NEVILLE TWP., Pa — The opening weekend of play within the Atlantic Hockey conference slate couldn’t have gone much better for the Robert Morris Colonials as they completed the weekend sweep of the visiting Bentley Falcons with a 4-1 victory on Saturday night at the Island Sports Center.
Once again, goaltender Justin Kapelmaster played a key role as he stopped 45 of 46 Falcons shots on the night to complete a one goal against weekend for the senior net minder. The win gave the Colonials an important six-point head start on the rest of the conference teams and also made it five straight wins versus Bentley going back to last year’s quarterfinal playoff series.
“I liked our offensive zone structure and the things we did on the power play,” Colonials head coach Derek Schooley said. “The problem is we didn’t get to do that stuff very much because we had a penalty kill practice. It’s a good win, you’ll take six points on the weekend all the time. I thought we played hard, we sold out and it’s a good result.”
In stark contrast to Friday night’s game, the officials were giving the whistles a workout on Saturday night as the two teams combined for 14 penalties. The Falcons wound up with a staggering nine power play opportunities, any one of which could have helped them climb back into the contest had they found the back of the net. However, a strong Colonials penalty kill and another strong performance from Kapelmaster took any chance of the Falcons seizing momentum away throughout the night.
“Our penalty kill was outstanding,” Schooley remarked. “Hats off to the six forwards I used consistently and all the defensemen did a great job blocking shots. We frustrated them. We gave up 20 shots on the power play but I don’t know how many great looks they had. We bent a couple of times, but when we bent Kapelmaster was there.”
Meanwhile, on the power play side, the Colonials went two for five on the night with Spellacy’s two goals, the first coming at 15:09 of the first period and the second one at 2:31 of the second frame when he cleaned up a rebound to put the Colonials firmly in command with a 4-1 lead.
“It was a great team win, I think everyone stepped up in some sort of fashion,” Spellacy said. “We had all the freshman in the lineup and they played really well. To contribute to that feels great, I benefited off the hard work of some other guys. It was a great weekend power play wise, penalty kill wise and Kappy stood on his head the whole weekend.”
Contributions From Everyone
The Colonials win saw two contributions from different sources in the mix as defenseman Nick Jenny got his team rolling on the scoreboard just 2:13 into the first period when he sent a hard shot that beat starting Falcon goaltender Aidan Pelino for an early lead.
Also in the scoring mix was freshman forward and Finnish import Santeri Hartikainen who followed Spellacy’s first tally with his first career goal just 25 seconds later to put Robert Morris up 3-0.
however, also in the overall mix was an RMU defensive corps that made some necessary adjustments and committed to getting the puck out fast and smooth after Friday night’s game and did just that on Saturday.
“I think they were getting a little frustrated that we were clearing it,” senior defenseman Sean Giles said. “They started just trying to dump it in and get it back. At that point we just talked to each other and used each other as eyes to see where the outs were.”