BENSENVILLE, Ill. – The fifth ranked Robert Morris Illinois Men's Gold Hockey team was swept by eighth ranked Lindenwood Unversity over the weekend, losing 3-2 on Friday, February 10th and 4-0 on Saturday, February 11th at The Edge in Bensenville.
Getting swept wasn't the way the Eagles wanted to honor their class of seven senior skaters, but the losses could not dim the gloss the honorees have left as their legacy. The seven seniors (pictured at top), Jon Stevanovich (JR/Brookfield, Ill.), Aaron Blaker (SR/Rolling Meadows, Ill.), Jake Floro (SR/Bloomingdale, Ill.), Ben Boukal, Chayce Coenen (SR/Urbandale, Iowa), Derek Diaz (SR/Palatine, Ill.) and Bobby Chapman (SR/Lansing, Mich.) were cited in a pre-game ceremony for the significant contributions to the recent successes of Gold hockey. The latter three shared a CSCHL league title, two CSCHL playoff titles, and an ACHA National Championship Runner Up finish.
In the first game of the weekend, the Eagles put together what might have been their best 60 minute effort of the year. Junior Nathan Chasteen (JR/Peoria, Ill.) intercepted a Lion pass just 13 seconds into the game, broke in on goalie Cody Karpinski, deftly deked the puck around the goalie, and put it home for a 1-0 lead. Seven minutes later, Lindenwood tied the game on a point shot by Adam Newkirk, and then took the lead on a brilliant tip in at the crease by Tom Heinzmann. The Lions scored what should have been a back-breaking goal early in the second from center ice on a clearing attempt, but the Eagles responded with strong play behind sophomore goalie Chris Mallon (SO/Burnsville, Minn.), who'd entered the game in relief. Mallon would be perfect the rest of the way, turning away all 16 shots he'd face.
Chasteen cut the Lindenwood lead to a goal with his second goal of the game, a power play marker. Junior Nick Gnagni (JR/Bloomingdale, Ill.) started the play with a great keep-in along the boards. He moved the puck to red shirt freshman Alex Anderson (SO/Knife River, Minn.), who in turn, passed to junior Dan Doyle (JR/New Lenox, Ill.) at the point. Doyle ripped a shot towards the net, where Chasteen was camped in front. The shot ticked off Chasteen and the game was 3-2 going into the third. Several Eagles had great scoring chances in the last frame. Freshman Sam Mancini (FR/Bloomingdale, Ill.), playing his best game of the season, had three prime chances, including hitting a post. RMU continued to press for the tying goal, but a breakdown in discipline cost them a realistic chance. Anderson took a five-minute penalty, and still RMU responded with strong play, aggressively attacking on the penalty. Another bad penalty taken by Cessna prevented RMU from a chance to get back to even strength. The Eagles killed the five-on-three penalty, and in the waning seconds, Doyle had a great chance but his shot hit Chasteen to seal the Lion win.
In the second game, Lindenwood dominated the play over the full 60 minutes. Playing without their three leading scorers, Anderson, Gavin Burbach and Ryan Martin (SO/Rochester, Minn.) with the latter two out with injuries, RMU's team defense was lacking in front of Mallon, and Lindenwood took 36 shots at the RMU net over the game in route to a 4-0 win. The Lions scored the game winner on a five-on-three power play advantage for a 1-0 lead on a shot from CSCHL All-Star Brandon Rumble. Rumble would add a second goal in the second period as well.
The loss assured that the Eagles could finish no higher than fourth in the CSCHL standings, meaning their next home game will be on Friday, February 24th in the first game of the CSCHL Playoffs. That game will likely be against their opponents for the upcoming weekend, the University of Illinois. RMU travels to Champaign for games on Friday, February 17th and Saturday, February 18th and neither Burbach nor Martin are likely to return for the final regular season games.