MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Robert Morris extended its unbeaten streak to eight games with a 4-2 victory over the visiting Rochester Institute of Technology Saturday night at 84 Lumber Arena.
Powered by Zac Lynch’s two-goal night and anchored by goaltender Dalton Izyk’s 31 save performance, the Colonials finished the sweep of the Tigers to run their Atlantic Hockey conference record to 5-0-1 on the young season.
“For the most part in the second and third periods we were good,” said Colonials’ coach Derek Schooley, who earned his 150th win tonight – all with RMU. “I thought we played the game the right way with the exception of that turnover that cost us the second goal. We played the game hard and got pucks behind their defensemen and that’s the way we need to play.”
From the drop of the puck, it looked as if that streak might just be in jeopardy.
The Tigers carried the bulk of the play early on as almost every shift saw a quality scoring chance. Izyk proved equal to the challenge, though, by making one great save after another in a first period that saw the Tigers outshoot Robert Morris 18-12.
Lynch opened the scoring at the 7:11 mark of the opening frame when he neatly finished a two-on-one with a low shot from the right circle that beat Tigers’ netminder Jordan Ruby with assists coming via Scott Jacklin and Izyk himself. But the Tigers answered just moments later when Garrett McMullen took a brilliant pass Josh Mitchell to spawn a two-on-one that he buried past Izyk with a rising shot from the left circle to knot the contest at one just past the halfway mark of the first period.
The Tigers then kept bringing the pressure with some relentless forechecking, often resulting in loose pucks in the crease that were never punched in. The missed opportunities kept the score tied at the end of 20 minutes.
The Colonials then turned their game up several notches in the second period assisted by several power-play opportunities and a willingness to shoot the puck at every opportunity. Robert Morris amassed a 25-2 shot advantage that saw Ruby play out of his mind on occasion, making many saves on the original shot, but quickly jumped on any rebound with reckless abandon, thwarting any chance of a Robert Morris tip in with an assortment of loose pucks in and around him.
With such a performance in the Tigers’ net, it would take a slightly unconventional goal for the Colonials to retake the lead. Brady Ferguson’s wrap-around attempt ricocheted off of Ruby and appeared to hit just under the crossbar to give the Colonials a 2-1 lead at 16:18 of the period
The Tigers then received a golden opportunity to equalize before the end of the second frame when Colonials’ defenseman Chase Golightly was sent to the box for slashing, but the Robert Morris penalty kill, successful in all three attempts, shut the door without yielding as much as a shot before the period came to a close.
Robert Morris then took control of the game completely in the final 20 minutes with opportunistic offense and a defensive effort that gave the Tigers no easy looks.
Lynch put the Colonials back up by two at 4:42 when he came barreling down the slot with perfect timing to finish a feed from Cody Wydo, who’d collected an RIT giveaway in the corner. Then at 12:06, freshman Timmy Moore scored his first career goal by putting a rebound from a Wydo shot behind Ruby to make it 4-1.
The Tigers then cleaned up a Colonials’ turnover late in the third period, turning the mistake into an instant two-on-one that Danny Smith fired past Izyk to cut the lead to two with just under two minutes remaining.
But it was too little, too late for the Tigers who had trouble navigating through the Robert Morris defense in order to sustain any kind of offensive pressure in the late stages of the game.
“We just gave them too many goals this weekend,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We had too many unforced errors [and] we turned the puck over to them when there wasn’t any pressure. We gave up a lot of easy goals, a lot of unearned goals, I guess. We gave up a lot of shots in the second tonight, but they really weren’t that dangerous, but on that goahead goal, they wore us down behind our net and did a good job. I think we’re working hard, our effort’s certainly there, [but] we just have to do a better job of limiting our turnovers.”
The win was also the 150th in Robert Morris history.
“We’ve done a great job of closing games out,” Schooley said. “We’ve got some things we need to work on, some things to improve. When you’re at the top of the standings, you’ve got a target on your back and so far, we’ve avoided getting hit with any bullets.”