The CHA playoff season is off to a thrilling start for the Robert Morris Women’s Hockey team. The Lady Colonials managed to sweep first-round foe and number five seed Lindenwood this weekend, winning 2-1 on Friday and 2-0 the following day.
As in most sports, College Hockey America playoffs are on a whole different level from regular season games.
“It’s always very intense,” explained junior defenseman Brandi Pollock. “You know that going in and you have to give everything you got and more. You can’t give up on any play because you never know what’s going to happen. It’s just a time where literally anything can happen.”
“Everyone’s a lot more hungry. You see people do a lot of things they don’t do in regular season when it comes to playoff time,” noted Senior Captain and forward Dayna Newsom. “It’s just a great atmosphere to be in.”
On a very tense Friday evening, the game was scoreless in the first period, despite the fact that the Colonials managed to outshoot Lindenwood 20-7. In the second period, Lindenwood broke the silence with a goal scored with a little over twelve minutes on the clock. Even though they were trailing by one, the ladies put forth immense effort, having 11 shots on goal and flawlessly killing off two penalties.
It was in the third period in which the Colonials realized their number one obstacle: Lindenwood’s freshman goaltender Nicole Hensley. In the first two periods alone, Hensley had racked up 83 saves.
“We know she’s a very solid goalie and you’re rarely going to score on her just on the first goal,” said Pollock of the netminder. “You have to get her moving and get shots on net and look for the rebound and be sturdy on your stick and just be ready to put something home when it comes to you.”
The ladies managed to crack Hensley a little over five minutes into the third period with a goal scored by sophomore forward Maddie Collias. The score was frozen for the rest of the third, and continued to be frozen solid through three periods of overtime.
“Since it was three overtimes, we kind of had them down and we’d worn them out,” said Pollock. “We knew we had more to give, so we had them kind of down and we had to just run them over while we could.”
With eight minutes left on the clock in triple overtime, senior assistant captain Cobina Delaney struck on a power play with the game winning goal of the night.
One might think that three rounds of overtime might lead to some fatigue in the next game. Newsom begs to differ.
“I don’t think it actually affected us that much today. We were so hungry last night for the win and I think everyone was just so pumped up it didn’t really affect us at all today.”
In a much shorter Saturday game, senior netminder Kristen DiCiocco managed to shut out the Lions, marking her fifth career shutout. Those five shutouts rank her second in Robert Morris women’s hockey program history in terms of career shutouts.
After another scoreless first period, junior assistant captain Thea Imbrogno took the puck to the net in the second with 4:32 left. Later, three minutes into the third period, Newsom caught a rebound and slammed it into the net.
“Fergie made an awesome play out from the corner, right across the crease. It was a pretty easy goal for me. I just had to put it in,” Newsom explained.
If the Colonials put up as might of a fight in the next few rounds of playoffs as they did this weekend, they just might be able to go all the way to finals for the second season in a row. The Colonials are certainly prepared for the road ahead.
“We realized goals aren’t going to come easy. We’ve definitely got to crash the net all the time. [Friday] we had 92 shots and only two went in. I think that was one of the biggest things we had and we learned,” reflected Newsom.
“We played with heart and came out on top,” Pollock proudly claimed. “And that just proves how hard working we are and how much pride and how much we’re willing to lay on the table for our team.”
Next weekend, the Colonials travel to Erie, PA to face in-state rivals and number one seed Mercyhurst.