RMU Hockey: Colonials Finish “Measuring Stick” Week With Loss To Aggressive Bowling Green


Greg Gibson, seen here in a game earlier this season, and the Colonials couldn’t translate a quick start into a win on Sunday against No. 13 Bowling Green. (Credit: Jason Cohn)

NEVILLE ISLAND – Robert Morris was definitely tested this week, playing four games in seven days against three different ranked opponents. That grueling stretch came to an end Sunday evening, when a good start wasn’t enough to earn a victory against an aggressive foe.

RMU senior Scott Jacklin scored 98 seconds after the opening faceoff, but Bowling Green turned up the pressure to score the final four goals of this cross-conference matchup, taking a 4-1 decision at 84 Lumber Arena.

For the 19th-ranked Colonials, this was the second half of a modified home-and-home series with No. 13 Bowling Green. The two teams tied 2-2 on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio – the first outdoor game ever for both programs.

Back indoors on Sunday, the Falcons were stronger but not flawless, as RMU (12-4-4) got behind the Bowling Green defense several times for point-blank chances on goalie Tomas Sholl. However, the sophomore netminder turned in a difference-making 34-save performance to give his teammates the opportunity to stretch their unbeaten streak to seven games.

“We were right there for most of the night,” RMU head coach Derek Schooley said. “We had chances in tight and in good areas. Their goaltender was very good…sometimes you have to give credit, even though we could’ve been better.”

Colonials goaltender Dalton Izyk (39 saves) did his best to match Sholl, but the levee broke in the third period, when the Falcons (12-3-3) scored twice in 1:08 to skate away with the victory. Brent Tate netted a rebound at 9:07 and Mark Friedman fired a goal through a screen just past the midway point of the period, sending Bowling Green into the home stretch.

“That’s a good hockey team,” Schooley said of the visitors. “You can see why they’re doing very well in their league. They play a simple style, they get pucks up the ice and go forecheck. We were down 2-1 going into the third, so all we had to do was win a period at home, but we didn’t do that.”

David Friedmann had RMU’s best chance to make the final minutes tense when Brandon Denham got him the puck at the end of a swift power-play rush, but Sholl made one final big save to keep the margin at three goals. In the end, the Colonials chased the game too much, something that was partially the result of losing the faceoff battle 44-29.

“I thought we had energy and played with some life, but we got barbecued on faceoffs,” Schooley said. “Faceoffs are possession and they scored three faceoff goals. If you don’t win your draws, you don’t have the puck.”

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Although Bowling Green outshot Robert Morris 13-9 in the first period, the Colonials generated the higher-quality chances. The home team struck just 1:38 into the game when Jacklin went to the net and redirected a perfect pass from Cody Wydo past Sholl.

The goal broke a couple scoring droughts, as Jacklin hadn’t netted a goal in four games and Wydo hadn’t recorded a point over that same span. In addition, freshman defenseman Elie Ghantous earned the secondary assist just moments into his first collegiate game.

“I had a lot of emotion going on,” said Ghantous, an Ontario native. “I’ve got to admit I was definitely nervous for the first shift, but after that the butterflies kind of went away. I got up to speed and saw that I could keep up.”

Bowling Green defenseman Mark Friedman helped tie the game at 7:24 when he made a quick deke at the blue line and fed an open Kevin Dufour in the right circle for his team-leading 10th goal. The Colonials pushed back a minute later, but Matt Cope was denied by Sholl on a Grade-A chance set up by Chase Golightly.

RMU nearly took the lead late in the first period when Friedmann fooled the Falcons with a shot directly off an offensive-zone faceoff. Sholl made the stop, though, and he turned aside Leavens on the follow-up opportunity as well.

“I thought we played well, but there were a couple of key battles that we lost, and that gave them momentum,” said Golightly, a junior from California. “We had our chances, but we just didn’t bury (them), and unfortunately they did.”

Izyk answered his counterpart Sholl just seconds into the second period, stoning Sean Walker and Dan DeSalvo in quick succession to keep the score tied. Izyk and his defense would be busy in the middle frame, as Bowling Green generated 45 shot attempts.

Despite the Falcons tilting the ice toward the RMU goal, they were only able to get one goal in the second. That occurred at 7:06, when Ben Murphy put the puck in Brandon Hawkins’ wheelhouse for a wicked one-timer from the right circle. Otherwise, the Colonials fended off the Falcons with a combination of 14 saves by Izyk and 15 blocks by his teammates.

“They’re a tough team,” said freshman defenseman Robert Powers, who returned to the lineup for the first time since October. “They definitely come at you hard and pinch down the walls. Against those kinds of teams, sometimes it’s hard to get the puck out. You’ve got to give credit to them, they’re ranked for a reason.”

Even with Bowling Green possessing the puck to such an extent, RMU still created a handful of first-rate looks at the net. The Colonials nearly tied the game on their lone power play of the period, with Brandon Denham feeding Daniel Leavens at the doorstep, only to have Sholl get a glove on the shot.

Moments later, Jacklin had a bid for his second goal when Zac Lynch sent him in all alone on Sholl, but his backhand attempt was thwarted.

The first-place Colonials (9-2-3 in league) return to Atlantic Hockey Conference play next weekend when third-place Bentley (7-4-2) comes to Neville Island for a pair. After facing four difficult non-conference tests and going 1-2-1 in the process, RMU can use what it learned this week as it attempts to win its first regular-season AHC crown.

“This gives us a measure of where we need to be at the end of the year,” Golightly said. “These are the types of teams we’ll have to face if we want to be in the (NCAA) tournament. It’s nice to see how we hung in there, but we can always improve.”