Robert Morris hockey to battle familiar foe in Niagara
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The past two years have seen some significant shifts in Robert Morris hockey, most notably its move from the now-defunct College Hockey America to a new conference home in Atlantic Hockey.
There is still one constant.
The Colonials (12-9-3, 10-4-3 AHA) will play a two-game home-and-home series this weekend against Niagara (9-8-7, 8-4-5 AHA), the only team that has played in the same conference as Robert Morris for the program's entire history. The Purple Eagles moved to Atlantic Hockey with the Colonials when the CHA folded two years ago.
"We've played them 700 times it seems like, being in the CHA with them," Colonials coach Derek Schooley said.
"It's always a battle. It's always a tough, physical contest with Niagara."
The two teams have already played once this season, skating to a 2-2 tie Dec. 9.
The Colonials will enter this series hot, coming off of a two-game road sweep of Connecticut last weekend. While Robert Morris came away with four points, the two wins could not have come in more disparate fashion. Friday, the Colonials built a 4-0 lead and held on to win, 4-3. Saturday, they rallied with two third-period goals to take a 2-1 decision.
"I think it was probably one of the biggest road sweeps of my college career," senior forward Cody Crichton said. "Just a full team effort. A lot of momentum shifts."
Though there are still 10 conference games left to play, the Colonials are in position to earn the best conference finish in school history. They currently are in third-place, one point back of RIT and two points behind league-leading Mercyhurst.
With the Tigers and Lakers playing this weekend, it's possible the Colonials could be in first place come Monday. Of course, nine of the league's 12 teams are within seven points of the top spot, so anything could happen.
"I think we get into trouble when we look too far in advance," Schooley said. "The way the standings are set up right now, there are a lot of good hockey teams."
The Purple Eagles come in riding a four-game winning streak, with back-to-back home sweeps of Army and American International. Netminder Chris Noonan leads the AHA with a 1.81 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.
The two teams will face off tonight at Clearview Arena at the Island Sports Complex, and tomorrow at Dwyer Arena in Niagara, N.Y.
First Published January 27, 2012 12:00 am