Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Robert Morris

RMU crushes Penn State, advances to CHA final

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Robert Morris took one more step in the defense of its College Hockey America championship on Friday, defeating the Penn State Nittany Lions 7-2 at Harborcenter in Buffalo.

Natalie Marcuzzi had two goals, including the game-winner, as one of seven Colonials to record multi-point afternoons in the thumping of their in-state rivals.

Marcuzzi tossed a puck on net that ended up behind Nittany Lions netminder Hannah Ehresman in a mad scramble at 8:33 of the first period before following it up with the eventual game winner on a shot from the circle that gave the Colonials a 3-1 lead late in the first period.

Jessica Gazzola kicked off the goal-scoring outburst by tipping home a Lexi Templeman shot at 1:15 of the first. The Nittany Lions used a Kirsten Welsh checking minor to even things up with Katie McMillan’s goal at 4:54 on the power-play.

Once Marcuzzi gave Robert Morris the lead back, Amber Rennie extended it by redirecting a cross-crease pass from Brittany Howard behind backup Penn State goaltender Chantal Burke early in the second. Burke, in her first year with the Lions, came in for Ehresman at the beginning of the second period, only to have to be carried out by her teammates after an apparent lower-body injury.

Natalie Heising scored a goal midway through the third period to get the Nittany Lions within four, but the Colonials tidied up the victory after receiving a late goal by junior Caitlyn Sadowy.

Elijah Milne-Price stopped 17 of 19 shots on the day en route to her 20th victory of the year. She’s allowed just six goals over her last seven games.

BIG GAME GAZZOLA

After a phenomenal 2017 tournament, Gazzola opened up the scoring with her third goal in as many CHA tournament games on Friday. The senior from Thunder Bay, Ontario didn’t allow the achievement overlook the team’s ‘one game at a time’ mantra.

“We’re going to enjoy the win today, and a good nights sleep tonight,” Gazzola said. “Tomorrow is a new day and whoever the opponent is, we’re focused and set on taking it one period at a time and hopefully coming out with a win.”

SECONDARY SCORING

Throughout the regular season, head coach Paul Colontino shuffled the Colonials lineup, looking for consistency thrughout his bottom nine. The scoring was never a factor for the Colonials, but the opportunity to figure out what players meshed well with others led to a combination of three players who saw little or no time together in the team’s 2016-17 run: Marcuzzi with wingers Sarah Quaranta and Caitlyn Sadowy.

“I think over the course of the year, what you see is a line that has not only learned to play with each other, but a system that has works with each other,” Colontino said. “They play off of each other extremely well. You’ve got a nice blend of different skillsets, and when they filled all three of those areas, that’s when we started to see tremendous success out of them.”

Sadowy missed the entire 2016-17 season after breaking both of her arms in the preseason game. Quaranta worked her way back into the lineup after being an early-season scratch for the Colonials during the absence of sophomore Aneta Ledlova.

The line combined for six points on the afternoon against Penn State.

HIGHLIGHTS


PREGAME

POSTGAME REACTION

MITCH’S PICS

UP NEXT

The Colonials next play on Saturday, Mar. 3 at 4 p.m. and will face the  winner of the second semifinal between Syracuse and Mercyhurst.

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