NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — Make no mistake about it, Brittany Howard is back.
The Robert Morris all-time leader in points and assists returned after a two-game absence on Friday to lead the Colonials to a 1-0 victory over the Lindenwood Lions.
Howard, who missed RMU’s 1-0-1 weekend against Penn State on Jan. 26 and 27 with an undisclosed upper-body injury, made her presence felt right away, as she fired home a wrist shot on a 3-on-2 to give Robert Morris the lead just 3:29.
Linemates Jaycee Gebhart and Amber Rennie, reunited with Howard after her absence, joined her on the rush and picked up the assists on goal.
The tally was the 73rd of Howard’s Robert Morris career, tying her with Rebecca Vint for the program’s all-time lead in that category, one of the few offensive records that Howard doesn’t already own.
After the Colonials took the lead, they stayed on the attack and pounded Lindenwood goaltender Jolene DeBruyn, but couldn’t find the back of the net again. She finished with 35 saves.
Elijah Milne-Price made 17 saves for Robert Morris for her third shutout of the season.
Howard’s goal changed the tone of the game from the very beginning. The Lions seemed to content to hang back defensively and attempt to limit her and the rest of the Robert Morris offense.
But that prevented Lindenwood from being able to establish much in transition against a Robert Morris defense that loves to pinch at the point. Instead, the Colonials on the blue line were largely left open and able to hammer long-range shots in on DeBruyn.
“They like to pack in the zone and block a lot of shots,” Howard said. “They have a great goaltender back there. Getting that early lead was huge.”
In addition to DeBruyn’s 35 saves, Lindenwood blocked another 27 shots. Howard led Robert Morris with eight shots.
SHUTTING IT DOWN
The Colonials held Lindenwood to just 17 shots thanks to the effort of a confident group of defenders that have been playing well all year. With a playoff-type atmosphere in a close contest, they rose to the occasion.
“I know they’re going to block the shots for me and let me see the puck and create lanes,” Milne-Price said. “We’re comfortable playing when we’re on our toes and it’s huge for us.”
Maggie LaGue, Katherine Murphy and Maggie LaGue each blocked two shots. The Colonials also killed all three Lindenwood power plays.
Milne-Price is a senior, but she played in just four games before this season. That means that the stretch run of CHA play and the upcoming postseason will be a new experience for her.
“It’s crunch-time now,” Milne-Price said. Everyone’s bringing their best game and we’re prepping for the CHA Tournament. Everyone’s giving each other their best. I’m sure it’ll be tight hear on out.”
While that’s a new experience for her, it’s one she’s looking forward to.
“Just the whole environment with your teammates, putting everything on the line, being in the changing room together, it’s just an exciting culture to be a part of,” she said.
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) February 9, 2018
.@brithoward3‘s record-tying 7⃣3⃣rd career 🚨!
— RMU Hockey (@RMUWHockey) February 9, 2018
TOP OF THE CHART
Thanks to Robert Morris’ win and Mercyhurst tying Penn State, the Colonials are alone in first place with 23 points after coming into the weekend tied with the Lakers at 21. The Colonials are five points ahead of third-place Syracuse, which plays later on Friday at RIT. The top three teams get a bye in the CHA Tournament.
The Colonials and Lions will meet again on Saturday at 1 p.m. That will be Senior Day for the Colonials.