Photo Courtesy of RMU Athletics
NEVILLE TWP.,Pa- There was every expectation that the Stonehill College Skyhawks would bring a determined effort to game two of their weekend series with the Robert Morris University Colonials on Saturday night. However, the Colonials matched that effort and then some as they came up with answers in bunches when called upon, turning a close game into another comfortable victory with a 7-3 win, earning a home sweep for the first time in the 2023-24 season. Colonial captain Rylee St. Onge and freshman forward McKay Hayes each found the net twice in the victory while between the pipes, Chad Veltri stopped 28 of 31 shots.
“We got off to a slow start and I didn’t think we played as good as we needed to,” Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said. “Stonehill did a really good job of playing with a lot of energy and came after us. We had to find another gear and wake up and not allow that to happen. We did what we needed to do. It wasn’t pretty at times but it’s always better to win ugly than lose pretty, we’ll take that one.”
Hayes opened the scoring just past the six minute mark of the first period when he sent a rocket from between the circles past starting Skyhawk netminder Gavin Fitzpatrick for his fourth goal of the season to give his side the early 1-0 lead. However, unlike Friday night, Stonehill turned the early momentum back in their favor, with an inspired remainder of the opening frame that saw them knot things back up at one goal each when Anthony Galante beat Veltri at 14:30. The Skyhawks out shot the Colonials by a 12-9 margin and came within inches of going into the dressing room tied with the lead.
“It’s always good to have a lot of guys step up,” Schooley added. “Our freshman aren’t freshman anymore and they’re not playing like it either. Walter Zacher had a big weekend and George Krotiris has been outstanding for us lately and I can’t forget about Tanner Klimpke, he’s been dynamic and to have our seniors step up is huge with St.Onge and thought Dallas Tulik was outstanding this weekend.”
The Colonial offensive attack then ramped it up a notch in the middle stanza as the red hot St.Onge struck for his fifth goal of the season off a faceoff at 8:58 of the second. Stonehill once again hung in with the Colonials with Greg Japchen’s goal tying the contest less than three minutes later. However, a three goal onslaught from Robert Morris during the final six minutes of the second period put the Skyhawks in a hard position. Hayes put the Colonials back in front with his second goal of the night at 16:15 and then just nine seconds later, St.Onge blasted a shot from the right circle that flew past Fitzpatrick to double the Colonial lead. The hard working Paul Maust was then rewarded with his first goal of the season on a wrister from the lower right circle to cap a productive period that saw Robert Morris carry a fairly hefty three goal lead into the dressing room.
The Skyhawks had one final chance to climb back into the contest at 11:59 of the third period with a two minute, two-man advantage. However, a calm and collected Colonial penalty kill, combined with some timely saves from Veltri turned the momentum back towards Robert Morris. Freshman forward Walter Zacher then put the decision away for good with a highlight reel type breakaway goal at 15:30 of the third period, his fourth goal of the season and third of the weekend. The Colonials out shot the Skyhawks 40-31 on the night and managed a total of six penalties taken for the weekend as they improved their record to 6-13-3 overall. Robert Morris will travel next weekend to face the University of Minnesota for a pair of games starting next Friday, January 12.