Colonials make statement in battle with Huskies

Jack O'Brien, Contributor

The Robert Morris Colonials (8-11-1, 7-6-1 AHA) and St. Cloud State Huskies (14-2-2, 6-0-2 NCHC) battled it out in the first game of the second day of the Three Rivers Classic at PPG Paints Arena in downtown Pittsburgh which eventually saw St. Cloud State emerge with a 5-2 victory.

Don’t let the score fool you though, the Colonials battled hard in this one. The game opened with the Huskies quick puck possession and offensive strength countered by the Colonials staunch defense, something that’s been hit or miss this far into the season. St. Cloud would open the scoring with Patrick Newell’s shot from the high slot to make it 1-0 early. The Husky lead wouldn’t last long though, just 29 seconds later Nick Prkusic poked one home from a netmouth scramble to tie things up at one a piece.

The second period was played almost entirely in the Colonials’ zone as St. Cloud mounted offensive push after push which led to Kevin Fitzgerald scoring after an outstanding play by Nick Poehling fresh out of the box. The puck was cleared out the same time Poehling left the sin bin and he dove out to keep the puck on his stick and onside. After two breakaway chances stopped by Francis Marotte the third shot was sent home by Fitzgerald and he Huskies led 2-1.

Another Husky lead that was short lived as Nick Lalonde was able to receive a pass from Nick Prkusic on the power play and roof the Colonials’ second goal of the game to open the scoring in the third period just two minutes in.

This was the period in which St. Cloud State pulled away from RMU with two goals from Robby Jackson, scoring his 100th point in the process, and an empty net goal from Nick Poehling to ice the game at 5-2.

“Man it feels great,” said Jackson on scoring his 100th career point.

“You see all these great players[in college hockey] and you think ‘maybe that’ll be me one day’…it’s almost like a dream realized” said Jackson.

The real story in this game was the young, gritty and hungry Colonials taking it to the No. 1 team in the nation. Head coach Derek Schooley made sure that the Colonials statement effort didn’t go unnoticed.

“I don’t think people understand the magnitude of the team we had here today,” Schooley said.

“That’s Duke in basketball, that’s Alabama in football, that’s the number one team in the nation, and Robert Morris has them at 2-2 with ten or so minutes to go” said Schooley.

Robert Morris allowed 35 shots to the Huskies but had the answer in Francis Marotte who stopped 30 of the 34 that he faced. Marotte made incredible saves all night to keep the Colonials in the game and gave them a chance to make their own pushes throughout the game.

Coming into the second half of the season this may have been what the Colonials needed to jump start their journey to an AHA championship but nothing is certain. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played and a lot of good teams to play it. This stretch of games until the end may be the most important stretch of games the Colonials have seen in the 2018-2019 campaign.

The effort and promise the Colonials showed today will not go unnoticed as they give the nation’s best a dog fight of a game. Robert Morris is scheduled to play Bentley at Colonials Arena on January 11th next Friday.