NEVILLE TWP Pa., — A better and more consistent effort was needed from the Robert Morris Colonials heading into the weekend series with the RIT Tigers, and it was delivered on Friday night, as a mix of timely penalty kills, opportunistic scoring, solid goaltending and sound play in all three zones over 60 minutes contributed to a 3-0 Colonial victory.
“We played 60 solid minutes,” RMU head coach Derek Schooley said. “You’re going to make some mistakes in a 60 minute game but at the end of the day, we played hard. I thought the first 10 minutes for us were outstanding and it really set the tone for the game.”
It was a big win over an opponent who had come off of two big wins non-conference over Massachusetts-Lowell and Colgate recently. And it was a performance that saw the Colonials keep the Tigers from seizing momentum at any stage. Even with a three goal lead in the final frame and with all eyes looking for a push back from RIT, the Colonials sent pucks out, got pucks deep and kept putting up shots.
“If we play like that, we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Eric Israel remarked. “Overall, the team played great. We played a full sixty minutes.”
FRESHMAN GET COLONIALS OFF AND RUNNING
Though the Colonials had the better of the territory through the first 25 minutes, they didn’t have anything to show for it on the scoreboard. That changed at 6:09 of the second period when freshman defenseman Geoff Lawson got his own rebound and put it past starting Tiger net minder Logan Drackett for his first career goal. He was joined on the score sheet by freshman forwards Kip Hoffman and Nick Lalonde who earned their first points as Colonials on the play.
“Seeing him (Lawson) getting his first college goal really jump started our bench and got the boys going tonight.” Israel added.
MAROTTE TURNS IN SIXTH CAREER SHUTOUT
It looked like business as usual for Francis Marotte on Friday night as once again, he made a shutout look easy. Marotte came through with some key saves at different moments early in the contest to help keep his team in the driver’s seat. The shutout tied Dalton Izyk’s record for shutouts in a career, and was assisted by a defensive effort that allowed just 25 shots and didn’t give up much in the way of high quality scoring chances.
“We came out to play, we played hard and what we practiced this week showed up in the game,” Marotte said. “We shut them down pretty well. Today, we got to see with it felt like to come into the third period with a 3-0 lead and we shut them down and that’s what we like to see.
SPECIAL TEAMS COMES THROUGH
The momentum the Colonials kept rolling might have been interrupted at several points with a Tiger power play goal at crucial parts of the game. RIT managed two opportunities with the man advantage early in period three, needing a goal to draw themselves back into the game. However, the Colonials stood tall and sent pucks out of the zone one after another, and when Tiger shots were able to make it through, Marotte was ready to make the stop.
On the flip side, the Colonial power play’s effectiveness on paper was not a true indicator of how it performed. Robert Morris went one for eight with the man advantage, but struck iron on several more occasions and was a mere inch or two away from goals on other occasions. Good puck movement and good decisions were the norm throughout the game. Senior forward Eric Israel, skating in his first game of the season after healing from an injury, looked completely comfortable and game ready and put his team up by two goals with a hard shot from the right circle on a second period power play.
“We got Eric Israel back,” Schooley said. ” And Eric’s a puck moving quarterback and then we moved Nick Prkusic into a spot and moved Alex Tonge back to the middle to help give him a little more freedom. I thought our power play was outstanding. The percentage might not look so great but we dominated at times tonight.”
Daniel Mantenuto added the third Colonial goal at 14:50 of the second period as his rising shot from the bottom of the right circle snuck through on the short side for his first goal of the season.
The two teams finish their two game series on Saturday night at RMU Island Sports Center.