PREVIEW: Colonials look to keep up momentum against Tigers

Men%27s+hockey+hosts+conference+rival+RIT+this+weekend.+Photo+Credit%3A+Nathan+Breisinger

Men’s hockey hosts conference rival RIT this weekend. Photo Credit: Nathan Breisinger

By Adam Melluso, Contributor

NEVILLE TWP, Pa.– The Robert Morris men’s hockey team (6-3, 4-1 AHA) looks to keep its momentum going to start 2021 by hosting a two-game series against the RIT Tigers (4-2-2-0, 2-0-1-0-1 AHA) at Clearview Arena this Saturday and Sunday. Before the two sides square off, let’s take a look at what each team has to do to gain much-needed early points to push them up in the standings and who is on a roll for both squads.

Recapping Robert Morris

The Colonials are coming off one of their most dominant efforts of the season, flying out of the gate on New Year’s Eve against Niagara (1-5-2, 0-4-2 AHA) en route to a 6-1 drubbing of the Purple Eagles on the road at Dwyer Arena. Newcomers Jordan Timmons and Gavin Gulash continued to make a consistent impact upfront on offense with a goal each, in addition to markers from Justin Addamo, Nick Jenny, Grant Hebert, and Santeri Hartikainen. Freshman goaltender Noah West continued with his string of stellar performances so far this season, stopping 31 of 32 Niagara shots in the victory.

Previewing RIT

The Tigers are coming off a stellar effort of their own, roaring (pun intended) back to tie ECAC member Colgate (1-2-1, 0-1-0) 4-4 on the road this past Tuesday in a non-conference affair. Despite falling behind 2-0 early in the first period on goals from the Raiders’ Paul McAvoy, RIT then stormed back with three successive tallies (including two in a row from Elijah Gonsalves) to take the lead 3-2. However, Colgate would not go away quietly, and after a goal from Trevor Cosgrove on the power play tied the game at three to head into the second intermission, McAvoy potted his hat-trick goal to put the Raiders up 4-3 in the middle of the final frame. Just when it seemed that RIT would ultimately go down swinging, a late equalizer from Kobe Walker saved the game and pulled RIT to a firm stalemate in the end.

Players to Watch

Noah West (RMU) – While players like Grant Hebert and Justin Addamo have been working hard to put RMU ahead of the pack in the conference on offense, West has been quietly turning into one of the best-kept secrets in Atlantic Hockey with his play recently. The freshman from Pittsboro, Indiana has posted a 2.02 GAA with a solid .939 save percentage despite the ups and downs of the season with games being postponed or canceled due to COVID concerns. If the Tigers happen to break through the Colonials’ defense for a chance at West, they will have quite a difficult time converting as he is not known for allowing massive rebound opportunities off initial saves.

Will Calverley (RIT) – Despite being quiet in the Tigers’ draw against Colgate, recording only one assist, Calverley has the potential to be a breakout offensive player if he is given room to work, as his 14 points (6G, 8A) in just 8 games testifies to, leading the team statistically. If the RMU defense is unable to contain him, Calverley could make them pay quite a bit with his skating ability, similar to the historical efforts of players such as Myles Powell and Abbott Girduckis who proved to be thorns in the sides of the Colonials in past meetings between the two sides.

Prediction

I predict that RMU’s combined offensive output and West’s prowess in net are just too much for RIT to overcome. Despite having some rough outings against the orange and black in the past, this time it is RMU’s turn to turn the tables, and I believe they’ll firmly do so with a win 4-2 on Saturday night, before taking the sweep on Sunday afternoon 3-1.

The opening puck drop for Saturday’s contest is set for 7:35 p.m., with the second half of the doubleheader taking place on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. Both games can be streamed via FloHockey and the RMU Gameday App, and be sure to follow @RMU_CSN on Twitter for the latest gameday updates in the world of Robert Morris athletics.