NEVILLE TWP.,PA- Patience was the key for the Robert Morris Colonials on Thursday night as they withstood a strong effort from the visiting Long Island University Sharks, earning a 4-1 win at the Clearview Arena. Led by a three point performance from junior forward Nick Lalonde and a solid 28 save night from netminder Dyllan Lubbesmeyer, the Colonials rolled to their 13th win of the season.
“They’re a very well coached hockey team,” Colonials head coach Derek Schooley said. “They play their system very well. Their structure is good and you have to be patient and you’ve got to be willing to advance pucks and put them below the goal line. I thought our guys were good in the neutral zone and competitively patient and we did a good job going from high to low and side to side in the offensive zone which created some goals for us.”
After a bit of a tentative start for both teams, the Colonials started to build offensive zone pressure, delivering a 14-3 shot advantage in the first period.
Robert Morris opened the scoring via their first power play opportunity of the night as forward Nick Lalonde redirected a Grant Hebert shot from the right circle while camped in front of Long Island goaltender Vincent Purpura at 18:23 of the first. The lead was erased at 5:55 of the second frame as Jack Quinn was able to somehow deflect the puck over and behind Lubbesmeyer. It was the only blemish on the senior goaltender’s night as he kept the Sharks out of the net the rest of the way- including a critical stretch in the second frame and early third period that saw his opponent accumulate some territory wins while evening the shot counter.
“He didn’t face a lot of shots in the first but I thought he was very good when he needed to be in the second,” Schooley remarked regarding Lubbesmeyer’s performance on the night. “He did things well down low and sealed up the bottom of the net and came up with a big save with the left pad when it was 2-1. He was solid, he made the routine saves and the big saves when he needed to.”
The patience then began paying off for the Colonials as they found ways to open up seams and get pucks and shots through with more consistency as the game progressed. Grant Hebert ripped a shot past Purpura at 9:41 of the second period to give Robert Morris the lead while Lalonde put his second goal away from the slot near the midway point of the third period to give the Colonials more breathing room.
“We wanted to get three points for our psyche and we did a good job of it tonight,” Lalonde said. “We executed our game plan pretty well and we were fortunate enough to put four goals in and win. Although they’re a first-year program they’re a really good team. They have a good coach there and they’re structure in the defensive zone is really good, it was hard to get pucks in.”
Lalonde’s output on the night was a fitting reward for his hard work and consistency, as they been something his team has relied on all season long.
“He’s been very consistent this year and with consistency comes opportunity,” Schooley added. “Nick’s kind of been used as a utility infielder to where he can play anywhere. He’s started to play better defensively and his compete level is high, I thought he was very good tonight.”
Santeri Hartikainen came through with an insurance tally at 12:07 of the third period when he beat Purpura from the right circle for his fifth goal of the season, matching his freshman season output.
The two teams finish their two game series on Friday afternoon at 3:05 pm at the Island Sports Center.