NEVILLE TWP. — One theme that occurred throughout the Robert Morris women’s hockey team last season was an inability to play a full sixty minutes of their own game. The team felt that they left opportunities out there last year and came into 2016-17 focusing on a consistent sixty minutes of hockey.
Through three games, the team had fared rather well, starting 3-0. However, on Saturday at 84 Lumber Arena, the team got off to a slow start, suffered some lapses in between, and the result was a 1-1 tie to end their weekend series with the RPI Engineers.
“College hockey is momentum swings,” said head coach Paul Colontino. “When you are killing it, it is a natural tendency to lay back a little bit. Penalties got us on our heels, and it was tough to get going today.”
The Colonials were outshot 10-6 in the first period. RPI won 10 of the 18 faceoffs in the period and it was a 5-on-3 situation that the Colonials put themselves in to give up the first goal of the game — the lone goal given up by senior goaltender Jessica Dodds. It is safe to say the first swing of momentum went to the Engineers, and it took the Colonials away from playing their style of hockey right off of the bat.
“We needed to keep pushing as a team,” added sophomore defender Kirsten Welsh. “We needed to be tighter, faster, stronger. We can’t think about the past, and need to focus on the future.”
The Colonials did push back, though. The team came out smoking in the second period and outshot the Engineers 21-6. They tied the game just 2:31 into the second period on a wrist shot from Welsh. It looked as if the team was back to their style of play after using the intermission to wake up from the punch that RPI threw.
“In the second period we were unhappy with the first,” said Colontino. “We came out on a mission, we played more like we can play. Everybody agreed our first period was not our best, but when you lose twenty minutes like that it can make the difference.”
The lost twenty minutes of the first period did make the difference. From the second period through the end of the game the Colonials outshot RPI 32-17. They out-blocked RPI 14-12, won 23 of the final 43 faceoffs and even outshot the Engineers in overtime, 4-2. Unfortunately, none of that was enough to overcome the slow start and find a win.
“End of the day, we need to put the puck in the net, and that’s where we lost,” Colontino said. “(Amanda Pantaleo’s) goal yesterday was huge, it changed the game. It was 3-2 when she scored, and it could have easily been a game like this without it. Today we did not get those. That is what we have to work for. We have to work for the opportunities and bury them when we get them.”
The Colonials will be focusing on the future and will look for those scoring opportunities as they host the University of Vermont for a weekend series at 84 Lumber Arena next Friday and Saturday.