The Robert Morris men’s hockey team settled in for the weekend at Ryan Arena in Watertown, Mass., where the Colonials will take on Bentley in a two-game series featuring teams riding opposite trajectories of late.
After starting the season 1-6, the Falcons (5-7-1, 4-2-1 Atlantic Hockey Association) have gone on a tear. They are 4-1-1 in November and are unbeaten in their past four games.
“We’re catching them at a time when they’re very hot and confident,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “We need to make sure we play our hockey and not theirs.”
The Colonials (2-8-1, 2-3-1) have lost six of their past eight, but four of those were by one goal. Their combined margin of victory in the two wins (nine goals) is larger than their margin of defeat in the six losses (eight).
Robert Morris snapped a four-game losing streak in its most recent game Nov. 23 by scoring four unanswered third-period goals to fly past visiting Holy Cross, 5-1.
“We’ve played very well in four of the last five games,” Schooley said. “It’s unfortunate there’s been a bounce here or there or circumstances in the game that have dictated us losing by one goal.”
The key to slowing Bentley’s high-powered offense, which is second in the conference with 2.92 goals per game and has registered lopsided totals of 4, 5 and 7 goals in the past month, will be to contain “the big three,” as Schooley called the trio of Alex Grieve (9 goals, 8 assists), Andrew Gladiuk (8 goals, 2 assists) and Brett Gensler (4 goals, 7 assists).
“Throw [defenseman Steve] Weinstein into the mix and those four account for probably 50 to 60 percent of their scoring on the year,” Schooley said. “If you can limit their chances and roll the dice against the rest of the players, I think you’ve got a pretty shot.”
Schooley is on the right track. Add in Weinstein’s 15 assists and the quartet comprises 50.9 percent of the Falcons’ total offensive output.
In the next breath, Schooley was quick to praise Robert Morris junior forward Cody Wydo, whose 11 goals in 11 games are second in Division I. The Southgate, Mich., native has added four power-play goals, a product of his quick hands and ability to clean up around the net.
“He’s not the biggest guy in the world,” Schooley said of the 5-foot-10 winger. “But he plays big by going to the front of the net.
“You often say you’ve got big guys who play small, well, he’s a small guy who plays big. He’ll go to the tough areas and score goals.”
When these teams last met Jan. 7, 2012, in Watertown, Wydo scored with a little more than one second left in regulation as the Colonials rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit to draw even and salvage a tie.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.