University Heights, Ohio – The Robert Morris Men’s Gold Hockey team celebrated their #5 ACHA National Ranking with an impressive road sweep over John Carroll University over the weekend. The 2-0 and 11-0 wins lifted their season’s record to 11-1-1, with 11 of the 13 games having been played on the road.
The Eagles showed some rust from their off-weekend in the opening game of the series en route to a 2-0 win on Friday, November 2nd. After a scoreless first period, sophomore Paul Isleib opened the scoring on a power play. He took a slick cross-slot pass from sophomore Rock Einersen and sent a well-placed shot into the top corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.
While the Eagles held a decided advantage in play, outshooting John Carroll 35-18 in the game, they generated few prime scoring chances and seemed out of rhythm for much of the game. Sophomore goalie Andy DiCristofaro made several key saves from close in to preserve the lead, including a spectacular point blank save while the Eagles were on the penalty kill in the third period.
RMU would finally put the game out of reach when sophomore Tony Domico scored into the empty net after the home team pulled their goalie in an effort to tie the game. Senior Mason Riley’s brilliant effort set up the goal and the Eagles came away with the win. For DiCristofaro, it was his second shutout of the year and the team’s third.
Clearly unhappy with their effort the day before, the Eagles were a different team in the series finale on Saturday, November 3rd. They quickly took a lead with both teams playing four men aside as freshman Oleg Popov scored on a tip-in from the slot, redirecting a nice point shot from junior defenseman Andrew Montague. Seven minutes later, sophomore Kyle Hamilton scored by tipping home a great cross-crease pass from Riley to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. RMU made it 3-0 on the power play, when senior forward Josh Kaebel rammed home the rebound of an Isleib shot, and that’s the way the period ended.
The Eagles put the game away with a four goal outburst in the second period. Junior captain Chris Cimoch led the way, scoring on a brilliant solo rush to make it 4-0. Two minutes later, sophomore Geno Melone threaded a perfect pass to freshman linemate Chris Pontello, who blasted a wrist shot into the top half of the goal to make it 5-0 just four minutes into the period. Cimoch scored again to make it 6-0, and then junior leading scorer Gehrett Sargis pushed a wrist shot into the far corner of the net to send the team into the intermission with a 7-0 lead.
Cimoch made it 8-0 early in the third period with a another great solo, dancing through traffic before slipping a backhand shot the goal. That score completed the hat trick, the first three goal game for anyone on the team this season. Melone then scored his first goal of the year on a great solo effort, stickhandling through two defenders before Popov scored his second of the game from the slot. Kaebel scored his second of the game late in the third on a nice short side shot to make the final score 11-0.
Sophomore Tony Petrak made his first start of the season after recovering from separate injuries to earn the win in goal while the Eagles outshot John Carroll by an astounding 51-13 margin. Petrak made several good saves from close in to preserve the shutout.
“Any time you get two shutouts on the weekend, it says a lot for your team,” said assistant coach Chad Berman. “Our team defense is very strong right now, and the play of our defensemen as a unit continues to improve. We responded very well to the fact we did not play to our potential Friday, and we left no doubt that we wanted to prove we were deserving of our national ranking.”
The Eagles return home this week to face Canton Tech ( N.Y. ). The challenge will be an interesting one to watch, as Canton is an NCAA Division III team. The Friday and Saturday contests will be part of the RMU ACHA Showcase, a weekend of hockey featuring all of RMU’s men’s and women’s teams. Face off for the Gold games will be at 7:00 P.M. on Friday, November 9th and Saturday, November 10th at The Edge in Bensenville, Illinois.