RMU takes down RIT with Prkusic OT winner


Photo Credit: Garret Roberts

Nathan Breisinger, Contributor

PITTSBURGH– After a tough loss the prior evening, the Robert Morris men’s hockey team (10-15-3, 10-9-4 AHA) battled back to beat the RIT Tigers (15-11-4, 11-7-5 AHA) in overtime 4-3, thanks to a game-winning goal from Nick Prkusic.

The Colonials were able to erase a two-goal deficit and snap a five-game losing streak.

“We needed that, whether its two points or three points,” Head Coach Derek Schooley said. “Really gutsy comeback down 3-1.”

The contest did not start in favor of the Colonials, as RIT was able to maintain pressure in the RMU end for a majority of the first three minutes. The Colonials barely made it across center red as the Tigers quickly moved the puck and were heavy on the forecheck.

Robert Morris responded to RIT’s early game plan by throwing the body. Luke Lynch, Justin Addamo and Prkusic were all noticeable as they laid the boom on opposing Tiger players. Geoff Lawson threw the biggest hit in the early going, knocking over Regan Seiferling, in which Lawson would be visibly shaken up.

It took 13 minutes for the first goal to be registered, as Nick Lalonde walked in with room on the right side and ripped it past goaltender Logan Drackett’s glove to make it 1-0 RMU. Kip Hoffman had the lone assist to feed Lalonde.

“We had a lot of chances and we had some guys really step up,” Schooley said.

Following the opening goal, the game began to even out, as the two contenders traded chances back and forth. The Colonials failed to execute, as many of their shots missed the net, including Nick Jenny and Luke Lynch wrist shots that soared over the cage.

RIT was able to knot the game up at one apiece when Jake Hamacher received a pass from across the offensive zone and one-timed it passed Justin Kapelmaster. Ryan Nicholson fed him the puck two consecutive times in similar fashion but the second shot would be deadly.

Just 30 seconds into the second period, Alden Dupuis would serve a two-minute minor penalty for slashing, which was easily killed off by the Tigers.

Shortly after the kill, RIT found the back of the net once again when Jordan Peacock scored on a wrap-around goal, fooling Kapelmaster.

After another penalty kill by the Tigers, they would gain momentum and expose a defensive lapse by the Colonials, as they played tic tac toe with Ryan Nicholson passing it to Caleb Moretz, who moved it to Jake Hamacher, who finished off the pretty passing to make it 3-1.

As the Colonials looked to respond, Roman Kramer threw a shot wide of Drackett and then got his own rebound, moving it to Garrett Clegg in front, who was stopped by Drackett. After the whistle, several players from both teams got into an altercation, which resulted in a Darren Brady penalty.

On the ensuing power play, Daniel Mantenuto received a cross-crease pass from Prkusic in which he waited for Drackett to open the five whole just enough as he slid it home to make it 3-2.

Late in the period, Andrew Rinaldi took a tripping penalty. On that man-advantage, the Colonials were able to find the back of the net but the goal was waved off as Nick Jenny was pushed into Drackett which disallowed what would have been Nick Prkusic’s first of the night.

As the third period began, the Colonials looked determined and put together one of their best 20-minute efforts in recent memory.

“We just had a good meeting in the locker room in between the second and the third,” Prkusic said. “It was one of our best periods of the year and it gave us a chance to win.”

RMU had several strong opportunities, including a great shot on goal from the left circle by Prkusic. The Colonials were backed by solid play from Kapelmaster, who made many timely saves.

The newly meshed line of Prkuisc, Lynch and Mantenuto was buzzing and controlling the puck in the offensive zone, making RIT look like a completely different team from the previous five periods on the weekend.

“We were moving the puck really well and working well off each other,” Prkusic said. “We just found a way to build a little bit of chemistry, and we are gonna have to do that going forward.”

Robert Morris would finally get the equalizer with 1:38 left in the third period, as Aidan Spellacy whacked home a loose puck from on his knees during a mad scramble in front of Drackett.

“Down 3-2, we’ve been there the last couple weeks and haven’t been able to find a way to tie it. We were able to find a way to get that tonight,” Schooley said.

The game-tying goal would force overtime and at least guarantee one point for the Colonials on the evening.

In the five-on-five overtime period, the Colonials had the best opportunity to close out the game, with Spellacy receiving a pass in front from Santeri Hartikainen. He moved it from his feet to the forehand and lifted it, but Drackett got enough of his shoulder on it to knock it out of play.

As the game shifted to a three-on-three overtime period, the Colonials looked poised to strike as they had a few golden chances to finish the game.

Finally, after two-touch passes that moved the puck from Lalonde to Robert and eventually to Prkusic, who took the puck and fired a brilliant shot that beat Drackett over his right shoulder to win the game 4-3.

“Just trying to find some space in the offensive zone. Three on three is kind of a possession game, so we were cycling trying to find a lane and Alex made a good pass and I was able to finish it,” Prkusic said.

Ever since the game reached the third period, the Colonials showed that they would not be denied. RMU outshot the Tigers 25 to nine in the final three frames of the contest.

“We’ve been putting a lot of shots on goal, we just haven’t been able to find ways to score,” Schooley said. “We’ve outshot teams night after night after night without having any luck and not being rewarded, and we were finally rewarded tonight.”

The Colonials now have 34 points in conference play and continue Atlantic Hockey action when they travel to Worcester, Massachusetts, to take on Holy Cross (9-14-5, 8-11-5 AHA) next weekend. Puck drops at 7:05 both on Friday and Saturday night.