NEVILLE TWP., PA.– Alaina Giampietro’s goal 1:57 into the third period secured a 2-1 victory for Robert Morris over rival Mercyhurst Saturday afternoon at the Island Sports Center. The win secured a tie in the season series for the two squads.
A day after the Colonials spotted the Lakers goals on four of five power-play opportunities, Chantal St. Croix found the net on the first opportunity for the Lakers, opening up a 1-0 lead for Mercyhurst.
“They got the first one, which wasn’t off to a great start,” Colonials head coach Logan Bittle explained. “As far as I’m concerned we’re 1-for-1 because we killed that second one and we didn’t give up another power-play goal the rest of the game.”
The Lakers went 1-for-8 on the advantage, including a 42 second 5-on-3 midway through the third period.
Janelle Evans found the back of the cage after finishing a pass from Giampietro at 16:12 of the second period and unleashing “teddy bear pandemonium”, as the game was the annual Teddy Bear toss for Robert Morris.
The stellar play of sophomore goaltender Maggie Hatch was one of the reasons for the Colonials comeback as the net minder kept 19 of the 20 shots she faced in the first out of the cage.
The defense stepped up, too.
“Someone blocking a shot is one less shot I have to fight off,” Hatch said postgame. “So it even saves a little energy and mental energy for myself. It’s a lot of little things that help everyone.”
Hatch improved to 6-12 on the season for Robert Morris.
Giampietro’s goal gave the Colonials a hard-fought win against a long-time conference foe at a time where points are at a premium. The way the CHA structured the postseason for 2024 is that only the top four teams make the tournament out of the six eligible. The top two seeds will host the first round games against the lower seeds, and then the top remaining seed hosts the championship a week later.
With a loss the Colonials would have fallen out of the playoff picture with a Lindenwood win, however they remain in the picture with the win, as well as four points behind the Lakers for the second seed.
With eight games remaining, the Colonials face Syracuse, RIT, Penn State and Lindenwood in succession – a stretch that could very well decide both a playoff berth and possible home-ice in the first round.
Robert Morris heads to Syracuse for a two-game set with the Orange, with face-off from the Tennity Ice Pavilion scheduled for 6:00p.m. on Friday and 3:00p.m. on Saturday.