Oklahoma City, Okla. – The #11 ranked RMU Men’s Gold Hockey team opened its season with an impressive road performance, sweeping #14 ranked University of Central Oklahoma by scores of 3-2 and 4-2 in Oklahoma City.
After enduring a tough 12 hour bus trip, the Eagles drew first blood when junior forward and assistant captain Gehrett Sargis ripped a shot over the Bronco goalie’s right shoulder half way through the first period. Assists went to junior linemate and team captain Chris Cimoch and Oleg Popov. It was Popov’s first point of his collegiate career. UCO would tie the game in the second period, but RMU forged another one goal lead when second year Eagle Mason Riley snapped a wrist shot into the top shelf, converting a perfect pass from sophomore Rock Einersen. Sophomore Derek Winkler initiated the play with an impressive rush into the Bronco’s zone. UCO would tie the contest just moments later, and the game was knotted at 2-2 entering the third period.
The RMU penalty kill was put to the task when sophomore Markus Ellis was penalized five minutes for what appeared to be a great open ice hit. The Eagles penalty killing units stepped up their game, blocking passes and shots to keep UCO off the scoreboard. With less than five minutes remaining in the game, the Eagles found themselves in a 4-on-4 situation, and took full advantage of their skill and speed. Popov hit Sargis with a pass inside the UCO blue line and the left winger slipped a shot under the pads of the Bronco goalie for the game winning goal. Sophomore Andy DiCristofaro posted the win in goal.
Despite the close game, the Eagles held a wide edge in prime scoring opportunities, and looked to make an easier go of it in their second game. In the first period, it looked like that’s exactly what they’d be doing, as they raced out to a 2-0 lead, outshooting the home team 17-4 in the process. Freshman Paul Islieb scored the first goal of his college career tipping home a nice point shot from junior defenseman and assistant captain Mitch Tews. Cimoch doubled the lead, bouncing a backhand shot from a tough angle into the Bronco net. The Eagles had several other prime chances but were turned aside by excellent work from the UCO goalie.
But the second period was the opposite of the first.
The Eagles got off to a great start, as junior Adam Keasey scored his first goal of the season on the power play, tipping home a brilliant pass from Popov. Up 3-0, the team took its foot off the accelerator, and suddenly the home team came to life, scoring twice within five minutes and then going on three consecutive power plays. It was DiCristofaro’s turn to shine, and he turned aside 23 shots in the second stanza, preserving the 3-2 lead.
RMU regained its footing in the third period, out chancing the Broncos and seemingly scoring their fourth goal, only to have it waved off by the referee who was caught out of position on the play. The Eagles held their poise though, and Sargis lit the lamp again, providing the final margin of 4-2.
“They were two solid wins,” said head coach Chico Adrahtas, entering his fifth year behind the RMU bench. “This is such a tough trip in terms of travel, and UCO re-tooled their team offensively, so we knew it would be a challenge. It was a good starting point for us, gave us a chance to see the areas we need to make immediate improvement in, and allowed the team to spend a lot of time together and grow.”
The Eagles travel to Romulus, Michigan for games Friday, September 28th and Saturday September 29th to face Eastern Michigan University.