Colonials looking ahead, not back

ROBERT MORRIS HOCKEY

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Sometimes, a little selective amnesia is healthy for a hockey team, and Robert Morris hockey coach Derek Schooley and his Colonials have plenty they would like to forget about the first half of their season.

For Robert Morris (2-12-2), a two-win fall was capped last weekend by a last-place finish in the Three Rivers Classic. Now, the Colonials hit the road hoping to put 2013 in the rear-view mirror. They'll face off against Sacred Heart in a two-game weekend series starting today in Milford, Conn.

"Hopefully, we can forget about September through December and move forward," Schooley said. "There's no use looking back. We're looking at this as an 18-game season."

Sacred Heart has had its trials, too. After a 2-1 upset road victory against then-No. 1 Massachusetts-Lowell in the opener, the Pioneers have fallen to 5-13 and lost five of their past six games.

"It's going to be a challenge of two teams trying to start out 2014 on the right foot," Schooley said.

The Colonials spent the past week working on team building, Schooley said, with activities like a scavenger hunt and a survival simulation, where teams worked together to find solutions to a problem.

Robert Morris also reset its season goals before embarking on its nine-day road trip that will wrap up next weekend with a series against Connecticut in Storrs, Conn.

"We want to focus in on our process -- our effort, our compete level, our mentality," Schooley said. "When our mindset is right, this is a good hockey team. There's no quit in this hockey team, and there won't be any."

The Colonials hope to take advantage of a favorable special-teams matchup against the Pioneers.

Sacred Heart is the seventh-most penalized team in college hockey, with 16.1 minutes per game, and the penalty-killing unit has fought off only 76 percent of them.

Robert Morris, meanwhile, owns the No. 12 power play, scoring on 21.8 percent of its extra-man opportunities.

"Our power play has been good all year," Schooley said. "Anytime you're over 20 percent, it's a good thing. Hopefully, that continues. We may have changed some combinations here and there, but there's been no real change of our power play throughout the year because it has been pretty consistent."

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


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