NEVILLE TWP., PA — Penn State rolled into the Clearview Ice Arena at the RMU Island Sports Center and gave the Colonials all they could handle, besting the home squad 3-2 on Friday night. Rachel Weiss and Julie Gough scored in the third period to cap the night for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State brought a serious youth-movement to the ice, dressing nine rookies for the contest, including both goaltenders. Natalie Heising represented the entire senior class on the night, but the Nittany Lions looked nothing like an inexperienced team. If you watched the two teams play over the past few years, it seemed a continuation of their low-scoring, defense-heavy matchups that have defined the rivalry.
Bounces defined the action on the ice, as both teams tried to capture momentum throughout the first two periods, both failing and capitalizing at multiple points. Both teams weren’t without a learning curve, however.
“We worked extremely hard,” Robert Morris head coach Paul Colontino said. “But truthfully it wasn’t our smartest game. If we can combine that type of work, that work ethic and gain the skillset the smart side, poise side. If we can gain on that we’ll quickly be able to elevate our game. We needed a combination of poise and urgency. We got a lot of urgency, we just didn’t have the poise we needed, it cost us puck possession, and in turn ultimately cost us scoring opportunities.”
Marah Wagner opened up the scoring for the Colonials at the 6:13 mark of the opening frame, redirecting a Joelle Fiala rebound past first-year netminder Josie Bothun. The Nittany Lions countered with an Amy Dobson power-play goal at 11:06 and the two teams played their best game of “keep-away”, isolating their opposition to perimeter plays and not allowing for many shots on net through the second. Each team went into the final cut tied with 19 shots on net on 42 attempts.
Weiss’ shot in the early stages of the third broke the stalemate, as the sophomore found a sweet spot over Kirk’s glove hand at 1:27. After the Colonials killed a two-player disadvantage, an insurance goal came off of the stick of Gough at 6:59. Michaela Boyle’s innocent toss on net with 10:30 remaining in the game capped the scoring for both squads.
“I thought we played well for the first conference game coming off Christmas break,” Captain Lexi Templeman said. “They are a good hockey club and were tough to play against. I think we did a good job on getting shots but we just need to be tougher in front of the net to put some of those rebounds in. I think we need to improve in the small aspects of our game and we will find ourselves more successful tomorrow.”
The Colonials and Nittany Lions finish their two-game set at the Island with a 2:00p.m. face-off on Saturday.