RMU Hockey: Colonials Get The Jump On New Season With 2-0 Start


NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. – It’s understandable that the Robert Morris men’s hockey team is tired of hearing about last year’s slow start, but the way they’ve begun this fall begs for a comparison.

After winning just two of their first 16 games to start 2013-14, the Colonials have already matched that total in the season’s first two days.

RMU overcame a disjointed first period Saturday night in blanking Lake Superior State 3-0 at 84 Lumber Arena, giving the home team a sweep in a lively opening series. The Colonials hadn’t won their first two games of a season since 2010.

“It was a good way to start out the year,” head coach Derek Schooley said. “What makes it go at the beginning of the year is your compete level. If it’s high, you’re going to have success.”

Sophmore goalie Dalton Izyk, one of the key cogs in RMU’s postseason run last spring, turned in a 28-save shutout in his first career start at the Island Sports Center. He was helped by a diverse attack, with Cody Wydo and Zac Lynch recording two points each and six Colonials in all writing their names on the score sheet.

Senior forward Scott Jacklin scored the only goal RMU (2-0-0) would need during a second-period power play, giving him the opening tally in each of the first two games. Saturday’s goal was his 36th with the Colonials, tying him with Colin South for sixth on the program’s all-time list. Due in part to Jacklin’s efforts, the Colonials reversed the result of last October, when Lake Superior State earned a pair of wins at their expense.

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“We owed them from last year a little bit,” Jacklin said. “We weren’t getting to the hard areas or getting enough shots in the first period. It’s always good to start strong, but everyone knows it’s how you finish.”

Wydo also continued his own pursuit of history, as he netted his program-best 66th career goal early in the third to give the Colonials some margin for error. In addition, the Michigan-born senior recorded an assist on Jacklin’s marker, drawing him within two points of Denny Urban for third most in team history.

But all of that wouldn’t have been possible if RMU didn’t rebound from a turnover-laden start that had the visiting Lakers (0-4-0) threatening to nab their first victory of 2014-15.

“We were a little sloppy at times, but we’ve set lofty goals for this team, and if you want to reach those you’ve got to improve,” Schooley said. “I thought we got much better once we learned there was a correlation between putting pucks in their end and puck possession and shot attempts. We found out a lot about our team. We have a lot of depth up front and you saw that come through.”

David Friedmann iced the win with a nifty goal from close range late in the third, making him the 10th Colonial to register at least a point on the weekend. RMU ended up outshooting LSSU 40-28 overall and 29-17 over the final two frames. The home team also blocked 11 shots, making things easier for Izyk.

“It was about guys getting in lanes and blocking shots,” Jacklin said. “It’s hard for teams to get chances when we play that type of defense.”

Unlike the previous night, when three goals were scored in the first period, the teams failed to dent the back of the net in the opening 20 minutes. Each side fired 11 shots on target in the frame, but the Lakers were left shaking their heads when two of their attempts hit the post behind Izyk.

“(Lake Superior State) is a very big team, they go for a lot of point shots and tips,” said Izyk, who followed up Terry Shafer’s strong Friday netminding. “I was just trying to get out on top of the crease. Everyone held together in the last two periods, helping me out and giving them nothing. It’s nice to get some momentum and carry that on.”

The goal-less battle continued on into the second period, even though the Colonials fired the first nine shots of the frame. LSSU freshman goalie Gordon Defiel held his ground, as did Izyk at the other end.

RMU broke through with the Lakers’ Luke Sandler in the box for slashing at 18:35. Jacklin pried the puck loose from a left-circle faceoff, where Wydo ushered it back for Lynch at center point. Lynch gunned a low shot that was stopped, but Jacklin went to the net and jammed in the rebound for his second goal in as many nights.

Defenseman Evan Moore teamed with Wydo for the all-important insurance goal 5:33 into the third. Moore took a cross-ice pass from Wydo and stickhandled his way through the right circle for a point-blank shot. Defiel made the save, but he couldn’t deny Wydo, who slipped to the side of the net to punch home his first goal of the young season.

RMU will begin Atlantic Hockey Association play next weekend with a home-and-home against Niagara. The Colonials host the Purple Eagles on Friday before traveling to western New York the next day.

“It’s a good chance for us to build off last year,” Schooley said. “It’s important to get off to a good start in league, too.”

This story was initially published on RMUColonials.com.