Colonials’ offense falters in their first game of season

Adam Melluso, Contributor

Pittsburgh, Pa. — The Robert Morris women’s hockey team (0-1) began their quest to capture a third CHA title in a non-conference match-up with the St. Lawrence Saints (1-0) on Friday night at Colonials Arena. RMU had several new freshman faces in their lineup and looked to make an immediate impact against the No. 9-ranked team in the country.

The Colonials started off taking the physicality to the Saints, getting their bodies in the way of any shooting opportunities for SLU early and often. The first frame would prove to be quite chippy as Robert Morris and St. Lawrence exchanged a number of four-on-four situations before the period was done. RMU went to the box first at the 15:40 mark, when Caitlin Sadowy was handed a hooking call. Despite this, RMU continued to play in an aggressive style and again blocked multiple Saints’ shots to clear the zone.

But just as Sadowy stepped out of the box, SLU got on the scoreboard at the 17:50 mark, when Natalie Wozney crashed the net and jammed the puck past netminder Lauren Bailey. With that goal, St. Lawrence had a 1-0 lead. Even though the Colonials created chaos in front of Saints’ goalie Grace Harrison, they couldn’t find the back of the net, and the period ended with St. Lawrence in front.

The second period began with much of the same physicality as the first, with Robert Morris refusing to back down. However, the Colonials again found themselves in penalty trouble just over three minutes in the period when Mackenzie Krasowski was sent to the sin bin for roughing. Yet again RMU killed off the penalty and the momentum swung back and forth in a stalemate with neither team budging.

Then the Saints got a break on a 2-on-1. Kayla Nielsen sped down the right wing with Rachel Smith, and Bailey came far out of her net to challenge the play, getting beaten by both SLU forwards as Smith deposited the puck into an empty cage to give St. Lawrence a 2-0 lead. Despite a late push by RMU on a power play in the late stages of the period, the Saints took the lead into the second intermission.

The third period produced chances by both ends yet again but went back and forth for almost the entirety of the final frame with no significant scoring opportunities on either side. Despite the Colonials having some good last-minute chances, the Saints held on as Harrison earned the shutout and the win for St. Lawrence.

Head coach Paul Colontino said that he liked the physical side that the team showed throughout the game. “I think we just play with a lot of pride. You know … we’ve gotten the chance to play some big, tall, strong players who really just don’t give up, and when you have that it translates into physical play … we like that side of our team … combine that with a little bit of scoring, and it’s a completely different team playing.”

Co-captain Maggie LaGue also admired the way her team came out firing from the drop of the puck. “We really came with a lot of good effort, and I think that really showed in the third period. I think one thing we need to work on is just shaking out the jitters. I mean, this is our first NCAA home game, with a new group of freshmen.”

LaGue also added that the team has been putting a strong focus on bonding with the freshman players and supporting them both on and off the ice. When asked about how it felt being a co-captain, she added, “I mean, it’s definitely an honor, to be a captain with (Kirsten) Welsh and (Amber) Rennie and Jay (Gebhard) wearing an A. It means a lot and we take it very seriously because we have had the success, first two years ago, and then the loss last year … so I think we wear it with a little bit more pride.”

RMU outshot the Saints in final shots on goal, 25-21. The same two teams face off tomorrow at 3:05 p.m. at Colonials Arena.