When Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley sat down for his postgame news conference Saturday night after the Colonials dropped the consolation game of the Three Rivers Classic, 3-2, against Bowling Green, he didn't look for a silver lining.
The defeat stretched Robert Morris' winless streak to five games, spanning more than a month, and brought to an end a two-win first half of the season.
Sure, the effort was better than it had been a night earlier in a late collapse and 3-2 loss against Penn State, but what came to Schooley's mind was something he recalled his old boss at Air Force saying.
"The only thing you learn from losing is how to lose," Schooley said. "Losing breeds losers."
Schooley gathered the Colonials at the team hotel Saturday morning. He wasn't there to talk shop or give the scouting report on Bowling Green; he just wanted to be honest, finally.
"I'm not going to lie to you," Schooley said. "I was sick of being positive. And I think the players were sick of me being positive. So we had a nice little chat [Saturday] morning, and there was no positivity in that meeting."
The players responded well, he said, and battled a bigger, stronger Bowling Green team to the final whistle.
"If you sit there and keep being positive and going, 'Yay, we just lost again!' you become a fraud," Schooley said. "You can't become that way."
Now, Robert Morris is eager to turn the page on 2013, a stretch in which all seven of the Colonials' non-conference losses came by one or two goals.
"We just have to find a way to get over that hump," Schooley said. "The way to stop losing hockey games by one goal is to start winning hockey games by one goal. You've got to learn how to win, then it becomes a habit. We've got to break the habit of getting close."
Schooley, like the three other coaches involved in the holiday tournament, praised the Three Rivers Classic organizational team for running a first-class event with top competition.
A crowd of 8,222 attended the championship, an 8-2 victory for No. 7 Boston College against Penn State.
"At the end of the day, I hope the fans of hockey and of college hockey realize the quality of teams that we're trying to bring to this tournament," Schooley said. "It's something special.
"College hockey is not like pro hockey. College hockey is a sprint; pro hockey is a marathon. Here, you've got guys diving headfirst to block a shot with their cage in the last minute. You don't see guys making a boatload of money [in the NHL] doing that, because they'll lose half their teeth."
Robert Morris returns to action this weekend with a two-game series against Sacred Heart in Milford, Conn. The key, Schooley said, is for the Colonials to not become demoralized.
"Hopefully we get a little more confidence," Schooley said. "And the ball gets in our favor instead of rolling back down the hill against us."