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January 31, 2012

Sweep by Niagara wasn't what RMU envisioned

If you were to quickly glance at last weekend's final scores for Robert Morris Hockey, both 2-1 losses to Niagara, you may come to the conclusion that they were identical contests which lacked any sort of consistent offensive production.

A closer look, however, would reveal that the Colonials deserved at least a tie in the latter half of the weekend, even though the tallies may hide that fact.

"Saturday night we came out, we played physical, we played hard, we competed and we didn't take a step back," head coach Derek Schooley said. "In the third period we tilted the ice in our favor and we did a lot of things well, except score goals."

The Colonials outshot the Purple Eagles 16-8 in that final stanza and finished the evening with 35 shots on net, but were only able to put one past Niagara's Chris Noonan.

Colin South got RMU on the board with just over five minutes to go in the contest, but that was as close as the Colonials would come to the equalizer. Adam Brace, who returned on Saturday from a knee injury that had kept him out of the lineup for the previous seven games, echoed his coach's sentiments.

"I think it's just the desire to win and the work ethic," the Cobden, Ontario native said. "We were getting into the tough areas on Saturday, but just didn't get any bounces. If we play the way we did in the third period on Saturday, though, we're going to win a lot of hockey games."

There are eight of those games remaining on the season, and Schooley sees the need for his squad to play with some consistency down the stretch, something that wasn't quite as evident against the Purple Eagles.

"We've been inconsistent," Schooley said. "We've been up and down, back and forth, all over the map, and we need to make sure we start being consistent."

According to the Colonials' bench boss, making sure that consistency is present on a nightly basis is essential going down the stretch.

"If we want to challenge for the top four and be in the upper echelon of the league, we've got to make sure that we bring it every game," Schooley said. "We haven't been able to figure that out here since January 1, and I think that shows with our record."

Robert Morris finished the month of January with a 3-4-1 record over eight contests. Not horrible, but certainly nowhere near what is expected out of the club, especially with ten seniors on the roster.

"We need to find a way to get over that hump, and it really starts with our effort," Schooley said. "We've got too many older seniors and guys that have played a lot of games here to be inconsistent. It's up to the seniors to make sure they're more consistent."

Perhaps senior goaltender Brooks Ostergard best summed up the home and home series and the final results.

"Sweeps are hard to earn and they're easy to surrender," Ostergard said.

Surrendering isn't on the minds of the Colonials one bit, and it's quite clear that they have no intentions of continually adopting the characteristics of Pittsburgh weather anytime soon. Inconsistency has a home in the clouds. Not on the ice.

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