Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Robert Morris

Big 3: Nose for the net key for Colonials’ top unit

Robert Morris forward Brittany Howard drives to the net against Vermont. -- BRIAN MITCHELL / PITTSBURGH HOCKEY DIGEST

NEVILLE TWP. — The Robert Morris women remain unbeaten after their second consecutive 1-0-1 weekend, this time against Vermont. They are now 4-0-2 on the season and are one of four schools that have started play that remain unbeaten. Only No. 1 Wisconsin is also unbeaten after having played six games.

Here’s my big three takeaways from the weekend of hockey at 84 Lumber Arena.

SECOND-CHANCE SCORERS

One area in which the Colonials have excelled in this season have been second-chance opportunities. Almost every goal this season could be described as a deflection, or with bodies in front of the net, or a putback. The team has noticed their success in these ways, and have mentioned that this is something that they like to do, and may be looking to do to make hay this season.

“We really practice getting our rebounds, keeping our feet forward in front of the net and trying to bury, so it did end up being beneficial,” said junior forward Brittany Howard.

“We have people crashing the net and looking for rebounds,” added head coach Paul Colontino. “I guess that’s what these girls like to do. We are getting shots through to create this situation and we are jumping on the rebounds.”

MORE PRIASE FOR STAR-STUDDED LINE

It was touched on extensively after Friday’s game, but the Colonials line of Brittany Howard, Jaycee Gebhard and Amber Rennie deserves even more praise. They came out Saturday with an encore performance to their success on Friday, and the line put up two more goals, this time, both coming from the stick of Howard.

Over the weekend, the trio had four goals on 22 shots with seven assists. They have 30 points combined in six games and each player has four goals so far this year. The three make up the top power play unit. The Colonials power play ranked first in the NCAA in goals scored entering the weekend, and Gebhard added a power play goal to the total on Friday.

Gebhard is tied for second in the NCAA with 10 points and first in the country with three power play goals. She leads NCAA rookies in both categories.

This line is clearly the group to watch this year, and it will be interesting to see if and when they come back down to earth.

INJURY WATCH

In their game on Saturday, senior forward Maeve Garvey had to leave after taking a puck off the forearm. While it was tough for the head coach to say definitively after the game, he does not expect it to be too serious.

“I think she will back this weekend,” said Colontino. “It was one of those stingers that put you out of the game. … Garv works so hard. She sacrifices so much and always puts her body on the line,” he added. “We have a ton of players like that, with huge hearts. They do what it takes to make the play and when you get that sacrifice, you can do a lot of good things.”

It can do a lot of good things, but at the same time, may have the Colonials watching their health and depth as the grind of the hockey season now starts to take its toll. Colontino knows how huge depth is however and has already preached the next person up mentality to his players.

“You need players to jump in, fill spots, pick up the slack,” he said. “There will be injuries, there will be whatever, you need players to mentally know it is their turn to step up and step in.”

The Colonials have already been playing without sophomore forward Caitlyn Sadowy, who was injured in the team’s exhibition game.

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