There is no one to blame for the Robert Morris women’s hockey team’s 3-1 loss in their first playoff game against the sixth ranked RIT Tigers. It was a loss that just happened into existence seemingly by accident.
You could try to blame Jessica Dodds, the goaltender for the Colonials. She surrendered two goals, one in the first and one in the second. The first, though, came from her left around the wall and caromed in as if surprising her. Flying out of the crowd of bodies, it seemed destined to make it through despite the best efforts to stop it. The second was better contested, in a sequence of saves that made Dodds seem like a hero of folklore. With the Tigers unabashedly wacking at her while she struggled to hold the puck, it barely squeaked through. The final goal was an empty netter, which can never be the fault of the goaltender who played like a superstar tonight.
You could try to blame the referees. After all, in the second period, they opened things up with three consecutive penalty calls to put the Colonials down in a 4-on-3. While the Tigers didn’t score on that opportunity, they wore down the defense and managed to pot one very shortly after. They made a questionable call on a body check by freshman Jessica Gazzola, and a questionable non-call on what looked to be a knee-to-knee hit on Mikaela Lowater later on. Lowater was hobbled the rest of the game, resting on her stick and gliding around instead of using her explosive stride.
The penalties were mostly even, though. The questionable calls were for both sides. You couldn’t really claim much of an advantage from it. The Tigers didn’t even score on any of their powerplays.
You could blame the defense. They made a few mistakes, like anybody would. The second goal, the one Dodds contested so well, came off a turnover. They managed to save Dodds on more than enough chances, as well, though. Rebounds sitting near the crease were whisked away with ease. The most troubling play of all, a breakaway in the third period, was negated by Leah Carlson’s aggressive backchecking.
You could blame the offense. They didn’t score much in this game, but they made opportunities for themselves. The goal came in the first period, where Maddie Collias fired a shot from just inside the left face-off dot that curved so sharply around goaltender Ali Binnington’s blocker that Vin Scully would call her shot Public Enemy #2, and only because #1 is taken. Collias would target that spot a few other times, and the offense seemed to control the pace of play for most of the game. They rarely found themselves stuck in their own zone, instead keeping the Tigers on their heels.
The bounces just never seemed to bounce the Colonials way tonight.
Given all of this information, it’s pretty obvious there’s nobody to blame. In losses, we always look for who caused it. Where was the turning point? In this one, it was just a hard fought contest that had a few bad bounces on one end and good bounces on the other. If I have to choose, I blame the Tigers for their combination of luck and skill.
There’s just no one else to blame.