NEVILLE TWP, Pa. — Midway through the third period of Robert Morris’ Saturday matinee with Brown University, the Colonials faced one of their most adverse situations of the season and survived it en route to extending their unbeaten streak to 12 games with a 5-3 victory at 84 Lumber Arena.
About six minutes into the third period, the Colonials were tied with Brown, 3-3. A holding call followed by a roughing minor in the same play led to a full two-minute 5-on-3 for the Bears to potentially take their first lead of the game and take away a win in a game that had been dominated by the Colonials. But the Colonials hung tough, killed off the penalty, and less than a minute after getting to even strength, took the lead back on a Brittany Howard goal.
“On the bench, we were like, ‘This our chance, we have the momentum now,’” explained first-year forward Jaycee Gebhard, who assisted Howard’s go-ahead goal. “We kept saying, ‘Get the pucks to the net.’ So I got the puck, took it to the net, got it to Britt, and it was kind of textbook, just what we talked about.”
“It felt so good to kill that penalty, and instantly throw it back at them,” added sophomore defender Maggie Lague. “We showed that you can throw anything at us, we can go down 5-on-3 and give it right back to you on the other end with a goal. It was huge.”
The momentum of the goal changed the game as the Colonials were able to break it open less than five minutes later to give the team a two-goal lead.
“We are always excited to see how this team responds to pressure, and pressure situations,” head coach Paul Colontino remarked about the great stop followed by the score. “We have a group whose mentality is to say, ‘:et’s get this thing done.’ When you can kill a 5-on-3 like that, you can definitely gain momentum. We got that momentum, and we just kept pushing. It was huge.”
CENTURY CLUB FOR COLONTINO
The huge penalty kill set up a huge landmark win for Colontino. At just the halfway point of his sixth season, Colontino was able to notch the 100th win of his head coaching career with the Colonials.
Colontino built the program up from a habitual loser to one of the more consistently successful programs over the past six years. His first season saw the largest increase in wins in program history, and all of their longest conference tournament runs are under the Colontino-led Colonials. Colontino sees the milestone as a feather in his cap but notes that the wins are more important to building the program than his own resume.
“It is exciting,” he said. “[That’s] 100 wins for this program in six years. I think if you look back six years ago, people might have thought it would have taken a bit longer. However, the biggest award, I think, is when you win a team championship. That is what we are looking for next.”
“He taught us a lot,” said Lague. “He taught me especially to keep trusting myself, trusting the process and to stick with it. I am very grateful to have learned from him.”
While Gebhard is only in her first year, she was quick to point out specific elements in her game that Colontino has already affected in their half-season together.
“He taught me so much in half of a season,” said, Gebhard, who leads the team in points so far. “He taught me to be stronger on pucks, to take that shot and has pushed me every day in practice. It is nice to be here for something like this for him.”
PROTECTING THE NET
The Colonials put up five goals in each of their back-to-
back games against Brown. However, their second game was a lot closer than the first, mainly due to the three goals that were given up by the Colonials. The Colonials spent most of the game on the attack, but it was the rare times Brown set up their offense, that the Colonials struggled to clear the puck, and rebounds and second chance opportunities hurt the team.
“We need to kick initial shots to the walls and to the corners, and when we cannot do that, we need our defense to box out,” stated Colontino, who mentioned that this will be a talking point in practice this week. “We have to be bigger, stronger and tougher, and take back the real estate in front of the crease. We will reinforce this week that that is our zone, and that is our area to dominate.”
Top-line defender Lague agreed with the sentiment made by Colontino.
“With conference games coming up, and them being so competitive, and so nitty-gritty, that is an aspect we need to clean up,” she stated. “We need to get under sticks and eliminate those second chances as much as possible. That’s how a lot of goals are being scored now. To eliminate those as much as possible will really give us the advantage to keep winning, and it is something we have to work on as the season goes.”
Natalie Marcuzzi scored her first career goal in the second period.
Captain Rikki Meilleur (illness) missed her fourth game despite the team hoping she would return this weekend. First-year forward Aneta Ledlova missed her second straight game for undisclosed reasons.
The Colonials will get a week off but will have a chance to prove that they learned from their scare, and grew as a team from their adverse situation when they take the ice again on Jan. 13, back at home, against conference foe Lindenwood for a two-game series.