Photo courtesy of Justin Berl/RMU Athletics
NEVILLE TWP.,Pa- The Robert Morris Colonials checked the boxes on Thursday night at Clearview Arena versus the visiting Niagara Purple Eagles in a 4-1 victory while ending a 10 game winless streak. Anchored by Chad Veltri in the Colonial net who stopped 38 of 39 shots, and assisted by a total team effort that was choc full of timely scoring, turnover creation, shot blocking and plenty of back pressure during transitional moments, Robert Morris authored their most complete victory of the season.
“We had two really good periods and obviously the third got a little hectic, but we knew they were going to come with a massive effort,” Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said. “I thought Chad (Veltri) was outstanding tonight, and I thought it was a pretty complete game and a much needed win. They’re a good hockey team and they took it to us last time and we had to make sure that we played within our structure and with our details and habits.”
From the drop of the puck, the Colonials brought a patient and structured style shift after shift while frustrating the Purple Eagle attack with an array of shot blocks and forced errors. Meanwhile, a somewhat steady Colonial attack persisted in the Purple Eagle end for the first 40 minutes as Robert Morris kept maintained tilted ice and a shot advantage over their opponent. However, the attack to this point of the season had yet to find a consistent groove or take multiple goal leads for most of the season thus far. On Thursday night, Robert Morris found the net and some classic ways to dent it as Gavin Gulash got his side rolling with a goal at 6:15 of the opening frame when Gavin Gulash shot from point blank range, putting the puck past starting Niagara netminder Jarrett Fiske for the early lead which the Colonials took to the dressing room after 20 minutes of action.
Then, it was the captain’s turn. Graduate senior forward Rylee St. Onge picked up the puck in the neutral zone and skated his way over the blue line where he cut left and fired a rocket past Fiske from the left circle to double the Robert Morris advantage nearly three minutes into the middle frame.
“We need Rylee and it was good to see him get the monkey off his back,” Schooley added. “It was good to see him get that because he’s had so many chances. He’s been really good for us, he does a great job in the locker room. He actually leads our team in scoring chances so far and it was great to see him get rewarded tonight.”
Jackson Reineke then stepped up for the Colonials at 11:47 of the second, starting from picking himself up off the ice following a Niagara penalty, Reineke rejoined the play, found the puck and then curled around the Purple Eagle net, pushing the puck past Fiske at the side of the net to make it a 3-0 game. Luke Mylymok drew Niagara closer with a power play tally at 4:49 of the third as the Purple Eagles were desperately searching for a way back into the game, but Veltri and the Colonials had other ideas as a steady parade of Niagara shots were either blocked or stopped until Reineke was able to remove the Purple Eagle threat with an empty net tally with just over a minute remaining in the game.
The Colonials will travel to Niagara on Saturday, December 9 for the second game of the weekend set with puck drop scheduled for 7 PM at Dwyer Arena.