NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — At even strength, the Robert Morris Colonials were every bit up to the task presented by the American International College Yellow Jackets on Friday night at The Island Sports Center. However, a two-goal performance from the Yellow Jacket power play during a major penalty in the second period, followed by another goal with the man advantage just moments later put the Colonials in an unrecoverable thole which they were unable to overcome completely, rallying just to drop the game 4-3.
“Our special teams, as good as it’s been, didn’t get the job done tonight,” Derek Schooley said. “You can’t give up three goals in basically a ten minute span. We didn’t win face-offs, we didn’t get clears and our power play had a chance to get us back in the hockey game and they didn’t get the job done. Special teams was our achilles heel tonight.”
The game featured an entertaining edge with both teams creating in open ice as the Yellow Jackets held a slight shot advantage early. American International forward Martin Mellberg opened the scoring at 14:08 of the first period, tipping a puck in mid-air past starting Colonials net minder Justin Kapelmaster which barely trickled over the goal line. Robert Morris answered at 16:53 as Justin Addamo beat Yellow Jacket goaltender Stefano Durante to knot the score at one.
The Colonials found themselves in a good spot and had managed to tilt the ice in their favor at the start of the second period as Durante made some key saves to preserve the 1-1 tie. The game then turned the Yellow Jackets way as Colonials Defenseman Nolan Schaeffer was called for contact to the head and given a game misconduct at the ten minute mark, placing the Yellow Jackets on a five minute power play. Goals from Nicolas Luka and Hugo Reinhardt just :22 apart during the final 1:10 of penalty time put American International firmly in the drivers seat 3-1 and a goal less than two minutes later on another man advantage from Blake Christensen had the Colonials reeling by the time the second period came to a close. Kapelmaster was then replaced by Dyllan Lubbesmeyer, who proceeded to stop all eight shots he faced.
The Colonials didn’t go away quietly though, mounting a stout comeback in the final twenty minutes of play. Forward Michael Coyne sent a backhander past Durante to cut the lead to two goals with his third goal of the year at the 5:38 mark. Freshman Santeri Hartikainen then ripped a shot that tickled the twine to make it a one-goal game with just under five minutes remaining. Hartikainen had another good look with the extra attacker in play in the final minute but wasn’t able to get good contact to the shot as the Colonials comeback effort came up just short.
“We got some good looks, and then some good looks at the end,” Schooley added. “Our problem tonight was our execution. We had a potential three on one and a potential four on one and we can’t complete passes. Our execution wasn’t what it needed to be to beat the defending league champions. We played a period and a half. We commend our guys for a tremendous effort, down 4-1 in the third, we could have easily packed it in and that should give us some confidence coming into tomorrow but at the end of the day we need to be better for sixty minutes.”
The teams finish their weekend set on Saturday afternoon at the Island Sports Center with puck drop scheduled for 5:05 pm.