PREVIEW: No. 19 Colonials host Sharks for first-ever meeting

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

Men’s hockey hosts LIU this weekend. Photo Credit: Nathan Breisinger

By Jonathan Hanna, Sports Editor

NEVILLE TWP, Pa.– After hosting a long-time foe in the Mercyhurst Lakers (6-7-1, 5-4-1-2 AHA) over the weekend, the no. 19-ranked Robert Morris men’s hockey team (12-5, 10-3-1 AHA) is set to host the LIU Sharks (3-5) for the first time in program history.

Recapping RMU

The Colonials are coming off a three-game stretch against the Mercyhurst Lakers in which they won one game at home and dropped the other two in Erie. Up in the Flagship City, the Colonials played close in the first game, losing 3-2. However, in the second game, it was an offensive showcase, with the Lakers coming out on top after 60 minutes, 7-5.

Out at Clearview Arena on Saturday, Mercyhurst was able to hold a 3-1 lead headed into the third period, but four straight Robert Morris goals, including an empty-netter, gave the Colonials a wild 5-3 win.

Over the past three games, the Colonials have been led in scoring by Nick Prkusic, who scored four points, including three assists against the Lakers. In goal, it was a tough showing for freshman netminder Noah West; who started all three games, but only finished one. Dyllan Lubbesmeyer came in relief of West in the 5-7 loss and the 5-3 win on Saturday.

Previewing LIU

A newcomer to Division-I hockey, LIU has had an up-and-down inaugural season. The Sharks are also coming off a two-week break, due to the cancellation of their January 30 matchup against the no. 10 Quinnipiac Bobcats.

The last time the Sharks were in action was a pair of exhibition matchups on January 22 and 23 against the Liberty Flames’ ACHA Division I club team (2-3).

The Sharks dropped the first game of the series 2-1, but roared back in the second, dousing the Flames in a 4-0 shutout. Senior forward Zack Bross led LIU with two goals in the shutout, while Vincent Purpura, a transfer from Boston University, made 24 saves in goal.

Players to Watch

Nick Prkusic (RMU) – One of three Hobey Baker candidates for the Colonials, Prkusic also leads the team with 20 points (5g, 15a) on the season. Last week against the Lakers, Prkusic led the Colonials with four points (1g, 3a) across the three games.

Power Play (RMU) – One of the key reasons for RMU’s success this season has been its powerplay. 23.8% (16/67) of the Colonials’ goals this season have come on the man-advantage, and their power play percentage of 23.5 (16/68) is tied for 10th in the NCAA with no. 4 St. Cloud State, Penn State, and Western Michigan.

Garrett Metcalf (LIU) – Metcalf is someone that the Colonials should know well, as the Sharks’ netminder is a graduate transfer from Mercyhurst, as well as a sixth-round draft pick by the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. In his first season in Long Island, Metcalf has played in six games, posting a 2-4-0 record, including a .919 save percentage and a 3.18 goals-against average.

Nolan Welsh (LIU) – Welsh, a freshman on the Sharks, is tied with senior Christian Rajic for the team lead in points with five (2g, 3a). The 5’10” forward from Burnaby, British Columbia is also solid defensively for the Sharks, as he is only one of five players on the team with a positive +/- rating (+3).

Prediction

Other than last week’s hiccup against the Lakers, the Colonials have been nothing but solid on the ice this season. It is unlikely for Coach Derek Schooley’s squad to do that again, and they will sweep the Sharks on the weekend, winning the first game 4-1, and shutting out LIU 2-0 in game two.