NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — The Robert Morris Colonials carried the play for large periods of the second and third periods on Friday night versus the Mercyhurst Lakers, but could not completely overcome an early two goal deficit as the Lakers found a way to hang on to a critical 2-1 victory.
For Mercyhurst, the hot streak kept on rolling as they managed to take their fourth victory in their last five games, complementing a four game winning streak in January as they now find themselves tied for the lead in the Atlantic Hockey standings. Meanwhile, the Colonials now find themselves tied for fourth place overall as the result damaged their chances of solidifying a home ice and first round bye position.
“We can’t use the ceremony as an excuse and we talked about that before the game,” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said making reference to a pre-game ceremony honoring former associate head coach Mark Workman who passed away this week. “The one thing that Mark Workman would have wanted was to honor him by playing hard. We came out of the gates pretty good but didn’t convert and then we got soft. We got soft going back for pucks, we got soft on their fore check, and we gave up a soft goal.”
LAKERS BRING IT EARLY
The Colonials came out with a flurry of chances following the drop of the puck, including a two on none rush in the first 10 seconds, but it would be short lived as the Lakers seized early momentum. Bryan Sienerth got the Lakers off as he put the puck behind Colonial goaltender Francis Marotte at 6:40. Mercyhurst then proceeded tilt the ice, out shooting the Colonials by a 15-6 margin while managing the puck at a high level.
Derek Barach then added a late power play tally with just one second remaining in the first frame to double the Mercyhurst advantage heading into the dressing room.
“We chased the game,” Schooley said. “We played a better second and third period but it’s tough to overcome when you give a team momentum. We have to be better and we’re getting to the time of year where we don’t have time to get better, it’s time to go or we’re gonna be done and we’re going to go ‘what happened’. We’re getting chances and not converting on things, it’s frustrating. We’d better figure it out in a hurry or we’re going to be playing in a couple of weeks. We need people who haven’t been scoring to step up and start scoring.”
COLONIALS FAIL TO CAPITALIZE
The Colonials were a better team in the final two frames, and managed to generate chances on a consistent basis. However, they failed to turn enough of them into goals as they were thwarted by key saves from Laker net minder Brandon Wildung and watched other opportunities miss the mark as they out shot their opponent 21-14 in periods two and three.
With Laker forward Jack Riley serving a five minute major penalty for checking from behind, the Colonials amassed seven shots but could not find the back of the net once in what was a microcosm of the evening. Colonial forward Michael Louria managed to tip a shot from Sean Giles past Wilding at 10:50 of the second frame to cut the Laker lead in half, but they could get no closer despite a few close misses and big saves the rest of the way.
“I think the issue for us right now is just playing a full 60 minutes,” Giles said. “We had that great chance right off the draw and then, myself included, made a couple of big mistakes in the first period that came back to haunt us in the end. This time of year, if you don’t play the full 60, you’re not going to win very often. We have to get pucks through and really force their goalie to be great tomorrow night.”
The two teams finish their weekend series tomorrow night at Mercyhurst.