After playing five weeks of sound hockey the Beavers took a step back Friday, losing 3-2 to visiting Robert Morris at the John Glas Fieldhouse.
The Colonials (9-17-7, 5-7-5 CHA) got the emotional lift they needed early in the game, skating off a five minute major and a 5 on 3 BSU advantage for 1:34 in the first period. RMU then scored with less than two minutes left in the first and held the lead through a scoreless second.
The Beavers (15-15-1, 11-5-1 CHA) got things going a bit in the third, but only after Robert Morris took a two goal lead at the 5:50 mark. BSU would get back to a one goal deficit twice, but it was not enough as RMU went on to record the win.
"Give credit to RMU," said BSU head coach Tom Serratore. "They were the better team tonight and deserved to win. I'm disappointed in the way we played and a bit disappointed in the effort"
The Beavers claimed the CHA regular season title outright as Niagara and Alabama-Huntsville skated to a 2-2 tie. But there was no celebration for the Beavers.
"You bet we want to have a picture around the trophy and celebrate," Serratore said. "But the only way you do that around here is by winning."
The Beavers will have another chance to get that win tonight as the two teams conclude the series in a 7 p.m. start. "There should be a lot of emotion with it being senior night," Serratore reported. "I'm confident the guys will play much better."
Robert Morris took a 1-0 first period lead, but made a major mark on special teams play. The Colonials Stefan LaChappelle was called for a five minute checking from behind major at the 10:13 mark. Dave Cowan later picked up a minor, giving the Beavers a 5 on 3 advantage for 1:34.
Robert Morris was able to kill the 5 on 3, as well as the major to keep the Beavers off the board. BSU had its chances with Matt Francis hitting the pipe from point blank range right after the major was called. The with less than a minute left, RMU freshman goaltender Brooks Ostergard made two huge saves on Brandon Marino from in close.
Jason Towsley got the RMU goal, skating the puck from the far corner to in front of the net and scoring past a heavily screened BSU goalie Matt Dalton.
The Beavers held a big 12-5 shot advantage in the period, mainly on the strength of the 5 on 3 and the major penalty. BSU generated the chances, but just couldn't connect.
"Sometimes when you get a five minute man advantage early and don't score, it's like you almost wish you could have declined the penalty," Serratore said. "We didn't take advantage of our opportunities and it cost us."
The score remained the same in the second as this time the Beavers special teams stole the show. BSU was whistled for five minors in the period, compared to one for RMU, and killed them all with little pressure from the Colonials.
The Beavers had the best scoring opportunity in the period as Darcy Findlay got the puck off a rebound at point range with about 8:30 left. He shot high over the open net.
RMU held a 10-4 shot advantage in the second, courtesy of the Beavers skating shorthanded for one-half the period.
Robert Morris took a two goal as CHA scoring leader Chris Margott connected right after the Colonials killed another penalty early in the third. A BSU turnover at the blue line generated a 2 on 1 for the Colonials and Margott connected.
The Beavers came back to make it a one goal game less than two minutes later, scoring on the power play. On a precision passing play, Matt Francis took a pass from Tyler Scofield in the slot and slipped the puck past Ostergard.
But RMU responded with the game winner at 12:14 with a power play goal of their own. Margott scored on a one-timer from the edge of the far circle off a nice pass from Trevor Lewis.
Francis got his second of the game with 3:31 remaining, scoring on a rebound off a shot from Matt Read.
But the Beavers would get no closer down the stretch.
BSU ended with a 30-23 shots on goal advantage. Each team had a power play goal, the Beavers ending 1 for 6 and RMU 1 for 8.
"We weren't as difficult to play against as we would have liked," Serratore reported, "and didn't penetrate offensively like we can. We also didn't take care of the puck well with several key turnovers. We addressed it, but sometimes the guys get amnesia out there."
Tonight's game will be the rubber game in the season series between the two teams as it now stands 2-2-1. "Our guys know what's at stake," Serratore said. "We'll see how they respond."