Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley has seen this before.
The fifth-seeded Colonials (15-17-5) are back in Storrs, Conn., for a second-round Atlantic Hockey Association tournament series against fourth-seeded Connecticut (18-12-4) for the second year in a row.
This time, Robert Morris would like to alter the script. The Huskies came off their first-round bye last March and swept the Colonials, 4-1 and 4-3, at Freitas Ice Forum.
“I don’t think there’s any animosity or hatred between us and UConn, but there is remembrance,” Schooley said. “We remember that we went up there last year, didn’t have our best series, and our season ended in their building.”
The teams met in Storrs in early January, too, and played what Schooley can only classify as “a really weird series.” Connecticut routed Robert Morris, 5-1, in the first game, but was pummeled, 6-1, a night later in the second.
“The team that deserved to win bad, won bad,” Schooley said. “They were very good Thursday night. We were very good Friday night. Neither team that lost gave it their best effort.”
The 6-1 victory Jan. 10 set off a school record, nine-game unbeaten streak, which propelled the Colonials from the conference cellar to a fifth-place finish, two points behind the Huskies for fourth place.
Now, Robert Morris is bent on earning its first trip to the league’s championship weekend, which is comprised of single-elimination semifinals and final in Rochester, N.Y.
Army took the Colonials to the wire last weekend, forcing a third game at 84 Lumber Arena, but Robert Morris survived, 3-1, Sunday despite losing sophomore goaltender Terry Shafer to a “lower-body injury” in the second period. Shafer was replaced by freshman Dalton Izyk, who made 15 saves to earn his first career victory.
“It caught our attention,” Schooley said of Shafer’s injury. “We made sure that we got a little bit more disciplined in everything we do. There was a lot more urgency in our game.”
Schooley said Shafer’s status remains uncertain. Shafer was named to the All-Atlantic Hockey third team Thursday, joining first-team honoree Cody Wydo, a junior winger who has scored a school-record 25 goals this season.
“It could go either direction,” Schooley said of Shafer’s status. “If Terry isn’t able to play, we’re losing a third-team all-league goaltender. If Terry does play, all the better for us.”
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.