Kraemer’s game-winner propels Colonials in come-back effort over Mercyhurst


Roman Kraemer celebrates his game-winning goal on Saturday, completing the comeback against Mercyhurst. Photo Credit: Nathan Breisinger

By Nathan Breisinger, Editor-in-Chief

NEVILLE TWP– Sticking with the trend, the Robert Morris men’s hockey team erased a two-goal deficit in the third period to propel themselves past the Mercyhurst Lakers, 5-3.

Robert Morris (12-5, 10-3-1 AHA) has shown their resiliency throughout this season, including against Mercyhurst (6-7-1, 5-4-1 AHA) as the Colonials have evaporated a deficit in every game against the Lakers thus far, except this time they came out on the winning end.

“We’ve been coming back all year,” head coach Derek Schooley said. “This team doesn’t quit, we feed off that energy and we got a lot going.”

The comeback was complete in the third period when sophomore Roman Kraemer potted just his second goal of the season to lift the Colonials to a victory.

“He works hard and he just hasn’t been rewarded for his work as far as scoring,” Schooley said. “He was in the right place at the right time and made no mistake.”

Both teams opened the first-period trading quality chances back-and-forth without beating either goaltender in the process.

It was not until under seven minutes to go in the opening frame where Mercyhurst broke the seal to make it 1-0. A pinballing puck traveled through the offensive zone and onto the stick of Jonathan Bendorf where he made no mistake with it by beating Noah West.

Following the ice-breaking goal, Robert Morris looked to put the pedal to the medal as they sustained nearly a minute of offensive zone time, but nothing would go for the Colonials.

RMU had another series of chances coming on a power play, but the Lakers got the only laugh during the two-minute advantage.

After an errand point pass evaded the stick of Nick Jenny, Paul Maust collected the puck and pushed it ahead to Geoff Kitt where he would release a shot from above the circles. Kitt’s shot rang off the left post beyond the glove of West to put Mercyhurst up 2-0.

Heading into the second period, Dyllan Lubbesmeyer entered the game in relief of Noah West after the freshman goaltender took a stick to the eye, resulting in vision problems that left him out of the game. West finished his evening making 11 saves on 13 shots.

“Noah got hit in the eye with a stick,” Schooley said. “He got a cut right in his eye and the warrior he is he tried to play through it and that affected him on the second goal.”

With RMU looking to back their senior netminder, the Colonials found a way to capitalize after they went onto a 4-on-3 man-advantage. After sliding low into the zone, Nick Jenny re-directed a beautifully placed pass by Santeri Hartikainen into the back of the net to make it 2-1.

Robert Morris continued to claw away to find the equalizer in the middle frame but they had no answer for goaltender Hank Johnson’s play in net. Johnson fought off 11 shots during the period to keep the Lakers’ lead at one.

“I thought we were pretty good in the first two periods, but they got some bounces,” Schooley said.

While the Colonials intended to even the game up at two apiece, Mercyhurst had other plans. Dante Sheriff received a head-man pass coming from deep within the defensive zone that sprung him on a breakaway. Following a shot off of Lubbesmeyer’s left pad, Bendorf followed up and buried the loose rebound into a yawning cage for his second of the evening.

Just as Mercyhurst looked to take a stranglehold on the contest, Nolan Schaeffer answered for the Colonials to pull them within one goal. Schaeffer’s point shot was just what the doctor ordered for Robert Morris as it opened the floodgates, which the Colonials have seen often throughout the year with goals coming in bunches.

“Last year we struggled a little bit offensively and struggled to score a lot, but this year we figured out how to score,” sophomore Roman Kraemer said.

Over a minute later, Randy Hernandez caught Johnson by surprise with a spinning shot that saw a quick-release low on the ice beating the netminder through the five-hole.

“We got a lot of young guys that scored a lot of goals in juniors and it’s carried over in college hockey and it’s really helped us,” Kraemer said.

With the game knotted up at three apiece, the Colonials needed someone to step up to carry them over the edge, and Kraemer was the guy to do it. Defenseman Brian Kramer maneuvered through the offensive zone and fired a pass across the circles that reached Kraemer who ripped it home to put RMU up 4-3.

“Brian did a good job keeping it in and I almost thought it was offside. I started coming out of the zone whenever he started coming down on the left-hand side. I snuck in the middle and stayed high, he fed it over to me and when it got to me I one-timed it,” Kraemer said.

Kraemer’s second tally of the year was all the Colonials needed to withstand the Lakers in this matchup. Aidan Spellacy added a late empty-net goal to soften the cushion.

Robert Morris avoided a third consecutive loss at the hands of Mercyhurst, which has never happened in program history.

“Once we settled down and played the way we were supposed to be, we were fine,” Kraemer said. “I don’t think there really was an option to let them take another win from us.”

Backstopping the Colonials in the latter two periods, Lubbesmeyer made 13 saves on 14 shots to earn his fourth win of the season, and second in relief of West.

“Dyllan stepped up… he’s the guy that’s the emergency quarterback that comes in and gets the job done,” Schooley said.

Robert Morris will return to Clearview Arena when they close out their non-conference schedule against upstart LIU on Thursday evening and Friday afternoon.