ST. PAUL, Minn. — The magical ride came to an end for Robert Morris.
Cody Wydo scored a record-setting goal and Zac Lynch and David Friedmann added tallies but the Colonials couldn’t overcome a four-goal deficit and fell to top-seeded Minnesota, 7-3, Saturday in the NCAA West Region at Xcel Energy Center.
“We never quit,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “When you spot a team a 4-0 lead it’s really easy for a game to get away from you, and that game did not get away from us.”
Robert Morris finishes 19-18-5, winning six of eight postseason games and playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time in the 10-year history of the program.
The Colonials have no reason to hang their heads, especially after the turnaround they achieved just to make the tournament.
Robert Morris was 2-12-2 when the calendar turned to 2014, but went 17-6-3 since. The Colonials won three elimination games in the Atlantic Hockey Association tournament just to get the opportunity to face the top-seeded Gophers (26-6-6).
“We’ve had a mindset to never give up,” Lynch said. “We never got down on each other; we never got down as a team so it’s been a pretty easy comeback to keep moving forward.”
The Colonials entered the game averaging an NCAA-best 3.92 goals per game since Jan. 1, but struggled to put consistent pressure on Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox.
Minnesota finished with a 50-25 shots advantage, including a 38-19 edge through two periods.
Trailing, 4-0, midway through the second period, Wydo hit the left post on a 2-on-1 break with Lynch, but scored shortly thereafter.
Lynch kept the puck in at the blue line and passed to Wydo on the left. Charging to the net, the junior shifted the puck to his backhand and beat Wilcox. It was the 65th goal of Wydo’s career, breaking the school record previously held by Chris Margott (2005-08).
Lynch and Wydo perfectly executed a 2-on-1 situation in the period’s final minute, making it 4-2 when Lynch lifted a shot over the glove of Wilcox.
“We wanted to win the second period,” captain Colin South said. “Heading into the locker room after the second period everybody was pretty upbeat thinking if we could get a few power plays we’d have a pretty good chance. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do that.”
After Hudson Fasching’s power-play goal with 5:38 left seemed to cement Minnesota’s win, Friedmann scored on a rebound 25 seconds later to make it 5-3, before Nate Condon and Mike Reilly scored late for the Gophers.
A slow start by the Colonials was too much to overcome.
Robert Morris had an excellent chance early with two power plays in the opening five minutes — including a 21-second two-man advantage — but garnered just three shots.
Minnesota scored three times in a 3:30 span late in the first period to open what it thought was a comfortable margin.
Condon scored through a screen, Michael Brodzinski beat Dalton Izyk with a slapshot 97 seconds later, and Justin Kloos scored on a rebound with 16.8 seconds left in the period to make it 3-0.
“We didn’t come here to be a patsy; I don’t think we came here to play like a [No.] 16 seed,” Schooley said. “We could have quit when it was 4-0 just like we could have quit when we were 2-12-2, but we responded. We gave them a good hockey game and made them a little nervous.”
First Published March 29, 2014 9:23 PM