The Robert Morris men's hockey team shocked No. 1 Miami and stunned the college hockey world with a 3-1 upset of the RedHawks last night at the Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase at Mellon Arena.
Sophomore goaltender Brooks Ostergard made 39 saves and was mobbed by his teammates in front of the goal seconds after the final buzzer.
"That was probably one of the greatest feelings of my life," said Ostergard, who outdueled Miami's Cody Reichard, the NCAA's leading goaltender entering the game.
Junior forward Chris Kushneriuk said Ostergard led the way for the Colonials.
"He stepped up big time in a big way for our team, and I'm honestly so proud of him," Kushneriuk said. "It seems like any time Brooks plays with confidence, we're on it and we know we can win."
Robert Morris' previous biggest upset was a 4-2 win against No. 2 Notre Dame in 2007 in South Bend, Ind.
It was a signature win for the program, in its sixth year, though Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley stopped short of calling it that.
"I think anytime you beat a number-one ranked team in any sport, it's a big feather in your cap," he said.
The Colonials were outshot, 40-24, and lost 44 of 70 faceoffs but capitalized on Miami's mistakes. The RedHawks committed several turnovers and missed a couple of open nets in the loss.
Kushneriuk, the Colonials' leading goal scorer, gave Robert Morris an early lead when he beat Reichard on a breakaway late in the first period.
"It was just a great feeling hearing that horn go off," he said.
Miami tied the score early in the second period while on a 5-on-3 power play. RedHawks forward Carter Camper sent a slap shot that cleared traffic and beat Ostergard.
Robert Morris moved ahead in the third period when sophomore forward Nick Chiavetti centered a pass from just left of the goal that senior forward J.C. Velasquez one-timed into the net, the first equal-strength goal of the game and the go-ahead goal for the Colonials.
One minute, 10 seconds later, Robert Morris scored again to increase its lead to 3-1. Freshman forward Stefan Salituro skated toward the net on a breakaway, sending a shot that softly ricocheted off Reichard's pads. The puck slowly drifted away from the goal, and after a teammate whiffed on a shot, Salituro skated around the net and backhanded the puck under Reichard's pads.
Robert Morris' defense then hunkered down -- surviving two late Miami power plays and 2:30 of six-on-five hockey.
"We were just trying everything we could to keep them in the corners and put our bodies in front of shots," Kushneriuk said.
The showcase was delayed by two and a half hours when Mellon Arena officials could not remove a crane from center-ice. The crane, which was on the rink to repair the scoreboard, failed to restart.
The Colonials struggled to convert on power-play chances and allowed a short-handed goal as the Huskies cruised to a 4-2 win.
"You lose almost 85 percent of the time you give up a short-handed goal," Robert Morris coach Nate Handrahan said.
Connecticut built a four-goal lead, despite spending a lot of the game killing penalty minutes, and got a great effort from goaltender Alexandra Garcia, who made 27 saves.
The chance to play in Mellon Arena was especially an honor for Colonials sophomore defender Paige Pietrangelo, whose father, Frank, was a goaltender on the Penguins' 1991 Stanley Cup championship team.
Paul Daley's goal with 1:08 remaining gave the Nittany Lions a 3-2 win in a shortened game.
Playing two 15-minute halves because of the crane delay, Daley scored two goals to lead Penn State to a comeback win.
Bethel Park graduate Tim O'Brien, a Penn State junior, scored a goal in the win.
Michael Sanserino can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1722. First Published January 9, 2010 5:00 AM