RMU Hockey Builds On Impressive Season With Sweep At Holy Cross


Junior goalie Terry Shafer denies a shot in a game earlier this season. Shafer stopped 38 shots in RMU’s 2-1 win Saturday at Holy Cross. (Credit: Paul Bereswill/RMU Athletics)

WORCESTER, Mass. – In one of the most satisfying wins of an already-impressive season, Robert Morris University topped the College of the Holy Cross 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at the Hart Center.

Zac Lynch had a goal and an assist, Scott Jacklin scored the game-winner early in the third period and Terry Shafer stopped 38 shots, boosting first-place Robert Morris (17-5-4) to its fourth consecutive victory and the first two-game road sweep of the campaign.

“This sweep was huge for the boys,” said Lynch, a junior from Shaler, Pa. “These were two really tough games against a strong team, so to come out of this weekend with four points was really important. Just a tremendous effort from top to bottom.”

Now 14-3-3 in Atlantic Hockey action, the Colonials have already more league wins this season than they had in any of their previous four years in the conference. RMU also guaranteed it would have at least a four-point lead in the AHC standings with eight games to play in the regular season.

Not only did RMU successfully defend a late one-goal lead for the second straight game, the boys in blue dealt Holy Cross (8-12-5, 7-7-5 AHC) its first loss of the season when leading after the opening period.

“We were a little on our heels in the first, but the second period was our best of the weekend,” said Colonials head coach Derek Schooley. “We stuck with the process of trying to play in their end of the ice and sustained some pressure there.”

Zac Lynch scored the tying goal early in the second period, but he was just as instrumental in Jacklin’s deciding goal five minutes into the third. Lynch’s pressure forced a Holy Cross defender to give up the puck the slot, where Jacklin scooped it up and ripped it past Crusaders goalie Paul Berrafato for the 11th goal of his senior season.

“Our line was really pressuring their ‘D’ on the forecheck and made them force a few pucks up the middle,” Lynch said. “Luckily I was able to block one of the passes and Jacklin buried it.”

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Much like in Friday’s 4-3 win, the Colonials focused on protecting the lead as the clock ticked down, but that didn’t mean they were passive, as they spent several shifts in the Holy Cross zone trying to increase their advantage.

“We knew they were going to come at us guns blazing in the third,” Schooley said. “But we wanted to keep playing the right way. We got pucks deep, played smart and blocked a lot of shots.

“We have a lot of guys comfortable in those key situations.”

Although the visitors couldn’t get a third goal, they continued to dictate terms until the final minute, when the Crusaders pulled the goalie for an extra attacker. Once again, though, RMU’s force field around the middle of the ice was in full effect.

“Yesterday we did such a good job demoralizing Holy Cross by (playing with) energy and physicality,” said sophomore defenseman John Rey, who paired with fellow steady blueliner Alex Bontje on the weekend. “I felt like that carried over to today. They knew they were in for a fight for 60 minutes again.”

In pulling out a tight, low-scoring game, the Colonials looked just as comfortable as Holy Cross, which entered the weekend as the team with the lowest goals-against average (2.22) in the league. RMU boasted the top offense (3.79 goals per game) going into Friday night, but it also had the second-best GAA (2.46).

After two hard-charging games in Worcester, the Colonials proved they could outdo the Crusaders at both ends of the ice.

“Holy Cross is a high-intensity team like us,” Rey said. “When we play that intensely, the skill of our team takes over.”

Having won four in a row for the third time this season, RMU will fly to Colorado next weekend to face Air Force in a two-game series. The Colonials play five of their final eight games on the road, where they have lost only once in 10 tries (6-1-3).

On Saturday, Holy Cross carried a 1-0 lead after a busy first period for starting goalies Shafer and Berrafato. The Crusaders outshot the Colonials 20-13 through 20 minutes, taking the advantage at 13:54 via a T.J. Moore power-play goal.

The freshman Moore netted his team-leading seventh goal after Mike Barrett’s wrister from the slot hit RMU defenseman Evan Moore and caromed in front of a half-open net. The Colonials generated a handful of chances on their first two power-play opportunities, but they had to play from behind in the second period.

RMU played a better all-around game in the second, outshooting Holy Cross 11-6 and netting the period’s lone goal.

Lynch drilled home his 12th to tie the score at 5:20, taking advantage of a screen to whip a shot high into the net from the top of the left circle. Freshman defenseman Robert Powers, playing his second consecutive game with Rob Mann injured, earned the secondary assist – his first point in 10 NCAA games.

Senior Hobey Baker Award candidate Cody Wydo picked up the primary helper by deflecting Powers’ point shot to an open Lynch. Wydo has 35 points (16g, 19a) in 26 games, tying him for the Division I scoring lead.

The Colonials battled some tough luck later in the period, as they hit the goal frame behind Berrafato twice. Greg Gibson rang the bell the first time, when he blasted a Jeff Jones pass off the left post just past the midway point of regulation; Daniel Leavens did the same thing in the final minute of the period after Berrafato mishandled a bouncing puck.

Holy Cross finished with a 39-30 advantage in shots on goal, but had to accept its sixth consecutive loss, all by one goal. Meanwhile, RMU improved to 3-2 in one-goal decisions.

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