Bensenville, Ill. – On the strength of their upset victory against top ranked Arizona State University, the RMU Men’s Gold Hockey team moved up to #2 in the ACHA National Rankings and celebrated by routing Western Michigan University by scores of 7-1 on Friday, December 14th & 12-1 on Saturday, December 15th. The Eagles raised their record to 18-2-1, which is best in program history through this point of the season.
The Eagles left little to chance, hitting the visiting Stallions with five goals in a dominant first period of the two-game series. Sophomore Rock Einersen led the onslaught, tracking down his own rebound and burying it into the net. The goal set off a shower of teddy bears, as the Eagles were holding their second annual “Teddy Bear Toss.” Orchestrated by former Gold Team goalie Marcus Feferman, all of the bears were collected and will be distributed to less fortunate children in the area. Junior Gehrett Sargis scored what would turn out to be the game-winner on a power play with less than nine minutes left in the first period after getting a nice pass from junior captain Chris Cimoch. WMU scored just seconds later, but that would be as close as they got, as the Eagles scored three times in rapid succession. Sophomore Derek Winkler converted after strong forechecking work from sophomore Geno Melone, Sargis returned the favor to Cimoch, assisting on the latter’s goal that made it 4-1, and then Einersen potted his second of the game on a power play, slipping the puck into the net after receiving a great pass from junior Zack Kuta.
Sophomore goalie Anthony Petrak fended off a flurry of WMU shots early in the second period, but RMU re-established their dominating pace. Senior co-captain Brett Moser scored his first of the season from the slot in the second period after getting a perfect pass from junior defenseman Andrew Montague to make it 6-1. Sargis’s third period wrist shot into the top corner made the final 7-1.
The second game would prove to be even more impressive for the home team. Melone would get the team off on the right foot, scoring on two of his first three shifts of the game. Playing on a newly constituted line with Winkler and Moser, the trio buzzed the WMU end of the ice constantly. Melone caught a great pass from Winkler and deked the WMU goalie to the ice to open the scoring just a minute into the game, and six minutes later, he popped another goal from close in to make it 2-0. With both teams playing four-on-four, Sargis and Cimoch were working their magic, and the puck ended up lying at the edge of the crease with the WMU goalie out of position. Lanky sophomore defenseman Tyler Martorano saw the puck and sprawled forward in the ice, poking the puck home for his first goal as an Eagle and giving the team a 3-0 lead after the first period.
Cimoch made it 4-0 two minutes into the second period, swinging the rebound of a point shot from sophomore defenseman Sean White into the net. WMU scored from close-in to make it 4-1, but RMU answered immediately, as Sargis ripped a bullet into the top corner past a dazed WMU goalie to restore the four goal lead. Tony Domico made it 6-1, converting while the team was short-handed. The sophomore forward took a pass from Martorano, and fed a speeding Cimoch in the slot. Instead of shooting, the junior slipped a back-door pass to Domico who tapped it home for one of the game’s prettier goals. Sargis scored again on the power play, before goalie Andy DiCristofaro got into the offensive act. The sophomore saw a chance to clear the zone himself, and sent a strong pass all the way into the neutral zone, where speedy sophomore Kyle Hamilton picked up the puck. He drove into the WMU zone, joined on a two-on-one by Domico. Hamilton slid a perfect pass to Domico who buried it, giving the Eagles an 8-1 lead going into the third period.
The route continued, as senior forward Josh Kaebel scored on the first shift of the period on a well-placed shot. Freshman Chris Pontello scored from close in after getting a nice pass from the point by White. It was Pontello’s third goal in his last four games, as the speedy center has continued to improve his play. Sophomore Paul Isleib scored the team’s 11th goal of the night on a rebound before Einersen scored the final goal of the weekend on a wicked drive from the point.
The Eagles now go into the holiday break with an amazing 18-2-1 record, their best in their 13 year history after 21 games, and with their highest ever ACHA ranking.
“We believe we have something special happening here,” said assistant coach Chad Berman. “We have a team in the best sense of the word. And our expectations for excellence in every game we play as well as in the league and the season culminating in the Nationals are very high. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we’re very excited about continuing to achieve in the second half.”
The Eagles return to action January 4th and 5th against league rival Iowa State University. Both games will be played at The Edge in Bensenville with a 7:30 P.M. face-off time for both.