Robert Morris got off to a quick start and provided a strong finish as the Colonials defeated Holy Cross, 4-1, in the first game of the best-of-three Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals.
Sophomore Matthew Graham scored just moments into the game to give Robert Morris a 1-0 lead.
After the Crusaders tied things at the start of the second period, Brady Ferguson, Nick Prkusic and Alex Tonge scored as the Colonials came on strong to close out the victory.
“We didn’t sit back,” head coach Derek Schooley said to ESPN Pittsburgh after the game. “We played deeper into their end more often than not and gosh, effort and a lot of intestinal fortitude in the last minute of the game.”
Sophomore goaltender Francis Marotte made several key saves down the stretch and finished with 39 on the evening.
“We bent a lot but we didn’t break and when we did break, Marotte was there,” Schooley said.
“We did a pretty good job of boxing people out and I saw pretty much every shot I saved,” Marotte said. “That makes it a whole lot easier for me.”
The early goal from Graham was assisted by Luke Lynch and Daniel Mantenuto, as the all-sophomore second unit continues to click. That unit had four goals in the first-round series against Bentley. Lynch had a breakout sophomore campaign, but Graham and Mantenuto had just managed to equal their 2016-17 goal production entering the day Friday.
Robert Morris defenseman Sean Giles was banged up, but Schooley said the injury was one of several minor injuries sustained during the game.
The Colonials and Crusaders meet again Saturday at 7:05 p.m. If Robert Morris wins, the Colonials will earn their fourth consecutive berth in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals in Rochester, New York.