Bloomington, Ind. – Having just moved up another notch in the ACHA National Rankings, the #3 ranked Robert Morris Men’s Gold Hockey team had reason to expect a tough opponent in an Indiana University team that had been coming off consecutive weekends of stunning upsets. The Hoosiers, who’d been fighting to crack the Top 25 in the rankings, had done just that by defeating #10 Iowa State at home and then going on the road and stunning #3 Ohio State. But Indiana would quickly learn that the story would be different, as the Eagles left Bloomington with a pair of decisive victories.
The Hoosiers started the first game of the weekend set quickly, jumping off to a 2-0 lead. It was the first time RMU had fallen behind in a game by more than one goal all year, but the Eagles showed great poise and patience before senior Josh Kaebel halved that margin with a nice wrist shot into the top corner of the goal, to end the period with Indiana leading 2-1. The Hoosiers made it 3-1 in the first minute of the second period, but the Eagles just held to their game plan, kept working and cut the lead to 3-2 when sophomore Paul Isleib made a great steal of the puck from an Indiana defender. He fed sophomore linemate Markus Ellis with a nice pass and he, in turn, spotted sophomore Rock Einersen at the side of the goal. Ellis’s pass was perfect, and Einersen rocketed the puck into the cage. Minutes later, junior captain Chris Cimoch shot the rebound of junior Gehrett Sargis’ shot into the goal to tie the game, and the Eagles had the game’s momentum fully in hand. Sophomore defenseman Will Nunez then scored what would turn out to be the winning goal, wristing home a loose puck with just 30 seconds left in the second period. The third period was all RMU, as Isleib made it 5-3 on a high wrist shot and Einersen added a power play goal, making the final 6-3 in favor of the visiting team.
The second game was settled early as on just the fourth shift of the game, the Eagles struck twice. Freshman Chris Pontello found himself in the Hoosier slot, gathered in a turnover and rifled the puck past startled Indiana goalie Michael Reed for a quick 1-0 lead. Just 50 seconds later, Pontello’s strong forecheck created another turnover. Sophomore Derek Winkler found the loose puck, sprinted around the net and fired home a wraparound to make it 2-0. Kaebel scored his second of the weekend on a nice set from sophomore Tony Domico before Indiana got on the board, and the first period ended 3-1 in favor of the Eagles.
The Hoosiers found some life in the second period, peppering sophomore goalie Tony Petrak with shots, the Eagle’s goalie was very sharp and held his ground until the Eagles got their offense back in high gear. Winkler scored again on an almost identical play as his first goal to make it 4-1, and then Ellis scored from close in to lift RMU’s edge to 4 goals, ending the second period with the visitors up 5-1. Kaebel scored yet again on the power play from a sharp angle, and then Einersen added two more goals and the Eagles ended the game by an 8-1 count.
“We really wanted these games,” said assistant coach Chad Berman. “They were league games, so we wanted the points, but because Indiana had been playing so well, we felt we could make a real statement by going into their home rink and cooling them down. Our team played with great poise in both games, and we justified our ranking as the #3 team in the country.”
The Eagles record moved to a remarkable 15-1-1, the best record in their first 17 games in the program’s history, eclipsing the 14-3 mark set in 2010-11 season. It also raised their CSCHL record to 3-1.They will enjoy a Thanksgiving weekend break before going back to work to prepare for an eventful December schedule, that will include a road trip to play the #1 team in the nation, Arizona State University.