NEVILLE TWP., PA — The Robert Morris Colonials managed to overcome two separate two goal deficits while putting up four unanswered third period goals en route to a 5-3 win over the Mercyhurst Lakers on Saturday night at Clearview Arena. The game-winning goal came off the stick of forward Roman Kraemer, who was a force to be reckoned with the entire game both offensively and defensively. Kraemer took a pass from Brian Kramer in the right circle and one-timed it past starting Lakers net-minder Hank Johnson at 7:20 of the third period to put the Colonials out front for good before forward Aidan Spellacy iced the outcome with a last minute empty net tally.
“We needed that bad,” Colonials head coach Derek Schooley said. “We couldn’t go down to them three games in a week so that was an important comeback for us.”
The win saw the Colonials halt their winless streak at two games, both at the hands of the Lakers, and kept the squad near the top of the Atlantic Hockey regular season standings for another week. From the drop of the puck, the Colonials came ready to play and matched the Lakers intensity and scoring chances.
Two bounces went the Mercyhurst way early, leading to a 2-0 deficit for Robert Morris. Lakers forward Jonathan Bendorf’s goal at 13:38 of the first came when a puck caromed to his stick and past starting Colonial goaltender Noah West. Five minutes later Geoff Kitt found the puck in the neutral zone during a Robert Morris power-play, skating into the zone on a breakaway and doubled the Mercyhurst lead. West managed to take a stick near the eye during the first, and senior net-minder Dyllan Lubbesmeyer to come off the bench and deliver a solid performance in relief.
“Noah got hurt and got hit in the eye with a stick,” Schooley added. “The warrior in him tried to play through but obviously that affected him on the second goal. Dyllan stepped up. He’s the emergency guy that comes in and gets the job done and he did tonight.”
Colonials defenseman Nick Jenny pulled his side to a one goal deficit as Robert Morris started to tilt the ice their way as the game went along. However, they were not able to capitalize at even strength or with the man advantage, allowing the Lakers to head to the dressing room still with a 2-1 lead after forty minutes.
“We’ve been coming back all year,” Schooley said. “This team doesn’t quit. We just have to be a little tighter. They’re a tough team to play against, they’re very skilled offensively, they’re fast and we had to tighten up a little bit in the neutral zone.”
Bendorf extended the Lakers lead to two goals with an early third period tally, but that was the catalyst as the Colonials began an onslaught that took over the game. Defenseman Nolan Schaeffer and forward Randy Hernandez scored goals just over a minute apart to tie the score while Lubbesmeyer kept the puck out at the other end of the rink.
Kraemer then came up with the winning goal in a game where he had seemingly willed the puck to stay in the Laker end for multiple shifts with help from linemates Spellacy and Gavin Gulash.
“The puck went out towards the point and Brian (Kramer) did a good job of keeping it in, I almost thought it was offside,” Kraemer said. “I started coming out of the zone and he started coming downhill on the left hand side and I kind of suck through the middle and stayed high- and he just fed it over to me and I just one timed it.”
His progression this season and work ethic has been noticed by Schooley, who had a good deal of praise for the Pittsburgh native in his second season with the Colonials.
“He works hard and just hasn’t been rewarded for his work as far as scoring goes,” Schooley said. “He was in the right place at the right time and got a pass and he made no mistake. He had some other chances too. I thought Roman was very impactful in the game.”
With the win, the Colonials improve to 12-6-1 on the year as they prepare to face Long Island University in a two game series starting Thursday at 7:05 pm at Clearview Arena.