Penalties undermine Colonials effort in 3-2 loss to Connecticut
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Robert Morris returned home to 84 Lumber Arena for the first time since Dec. 8 and "celebrated" by spending much of the night in the penalty box.
That ultimately led to a 3-2 loss to the Connecticut Huskies, who went 2 for 7 on the power play in an Atlantic Hockey League conference game.
The Colonials, 10-6-2, have the 12th-ranked penalty kill in the nation, but they also are the 12th most-penalized team.
"Our penalty kill has been outstanding, we just can't keep killing seven penalties a night," said coach Derek Schooley. "I told them after the game I loved the effort. I thought we competed, we never quit. I thought we played well. It's just a bounce here, a bounce there we were getting when we were undefeated in seven."
The Colonials made a late bid with a short-handed goal by left winger Cody Wydo at 10:10 of the third period to cut the deficit to one goal, but were unable to score the equalizer in front of 827 fans.
Wydo drove the net in a 2-on-1 rush with center Scott Jacklin, skated to the left side of the crease drawing the goalie, then slid to his right before lining a backhander into an open net to make it 3-2 at 10:10 of the third period.
"I beat the [defenseman] wide, and Jacklin had a two on one with me, drove the net hard and I just cut behind the defenseman and the goalie misplayed it and I beat him," said Wydo.
Robert Morris, which went 0 for 5 on the power play, trailed, 1-0, after the first period, giving up a goal to Huskies right winger Trevor Gerling on an odd-man rush at 3:49.
The penalty kill was more than competent though, holding the Huskies to just one shot on two first-period power plays.
The Huskies scored their first power-play goal at 12:36 of the second period -- their fifth man advantage of the game -- when Brant Harris finished a play that also included Sean Ambrosie and Billy Latta to make it 2-0.
That broke a string of 34 consecutive penalty kills by the Colonials.
"The problem is our best players are our penalty-killers," said Robert Morris goalie Eric Levine, who had 26 saves. "You're killing for 10 minutes a period. Those guys are working hard. It doesn't allow them to sustain any offense.
"We took way too many penalties tonight. You give a team that has skill that many chances, and they're going to find ways to score.
"Our PK has been great, but we've been leaning on it, I think, a little bit too much."
The Colonials finally got on the board at 1:48 of the third period when Adam Brace poked in a rebound from right in front of the net to make it 2-1. But the Colonials soon were called for another penalty, and Connecticut capitalized getting a goal from Ambrosie at 5:34 to make it 3-1.
Robert Morris went on a seven-game unbeaten streak from Nov. 30 through December with a 5-0-2 record and landed at No. 19 in the national rankings before splitting a pair of games at Army last weekend to fall out of the polls.
"We're playing a little more physical, playing harder and, when you do that, you take more penalties," Schooley said. "We thought we got pushed around in the playoffs the last couple of years [so we went out and] got bigger a little bit more grittier. We'll kill the aggressive penalties. It's the stick fouls, the hooking, the tripping that gets ya."
The two teams play again tonight to wrap up the series.
First Published January 12, 2013 12:00 am