NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — Alex Tonge directed a Daniel Mantenuto centering pass behind Eric Dop with 9:24 remaining in the third period and Robert Morris handed No. 20 Bowling Green its first loss of the season by a score of 3-2 at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center Friday.
Although the first period ended scoreless, it wasn’t without issue. Grant Hebert found his way to the locker room early after a getting ejected for boarding, but the Falcons couldn’t capitalize on the major.
Cameron Wright’s knuckling attempt beat a sprawling Francis Marotte at 3:50 of the second period to open the scoring, and the Falcons kept the Colonials in check until Kip Hoffmann drove up the wing, battling two defenseman off with one hand and was blind-sided by Lukas Craggs. Craggs received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, and the Colonials took advantage. Nick Prkusic picked up a puck along the circle and fired it through traffic to beat Dop at 13:41 of the frame, and less than 15 seconds later Tonge fed a streaking Michael Louria, who tipped the puck past the sophomore netminder.
A flock of Falcons crashed Marotte’s crease and a loose puck jumped out to the slot where Freddy Letourneau fired it home to tie things up for Bowling Green at 9:15, but Nick Jenny’s outlet pass springing Daniel Mantenuto gave Tonge the opportunity to add to his career numbers. Mantenuto faked Dob to the left, but the goaltender stayed with the junior while Tonge crashed through the slot, and with a Falcon draped all over him Mantenuto fired a hard pass that deflected off his stick and into the net for the game winner.
As time wound down, junior Alex Robert blocked a shot that was headed straight for the goal to seal the victory for the Colonials.
Marotte, fresh off his nomination on the Mike Richter watchlist, looked the part during the contest, keeping the Colonials in the game while the young defense adjusted to the speed of the collegiate game.
The junior stopped 37-of-39 on the evening in the win, and looked even sharper than the scoresheet suggests. Several broken plays and inadvertent passes led to odd man breaks for the Falcons, and the only two goals came on tough, crease-crashing plays that developed quicker than the goaltender could control.
LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE
The story of the Robert Morris Colonials to this point has been the 11 newcomers to the squad for this season, however on this evening the upperclassmen stole the spotlight back from their younger peers.
“Nick Prkusic gets a goal, Alex Tonge gets a goal set up by Mantenuto, Louria scores,” Derek Schooley explained. “Our older guys are the guys that produced the offense and they got the job done at the end of the game. It’s teaching the younger guys by watching the older guys by doing that. Michael Coyne hasn’t been in a position to play in those scenarios to this point, but he watched good players such as Brady Ferguson and Spencer Dorowicz do the job. So we asked him to take an additional role on this team, and I think he did a wonderful job at it.”
Tonge remembered how it felt to get that first victory against a highly touted opponent.
“It’s huge for the young guys to get that first win against a ranked team,” the winger explained, “I remember my freshman year we beat Michigan at Michigan and it was just unreal for us. I think we’re just going to build off of that and keep it going for Sunday”
The Colonials head to northwest Ohio on Sunday for the second half of the home-and-home with the Falcons. The contest will emanate from the Slater Family Ice Arena in Bowling Green, and has an approximate puck drop at 5:07 p.m.