NEVILLE TWP., Pa — In the eyes of the NCAA, it will go down as a tie.
But when Robert Morris sophomore Nick Prkusic took a feed from defenseman Alex Robert and slid it past RIT goaltender Logan Drackett with less than a minute remaining in the 3-on-3 portion of overtime, the Colonials sure celebrated a much-needed victory.
They’ll also get two crucial points in the Atlantic Hockey table after falling behind 3-1 to the Tigers, earning the extra point on a night that seemed like more of a playoff battle in terms of intensity.
“We needed that,” Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said. “We needed that for our pysche. A really gutsy comeback. We played in our end a little bit in the 5-on-5 because we couldn’t get the puck deep to get our defense off the ice and then a big goal. It feels really good to get the points out of the game that we got tonight.”
Prkusic’s game-winning tally was his tenth and most critical goal of the season to this point for Robert Morris
“I just tried to find some space in the offensive zone,” Prkusic said. “3-on-3 is kind of a possession game so we were just kind of cycling, trying to find a lane. Alex made a good pass and I was able to finish it.”
The Colonials saw much of the action in their own end from the drop of the puck as they withstood consistent pressure and 18 Tigers shots. Despite that fact, it was Colonials forward Nick Lalonde who opened the scoring at 7:28 of the first frame as he let a hard shot go from the right wing circle that buzzed by Drackett to give Robert Morris the early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers then rattled off the next three goals on the sheet. Jake Hamacher scored twice, first at 18:03 of the first period and then 11:12 of the second to give the Tigers a comfortable 3-1 lead near the halfway point of the game.
However, the Colonials turned the tide and found a way to get pucks behind Drackett while maintaining the puck in the Tigers’ end throughout and turning their intensity up another level.
Senior Daniel Mantenuto turned the hard work into a goal with a power-play tally at 16:05 of the second period, as belief turned into results on the ice.
“We had a good meeting in the locker room between the second and third,” Prkusic said. “We had to give everything that we had. It was one of our best periods of the year and it gave us a chance to win. It might not count as a win in the standings but for us that was a moral win. We were going hard to the net and we weren’t taking no for an answer.”
The Colonials then completely turned the table on the Tigers from the moment the puck dropped in the third frame. Once out shot by a 22-9 margin by the Tigers, Robert Morris wound up taking over complete control of the game, amassing a 21-7 shot differential in the third period while coming up with a from forward Aidan Spellacy, who put home a rebound from close range at the 18:22 mark to knot the score at three.
“I thought we started out really slow,” Schooley added. “Obviously they out shot us 18-4 in the first period, that’s a tough start. You have to battle and compete and keep going and 21 shots got us where we needed to be. We’ve been putting lots of shots on goal we just weren’t able to score. We were finally rewarded tonight.”
The Colonials return to action next weekend as they travel to Holy Cross to take on the Crusaders in a two-game set starting Friday, Feb 14.