Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Burgh Hockey

Three Robert Morris hockey players drafted to NWHL

Robert Morris defender Emilie Harley skates during a game in 2019. -- JARED TODHUNTER

The list of Colonials in professional hockey got a little longer. Defender Emilie Harley was drafted No. 2 overall in the first round of the 2021 National Women’s Hockey League draft by the Buffalo Beauts Tuesday. She was joined by two former teammates, forwards Angelica Diffendal (round 2, pick 1) and Leah Marino (round 3, pick 4). Diffendal will join Harley in Buffalo as Marino heads to the Toronto Six. Robert Morris had three players selected in the same draft for the first time in history.

Harley ended the season with 14 points in 25 games and a +3 goal differential. Diffendal scored 11 points in 25 games and had a +5 differential, while Marino notched 4 points over 25 games. The three Colonials led the team to its third CHA championship in 2021, defeating the Syracuse Orange 1-0 in the championship game on Saturday, Mar. 6, 2021. It was the team’s fifth straight championship appearance. They previously won in 2017 and 2012.

“Without RMU I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you right now,” Harley said in an interview during the NWHL draft. “It’s such a family atmosphere and we were really successful this year.” Robert Morris cut the women’s hockey program, along with the men’s team, in an announcement on May 26, 2021 by university president Chris Howard.

Harley, Diffendal, and Marino join elite company of Robert Morris alumni in the professional ranks. Forward Brittany Howard made history in 2017 as the first Colonial drafted to the NWHL, by the Buffalo Beauts. Defender Maggie Lague was drafted by the Connecticut Whale in 2018, and the expansion Toronto Six selected forwards Jaycee Gebhard and Natalie Marcuzzi in 2020. Gebhard ultimately decided to play professionally in sweden last year, but the accomplishment of being drafted into the NWHL stands as an accomplishment nonetheless.

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