Back in November, when the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville took on the Colonials of Robert Morris, a lot of parallels in terms of physicality and grit showed through in that opening series. While the Chargers frustrated Robert Morris a bit with their speed, the Colonials played sound defensively and drew a litany of infractions from a young team.
The Colonials seem to be able to score with consistency this year. In addition, given their location they have played some tough non conference opponents this year, first among them being the Falcons of Bowling Green. In a game that they had no business being in, they lead the top ten Falcons late into the third period.
As Colonials’ Head Coach Derek Schooley said of that affair, “I loved our game for 55 minutes, but unfortunately 55 isn’t 60. We got away from what was working for us for five minutes, and a very skilled team made us pay. I thought we won the battle at 5-on-5, but they won it on special teams and that ended up being the difference. I’m proud of the way we played for the most part, and there’s some real positives to take away from it for us, but we needed to close that game out. It’s about playing smart and playing a mature game and at times we got away from that.”
With that small detail, let’s move back to this team in Atlantic Hockey. For anyone to challenge the back-to-back defending champions in AIC, they need to play a similar game relying on good goaltending, quick scoring in bunches, and consistent defense. These Colonials have all of that as their 4-1 conference record shows.
As Ed Trefzger, RIT play-by-play voice and USCHO writer said quite elequently, ” The addition of UConn transfer Jordan Timmons, a Pittsburgh native, has given Robert Morris a potent top line with juniors Timmons, Grant Hebert, and Justin Addamo. And they’re intimidating, with Addamo at 6′-6″, Hebert at 6′-3″. and Timmons at 6 feet even. That’s a pretty big forward line at any level and especially in Atlantic Hockey.”
This line did well against UAH, and has continued to improve as the year has gone on. For immediate offense, defense, and physicality, one can start with this line. Should they continue to score in bunches, the NHL could be the future home of many of these talented players. In addition, the depth of the Colonials does a superb job at allowing their stars, like their first line, to be themselves a bit easier by not forcing scoring looks.
In addition, following the Bowling Green tough effort, these Colonials knocked off a fast Niagara side 6-1. While the Colonials have a more well rounded team, Niagara plays a very fast game and likes to get on the board early and defend. Today, after freshman Noah West played a strong start to the game in net, the Colonials found their scoring touch in bunches in the second, and poured it on from there. After a tough loss to a nationally ranked team, they came back and dominated time and space against a team that can do a lot without either of those two things.
Why does Robert Morris matter?
Well, given the subjective nature of the tournament this year, and its selection, how they have played against Bowling Green gives credence to, under the right setup, Atlantic Hockey maybe earning two or more bids this season because of the dearth of teams (only four) playing in the ECAC, among other things. Also, this is a veteran team that has not seemed to waver all year or play beyond their skates at all. Schooley has all of them on the same page and ready to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.
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