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January 17, 2014

RMU, AIC skate to tie to open series

Four different Colonials found the back of the net as Robert Morris skated to a 4-4 tie against American International in front of 723 on Friday night at the 84 Lumber Arena. RMU has now recorded at least a point in four of their last five contests, improving their record to 5-6-3 within Atlantic Hockey.

The Colonials and Yellow Jackets traded goals throughout the night in the back-and-forth affair, which saw RMU outshoot AIC 43-27.

"I commended our team with their stick-to-itiveness," said head coach Derek Schooley. "Every line was going, we were fore-checking, and we had a lot of chances."

AIC struck first after an RMU too many men infraction, with freshman defenseman Dominic Racobaldo tallying his first career NCAA goal, beating Terry Shafer at the netmouth. Jon Puskar made it 2-0 less than five minutes later, before Jeff Jones got the Colonials on the board. The junior forward corralled a turnover in the right circle and backhanded a shot over a sprawling Hunter Leisner to cut the deficit in half.

Scott Jacklin evened things a 2 apiece less than four minutes into the second frame, snapping home his sixth on the year from the slot on the man advantage. Jason Popek put AIC out in front 3-2 a short time later, but Brandon Denham tallied his third of the campaign just 24 seconds after that to knot it at three.

The back and forth continued, with Blake Peake giving AIC a 4-3 lead less than two minutes later. The Colonials closed the second with a barrage of chances, capped off by Chase Golightly firing the puck into the cage just after time expired.

It wasn't long into the third, 86 seconds to be exact, when senior captain Colin South finished off a Colonial rush, floating the biscuit into a yawning cage for RMU's fourth tally of the night.

The two clubs made it to overtime, with Robert Morris killing off a Zac Lynch penalty for the remaining 1:46 of the extra frame to come away with the tie and a point.

"Simple enough, we don't kill that penalty and we lose the game," South said. "That was a huge penalty kill. Guys really sold out for that last 1:45 or so. That salvaged the game for us.

"It was really good that we were able to salvage a point because it's so hard to play from behind in this league."

Schooley acknowledged that his forwards and defenseman shined during different segments of the contest. The backend was able to sure things up in the final period, but the offense only mustered 7 shots on the AIC cage, compared to 33 through the first two.

"We can't have 14 guys going and four guys not going," Schooley said. "We have to get everybody going at the same time."

Robert Morris will have a chance to do so on Saturday, when they face AIC to finish up the two game series at 4 p.m. on the Island.

A point in the standings is better than coming up empty-handed, and the Colonials aren't about to overlook the positives, especially when it mattered most.

"We got up the ice and really didn't give them much of anything in the overtime," Schooley said. "We played with a lot of desperation and urgency."

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