RMU Hockey: Colonials Bury Sacred Heart Under Eight-Goal Avalanche


NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. – An exhausted scoreboard told the tale Saturday night, as the 20th-ranked Robert Morris University men’s hockey team netted a season high in goals during an 8-4 demolition of Atlantic Hockey rival Sacred Heart at 84 Lumber Arena.

Every line was a scoring line for the Colonials, as 11 of 12 forwards recorded at least a point. Not only did first-place Robert Morris (10-1-3, 8-1-3 AHC) put up eight goals for the first time in 22 games, its five-goal second period was

RMU junior forward David Friedmann celebrates his first of two goals on the night. The 20th-ranked Colonials downed conference foe Sacred Heart 8-4 on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 84 Lumber Arena. (Credit: Danny Doherty/RMU Athletics)

both a difference-maker and a season best.

The forward trio of David Friedmann, Brady Ferguson and Daniel Leavens came up with its second sterling effort in a week, accounting for 10 total points. Friedmann (two goals, two assists) had RMU’s first four-point game since last March, while Ferguson (one goal, two assists) and Leavens (three assists) did all they could to keep up.

“(Sacred Heart) just couldn’t really handle our speed and our skill,” said Friedmann, who is fourth on the team with 14 points, including eight in his past three games. “We kept skating and playing a simple game, and the more you do that, the more things open up.”

Brandon Denham’s one-goal, two-assist output was also key for the Colonials, who won their third in a row and stretched their unbeaten streak to four (3-0-1). One night after his overtime goal salvaged a thrilling 5-4 win, Zac Lynch added a pair of assists, including the lone helper on Cody Wydo’s team-leading 10th goal that capped the huge second period.

“We’ve got offensive talent and really good players,” said RMU head coach Derek Schooley. “That’s one of the things that makes this team special. We’ve got the ability to score some goals if we play the right way. If we get the puck in their end of the ice and wear them down, that makes more room for our goal scorers.”

RMU has recorded 59 goals this season for a per-game average of 4.21, which leads all of Division I. The Colonials have been especially potent lately, netting at least five in each of their past four contests. The home team fired 47 shots in Saturday’s win and connected on three of seven power plays.

“I think it started after last night’s game,” senior forward David Rigatti said of the motivation to play a complete 60 minutes. “We kind of realized the past two weekends we hadn’t been playing that well. We know we’re capable of so much more and we wanted to win so bad tonight. When you do the right things, it shows on the scoreboard.”

In a role reversal from Friday night, when RMU sprinted to a 2-0 lead, Sacred Heart scored the opening goal Saturday. Jordan Minello tipped Jacob Brightbill’s point shot under RMU goalie Dalton Izyk at 6:32 for his fourth goal of the season. Despite allowing four goals, the sophomore Izyk made a handful of critical saves when the game was still within reach for Sacred Heart. He finished with 31 stops.

The Colonials pushed back in the latter half of the first period, leaping ahead 2-1 by the first intermission. Matt Cope capped a strong shift in the Pioneers’ zone by whacking a loose puck high into the net with 7:31 to go in the period, with assists going to Greg Gibson and Denham.

“I thought once (Sacred Heart) scored their first goal, we really kicked into high gear,” Schooley said. “We were really good in that first period, outshot them 15-5 and pushed the tempo.”

RMU took its first lead less than two minutes later, when Ferguson whipped a pass from the right corner to the left post, where Friedmann was waiting to direct into the open half of the net. The line of Ferguson, Friedmann and Leavens have created at least one goal in four consecutive games and have combined for 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) over that span.

Izyk made a strong lunging save to thwart a shorthanded Sacred Heart chance early in the second, setting the table for RMU’s prolific period. During that same power play, Denham wheeled a shot from the bottom edge of the left circle that skipped through the legs of Pioneers starting goalie Andrew Bodnarchuk.

The Colonials cashed in on their next power play as well, with Friedmann driving his second goal of the game through Bodnarchuk from the right circle, set up by Denham. Sacred Heart inserted backup goalie Alex Vazzano after that tally, and Justin Danforth scored off a faceoff to make it 4-2 at the period’s midway point.

However, RMU stayed on the throttle, with Ferguson emerging from behind the net to jam the sixth goal of his freshman season past Vazzano at 10:41. Rigatti buried the rebound of Spencer Dorowicz’s shot with 2:41 left in the frame, then Wydo took advantage of a scrambling Vazzano to hoist the Colonials’ seventh goal into the net 26 seconds later.

All told, the Colonials scored five times on 21 second-period shots, demonstrating their impressive scoring depth in 20 minutes of overwhelming action.

“In the second period we really pushed the accelerator down,” Schooley said. “We had some great responses tonight. After (Sacred Heart) made it 4-2, they were pressing, but if we play the way we want to play, we’re going to score goals.”

Scott Jacklin tacked on an eighth goal during the Colonials’ seventh power play seven minutes into the third. Tyson Wilson kept the puck alive at the point, poking it through for Lynch’s hard shot that Vazzano turned away, only to watch Jacklin flip the puck into an open net.

“We wanted to get some more goals (in the third),” Rigatti said. “That team’s pretty chippy and we wanted to quiet them down a little bit.”

A pair of defensive-zone turnovers cost RMU two goals against late in the third, as Sacred Heart’s Alec Butcher and Brian Sheehan scored just 10 seconds apart. Still, those blemishes couldn’t spoil a comprehensive performance on home ice for Atlantic Hockey’s top team.

“It’s tough to allow those two late goals,” Schooley said, “but I challenged our team to play the right way coming into the period with a 7-2 lead, and for the most part they did.”

Robert Morris will face western Pennsylvania rival Mercyhurst next Saturday and Sunday in Erie.