ERIE, Pa. — Robert Morris moved within a victory of a share of the CHA regular season title with a 3-2 victory over the Mercyhurst Lakers at the Mercyhurst Ice Center on Saturday afternoon.
After a lackluster final 40 minutes on Friday, the Colonials put together a complete effort in a wide-open game. The first period bared no resemblance to the shutdown mentality the teams displayed the evening before, with the teams combining for 21 shots in the frame.
The scoring began in the second period when Jaycee Gebhard’s hard drive to the net resulted in the first Colonials’ goal. With the primary assist on the goal, Brittany Howard reached another milestone in her career, her 100th helper. Gebhard registered her second goal under 6 minutes later on a turnover.
The Lakers showed the resilience that has made them famous in the third, as Brooke Hartwick tallied her 11th goal of the campaign to cut the Colonials lead to 2-1. Howard rounded out her stat sheet a minute and a half later, scoring her 75th career goal from the circle on the power-play. Hartwick added a contested goal halfway through, but it wasn’t enough as the Colonials shut down the Lakers for the final 9 minutes en route to the victory.
“Every game is a playoff game against them,” Gebhard explained. “Even if it’s at the start of the year, it feels like it’s for the championship. It’s a pride level for us. It’s definitely a battle for us; it’s the type of game we like to play. It brings our team closer together as we get better efforts out of everybody.”
“We’re excited to go into each and every weekend against them,” Howard explained. “We know its going to be a battle. We definitely pulled out a win today and are very happy about it.”
Elijah-Milne Price stopped 31 of the 33 shots she faced and collected win No. 17 on the season. Kennedy Blair, who was good as advertised against the Colonials, stopped 22 of 25.
WHO NEEDS A RECORD BOOK?
Howard’s goal in the third was the 19th game-winner of her career, breaking a tie with Rebecca Vint for the most in club history. Friday was Kirsten Welsh’s 100th career game, and Saturday marked the milestone for Maggie LaGue. Amber Rennie passed the mark on Feb. 10. Welsh also set a career high with 26 points on her second period assist.
Howard needs three goals to tie Vint for the single-season record.
At the end of the weekend, the waters were a little bit muddier for the Colonials with each of the top three teams splitting their series. A sweep had the potential for a Colonials CHA title outright, but the loss yesterday made the road a little bit longer.
“Our players do want first place in the regular season,” Paul Colontino said. “That’s their goal, that’s what they’re after. If you look at today’s game, it’s a must win game if they wanted that goal. That’s what they played like- they wanted that goal.
Robert Morris defeating Mercyhurst, coupled with Syracuse defeating Lindenwood on Saturday creates the following situation for the Colonials: Robert Morris will claim at least a share of the CHA regular-season championship with two points in Syracuse next weekend, and can win it outright with a sweep of the Orange. One point in Syracuse secures a first-round bye in the CHA tournament for the Colonials.
The Colonials head to Syracuse Friday Feb 23-24, where the Orange await them during for the final weekend of the regular season. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday.