Ames, Iowa – In what was a roller coaster ride of a weekend, the 7th ranked Robert Morris Men’s Gold Hockey team gained a hard-fought road split with Iowa State University, dropping the opening game 3-1 before capping the two game set with a 6-3 victory. It was the first time the Eagles played the Cyclones while ranked ahead of the perennial Top 10 squad from Ames, Iowa.
In their last meeting a season ago, RMU defeated ISU 6-4 to end a 10 game, five year losing streak at the hands of their CSCHL league opponent, with the game also on ISU’s home ice. That RMU is now on equal footing with the Cyclones attests to the Eagles’ continuing improvement.
The weekend was an odd one, in that RMU held a wide advantage in play in their 3-1 loss, outshooting the home team 35-25. But ISU carried a 1-0 lead into the third period and built it to 3-0 before the Eagles finally broke through the Cyclone’s goaltending. Junior captain Chris Cimoch scored from close in, converting a great pass from freshman line mate Olge Popov. Conversely, in their victory, ISU kept the Eagles off balance in the first period, outshooting RMU 17-11 in the first period, while the Eagles held a 2-0 edge on the scoreboard.
Sophomore goalie Andy DiCristofaro, who remarkably suffered only the first regular season loss of his collegiate career in 28 starts in the first game, was outstanding at his end of the ice. At the other end, Cimoch drew first blood, taking a nice pass from junior line mate Gehrett Sargis, breaking alone on the Cyclone goal and scoring to give RMU the lead. Sargis made it 2-0 moments later with a rebound shot from close in. It was his team leading ninth goal and 17th point in 11 games played.
Sophomore forward Rock Einersen extended the lead to 3-0 in the second period, scoring on his own rebound, but then ISU struck twice quickly, cutting the lead to 3-2 and taking hold of the game’s momentum. After a time-out to regroup, the Eagles got back to their game plan and began chipping away as they regained their foothold on the game. With an ISU penalty called with 20 seconds left in the period, the Eagle power play took the ice and scored what turned out to be a back-breaking goal. A good shot from junior defenseman Andrew Montague got to the front of the net, senior forward Josh Kaebel drove a shot on goal from there, and freshman Paul Isleib slapped home the rebound to make it 4-2 with less than one second remaining on the clock.
Einersen made it 5-2 in the third period with a brilliant solo effort. Taking the face off in the ISU zone, he pushed the puck forward past his opposing center, and snapped a shot into the top short side of the net before the Cyclone goalie could react. ISU made it interesting about halfway through the third, scoring to cut the Eagles lead to 5-3, but Montague answered that as RMU was on a two-man advantage power play, when the junior defenseman took a pass from fellow junior defender Ryan O’Connell, and blasted home a shot into the top right corner of the goal from 25 feet out to seal RMU’s 6-3 win.
“These were our first league games and as we are looking to make some noise in the league this year, it was important for us to come away with points,” said RMU Head Coach Chico Adrahtas. “Realistically, on the road against a ranked opponent, you want to get the split. But we felt we let a win slip through our fingers Friday, so we looked at Saturday as a must-win game. Our forwards really responded with the kind of play we expect from them Saturday. Friday, while we held a big edge in play, we didn’t get to the tough areas of the ice, played too much on the perimeter, and paid the price.”
Iowa State comes to The Edge in Bensenville the first weekend in January, and a spirited series is anticipated.
“We are looking forward to playing them at our rink,” said Assistant Coach Chad Berman. “We have an interesting rivalry with them, and they should be very competitive and entertaining games.”
The split moved the Eagles’ record to 9-1-1, even more impressive given the fact that only two of those 11 games have been played on home ice.
“7-1-1 on the road is terrific, especially when you consider that seven of those nine games have been against ranked opponents,” said Berman.
The Gold team now has a weekend off before going on the road to play John Carroll University on Friday, November 2nd and Saturday, November 3rd before returning home November 9th and 10th to SUNY-Canton, a former ACHA team now competing at the NCAA level.