Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Robert Morris

FINALS BOUND: Gazzola’s goal sends RMU to title game

Jessica Gazzola celebrates her third period goal on Friday. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Prior to Saturday’s College Hockey America semifinal matchup with Lindenwood, Robert Morris junior forward Jessica Gazzola had scored five goals on the season, two of which were game-winning goals

You better make that six and three, as Gazzola netted the game winner in the Colonials’ 2-1 win over the Lady Lions at the HarborCenter.

With just over seven minutes to go in the third period, Gazzola took a pass from Amanda Pantaleo at the blueline, skated to the top of the circle and fired a wrist shot over Lindenwood goaltender Jolene deBruyn. The goal secured the victory over the Lady Lions and a berth in the CHA championship game.

Through 50 minutes, Lindenwood kept Robert Morris off the board at even strength, with the only goal coming on a powerplay tally by Brittany Howard in the second. With the Lindenwood defense focused on Howard, it took a contribution from a different part of the lineup. As has been the case recently, the second line of Maeve Garvey, Gazzola, and Pantaleo stepped up.

“Between Maeve, Amanda, and Jessica, they’ve done a great job,” head coach Paul Colontino said. “In games like this, we all know each other as conference opponents.  [Our first] line, they all know that they have to shut them down. Sometimes, they face extra pressure, and that’s what it did. We got a goal from Brit and then another one from Gazzola. It’s huge.”


In the first period, the two teams had a tough time mustering up any offense, exchanging turnover after turnover. The teams got 12 shots on net in the opening frame, with the Lions holding an 8-4 advantage.

It wasn’t until a Carrie Atkinson roughing penalty that Robert Morris was able to capitalize. The Colonials continued to put pressure on the Lions, but a Sarah Bobrowski goal with 20 seconds remaining in the frame evened things up heading into the locker rooms.


The Colonials played with five defenders for the first time this season, as Katherine Murphy was a late scratch. While it’s not something they’ve done this year, this group of defenders frequently played with five last season.

“Obviously, she’s a very important asset to this team,” explained defender Kirsten Welsh. “It’s not the first time we played with five. Rolling five means you’re always into [the game].”

Colontino did not disclose the reason for Murphy’s absence, but seemed optimistic that she would be able to play in the championship game on Saturday. He was also complimentary of the job the other five did in her absence.

“You can’t help but admire the resilience of the other five in realizing that they had to bring a little bit of extra,” he said. “Everybody picked up the slack for the spot and thats a testament to them, and the pride that they have.”


Goaltender Jessica Dodds improved to 15-2-5 on her stellar senior season, stopping 25 of the 26 shots she faced in the game. … Jaycee Gebhard assisted on Howard’s goal, giving her 45 points on the season, and passing Rebecca Vint for the franchise record for points in a season by a rookie. … Howard moved to four points behind Vint for the Colonials’ all-time points lead. Howard, a redshirt junior, accomplished that in just three seasons.


Robert Morris will face Syracuse at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the HarborCenter. The winner of that game will be the CHA champion and will be granted an automatic bid in the eight-team NCAA Tournament, with the regionals to be played on March 10 or 11.

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