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December 27, 2013

Shafer strong, but RMU falls in 3RC

Terry Shafer set a new Robert Morris Hockey program record for saves in a single contest, but it wasn't enough as RMU fell by a 3-2 final to Penn State on day one of the Three Rivers Classic from CONSOL Energy Center.

Shafer finished with 59 saves on the evening, besting former goaltender Eric Levine's previous record of 58, set in 2009 against Quinnipiac. The sophomore netminder was stellar for his club. But as head coach Derek Schooley stated, he didn't have much assistance in front of him.

"Terry Shafer gave an A plus performance," Schooley said. "Terry Shafer deserved better. He deserved some more help. I thought our team lost all the races, lost all the battles."

"We had a chance to steal a game because our goaltending was outstanding," Schooley added. "I give (Shafer) an A-plus and the rest of our team an F."

The opening frame went scoreless, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Shafer was solid in goal for Robert Morris, stopping 19 pucks in the period, including a number of chances in tight. Pittsburgh native and Penn State netminder Matthew Skoff denied 10 RMU shots, including fending off 1:21 of 5-on-3 time for the Colonials.

It took just over two minutes into the second stanza to break the draw. Redshirt sophomore Tyson Wilson notched his first of the season, and first since 2011-12, with a power play marker at 2:20.

Penn State countered less than 7 minutes later with a power play tally of their own. Redshirt junior defenseman Nate Jenson floated a shot from the point that appeared to deflect off of a Colonial stick on its way past Shafer.

Before the period was out, David Friedmann was in the right place at the right time. The sophomore forward tapped in an easy marker at the side of the net to give RMU a 2-1 lead after 40. Brandon Denham whiffed on a shot in the slot, instead passing the biscuit right to Friedmann to record his third of the year.

Shafer stood tall through the first two periods, registering 45 saves, including 11 while shorthanded, to keep his mates in front.

The PSU man advantage came through again in the third, as the Nittany Lion captain, Tommy Olczyk, put home a rebound after a net-mouth scramble to even the score once more. Then with just 1:40 remaining, Penn State got a bounce. RMU freshman defenseman John Rey blocked a PSU shot that deflected right to Eric Scheid, who wristed the puck into a yawning cage for the game-winning goal.

"Don't by any stretch of the imagination take this away from Penn State," Schooley said. "They worked, the got puck in, the battled, they won races, they won 50/50 pucks and they deserved that win."

That win, Schooley admitted, was due to a lack of gumption from his squad, something that has been missing on a consistent basis at times this season.

"We need to make sure we get the effort that we need," Schooley said. "We've got good hockey players and it wasn't everybody individually as an F, but as a group an F. That's because we didn't stick to what we needed to do. We've got to find that mentality on a consistent basis. When we find that on a consistent basis every game, then we will be a better hockey team and we'll take a step in the right direction. Our inconsistency right now is what's hurting us."

Schooley elaborated on his goaltender's performance, going out of his way to continually praise the man that kept RMU in the contest until the very end.

"I gave (Shafer) a hug," Schooley said, regarding the postgame interaction. "I said 'this isn't on you.'

"I believe in him, this team believes in him, and I don't think people give him enough credit for how he's played because of our record."

Shafer will likely get a chance to record a win Saturday afternoon, as Robert Morris will face Bowling Green in the tournament's consolation contest at 4:35. BGSU lost to Boston College in Game one of the classic earlier in the day.

Schooley reiterated that hockey games are not won on paper, especially in the collegiate ranks. His club will get a chance to test that against the Falcons on Saturday.

"College hockey is so tight that anybody can beat anybody on a given night," Schooley said "If you don't show up, you're going to get beat."

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