Air Force extends RMU’s losing streak to five
The Robert Morris University Colonials battled the Air Force Academy Falcons for the first time since losing out on a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four tournament after a loss to AFA in the AHC Championship last season.
A goal by Falcon’s forward Erik Baskin just four minutes into the game would be the only goal scored through the first 20 minutes. The first period seemed like a gift to the Colonials, with Air Force tallying 14 minutes of penalty kill in the first period alone. However, the Colonials went 0-for-3 on the man advantage opportunities, a stat that Coach Schooley called frustrating, and added that “You can’t win games when you can’t score”.
At the tail end of the first period, Colonial Luke Lynch was looking to move from the offensive corner to a spot on the half wall, when AFA defenseman Zack Mirageas cross-checked Lynch in the head. Lynch, an RMU player known to retaliate, managed to keep his cool and not fight back, letting his team start the second period with the majority of a five minute major left to play through. Mirageas was issued a major penalty and a game misconduct, meaning he may be missing from the Air Force roster in game two of the weekend series.
After starting the second period with 4:54 on the powerplay rolling over from the first, the Colonials seemed to have a good initial in-zone setup and passes around the perimeter, but Air Force did a good job at minimizing the shooting lanes, and even managed to get a few rushes, to which Marotte was quick to shut the door.
The Colonials were unable to capitalize on the powerplay, and were quick to return the opportunity as senior Rob Powers took a minor penalty for interference, and shortly after Timmy Moore took a five-minute major and got a game misconduct for contact to the head of an Air Force player. Coach Schooley regarded the team’s special teams play tonight as “Very good” as they were able to keep Air Force’s powerplay, who usually scores on 25% of man advantages, scoreless.
Timmy Moore’s penalty could come back to haunt him, as the league is now reviewing his suspension to see if he will be he able to participate in his own senior night being held in game two of this series. This means this could be his final home game as a Robert Morris Colonial. How this affects the team is deeper than senior night though, as the Colonials now have to battle back from a five-game losing streak without an essential player in their top line.
The Colonials managed to hold the AFA powerplay scoreless and looked to get on the board to tie the game at one. The next goal wouldn’t come in the second period, and after 40 minutes of play, the score was still in Air Force’s direction, 1-0.
At the start of the third, Francis Marotte continued doing what he’s known for at RMU, making big saves in big moments. The Colonials took another penalty early on in the third, with captain Alex Bontje taking a minor for holding. Brady Ferguson was able to read and pick off two passes the AFA defenseman made, which resulted in two big scoring chances. The Air Force goaltender Billy Christopoulos made two incredible saves to keep his team ahead on the scoreboard.
The third period saw a slight increase in physicality from an already physical game, with bodies crashing into each other during every rush. With time running down in the game, RMU really made sure to push the pedal to the metal, where it seemed they had possession of the puck in Air Force’s zone for the latter half of the period.
Quality scoring chances seemed to be coming with every shot, as traffic in front of the net and players looking for rebounds wreaked havoc in front of the Air Force goalie. One Colonial seemed to put the puck in during the closing moments, but Spencer Dorowicz seemed to miss the ocean from the beach, as with an empty net in front of him, he hit the post with under 3 seconds left in play.
RMU looks to snap their now five-game losing streak against Air Force tomorrow night at 7:05 at the Colonials Arena before the AHC playoffs start. When asked about how the team will play tomorrow, Coach Schooley said: “we have no choice, we’re in playoff mode.” The Colonials are now 13-18-2 overall on the season.