Fifth-seeded Robert Morris will open the Atlantic Hockey Association playoffs tonight against No. 12 seed Sacred Heart, a team the Colonials beat by a combined score of 13-7 a month ago in back-to-back games.
The Pioneers (2-28-4) were mired in a season-long slump, but have come alive to go 2-2-2 in the past six games.
The best-of-three series begins at 7:05 p.m. at 84 Lumber Arena, continues Saturday at the same time and concludes at 7:05 p.m. Sunday, if necessary.
"We talked about respecting the playoffs," said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. "The playoffs are a new season. The effort you have to put in to advance and end somebody's season is tremendous.
"[The Pioneers are] playing their best hockey of the year. They've got some very dangerous forwards that had a large number of points against us in those games. Up until the third period, those were close hockey games."
Schooley said the Sacred Heart top line is a talented one led by wings Brian Sheehan, Ben Ketchum and center Eric Delong, who has two goals and five assists in the past six games.
Game film, he said, shows a better team.
"It just seems to be a different hockey team that's playing with a lot more confidence," said Schooley. "That's great for our guys. Great they're playing their best hockey of the year, because we know we've got to play our game."
The Colonials (18-12-4) went to three games with No. 11 seed American International last year before finally advancing with a 4-3 win in overtime.
This season, Robert Morris has played well down the stretch, going 4-2-2 to close the regular season after an 8-1 loss to Mercyhurst Feb. 5 that marked the worst loss in program history.
"We're healthy, we are what we are and I think we're playing the best hockey of the year," said Schooley. "We're confident we're doing what we need to do to be successful."
The Colonials are led by goalie Eric Levine, who has a 2.59 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, and in scoring by Adam Brace (13 goals, 22 assists).
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez.