That’s a wrap!

The RMU Colonials end their regular season with a tie against the RIT Tigers.


Ross Byrne

Captain Ashley Vesci, one of three Colonials who played their last regular season home game vs. RIT.

Sarah Heastings, Staff Reporter

In their final regular season game of the 2015-16 season, the Robert Morris University Colonials (15-14-5, 7-9-4) were able to force overtime against the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers (8-25-1, 4-15-1), but dropped the game in overtime.

Before the puck dropped at 84 Lumber Arena, RMU celebrated its three seniors and their individual careers with the Colonials. The crowds were filled with friends, and the families of captain Ashley Vesci, assistant captain Leah Carlson and Anissa Gamble joined them on the ice for their introductions. Hugs and flowers were exchanged between families and players, as well as phrases like “thank you,” “I love you” and “I’m proud of you.”

After the introductions concluded, both teams met at their respective blue lines, and faced the flag. While the Star Spangled Banner is normally played by the RMU Pep Band, it was instead performed by Leah Carlson and her sisters.

Singing the Star Spangled Banner on Senior Night has been an annual tradition for Carlson, but it was her first time performing it with her sisters. Their beautiful harmony filled the arena, and the pure joy that being together they showed warmed the hearts of all those in attendance.

“The seniors when I was a freshman told me I should sing it, so I sang it for them. Then it kind of became a tradition. It’s been really special. All of my sisters are here,” Carlson said. “We’re very musical. My mom pushed music a lot, so it was a lot of fun. We’ve never sang all five of us together, so it was very special. It meant a lot.”

The puck dropped, and the Colonials went to work. There were no slow starts in this game; dominance, intensity, and speed were quickly established. RIT matched this pace, and the audience got ready for 60 minutes of non-stop action.

Though RMU won the contest the night before, it was RIT that got up on the board first. Jess Paton of the Tigers put an even strength goal behind starting goaltender Jessica Dodds at 4:02 in the first. Paton was assisted by teammates Reagan Rust and Taylor Thurston.

Although they were down, the Colonials were most certainly not out. They went after every loose puck, fighting along the boards for possession, and breaking through the defense to get nine shots off. Replacement RIT goaltender Jenna de Jonge kept Robert Morris off the scoreboard in the first period.

Vesci was sent to the box for two minutes on an interference call at 17:43. Two Tigers served penalties as well — Brinna Dochniak served a hooking penalty at 5:28, and Logan Land served two penalties in the first, the first at 16:27, and the second for interference at 19:13. Neither team capitalized on the power play opportunities.

The period ended with a 1-0 score in favor of Rochester over the Colonials.

Heading back out onto the ice for the second, the Colonials looked determined to put one behind de Jonge. As fate would have it, that goal would come from none other than senior Anissa Gamble.

At 2:38 in the second, the puck landed on Gamble’s stick thanks to forward Victoria Harshman. Putting it past de Jonge, Gamble earned her second goal of the season.

“I don’t score much, so it’s special. I didn’t realize it, and then I was in the huddle and I was like ‘Oh my gosh! I scored!’,” said Gamble on her goal.

The goal was all the more special, as Gamble was able to share it with not only the RMU fans, but her parents as well.

“My parents came in, and it’s their first game coming here this year, so it was very special,” Gamble said.

At 5:58, fan favorite Brittany Howard was sent to the penalty box on a hooking call, putting the Tigers on the power play. However, it was the Colonials’ time to work some scoring magic.  

Vesci brought the puck down the ice. Her linemate, Mackenzie Johnston, was streaking down to the net next her, but her stick was tied up by a defender. It looked as if Vesci’s only option was to shoot the puck. However, Johnston was able to break loose at the last second, and received a patient, well-timed pass from her captain. Although she came tumbling to the ice, she was able to push it past de Jonge and into the back of the net. Johnston celebrated her short-handed goal as she slid into the boards.

The Colonials were then ahead, 2-1.

RIT didn’t stay behind for long. They kept pressuring RMU’s defense, and eventually forced a tripping call on Colonial forward Maeve Garvey at 14:10. Six seconds into the power play, Haley Northcote of RIT beat Dodds and tied the game 2-2.

Defenders Natalie Fraser and Kirsten Welsh also served penalties for checking at 4:37 and tripping at 10:44 respectively. Maeve Garvey also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 8:26, in addition to her tripping call.

Though the Colonials kept up the intensity, the score of the game remained unchanged through the remainder of the second period, and throughout the entire third period as well.

As the game headed into overtime, the crowd was on the edge of their seats. Parents and friends crossed their fingers in hopes for a victory. However, it was Carly Payerl of the RIT Tigers that found the back of the net: at 4:26, she got a shot off, and Dodds just could not make the save.

Though the Colonials lost the game, their spirits did not dampen. It was a night to celebrate the careers of three young ladies that have given so much to the program, and to wish them well in the future. Gamble, Carlson, and Vesci all left their mark on RMU Women’s Ice Hockey history. All three were part of the first team ever in school history to reach 20 wins in one season, and will continue to impress in the future wherever their paths may take them. All three are a true testament to the team unity and bond that defines this team.

“The ‘C’ means something, but it doesn’t mean everything,” said Vesci on her captaincy. “These girls (Gamble and Carlson) have been through everything with me.”

“I’m so happy I’m with you guys,” Gamble concluded with a smile. The three laughed, knowing that their time spent in Colonial uniforms will always be remembered fondly.

RMU takes the ice next on Feb. 26 at 84 Lumber Arena against the Lindenwood Knights in the first round of playoffs . The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.