Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Robert Morris

Will home cooking provide spark for Colonials?

Brady Ferguson and Army's Tyler Pham square for a faceoff. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

Sometimes a little home cooking can go a long way towards curing a team’s ills. Not that the Robert Morris Colonials have that much to be concerned about at this stage of the regular season, but, the start of the year has seen them drop two of their first three games. Perhaps the consistency they’ve been looking for will develop in their upcoming series with Army West Point this Friday and Saturday night at the RMU Island Sports Center. In order to make it a four-point weekend, it will have to.

In the Colonials favor, they possess a locker room that has seen and overcome similar stretches of play. It may be their biggest asset, with a veteran leadership group that has battled hard throughout their careers to this point.

“I know that we’re a confident group that still believes in themselves,” head coach Derek Schooley said. “It’s three games. If we’re at game 34, then you’re worried a little bit. But you want to get better every week. You want to be playing your best hockey in January, February and March.”

Road points are hard to come by within Atlantic Hockey, and the Colonials did just that with a 4-3 victory last Friday night, a game that saw them bolt out to an early lead but fail to take total control as Canisius stormed back with three quick third period goals.  Spencer Dorowicz’s late goal was able to stand as the game winner. On Saturday, Canisius put the clamps down on the explosive Robert Morris attack, limiting them to one goal in a 4-1 loss that saw them give up two power play goals while not managing to score on any of their eight chances.

“We have to keep our focus,” Schooley said. “I thought we lost a little bit of our focus when we were up 3-0 after two periods and we had to regain it quickly and we were very fortunate to respond in the last 10 minutes, but we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that scenario. Our focus and determination within our game need to improve.”

The weekend did see transfer Micheal Louria put pucks in on both nights. Louria has been able to join the team and blend in seamlessly, with the help of some additional practice time last year, and has acquitted himself well in the early going.

“Mike shoots the puck and has been opportunistic with his chances,” Schooley said.  “He needs to be a little more diligent with his game away from the puck, but offensively, when he gets the puck, he’s always a threat.”

SCOUTING THE BLACK KNIGHTS

Army brings speed, physicality and a sense of urgency to almost every on-ice situation for sixty minutes. The Black Knights enjoyed a weekend off last week, and before that, swept an improved American International side. They’re led up front by forwards Tyler Pham and Dominic Franco, both 20-point scorers last season. On the blue line, keep an eye out for Dalton MacAfee who managed 13 points last season and has two assists in two games this year. Gone is goaltender Parker Gahaghen, who managed to beat some teams almost single handedly in his career. In the net, senior Cole Burns appears to have won a starting job. Beating the Knights will not be an easy chore. Army took a game last October in the Colonials’ building.

“Army works extremely hard,” Schooley said. “Our work ethic has to be harder than theirs. Will beats skill when skill doesn’t work. We’ve got to make sure that our work ethic at a high level and it will allow our skill will play into our game. We need to be ready to battle. This is going to be a hard weekend. They’re a confident hockey team, we need to be ready to compete because we know they will be.”

BOLD PREDICTION

Army will bring it in every way imaginable this weekend. They’re rested and ready to take on a team they are all too familiar with and know how to beat on the road.  However the Colonials to a man know they need to start building the habit of playing hard for sixty minutes sooner rather than later.  If the efforts are equal, tip the skill factor in the Colonials direction as they come up with a Friday night 2-2 tie and a 4-1 Saturday night win.

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