Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Robert Morris

RMU looking for revenge against rival RIT

Eric Israel clears the crease against RIT in 2017. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

Revenge is sweet, and though the Robert Morris Colonials will be looking for some in their upcoming two game series with the visiting RIT Tigers, the task still remains the same, to get points in every remaining game no matter what opponent lies in the way.

Robert Morris now finds itself all alone in third place, just two points away from sharing the lead heading into play this Friday and Saturday night, but the Colonials can’t afford to feel comfortable as six games remain in regular season action and a tight pack is in hot pursuit behind them.

“Everybody’s so tight,” Colonials head coach Derek Schooley said. “It’s nine points from first to tenth and as we’ve seen in Atlantic Hockey, anybody can beat anybody on a given night. We’ve got to get points every weekend, though. We’ve put ourselves in a good spot and we’ve got five of our last six at home and we’ve put ourselves within striking distance of the top of the league. We need to finish the job that we started in December against Mercyhurst and all through the month of January.”

The current streak Schooley described has seen the Colonials amass an 8-2-1 record in the past 11 games and extended beyond January as they earned a crucial road sweep of the Sacred Heart Pioneers by taking a 4-1 decision on Friday while delivering a 3-1 victory on Saturday. The wins kept the Colonials overall record versus the Pioneers without a loss to speak of through 23 games to date.

“We played well enough to win both games,” Schooley said. ” We really had a good, solid, top to bottom team weekend. We controlled the ebbs and flows of the games.”

Back at home this weekend, the Colonials will have to match the desperation of the Tigers who are coming off a sweep themselves, one that they on the wrong side of as Bentley managed to snag both contests at RIT last weekend.

TIGERS WILL BE READY AND ABLE

The Tigers find themselves in the unique position of being closer to dead last than first place in the Atlantic Hockey standings thus far. However, there’s every bit of reason to believe that the light could turn on for them at any second, there’s simply that much talent in the dressing room and experience behind the bench in coach Wayne Wilson.

Up front, the Tigers are led by senior forward Myles Powell who currently sits with 26 points in 27 games thus far with juniors Erik Brown and the dangerous Gabe Valenzuela lurking just off Powell’s pace. At the back, two very skilled defensemen lead the charge in sophomore Adam Brubacher (16 points) and senior Matt Abt (13 points).

The season hasn’t gone the way they had imagined it, but the desperation they must be feeling, combined with the talent and experience make this a very dangerous opponent for the Colonials, one that handled them earlier in the year, sweeping them while scoring 10 goals in the process.

“I thought when we played them at the beginning of the year, I though they were very good and I think our guys remember that,” Schooley said. “Their defense were jumping into the play, they controlled the play down low, they played with a lot of pace and got very good goaltending. It’ll be interesting to see where we’ve come and they’ve gone since then. I expect this to be a very good RIT team this weekend. You never can count them out. They’ve got a lot of talent with Girduckis and Valenzuela and Myles Powell and their defense is a strength with Brady Norrish and Abt and it just goes down a list of quality defensemen that they have. I think we need to be ready to see a quality hockey team.”

COLONIALS’ DEPTH MAKING IT’S MARK

One could say the leaders started the mid season revolution for the Colonials as Brady Ferguson, who is now two points away from becoming the all time scoring leader, Alex Tonge and Timmy Moore provided the spark that helped the Colonials right the ship so to speak. However, the depth of the roster has been helping maintain the energy more and more in recent weeks.  Last weekend, the Colonials found themselves with a couple of holes due to injury and some players who were less visible in the first half of the season, came through to carry the charge with critical goals and inspired defensive play.

“One of the strengths of our teams has been depth, and to have guys step into some spots with some other guys out due to injury was a good scenario for us,” Schooley said. “Having Alex Robert and Nick Jenny step in and take over with Alex Bontje out for the weekend was huge.  And then with Nick Prkusic out it allowed some guys to get back into the lineup. We got the first goal in a while from Matthew Graham and got the first goal of the year from Brandon Watt and the first career goal from Michael Coyne.  We got a lot of secondary scoring and we didn’t rely on our top guys which was good to see.”

BOLD PREDICTION

The Colonials have been on a tear and have the momentum it would seem. Yet, it is still hard to believe the Tigers would depart Pittsburgh with empty pockets. They just won’t be filled to their liking perhaps as the two teams tie on Friday night by a 3-3 score while the Colonials manage a 4-2 win on Saturday night.

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