Robert Morris hockey holds off Penn State in Three Rivers Classic
A quick power-play flurry was enough to push Robert Morris past its instate hockey rival.
No. 19 Robert Morris got goals from Brady Ferguson and John Rey in a 30-second span and held off No. 20 Penn State for a 4-2 win in the semifinals of the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center on Monday.
Robert Morris (12-2-3) will face No. 17 Colgate in the championship game at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday. Penn State (9-5-2) will face Western Michigan at 4:35 p.m. in the consolation game.
RMU and Penn State entered the game as the top two in the country in shots on goal, but they were unable to produce a goal until Penn State’s Nate Jensen was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for a check to the head with 9:18 left in the second period. That call proved to be a turning point, and it left the Penn State bench in disbelief.
“It was a 0-0 hockey game, and a great game between two teams trying to score goals,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “That (penalty) was the game. We watched it over and over, and we’re going to tell Nate Jensen to make that play the exact same way, every single time.”
It took the Colonials more than three minutes to score on that power play, but Ferguson and Rey made it pay off in rapid fashion.
Ferguson scored first after working his way open in the slot and firing a wrist shot past Penn State goalie Eamon McAdam. Rey followed that with a goal on a shot from the left side boards that sailed between defenders and into the net.
“The referees made the call. We got a five-minute major and we capitalized on our opportunities,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “I’d have to look at it again, but live, it did look like there was contact to the head. In college hockey, they’re trying to protect the student-athletes from concussions. It’s been a point of emphasis in our sport.”
In addition to its two power-play goals, Robert Morris also was 3 for- 3 killing penalties in the game. Colonials goalie Terry Shafer finished with 35 saves, and the Colonials also blocked 27 Penn State shot attempts.
“We’ve put a big emphasis on blocking shots this year, and our guys have bought into that,” Schooley said. “I thought Terry was outstanding tonight. There was a flurry with about three minutes to go when he made some huge saves. That’s the kind of goaltending we’ve been getting all year.”
Scott Conway got Penn State on the board late in the second period, when a centering pass from Curtis Loik bounced off a defender and fell into his path for a close-range shot.
Daniel Leavens added the third goal for the Colonials early in the third period, but Penn State pulled McAdam with more than two minutes remaining, and Casey Bailey made the late moments tense by scoring with 1:49 left.
Shaler product Zac Lynch put the game away for Robert Morris by scoring into the empty net with 48 seconds to play.