Robert Morris picked up a 4-2 victory over Penn State Monday night at CONSOL Energy Center, giving them the chance to play for a second tournament title in just the third year of its existence, using a pair of power play goals to get ahead and stayed ahead the rest of the way.
“We got better as the game went on and I thought our third period was outstanding,” said RMU coach Derek Schooley. “We did a good job killing penalties and our power play contributed.”
The 19th ranked Colonials (12-2-3) netted power play goals just thirty seconds apart on a debated 5:00 major to the Penn State’s Nate Jenson in the second period to jump out to a 2-0 lead on the Nittany Lions (9-5-2) and never looked back.
“It was a 0-0 game and I thought it was a great hockey game,” said Penn State coach Guy Gadowski. “That was the game, we certainly felt like it was a call out of nowhere.
“I’ll tell you this, we watched it over and over we’re going to tell Nate Jenson to make that exact play the exact same way every single time. It’s a shame the whole game was changed on one call, it was an excellent hockey game.”
After each team had several chances in the first half of the game – RMU having the better quality opportunities but a lot of misses – then the call in question came at the 10:42 mark of the middle frame to bust the game open.
Brady Ferguson beat Penn State starter Eaman McAdam (29 saves) with a turning shot from the high slot with assists from Tyson Wilson and Daniel Leavens for a 1-0 lead with 5:49 to go in the period.
Defender John Rey made it 2-0 with a simple wrist shot through traffic from the point thirty seconds later. A lone assist went to Brandon Denham.
“They were clearing pucks, clearing pucks, and then we created a lot of energy,” said RMU coach Derek Schooley. “We had a couple of shifts on that power play were we built up the momentum and had some great chances.
“That’s hockey, you don’t score on the really nice plays then get seeing eye goals.
“The referees made the call. We got a five minute major and capitalized on our opportunities. They want to protect the student athletes from concussions, it happened in the first game, its a point of emphasis in our sport.”
The Nittany Lions got on the board with 2:36 remaining before the second break when Scott Conway picked up a loose puck that bounced off an RMU defender and beat Terry Shafer (35 saves) to cut the lead in half after 40 minutes.
The next goal turned out to be the deciding one, as 4:36 into the third Leavens tipped a Chase Golightly shot behind McAdam for a 3-1 lead.
Casey Bailey pulled Penn State back within one to make things interesting, picking up a loose puck out of a pile and sending home his 11th of the season with 1:49 to go, but Zac Lynch sealed the Colonial win with an empty netter from his own blue line to cap a 4-2 victory.
“Any time you play you want to win, but anytime you get the chance to go up against a big school like Penn State, an in state rival, there are some bragging rights on the line,” Shafer said.
Penn State takes on Western Michigan in the consolation game at 4:30pm, while RMU battles #17 Colgate at 7:30pm for the trophy.
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