RMU Hockey: Colonials Scoring Depth Prevails As They Continue Great Start To Season


Colonials forward Spencer Dorowicz looks to make a play against RIT on Friday at 84 Lumber Arena. The freshman had three points in a 6-3 victory. (Credit: Jason Cohn/RMU Athletics)

NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. – Although their opponents were better dressed for the occasion, the Robert Morris University men’s hockey team had the more enjoyable Halloween, scoring four goals in the second period on their way to a 6-3 victory over RIT on Friday night at 84 Lumber Arena.

RMU further improved upon its program-best start, boosting its overall record to 6-0-1 while downing the orange-clad Tigers. Just as importantly, the Colonials are also unbeaten in Atlantic Hockey play at 4-0-1, good for first place in the 11-team league.

Five Colonials had multiple points on the night, illustrating the depth that has produced 3.9 goals per game in the season’s opening month. Freshman Spencer Dorowicz buried his first two collegiate goals, part of a three-point eruption, and senior David Rigatti connected for his first tally in his 86th NCAA game.

All in all, the Colonials got back on track after a 3-3 tie at Army last Saturday that ended their five-game winning streak.

“We did what we needed to do tonight,” said head coach Derek Schooley. “We knew (RIT) was going to come hard, but outside of the first period, we didn’t give up much. We scored some goals without our top line getting one (at even strength). The challenge is to go out there tomorrow and do it again. Great teams get four points on weekends.”

RMU leading scorer Cody Wydo had an assist and Scott Jacklin scored on the power play, but Friday was about the supporting cast. Brady Ferguson continued an impressive start to his college hockey career with his first two-point game (goal, assist), while Brandon Denham (goal, assist), Matt Cope (two assists) and David Friedmann (two assists) had a pair of points each.

“We’re so deep offensively,” Rigatti said. “Our (defensemen) are getting pucks on net and our forwards are really skilled. I don’t think there’s anyone on our team who can’t score and make plays.”

After each side scored a goal in the first period, the Colonials turned it up a notch in the second, winning battles all over the ice and converting loose pucks into scoring opportunities. RMU grabbed its first lead of the night at 5:38, when Cope took a hit at center ice to make a quick pass to Denham, who snapped a shot past Rotolo from the left hash mark.

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“We struggled a bit getting out of our zone in the first, then we shifted a few things and in the second we started to roll,” Dorowicz said. “That’s when we gained some confidence and played in their end a bit. We were getting pucks on the forecheck and putting it on net. I really liked how we played in the second and third. Hopefully we can keep that going.”

Friedmann and Ferguson teamed up to force a turnover just outside the RIT blue line two minutes after Denham’s strike, leading to Ferguson gaining clean possession at the left dot. The freshman center whipped a perfect pass to Dorowicz for a slam dunk at the right post.

“It’s kind of a blur,” said Dorowicz while trying to recall the goal. “I just bolted to the net and (Ferguson) threw it right across. I was pretty much wide open and I just had to put it in. It’s a pretty cool feeling. I had good linemates that helped me get that one.”

RIT’s Brady Norrish cut the RMU lead to 3-2 with 7:21 to go in the second, scoring shorthanded after Garbowsky stole the puck in the neutral zone and drove the net. But the Colonials got that goal back three minutes later when Denham took a behind-the-net feed from Dorowicz and set up Ferguson for an accurate snipe from the slot, his third goal in the past five games.

“I was really impressed with the play of our freshmen Ferguson and Dorowicz,” Schooley said. “Hat’s off to the guys who got rewarded tonight.”

Late in the second, with RIT’s Dustin Fostvelt whistled for hooking Wydo, the Colonials struck again. Jacklin, who scored in each of RMU’s first four games, registered his fifth goal when Chase Golightly’s point shot ricocheted into the net off his arm. The power-play goal made it 5-2 entering the final frame.

The special-teams play carried over into the third, when the Colonials had to kill three RIT power plays in the opening 10 minutes. RMU survived all three with minimal drama, giving the penalty-killing unit a perfect 4-for-4 night and a 90 percent success rate (28 for 31) in the opening seven games.

“Our penalty-killing strategy has been perfect,” Rigatti said. “Coach (Mark) Workman has done a good job each week preparing us to play these teams and we’re doing a good job executing.”

Dorowicz put RMU’s season-best sixth goal on the board with a slick backhand between the legs of RIT backup goalie Ken MacLean, who replaced Rotolo after two periods. Colonials junior netminder Terry Shafer got the better of the battle in the crease, stopping 26 shots as his record improved to 3-0-1.

For just the second time in seven games, the Colonials allowed the opening goal. Although the Tigers (2-4-0, 1-2-0 AHC) didn’t register a shot on net for the first seven minutes, they cashed in when Matt Garbowsky steered in his third goal of the season during a four-on-four situation. Josh Mitchell set it up with a pass from the right corner after an RIT dump-in.

About two minutes later, RMU drew even. Cope led a rush into the RIT zone, firing a shot that RIT goalie Mike Rotolo directed away. However, Daniel Leavens hopped on the loose puck and fed Rigatti on the inner edge of the right circle. The senior broke his long goal drought by throwing a wrister between Rotolo’s legs.

“Talking to the coaches every year, they said it’s not my job to go out there and score goals, but it should happen sometimes,” said Rigatti, who joined teammates John Rey, Rob Mann, Ferguson and Dorowicz in scoring their first RMU goals this season. “With all the posts I’ve hit and all the partial breakaways over the last three years, it’s a huge weight off my shoulders.”

After a contentious game that featured 50 combined penalty minutes, the Colonials and Tigers meet again at 7:05 Saturday night. It’ll be the second of four consecutive home games for RMU, which is now 4-0 at 84 Lumber Arena this season.