NEVILLE TWP. — Mercyhurst’s David Barach took advantage of the opportunity presented to him with 29 seconds left in overtime as he put a puck from a friendly carom past Robert Morris net minder Andrew Pikul to give the visiting Lakers a 4-3 overtime victory on Saturday night at 84 Lumber Arena.
“We got pinned in our end and were running around a bit in overtime and they got a fortunate bounce off the back wall,” Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said following the loss which dropped their overall record to 9-6-2 on the season. “It’s a frustrating loss, we played hard, we competed and we were 30 to 40 seconds away from getting at least a point out of it. We had a couple of chances right off the bat in overtime. but I guess it wasn’t meant to be our game tonight.”
The game had a playoff-type feel to it from the drop of the puck as both teams battled hard for every loose puck and every scoring chance they could find in a scoreless first period that saw the Colonials take four penalties. But for yet another game, the Colonials penalty kill rose to the occasion to keep their opponent off the scoresheet, and goaltender Andrew Pikul made some point-blank saves to help his team’s cause in the early going.
“I thought Andrew was very good in the first,” Schooley said. “Obviously, the goals were kind of off broken plays and scrambles. Without watching them I don’t know if you could fault him for may of them. He was solid.”
Colonials forward Timmy Moore broke open the scoreless tie with his power play goal at 5:19 of the second frame as deflected a shot from defenseman Eric Israel past Laker goaltender Colin DeAugustine. Mercyhurst would respond less than two minutes later when Jonathan Charbonneau sent a hard rising shot from the right circle that beat Pikul over the shoulder to knot the score at one.
Israel put the Colonials back in the lead at 12:32 when his shot took a weird hop on it’s way past DeAugustine with traffic in front being supplied by Daniel Leavens. Brady Ferguson figured in with an assist on the goal to stretch his scoring streak to seven games. Israel’s play was one of the highlights of the evening.
“I thought Eric Israel was really good and was one of the best players on the ice and was very noticeable.” Schooley remarked regarding the sophomore defenseman who is enjoying his best season to date, compiling four goals and 12 assists before the halfway point of the season.
The Lakers then turned the momentum with two goals less than two minutes apart in the waning moments of the second period. Charbonneau put his second puck past Pikul with goal at 17:37. He was followed at 18:53 when Stephen Hrehoriak finished a two on one to put the Lakers in the driver’s seat as the teams headed to the dressing room. The third frame belonged to the Colonials as they ramped up their intensity and energy. Robert Morris out shot Mercyhurst by a 13-7 margin over the final twenty minutes. But despite the tilted ice, the scoreboard still indicated they were a goal short. That is, until captain Rob Mann beat DeAugustine from just inside the blue line to tie the score at three with under ten minutes left to play.
The teams went to overtime where the Colonials missed several early chances to come away with the win. It was a night that saw a good effort against a difficult opponent that fell one goal shy on the night.
“In the third period, we showed how we need to play,” Mann said. “We were putting pucks deep and cycling hard and I think our guys saw how we had the success like that. We just have to keep putting pucks at the net. There was a lot of rebounds tonight, lots of second opportunities tonight, we need to pepper that net tomorrow night.”
The two teams conclude their weekend series in Erie, PA on Sunday at 4:05 p.m,, the last game for each before the Christmas break.