some backdoor passes and it’s all about staying calm. I think we were up 1-0 going into the third period and to get that second one early in the third was really key for us. It keeps me calm back there when we have a two goal lead.
MAKING THE MOST OF OPPORTUNITIES
The Falcons were solid in limiting chances in their opening game of the season, but when opportunities existed, they went in the net. Herbert came out of the penalty box late in the first frame and joined a power play and sent a puck past starting Falcons netminder Aidan Pelino for his first goal of the season with just five seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Then Prkusic found the back of the net twice, scoring at 2:22 of the third period when he finished a play in a goalmouth scrum following a shot from the point and then again at 17:43 when he tapped in a puck on the power play to put the game out of reach.
“I got it to the net a little more and was a little more hungry around the net and not be so perimeter and go to the dirty areas more,” Prkusic said.
WHAT IT WILL TAKE ON SATURDAY
The Colonials can expect the same strong defensive game from the Falcons on Saturday afternoon as the teams conclude their weekend series. And to make it a sweep, it could take bit more than the 16 total shots on net they amasses on Friday night.
“I think it starts in the defensive zone,” Prkusic added. “Their defenseman are a really active so when we’re down in their end we’re playing big and that’s when we play our best.”
Meanwhile, Schooley and his staff have already begun dissecting what it will take to get more chances in game two.
“We had a lot of attempts,” Schooley said. “We either got them blocked or missed the net. We want to get more shot obviously. We have to make sure we do a little better job of managing the puck and making good plays and capitalizing on our opportunities. We had a couple of open looks and we either got them blocked or we took to long. We have a lot of skill, we just have to do a better job around the net and making plays.
The two teams will square off again on Saturday afternoon at 5:05 p.m. at RMU Island Sports Center.