Robert Morris hockey completes first-round sweep

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Playoff hockey suited Robert Morris Saturday, as the Colonials beat No. 12 seed Sacred Heart, 6-1, at 84 Lumber Arena on Neville Island to sweep the opening round of the Atlantic Hockey Association playoffs in two games.

Cody Wydo led the Colonials with two goals and goalie Eric Levine had 22 saves as No. 5 seed Robert Morris (20-12-4) pushed its unbeaten streak to seven consecutive games, the best in Division I.

The Colonials advance to face No. 4 seed Connecticut (17-13-4) in Storrs, Conn., next week in the quarterfinals.

"We got our 20th win, a pretty good start to our playoffs," coach Derek Schooley said. "Anytime you go on a good little run like we're on, you get a lot of confidence. But we haven't accomplished anything. We have not done anything we set out to do. We cannot pat ourselves on the back for 20 wins ... we have to worry about the UConn Huskies."

The Colonials split their season series with the Huskies, losing, 3-2, in the first meeting but winning, 4-3, in the second.

The Huskies have some momentum, too, currently riding a six-game unbeaten streak.

"The top two unbeaten streaks in the nation right now going head to head," Schooley said. "I think it's going to be a battle. We have to make sure we get off to a good start."

First came closing out Sacred Heart, which had a strong first period Saturday.

Levine preserved a shutout early when he poke-checked the puck away from a forward alone in front of the crease and made three consecutive saves on a set of shots without the puck leaving the zone.

Colin South got the Colonials on the board with a goal at 8:27 of the first period, finishing a rebound on a wraparound attempt by Adam Brace.

The Pioneers capitalized on a turnover in the Colonials' defensive zone, though, and Kyle Verbeek shot a rebound through traffic from the high slot to make it 1-1 at 16:14.

"They threw everything at us, came out and dominated the play for the first 10 minutes or so. It was like a fighter that ran out of gas," Schooley said. "We withstood it, got the lead and we just had more than them in the second and third period."

Robert Morris broke open the game with a three-goal second period to take a commanding 4-1 lead.

Tyler Hinds ripped a slap shot off a rush from the top of the left circle and it clanked its way into the net to break a 1-1 score at 2:21 of the second period.

Wydo made it 3-1 after finishing a pass from Scott Jacklin off an odd-man rush at 6:01 of the second and Matt Cope took a trailing pass from Zac Lynch at 17:41 to make it 4-1.

By the third period, it was all Robert Morris.

Wydo added a second goal at 10:32 of the third to make it 5-1, and Greg Gibson made it 6-1 at 14:35.

"Our lines are all clicking right now. Every line is scoring," Wydo said. "It's not just one, two lines producing, it's all four of them, so that's really good for our team."

NOTES -- Wydo passed 50 career points. He has 32 goals and 19 assists. His 32 goals are the fifth-most all time for Robert Morris. The record is 64 by Chris Margott.

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