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Hockey splits weekend against Robert Morris-White

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Marquette club hockey (14-6-1) split its two-game set against the Robert Morris-White Eagles after sweeping Peoria the previous weekend. Despite two goals from sophomore Chris Morrow, an open net score sealed a 5-2 victory Friday for the Eagles (6-6-0). However, Marquette was able to earn a split in the series with a 3-2 victory on a late goal from freshman Brian Kennedy.

Coach Will Jurgensen explained while his team was disappointed in not winning the series, he described Robert Morris – White as a difficult foe.

“This was a tough weekend with some ups and some downs,” Jurgensen said. “We played a very good team in RMU-White who displayed a lot of speed and some very good goaltending.  Seeing as how it is a MACHA (conference) league game and four points are on the line, we certainly were aiming to get all four, but I loved how the team responded on Saturday after a tough loss on Friday night.”

Friday’s match-up started slow and did not have a goal until 13 minutes into the period, but it went in Marquette’s favor. A shot from Morrow off a rebound from the boards gave the Golden Eagles an early 1-0 lead. However, the lead would be short lived, after a similar rebound and score coupled with a power play goal gave Robert Morris a 2-1 edge.

An equalizer by Morrow on a shot in front of the net got Marquette back on track six minutes into the second period. However, that would be the last goal of the game for the Golden Eagles, as Robert Morris – White began putting its foot on the gas. A second period goal off a bad clearance gave the lead back to the Eagles. In a matchup devoid of many good scoring chances, a goal with nine minutes left all but gave Robert Morris the victory. A late empty-net goal for the Eagles from their own zone secured the 5-2 win.

Something evident in Friday’s matchup was that the team looked a little less aggressive throughout the game, especially entering the third period. Unlike recent third period successes, the team was unable to capitalize on any of the scoring chances and hits were few and far between. Senior captain Matt Vuoncino explained a number of factors kept the team from coming back in Friday’s matchup.

“I think a bit of that was on our leadership, myself especially,” Vuoncino said. “Generally if the guys are a step slow, our upperclassmen lift them up.  I know on Friday guys were a bit banged up, a little under the weather and ultimately we were a step slow and it cost us.”

Saturday saw two Robert Morris goals in the first period, which gave the Eagles an early 2-0 lead. But Marquette rebounded in the second period to stop the slide, as Joe Burton scored on the power play to pull Marquette within one.

An early power-play goal by senior Tyler Schwichtenberg from Vuoncino after he picked off a neutral zone pass tied the score at 2-2. Marquette was able to complete the comeback on a third goal that was easily the prettiest scoring play of the series. Sophomore Adam Benkovich led a two-on-one breakaway, and after he evaded his defender with a nifty deke, he hit Kennedy for the easy goal, capping the series with a 3-2 victory.

Jurgensen complimented his team for a strong turnaround after the second period in Saturday’s victory.

“Myself and my assistant coach really challenged the guys after the first period to play harder because I knew they had a different level of play that they hadn’t reached yet,” Jurgensen said. “You can feel it on the bench when things are clicking as a team and up until that second period, I couldn’t feel it, but once we took the ice in the second, we were a different team and the guys were rewarded with a victory.”

Friday’s loss was the first defeat for the Golden Eagles on the four-game home stand. Coupled with Saturday’s victory, Marquette is 5-1 over their last six home games. The team will conclude the stretch with a weekend series against Lewis before going on the road to Wisconsin-Platteville.

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