After Robert Morris thrashed Army Friday night to push the Black Knights to the brink of elimination in their Atlantic Hockey Association tournament first-round series, Colonials coach Derek Schooley remarked, "It's hard to end a team's year."
Army forward Brian Schultz scored 65 seconds after the opening faceoff Saturday at 84 Lumber Arena and, for the second night in a row, the Black Knights took the lead into the first intermission -- it was at that point Friday that Robert Morris rattled off eight unanswered goals.
This time, the Black Knights (6-27) piled on. They scored twice in the first five minutes of the second period and held on to earn a 4-2 victory and claw back even in the series.
A second-round berth will be on the line tonight in the series' decisive third game. Now, Robert Morris is out of second chances.
"We have one game left in our season tomorrow," Schooley said. "We have to be ready to play, and play disciplined hockey, and get some flow to our game to rebound and recover from this."
Schultz and Colonials forward Scott Jacklin each scored twice.
It was, predominantly, a penalty-filled affair. Robert Morris (14-17-5) was whistled 13 times for 37 penalty minutes, and the Black Knights eight times for 27 minutes.
Schooley said the penalties kept his team from finding a flow and rhythm.
"We deserved a lot of them, but I thought there could have been some calls both ways," Schooley said. "It's tough to get in the flow of things when you're killing for 20 minutes in a hockey game. We killed for almost a period."
Perhaps Army's ambush -- set off by Schultz's early goal -- was foreshadowed Friday, when the Black Knights scored three goals in the final 10 minutes of that game. But the Colonials certainly didn't help themselves, either.
Robert Morris failed to capitalize on an early 5-on-3 power play and committed five penalties in the first period. The fifth penalty, a roughing call on forward Zac Lynch, bled over into the second period and resulted in Army's second goal.
Black Knights forward Jonathan Gehrt broke in on Colonials goalie Terry Shafer on the power play a minute into the middle frame and shoveled a shot toward the far side of the net. Shafer made the initial save, but the puck slid under his right pad and trickled slowly across the goal line.
Schultz scored his second goal of the game three minutes later to give Army a 3-0 lead.
Jacklin answered at the midpoint of the second period to put Robert Morris on the board, but Army forward Maurice Alvarez pushed the lead back to three goals on a power play, again with Lynch in the box. It was the Black Knights' fourth power-play goal of the series.
Army forward Willie Faust earned a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding with three minutes left in the period, and Jacklin capitalized 47 seconds before the horn to make it a 4-2 score after two periods.
Just as Army's five-minute penalty expired 50 seconds into the third period, Lynch was issued a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind -- his third and final penalty of the game.
Robert Morris fought off the penalty, but never found any momentum, as there maintained a steady parade of players to the penalty box.
The Colonials shot themselves in the foot for the final time when forward Tyson Wilson was whistled for tripping with 1:49 left in the game and Robert Morris down by two goals.
"We weren't very smart tonight," Schooley said. "We didn't adjust the system to the officiating very well."
Stephen J. Nesbitt: email@example.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt. First Published March 8, 2014 10:06 PM