It was a cold Friday evening in Rochester, New York, where the Robert Morris men’s hockey team took on the Mercyhurst Lakers in the AHC semifinal. This game was an absolute thriller as the third period saw the two teams combine for five goals. The most important was Brady Ferguson’s game-tying goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation. This then sent the game to overtime where Michael Louria scored the game winning goal for RMU. The 5-4 overtime win advanced the Colonials to the AHC Championship game Saturday night.
The game was quiet throughout the first several minutes until Matthew Graham was boarded after entering the Colonials zone. Once the Lakers touched the puck things became physical as sophomore Alex Robert engaged in a shoving match with a Lakers player. However, on the play, the perpetrator of the penalty, freshman defenseman Quinn Wichers, was injured on the the play. Medical officials took a few minutes of stoppage to aid the injured Wichers, then RMU began their power play, but the Colonials were not able to capitalize on the man advantage.
Unlike the Colonials, the Lakers would convert on their first power play — that was, until the call was reviewed and the referees determined that the shot off the crossbar never fully crossed the goal line behind Francis Marotte.
RMU would get another shot on the power play and fail once again. Shortly after this opportunity the Lakers would get on the scoreboard. As senior Kane Elliot would sneak a shot past the shoulder of Marotte. This goal came at a crucial time as well, as it was scored with less than a minute left in the first period of play. The teams would head into the locker room with Mercyhurst in the lead 1-0.
The second period would begin and RMU would find themselves on their third power play of the night, and this time they would convert. As senior superstar Brady Ferguson showed up when he needed to and snapped a wrister on net, sniping the top corner over the blocker of Merceyhurst goaltender Brandon Wildung. Ferguson’s effort tied the game at 1-1 and it was set up from a pass off the stick of junior defenseman Eric Israel.
Then about five minutes later, the assistant captain would strike again as Ferguson received a beautiful saucer pass from redshirt junior Michael Louria. This goal would give the Colonials their first lead of the game at 2-1 and the score would stay this way for the remainder of the second period of play.
The third period of play kicked off and just a few minutes in Marotte had to come up big for the Colonials. As senior Nathan Ferriero was able to get into the slot and release a powerful wrist shot. However, Marrote was able to make the snag with his trapper and preserve the RMU lead. This opportunity was one of the few high quality chances that the Colonial defense allowed throughout that point in the game as the RMU defense prevented opportunities with very active stick play throughout the game.
However, just before the midway point in the period, Mercyhurst junior Taylor Best was able to draw the game back even with a wrist shot from the slot that rattled in of the post. This goal came as the result of the lakers constant pressure as up until this point in the third RMU had struggled to clear the puck out of their defensive end and mount an attack on offense.
Then the Colonial offense would resurrect just a few minutes later as sophomore Daniel Mantenuto continued his hot playoff run has his turning wrister was able to reach the back of the net giving RMU a 3-2 lead.
But this lead would not last long as the Lakers would strike back within seconds. Junior Derek Barach’s knuckling slap shot found its way past Marotte and into the back of the net. Shortly after this Mercyhurst would strike again.
This time for the Lakers, it was sophomore defenseman Joseph Duszak who was able to receive a pass from behind the net and force the puck into the back of a crowded RMU goal as bodies crashed around Marotte.
This roller coaster of a hockey game was not over yet as Ferguson would rise to the occasion one more time. It all started with a Mercyhurst too many men on the ice penalty, and then with Marotte out of the net and the end of the Colonials season getting closer by the second, Ferguson launched a wrister into the back of the net to tie the game at 4-4 with less than a minute left.
However, this would not be the last of the of the action in this period as right before the final whistle of regulation blew Mercyhurst had a chance at an almost empty net after a cross-crease pass. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Marrote was able to get his right pad across to make a phenomenal save as time expired.
With the game nodded up at 4-4 this meant overtime in Roch Vegas. Luckily, for Colonial faithful, RMU was able to put the puck in the back of the net first to earn the victory and clinch a spot in the AHC Championship game. This will be the third consecutive AHC Championship game appearance for the Colonials and they will take on the winner of the Air Force Falcons and Canisius Golden Griffins.