Women’s hockey tops Niagara; heads to CHA title game.

For the fifth time this season the Robert Morris University women’s hockey team faced off against the Niagara Purple Eagles, and for the fourth time it was a close game.

Niagara got the scoring started just three minutes into the game when freshman Katie Fergus took a hooking penalty. Jenna Hendrikx was able to beat junior goaltender Kristen DiCiocco on the power play.

Just four minutes later junior forward Cobina Delaney found linemate Kelsey Thomas who tallied her 13th goal of the season to tie the game at one.

“It was kind of a turnover at the other teams blue line and I kind of skated over the puck,” recalled Thomas. “But Cobi hit it up to me and their defense was kind of playing the 2 on 1 in the middle. I realized I had a lane to shoot it and I think I fooled the goalie a little bit because she was cheating to slide across for the pass so I just shot it.”

A little over a minute later Thomas and Cobina Delaney got themselves on the score sheet once more as they assisted on Brianna Delaney’s ninth goal of the season.

The Colonials added on to their lead early in the second when College Hockey America (CHA) Rookie of the Year, Rebecca Vint scored her team high 22nd goal of the year to give the Colonials a 3-1 lead just 3:46 into the second period.

DiCiocco and the rest of the defense shut down the Purple Eagles for the remainder of the second and a majority of the third. However, with less than four minutes remaining in regulation Niagara tallied their second power play goal of the night to cut the Colonials lead to one.

Despite numerous chances, the Purple Eagles couldn’t pull even, and the Colonials took the 3-2 win to head to their first CHA championship game in program history.

“We’re just really excited for it,” said Cobina Delaney. “We’ve had a great year and it’s another time to play against Mercyhurst and it’s going to be a real good battle.”

Thomas echoed Cobina Delaney’s comment and said the team was excited for the opportunity.

“It means a lot to us because we’ve worked so hard all year to be able to have this opportunity,” she said. “It’s huge for our program, for all of us, and the experience. It’s just a really good feeling.”

With a Mercyhurst win earlier in the day the Colonials knew their potential opponent prior to stepping foot on the ice. The team will have a quick turnaround as the opening faceoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.

“We’ll just get a good cool down after this game and tomorrow we just start focusing after our pregame meal,” Cobina Delaney said.

The team is excited for their first title appearance, and for the opportunity to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with.

“They are a strong team, but I think this year we’re a different team too,” said Thomas. “I think we can bring it and if we play the way we did today I like our chances.”