Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Robert Morris

Tonge heating up for RMU’s stretch run

Alex Tonge skates in the 2017 Three Rivers Classic. -- JENN HOFFMAN

The goal of virtually every season is to get hot at the right time, and carry the momentum forward into the post season, and for the Robert Morris Colonials the time is now. Continuing a recent stretch that has seen them take wins in four of their last five games, the Colonials have been looking like a team that is starting to hit their stride and at a perfect time of the season.

Their current momentum was carried forward in their last game, a solid 3-1 win at Niagara on January 9.

“I thought we played a pretty complete hockey game,”  Colonials’ head coach Derek Schooley said. “We did a very good job of controlling the pace of play and the momentum and we made sure that we put them on their heels for long stretches.  We limited scoring chances and did a good job killing penalties.”

TONGE HEATING UP

Standout forward Brady Ferguson wasn’t the only member of his line to take his game to another level in recent weeks, as junior Alex Tonge has managed 10 points in his last five games, which included a two-goal and three-point effort against Niagara last week. 

His resurgence, coupled with Ferguson’s, has coincided with the current Colonials’ hot streak and as the stretch run heats up, his production will be critical to his team’s level of success in the coming weeks.

“Obviously we expected Alex Tonge, a returning 20 goal scorer, to score a lot and he’s starting to heat up at the right time,” Schooley said. “His line has been playing very well with him and Brady Ferguson and Timmy Moore, I think they have very good chemistry right now. Alex has been doing all of the little things very well. 

“Against Niagara, his back check was very good and he was good on the wall and did a really good job around the net in his two goals. We’re excited about getting him going again. He’s got eight goals now and it’s hard to score 20 goals in back to back years so if we can get Alex as close to 20 as possible it means we’re going to have a lot of success.”

SCOUTING THE FALCONS

The Colonials will be looking to extend their impressive stretch of play this weekend as they host a Bentley side that has had its fair share of ups and down. The Falcons have played as well as anybody in Atlantic Hockey at times, as evidenced by a win over perennial Hockey East title contender Massachusetts-Lowell and a tie over then-No. 9 Northeastern.

Though they’re closer to the bottom of the standings than the top at the present time, the Falcons might be one of the scariest opponents in the Colonials’ stretch run in terms of the potential of what they can accomplish when the team is completely healthy and playing to their strengths which include solid goal tending, speedy and skilled forwards and a defensive system that can be smothering.

The Colonials are all too familiar with what the Falcons bring to the table as they lost both games of a two-game series in November falling 3-1 on game one and 6-1 in game two. The Falcons are led up front by freshman forward Luke Saterno and senior Kyle Schmidt who have added 17 and 16 points respectively, while at the back, Tanner Jago continues his potential all-conference season with five goals and 11 assists thus far.   

Meanwhile, Aiden Pelino and Jayson Argue, two net minders whom have given the Colonials fits in recent years, man the pipes. They’re not as statistically impressive as they have been in years past, but are still more than capable of backstopping big wins.

“They’ve got a tremendous amount of confidence against us,” Schooley said. “They handled us fairly easy at their place and took it to us. We went in there and hoped to have a turn around moment and we got back on the bus with two losses, so their going to be confident against us. Aiden Pelino has given us trouble, he’s 4-1 in his career against us. Players stepped up and had great weekends against us that weekend. Drew Callin was named AHA player of the week that weekend and we’ve always known the talent of Kyle Schmidt. They’ve got a very deep hockey team.”

BOLD PREDICTION

It’s hard to not like the Colonials at home with the way they’ve been playing recently. And although seeking as many conference points as possible no matter who the opponent is will be the goal for Robert Morris, a little revenge factor may be at work in this weekend set.

Bentley plays much much better than their current record indicates and have historically given the Colonials tough battles and have brought home good results both home and away. Their speed and skill will be their biggest assets here, but will they be able to defeat a Colonial team that’s nowhere near the same team they saw back in November in terms of confidence and cohesiveness? Look for the Colonials to finish the weekend with four points in two very close contests that may require overtime at least once.

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