Robert Morris struck first in the Three Rivers Classic championship game on Tuesday night, but that was the only thing that went the way of coach Derek Schooley’s squad as Colgate scored the next six unanswered to leave town with the hardware.
“That was probably as complete a game as we’ve played all year long,” said Colgate coach Tom Vaughan. “I was really proud of our effort tonight.”
It was not a case of a lack of effort from #19 RMU (12-3-3), but rather just that the 17th ranked Raiders (11-6-1) were just better in every pretty much every aspect of the contest, as they controlled the majority of the play and had a 52-27 advantage in shots.
“That was a very fast hockey team we played and they were a step quicker than us,” Schooley said. “We’ve got a lot of speed, we play had, we play with tenacity, but we were for whatever reason a step behind and a step slow.
“We were in our own zone a lot and had to defend because we turned a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone and didn’t play a 200 foot game.”
Matt Cope put the Colonials on the board first with a great effort on a breakaway goal, set up by a long pass from Brandon Denham, lunging to push the puck 5-hole of Colgate starter and tournament MVP Charlie Finn (26 saves) as he started to loose his balance in an effort to outrace defenders at the 7:26 mark for a 1-0 lead.
It would be all Raiders from there.
After a rebound got away from RMU’s Dalton Izyk (46 saves) on one side of the net, Kyle Baun circled with the biscuit behind the net and his centering feed went off the scrambling Colonials defenders and in to even the score. A lone assists came from Tyson Spink at the 8:29 mark.
“I think the most important goal of the game was our first goal,” Vaughan said. “We answered in a really timely fashion and that’s really important.
“I think it did help swing the momentum back in our favor.”
The Raiders continued to carry play, and turned that into a lead with 4:34 remaining in the opening frame when Jake Kulevich cranked a shot through traffic and in for a 2-1 Colgate advantage with a lone helper from Darcy Murphy.
That momentum continued into the middle frame, as Izyk made big stop after big stop until Joe Wilson hacked and whacked at the RMU Sophomore and eventually jammed the puck loose and across the goal line to make it 3-1. Daniel Gentzler picked up the lone assist at the 13:20 mark, and the Colonials were not impressed with the officiating crew for a lack of a whistle.
“We had a power play right before that where we had a tremendous amount of chances, it was probably a good turning point (for Colgate),” added Schooley. “I don’t know how long you have to freeze the puck to get a whistle.”
Mike Panowyk added to it to make it a 4-1 hole just over three minutes later, putting in a rebound after Izyk made a nice stop on Darcy Murphy. A second assist went to Wilson.
After Finn and company fended off an early third period RMU push, Tyson Spink snuck his ninth goal of the season just inside the crossbar off a nice pass from Ryan Johnston to put any comeback hope the Colonials still had to bed at the 7:10 mark.
The other Spink in the Colgate lineup, Tylor, iced that cake with just over six minutes to play, after long discussion by the officials eventually ruled that he got a rebound try just across the goal line after Izyk – who played an exceptional game despite allowing six goals – had robbed him on his first attempt.
The Colonials have to regroup for another big game this Saturday when they travel to Toledo, Ohio to play an outdoor game against Bowling Green, who beat them in last year’s 3RC.
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