RMU Hockey: Opportunistic Colonials Squeeze Past Holy Cross On The Road


Robert Morris freshman Brady Ferguson scored two goals Friday night at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. The first-place Colonials won 4-3 to extend their winning streak to three. (Credit: Paul Bereswill/RMU Athletics)

WORCESTER, Mass. – Robert Morris University got a little bit of everything Friday night, and it was enough to emerge with a third consecutive win.

Cody Wydo and Brady Ferguson scored twice each, Zac Lynch and Daniel Leavens earned a pair of assists apiece, and goalie Dalton Izyk denied 34 shots as the first-place Colonials held off the College of the Holy Cross by a 4-3 count at the Hart Center.

Robert Morris (16-5-4, 13-3-3 Atlantic Hockey) built leads of 2-0 after one period and 4-2 after two, as Ferguson netted his 10th and 11th goals in the opening frame and Wydo buried his 15th and 16th in the middle stanza. But Holy Cross battled back to within one on three occasions, the last time when Castan Sommer scored a shorthanded goal with 6:45 to go in the third.

Izyk and the Colonials battened down the hatches from there, including a frantic stretch late in the game when the Crusaders (8-11-5, 7-6-5 AHC) pulled their goalie for an extra skater. A late power play helped Holy Cross’ cause, too, but RMU didn’t allow any golden scoring chances in the final two minutes, and Izyk was there to freeze the puck when it was stuffed to the front.

“We just kept them to the outside and let them take shots from beyond the (faceoff) dots,” said junior defenseman Tyson Wilson, who also recorded an assist and two shots on goal.

Izyk, who improved to 9-3-0, made his finest stop just after Holy Cross cut the margin to 4-3. With three minutes to go, a loose puck hopped onto the stick of Crusaders forward Tim Driscoll at the right edge of the crease, but Izyk stretched across with his left leg to hold the forehand shot out.

“Dalton was poised tonight,” said RMU head coach Derek Schooley of his sophomore netminder, who was celebrating his 21st birthday. “He didn’t get rattled. He didn’t have to be spectacular most of the time, but he had to be solid with a lot of pucks bouncing around his net.”

RMU improved to 5-1-3 on the road, growing its lead over second-place Canisius to four points. This is the third time this season the Colonials have strung together at least three victories in a row, and they did it without the services of the injured Rob Mann and Matt Cope. Cope left the game in the first period, forcing RMU to play with 11 forwards the rest of the way.

“We stepped up and played like men,” Schooley said. “We got the puck around the net, blocked shots and finished our hits. We played with a lot of energy.”

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The visitors’ sharpshooting was the early story, as the Colonials scored on four of 11 shots through 40 minutes. RMU connected just six minutes into the game when David Friedmann screamed into the Holy Cross zone and dished to his center Ferguson driving down the slot. The freshman deked to the backhand and stuffed the puck around Crusaders goalie Paul Berrafato for a 1-0 lead.

Leavens had the secondary assist with a clearing pass from his own zone, continuing the scoring success of the so-called second line.

“We’re just doing the little things right,” said Ferguson of himself, Leavens and Friedmann. The trio has combined for 54 points (22g, 32a) in 18 games since being united back in early November.

Ferguson added another in the period’s final minute, tying Boston University’s Jack Eichel for the most goals by a Division I freshman. With Friedmann going to the net, Ferguson took a feed from Leavens in the right corner and whipped a shot that caromed off a Holy Cross defender and into the net.

“My coaches last year (in Amarillo of the North American Hockey League) really helped me prepare for college,” Ferguson said. “My coaches here are helping me to improve my game even more.”

The score was 2-1 midway through the second period when Holy Cross was awarded its second power play. However, instead of tying the game, the Crusaders were the latest victims of the Lynch-Wydo shorthanded connection.

After scooping up an errant pass in his own zone, Wydo chipped the puck to Lynch and burst up ice. Lynch’s return delivery was right on time, allowing Wydo to steer his sixth career shorthanded goal past a helpless Berrafato. The beautiful goal set a new program record for shorthanded tallies, breaking a tie with Lynch, who also assisted on Wydo’s other 4-on-5 goal this season.

Moments after Holy Cross’ Brett McKinnon made it 3-2 off a broken play, Wydo added his fifth goal in two games with a long power-play blast 84 seconds prior to intermission. Wydo’s one-timer from the blue line – through a Scott Jacklin screen – gave the Colonials five power-play goals in the past three contests.

“We all communicate really well and trust each other on the ice,” said Wilson, a member of the top power-play unit along with Wydo, Lynch, Jacklin and Ferguson. “We also have a lot of plays we are capable of running.”

The Colonials didn’t convert on a couple of power plays in the third, but outside of the late shorthanded goal allowed, they defended tenaciously against a Holy Cross team desperate to avoid its fifth straight loss. That type of effort, combined with responsible puck management and opportunistic attacking, helped deliver a key road win against Atlantic Hockey’s best defensive squad.

“We had to make sure we were getting pucks in deep and keeping the play in their zone,” Wilson said. “Whenever they had a breakdown, we had to take advantage of it.”

RMU will go for its first road sweep of the season at 3 p.m. Saturday.

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