Photo courtesy of Robert Morris Athletics
NEVILLE TWP.,Pa- It was a better effort for the Robert Morris Colonials on Saturday night at Clearview Arena against the visiting Niagara Purple Eagles, but the result still stung as the Eagles used some opportunistic scoring and a solid performance in the net from Jarrett Fiske to earn the weekend sweep with a 4-1 victory. Coming off the heels of a 6-2 loss just 24 hours earlier, in a performance where the Colonials were outshot by a 42-24 margin, Robert Morris had seemingly turned the page on Saturday night as they limited chances against while taking the early lead.
Forward George Krotiris ventured the area between the circles while the Colonials were working in the Purple Eagle end and then found himself the recipient of a near perfect pass from Dallas Tullik which Krotiris shot past Fiske to put Robert Morris out front at the 15:11 mark of the first period. Meanwhile, The Colonials were able to play their style of game for most of the first period while outshooting the Eagles 7-6 in process.
“We wanted to play with more energy and compete tonight and I thought we did that in spurts,” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said. “We had our chances, we just didn’t finish our chances around the net. We’ve got to find a way to score some more goals.”
The steady first period performance came with a blemish though. While the Colonials were on a late power play with just under a minute remaining in the period, Niagara found the equalizer when Tyler Wallace executed a shorthanded two on one rush to perfection, selling pass first and then pulling the trigger on a shot that went past starting Colonial netminder Chad Veltri to send the game to a 1-1 tie heading in to the dressing room. Noah Hackett then doubled the Niagara advantage at 9:32 of the second period when Noah Hackett got the last touch on a puck that redirected past Veltri for his first career goal. Robert Morris dug an even deeper hole late in the second frame while working on a penalty kill as Glebs Prohorenkovs finished off a perfect pass from Carter Randklev to double the Niagara advantage.
The Colonials managed to earn some chances and power plays in the third frame, but missed opportunities became the way of the evening for the Colonials who had pucks bouncing off sticks at inopportune moments, or their share of shots that caromed right to their opponents. When Robert Morris was able to put pucks on the net, Fiske was there to make the save as he stopped 24 of 25 Colonial shots on the night. Jack Richard added an empty net tally during a six on four power play that failed to produce a goal for the Colonials.
Robert Morris will now face some very tough Atlantic Hockey tests in the coming weeks with a game at Canisius on Tuesday, November 21, followed by a weekend set with Sacred Heart and a meeting with RIT the following weekend.
“It’s not going to get any easier,” Schooley remarked. “Canisius was picked high in the league and Sacred Heart’s currently first in the league and then we’ve got RIT the next weekend and they’re second. It’s going to be challenging and we’ve got to find ways to get better.”