Robert Morris holds off late American International charge to pick up win

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MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A win’s a win.

That seemed to be the train of thought following Robert Morris’ 5-3 victory over visiting American International Friday night at 84 Lumber Arena.

In a game that witnessed more sloppy moments than either side would have liked, the Colonials broke a close game open with two second period goals less than 26 seconds apart, then held off a late third period rally from the Yellow Jackets to collect the win.

“I don’t really know where to go with our performance tonight,” Colonials’ coach Derek Schooley said. “I think at times we were good and we did what we needed to do. It was a sloppy game, I would have liked it to have been a little less hairy there towards the end, but give their power play credit. I’m happy that we got two points because points are so hard to come by, but I really wish it would have been a cleaner hockey game for us.”

From the opening puck drop, RMU dominated the scoring chances as evidenced by a 14-7 shot advantage in the first period, and the first goal of the game which came at 36 seconds in when Greg Gibson notched his fourth goal of the season with a shot from the right circle that beat Yellow Jackets’ netminder Alex Murray to give the Colonials the early lead. Murray then rose to the occasion, making the next 13 saves to keep American International in the game despite being outchanced.

The Yellow Jackets’ only close chance came in the final minutes when Austin Orszulak hit the crossbar.

American International withstood the onslaught, though, and looked to have a new lease on life in the second period, gaining momentum with every shift. RMU goaltender Dalton Izyk kept the visitors off the board with several key saves to keep Robert Morris in front until they could find some breathing room.

Even-strength goals from Daniel Leavens and Brady Ferguson less than 30 seconds apart put the Colonials up by three in the last few minutes of the second period. Leavens’ goal at 15:00 came as the result of a furious cycle that saw several shots on net before putting a rebound past Murray. Ferguson beat Murray with a clean shot from the left circle to put the Colonials up by two going into the third period.

But even more breathing room would be necessary and it was supplied by Zac Lynch and Scott Jacklin. Lynch beat Murray with a rising shot that he placed in the top corner on the power play at 2:38 of the final period and Jacklin punched the fifth Colonial goal home at 10:12 when he took a pass from Lynch and buried it past Murray from the slot.

The Yellow Jackets refused to go away, though, and recorded three goals in the third period, including two power-play tallies from Alex MacMillan at 15:24 and 15:47. However, they could draw no closer with Murray pulled in favor of the extra attacker in the final minutes.

“There was a little up and down aspect to our game tonight and some of that is comprised of things we can do better and some of it’s because they’re a good hockey team,” AIC coach Gary Wright said. “I thought we had it going for a stretch there in the second and they got those two goals and put us back on our heels a bit. I think it’s going to have to be a better effort from us tomorrow against a team of that magnitude. We’re going to have to come out of the gate prepared and extremely determined.”