Photo Courtesy of RMU Athletics
NEVILLE TWP.,Pa- The Robert Morris Colonials unleashed an offensive onslaught on Friday night at Clearview Arena, combined with a solid defensive performance, a four goal power play effort and a 25 save night from starting netminder Chad Veltri, the Colonials effort produced a dominant 8-1 victory over the visiting Stonehill Skyhawks as the Colonials returned to action for the first time since December 17. Freshman forward Walter Zacher and led the way for the Colonials with a two goal, three point night, and graduate senior Dallas Tulik managed a trio of assists, spearheading a Robert Morris attack that posted not only a season high in goals but also with shots on goal in a 45 shot effort.
“We played the game the right way,” Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said. “We talk a lot about ‘Christmas Hockey’ and Jerry York used to say that it wasn’t great hockey and it ends up being a game of shinny hockey with lots of turnovers and back and forth. We did a good job to make sure we didn’t play that way. We have to be prepared to play the same way tomorrow. They’re a prideful group and they’ll be able to make it hard on us to try to get the win.”
The Colonials wasted little time putting up goals on Friday as freshman George Krotiris and Jackson Reineke both managed to keep their season progress rolling with one goal apiece in the first eight minutes of the game. Robert Morris kept adding the offensive pressure when a scary moment occurred in the Skyhawk net as starting goaltender Dylan Meilun took some hard contact from a team mate and stayed on the ice for an extended period of time at the 14:20 mark of the first. Meilun was assisted off the ice and replaced by Gavin Fitzpatrick, who was quickly faced with the determined Colonial attack as forward Tanner Klimpke threw a backhand shot into the net on a late period power play to give Robert Morris a 3-0 lead heading into the dressing room.
Following Colonial captain Rylee St. Onge’s power play tally just 6:26 into the second frame, Zacher took over on the scoreboard for his side as he punched home a rebound past Fitzpatrick at 8:09 and then seemingly danced with the puck around defenders in the slot before pulling back and releasing a pinpoint shot from a sharp angle in the right circle at 17:53 to make it a 6-1 game. Zacher’s goals sandwiched the only Skyhawk tally of the night which came off the stick of Nolan Fitzpatrick at 14:11.
“We played with the lead well,” Schooley added. “We got a little loose at times and gave up some three on two’s which we can’t do in the future. But we created offense with our structure and you don’t want to get away from that. After we were up 3-0 I asked them to go out and win the second period, they did and once again in the third. Our freshman line of Garvey, Krotiris and Zacher has been producing really good and then you’ve got Jackson Reineke who’s been producing really good and quietly been getting points and we have to keep them going in the right direction.”
Klimpke found the back of the net for his second goal of the night on a power play where he split the Skyhawk defense and beat Fitzpatrick at 5:59 of the final frame and Luke van Why, playing in his first game as a Colonial, finished off the score sheet with his first career goal. It was a convincing win for Robert Morris, but a weekend sweep will take another strong effort if not stronger according to Schooley.
“This is one of those potential trap games where just because it was 8-1 tonight, we think it’s going to be just as easy tomorrow. We’re not going to be able to play that way. They’re a good team and they’ve been playing teams really close. They went to overtime twice with Arizona State. We can’t overlook them and we have to be prepared for what’s thrown at us tomorrow.
Robert Morris and Stonehill conclude their weekend series on Saturday night at Clearview Arena with puck drop scheduled for 5 PM.