Slumping Robert Morris goalies face potent Mercyhurst offense

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There's only one obstacle left between Robert Morris and its much-needed holiday break. But to the Colonials, losers in eight of their past 10 games, that obstacle couldn't look more overwhelming.

Robert Morris (2-10-1, 2-5-1) heads north tonight on Interstate 79 to Erie to face red-hot Atlantic Hockey Association foe Mercyhurst (9-7-1, 7-1-0), a team that has won four consecutive games and eight of 10.

The Colonials were trampled by Bentley in a two-game series last week, losing 4-1 and 7-2, and platooning three goaltenders.

Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley liked the team's execution in the series opener, but the effort "just wasn't where it needed to be." In the second game, though, he felt that equation had reversed.

"We've got to put it all together to help our goalies out and to give ourselves the opportunity to win a hockey game," Schooley said.

Scouting report
 
Matchup: Robert Morris (2-10-1, 2-5-1 Atlantic Hockey) vs. Mercyhurst (9-7-1, 7-1-0), 7:05 p.m. today, Mercyhurst Ice Center, Erie.

TV, Internet: AmericaOneSports.com, RMUColonials.com.

Robert Morris: Eight of its 10 losses are by two goals or fewer. ... Forward Zac Lynch (6 goals, 9 assists) took over last week as the team's leading scorer, passing Cody Wydo (11 goals, 3 assists).

Mercyhurst: Has won seven of its eight conference games to hold a one-point lead over Bentley in the conference. ... Leads Division I with eight short-handed goals this season; Robert Morris was No. 1 a season ago with nine.

Hidden stat: In their current four-game winning streak, the Lakers have outscored opponents (American International and Sacred Heart) by a score of 23-6.

Schooley pulled starting goalie Terry Shafer after two periods Friday, with the Colonials trailing 3-0, and replaced him with backup Dalton Izyk.

"I was trying to wake up the team a little bit," Schooley said.

Izyk started Saturday but allowed five goals in 32 minutes and was swapped out in favor of Brandon Lane.

"When you only score three goals in two games," Schooley said, "it's going to be tough to win unless your goalies are perfect."

Shafer (2-8-1) already has received the nod to start against Mercyhurst, who at 3.76 goals per game owns the No. 5 scoring offense in Division I.

"I told Terry that the job is there if he wants it," Schooley said. "Go out and play a 60-minute game, make sure you make all the saves you have to make, and throw some big ones in there as well."

On the other end of the ice, the Lakers will put junior Jimmy Sarjeant between the pipes. Sarjeant earned the starting job after Mercyhurst started 0-4 and he has since racked up a 9-3-1 record, .926 save percentage and 2.40 goals-against average.

"We just have to get pucks to the net," Schooley said. "When we do get those chances, we have to bury them. We had some glorious chances at the start of each Bentley game, where if we would have scored maybe the series turns out a little differently."

The Lakers offense spreads the wealth around nicely, making it difficult to key in on a particular player.

Forwards Matthew Zagy (nine goals, 15 assists), Daniel O'Donoghue (eight goals, 13 assists) and Ryan Misiak (six goals, 14 assists) are among the top-25 scorers in Division I, each averaging better than a point per game.

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.


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