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Perfect 10: Robert Morris scores ten, enters top ten, unbeaten in CHA

Ranked 9th nationally, RMU rides an 11-game unbeaten streak into the winter break following a weekend sweep of Penn State

Jaycee Gebhard and Brittany Howard celebrate a Robert Morris goal
Justin Berl

Robert Morris women’s hockey took a nine-game unbeaten streak into last weekend’s matchup with in-state rival Penn State and left with another College Hockey America conference sweep with a pair of wins over the Nittany Lions.

The Colonials are now 12-1-5 overall with a 7-0-1 CHA record, ranked ninth in the national polls. But going into the series with Penn State, just two points separated the Nittany Lions from RMU in a tight race at the top of the CHA. The four-point gain the Colonials made with last weekend’s victories puts Robert Morris convincingly in first place in the conference, with a five-point lead over Syracuse heading into the winter break.

HOW IT WENT DOWN

Saturday’s 4-2 win for Robert Morris saw three Colonials post multi-point efforts, including defenseman Katherine Murphy’s game-winning goal and additional assist.

The Colonials dominated play in the first period, taking a 16-5 advantage in shots into the intermission, but at that point neither team had made it onto the scoreboard. Penn State’s Amy Petersen changed that with a power play goal, her tenth goal of the season, at 5:10 of the second. Aneta Ledlova evened the score for Robert Morris with her fourth goal of the season, making it a 1-1 game headed to the third. An Amber Rennie shot caromed off Brittany Howard and into the Nittany Lions’ net just two minutes into the third period to give Robert Morris its first lead of the game. Murphy’s first goal of the season would put the Colonials up 3-1 with 7:05 remaining before Aly Hardy closed the gap to one for Penn State. Amanda Pantaleo chipped in an empty net goal to put the game on ice and give Robert Morris the 4-2 win.

Sunday’s 6-5 victory for Robert Morris was a fight to the finish. The Nittany Lions played perhaps their best period of hockey all season, scoring four goals in the third period, but coming up just short of the Colonials.

RMU took a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals scored just 20 seconds apart, freshman Jaycee Gebhard notching the first and Pantaleo the second. In the second, Rennie gave the Colonials a 3-0 lead. PSU’s Petersen busted the goose egg with 2:04 left in the second, knocking a shot off an RMU skate and into the net. But the Colonials bounced right back with another Gebhard goal coming with 37 seconds left in the period.

Trailing 4-1 after two, Meike Meiller and Laura Bowman scored in the first six minutes of the third to make it a one-goal game. Maeve Garvey pushed the lead back to two for RMU before Kate Rydland returned fire for Penn State three minutes later. A 5-4 lead for the Colonials was far from safe. Penn State pulled Daniela Paniccia from the net and Mikaela Lowater potted an empty-net goal with under a minute to play. Bowman tallied a hat trick for the second time this season with another score with 13 seconds left, just not enough to earn the equalizer.

RED LIGHT SPECIAL

The teams combined for six goals in the third period of Sunday’s game including two of Bowman’s hat trick scores. Penn State fired 17 shots in the period, to RMU’s eight.

SQUAD GOAL(IE)S

Freshman Paniccia held down the fort for Penn State in net all weekend, making 26 saves in Saturday’s 4-2 loss, including 16 in the first period. Paniccia stopped 24 in Sunday’s 6-5 defeat.

Robert Morris continued their two-goalie rotation, giving Lauren Bailey the nod on Saturday, making 25 saves for her seventh win of the season (7-1-1). Jessica Dodds picked up her fifth win in Sunday’s 6-5 victory (5-0-4), making 31 saves.

CHA-CHA-CHING

High-scoring weekends paid off for Bowman and Gebhard, earning the forwards player and rookie of the week honors from the CHA. Bowman had a four-point weekend with three goals and an assist. Gebhard had two goals and an assist.

MILESTONE NEARS

Robert Morris head coach Paul Colontino is two wins away from his 100th career victory as head coach of the Colonials.

ON A BREAK

Penn State (5-10-3, 4-3-1 CHA) is off until a December 30-31 visit to play Quinnipiac and Princeton. Robert Morris (12-1-5, 7-0-1 CHA) is off until December 30-31 with Brown visiting the Colonials to ring in 2017.