SYRACUSE — Kyleigh Hanzlik’s second period goal was the difference as Robert Morris defeated Syracuse 2-0 at Tennity Ice Pavilion on Friday night.
Hanzlik picked up a loose puck in the corner, skated to the top of the circle and fired a shot over Orange starter Allison Small that found the back of the cage at 9:49 of the middle frame. The two teams had battled with little momentum exchanged between the two to that point, and it continued after the goal was scored.
“It was huge, it was a game where both teams were battling pretty hard,” Paul Colontino said. “Key offensive opportunities, tight offensive opportunities weren’t there. Our defense did a great job of keeping players to the outside and Raygan [Kirk] stopped all the perimeter shots she had to and all of the in-tight cheat shots she had to stop. Getting that first goal was a big momentum swing, it gives you a little bit of life and kind of recharges the batteries. The play was going back-and-forth, nobody could bury it. Finally we hit the netting.”
The Colonials also clinched a first-round bye with the victory, their fourth consecutive. This is an important detail in the College Hockey America tournament, which is played over three consecutive days.
“It’s always nice to finish in those top two spots and earn yourself the bye into the semifinals,” added Colontino. “It gets you an extra day of rest coming off the tail end of a long season. When you get the bye you get to stay steady with the Friday-Saturday game routine instead of a Thursday-Friday-Saturday game routine. I think it’s a great opportunity and a great earned opportunity for us.”
Michaela Boyle capped off the scoring with an empty net goal late in the third.
First-year Kirk stopped all 38 shots she faced for her fourth career shutout.
‘CUSE ME, LAKERS
The Colonials are still alive for the No. 1 seed in the CHA Tournament, which will be held at the HarborCenter in Buffalo from Mar 5-7. In their way are the Mercyhurst Lakers, but only by a single point. The Colonials need a victory over Syracuse and a Mercyhurst loss to Penn State on Saturday. The difference? The start time for the No. 1 seed’s game will be at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, opposed to a 4:00 p.m.
Robert Morris closes the 2020-21 regular season on Saturday with a 3:00 p.m. start against the Orange at Tennity Ice Pavilion.