On Saturday afternoon at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center, eight Colonials will be honored in a pregame ceremony that some thought would either come with or another team, and three that weren’t sure would happen at all.
For one last time we will flash back to late May 2021. The Robert Morris Colonials are three months off of a College Hockey America Championship, a berth in the NCAA Tournament, graduating a class that was one of the more prestigious in team history and a brighter future with an underclass that was primed for a return bid in the fall.
That world came crashing down a Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t COVID restrictions that kept the team from glory, it was their own institution.
We’re going to fast-forward to October 7th, 2023 for the sake of the feels. The Colonials return to play to much fanfare. The team that lost it all was back with four players from that squad returning. We’ll talk about them in a bit.
Logan Bittle, newly minted head coach had to bring in a new crop of players to bridge new first-years and a new identity for the squad.
“For those that came in it was almost special,” Bittle said. “Trusting in our coaching staff, our university and our program that we were going to go out and put a team on the ice and a product on the ice that will provide them with opportunities that will make the former players and former staff proud.”
Amongst the Seniors and Graduates that will be honored tomorrow are forwards Shailynn Snow and Courtney Hall, who each have shown the grit and, especially in the case of Snow, a knack for situational scoring. Snow, a transfer from St. Lawrence scored nine goals on the season while Hall, a St. Cloud transfer, tallied twice.
On defense Chloe Puddifant immediately helped the Colonials set a tone with her in-your-face style that stayed clean, but still able to register 16 points, including eight assists over the last eleven games. Puddifant joined the Colonials out of St. Lawrence.
Emma Gorski transferred in from Merrimack, compiling a 4-8 record over 12 games on the season. Gorski was the goaltender of record for Robert Morris’ first regular season victory in the comeback, defeating Union 3-2 on September 30.
Four players that are listed as 2021 CHA Champions for the Robert Morris Colonials suited up for the team in the return year. Bittle showed more than an average amount of emotion speaking about these players.
“The three that stuck around were here from the beginning. I told them at the beginning of the season that no matter what happens you were going to be special to me for the rest of your lives. You were here, you stuck through it.”
Chace Sperling had a foot in both camps as the Senior went to St. Cloud State after the shuttering of the program and returned at it’s rebirth. Sperling’s story is deeper and the journey interesting as she faced a rough start after an unfortunate rollerblading accident derailed her first year with the program. Sperling appeared in 13 games this season.
That brings us to the final three Graduates in this class.
Gillian Thompson is a prototypical defensive defender. Thompson only registered five goals in her career, but her most important will always be from Erie Insurance Arena on March 6th 2021, at 7:27 of the first period of the CHA Championship game. Remember the final score? 1-0.
Wasyn Rice was similar to Thompson in a lot of ways, and both were great compliments for each other for both coaches Colontino and Bittle. Rice isn’t afraid to get physical in the crease, but only had 87 minutes of penalty minutes through her four seasons with the Colonials.
Allyson Hebert is only in her third season with Robert Morris, but set career a career high with five points this year. In 86 games, Hebert only entered the box three times. Hebert served as one of three captains for the Colonials this season.
These Colonials will be honored before their contest with Penn State at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center. Faceoff is scheduled for 5:00pm on Saturday.