A crowded 84 Lumber Arena laid host to a physical and fast-paced conference match-up between the Robert Morris University Colonials and the Lindenwood University Lions.
In their first contest since moving up to No. 7 in the national rankings, the Colonials fell to 14-2-5 on the season with a 2-1 loss to the Lions (5-13-2).
Lindenwood scored first, and held the Colonials scoreless for two brutal periods. It was only just over four minutes into the third period that forward phenom Brittany Howard was able to put Robert Morris on the scoreboard.
Though it seemed that momentum had shifted in favor of the Colonials, the Lions found their way behind RMU goaltender Lauren Bailey again in the third period to lock in the win.
Not only was this just Robert Morris’ second loss of the season, but it was also the team’s first Conference Hockey America loss.
The match was physically demanding and aggressive, with 14 penalties between the two teams. Lindenwood posted three separate minor penalties within a span of 10 minutes in the second period.
While the score may not have reflected it, the Colonials deemed it a successful night. Emotions were high on the ice and in the stands as captain Rikki Meilleur made her comeback after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this season.
“I’m not going to lie, it was a very emotional game,” said Meilleur of her mental state before the game. “Before the game I was shaking and nervous. But it was nice to get out there, and I had a few good chances.”
Meilleur’s teammates spoke highly of her and expressed the relief and elation that her return has caused in the locker room.
“Rikki’s awesome,” said Bailey. “Her leadership is a big part of our success this season.”
In addition, the Colonials held a Teddy Bear Toss fundraiser during the game. All teddy bears tossed onto the ice will be given to children suffering from pediatric cancers in Children’s Hospital.
The event was coordinated by Meilleur, who was inspired to help brighten these patients’ spirits as she underwent her own treatment.
“We normally do a fundraiser called Skate for the Cure this weekend, and this year we took the initiative to start a teddy bear toss to support the cancer patients at Children’s Hospital,” Meilleur explained. “I went through a bit of cancer myself, and my roommate and I wanted to do something for the children who are unfortunately are still battling to lift their spirits up.”
Robert Morris hopes to keep this positivity going and turn it into victory in its rematch against Lindenwood on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 3:05 p.m.