ERIE, PA — Michaela Boyle’s early third period goal paved the way for a Robert Morris comeback and Maggy Burbidge scored the deciding goal at the 2:37 mark of overtime leading the Colonials to a 3-2 victory over Mercyhurst on Friday night at Erie Insurance Arena.
With the win, Robert Morris heads to its fifth consecutive College Hockey America championship.
“Honestly it was a blur out there,” Burbidge said. “I can’t say enough about the girls who worked hard in the corner to push the puck out in front, and once I got it on my stick I seen net and I put it in. It was all a blur from there.”
“Any time it goes to overtime and you’re lucky enough to get the winner, especially early, that’s a great deal, that’s a great feeling.” Paul Colontino added.
The two teams played tight hockey throughout the game, and until the third period were each responsible for multiple infractions at key moments.
A Gillian Thompson hooking penalty early in the contest led to the first goals for both squads. Ellie Marcovsky opened the scoring early at the 1:57 mark, taking a turnover pass from Lexi Templeman and sliding it past Mercyhurst starter Ena Nystrom for a short-handed goal.
Lakers captain Alexa Vasko found a loose puck in the slot and fired it over the glove hand of Arielle DeSmet to tie things up a mere :40 later, and the two teams spent more time platooning to the penalty box than creating opportunities the remainder of the frame.
The Lakers picked it up in the second, and first-year Grace Nelles took a loose puck and slid it under a moving DeSmet to give Mercyhurst the lead at the 11:06 mark. Once again, the two teams were at a stalemate for the remainder of the period.
Boyle tied the contest for the Colonials at the 2:24 mark of the third as the Lakers found themselves in penalty trouble once again. Templeman moved the puck from the back of the net to front and Boyle took two swipes at it before capitalizing. The whistles seemed to be limited to only icings and offsides from that point, and the two teams were destined to take the rivalry past the 60-minute mark.
Liliane Perreault’s hooking penalty led to the extra attacker for Burbidge’s overtime game winner.
“We’ve got depth is different ways.” Colontino added. “We’re not particularly flashy, you see these underclassmen every game, every weekend just continuing to progress, step up and find new ways to bring something to the table. [Burbidge] continues to take on more and more responsibility, and she handles it very well. ”
DeSmet stopped 28 of 30 shots she faced on the day as Nystrom stopped 30 of 33.
Robert Morris meets another familiar foe, Syracuse, in the CHA Championship game. The Colonials and Orange each have a win in the title game against each other with Robert Morris defeating Syracuse 2-0 in the title game in 2017, while the Orange raised the trophy in 2019.
“It’s hard to even get there,” Colontino said. “I don’t know if you can call that a feather in the cap, but anytime you go to a championship you’re playing to win. But to have that consistency year after year in the locker room, graduating players and new ones stepping in, building that culture of the drive, the pride, the willingness to get there and to create the opportunity to play for a championship because not everybody gets an opportunity to do that.”