The legacy of Jaycee Gebhard

Photo+Credit%3A+Luke+Yost

Photo Credit: Luke Yost

By Owen Krepps, Podcast / Webshow Manager

MOON TOWNSHIP– With five points for the Robert Morris University women’s hockey team in their last series against Lindenwood (4-18-3, 2-10 CHA), senior Jaycee Gebhard officially passed Brittany Howard’s 181 points for the most points in RMU women’s hockey history. She now ranks first in both points (183), and assists (114) and is only 10 goals behind Howard for the franchise lead in goals (79).

“It’s crazy to think about, but it is definitely an honor. I played with Brit for two years on the same line and obviously I owe a lot to her and other players I’ve played with over the years. It’s crazy to think about, I don’t think it has really sunk in yet.” stated Gebhard post-game after defeating Lindenwood 4-1.

Robert Morris Athletics has had the pleasure of having some phenomenal record-breaking athletes in these past couple of years. Players such as Jane Schleicher, Brady Ferguson, Emma Granger, Nneka Ezeigbo, and many others go to show how talented RMU can be in the various sports that the campus provides.

Jaycee Gebhard has certainly added herself to the list of these great athletes. Now in her senior year, Gebhard looks to establish her legacy even further. A native of Plenty, Saskatchewan, Gebhard grew up in a town with only 164 people. The drive to the rink was “about an hour and forty-five minutes,” but it was worth it for the Gebhard family.

“Everyone in Plenty played hockey pretty much. When I was about two, my parents put skates on me and put me on the ice, and that was the start of it.”

Gebhard started playing in the Saskatoon Female Midget AAA Hockey League during grade school. It was there where she met Amber Rennie, and the two went on playing with each other all the way up to the collegiate level. Rennie, a former Colonial, played from 2015-19 and ranks seventh all-time in RMU women’s hockey points with 96.

“We’ve actually played on the same team since third grade so we kinda knew so much about each other and how each other play. We played on the same line the entire time, so it was definitely comforting to know that she was here when I was coming to RMU.”

The next step in Gebhard’s development came when she chose to enroll in the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. The program has produced the likes of current NHL players such as Morgan Reilly, Barry Trotz, Wendell Clark and many more. Gebhard was recruited by her soon to be coach Janice Rumpel, and a year later Amber Rennie joined the program as well.

The decision to go to this university was one of the biggest steps-up in Gebhard’s development as a player. Gebhard led the Hounds in scoring in 2013, 2014 and 2016 and was the JWHL player of the year in 2014. In her final year at Notre Dame, she was selected to play for Team Canada for the IIHF U-18 World Juniors where she won silver and was an alternate captain.

“That place is just incredible and what they do for each hockey player. There are so many things I learned from there about the way I play now and all the off-ice stuff like being a leader and stuff like that. I think that was probably the biggest part of becoming the player I am now and the work ethic I have.”

Before Gebhard made the leap to RMU, a couple of notable things happened in the franchise leading up to Gebhard’s rookie year. First and foremost, Brittany Howard entered the program in 2013-14 and set rookie-highs for the Colonials. However, in her true sophomore season, an injury to Howard caused the team to redshirt her. Howard only played two games that season, but this was a blessing in disguise as that allowed her to play with Gebhard another year down the road.

Amber Rennie joined the Colonials in 2015-16 despite never actually stepping on campus, and the following year Gebhard did the same in 2016-17. The line of Rennie, Gebhard and Howard served as the Colonials’ new first line for the next two seasons. It was here where all three players, and by extension the team, started to shine. In Gebhard’s freshman year, Robert Morris finished 24-5-6 and won both the CHA regular-season title, as well as the CHA Championship and a trip to the NCAA playoffs in 2017.

“The year was kind of a whirlwind honestly. We played so well and obviously only having five losses is incredible. It was definitely, probably the most fun year I have had here so far and hopefully, this year ends the same”

Gebhard’s freshman year is astonishingly still one of her best statistically, as she scored an insane 22 goals and 46 points in all 35 games averaging 1.31 points-per-game. Gebhard led the entire NCAA in power-play goals with nine, set RMU rookie records in goals and points, and had 15 multi-point games. The USCHO, WHCA and CHA all named Gebhard their rookie of the year.

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In the final year of Brittany Howard’s tenure in 2017-18, Robert Morris looked for back-to-back CHA titles. However, despite their star player leaving, the team knew that they had a solid core and did not worry about the championship window closing so to speak.

“We knew that we had another good team, same as the year before. Now being a senior, I can kinda feel what was going through Brit’s head in her last year. But we knew that that was gonna be a year where we still had a crack at it still having Brit on the team.”

RMU finished the year with a 21-8-4 overall record, capturing another CHA regular-season title. However, in the playoffs, they were upset by Mercyhurst 5-3 which would be the last game of Howard’s career.

In 2018-19, the torch had officially been passed, and it was now up to Gebhard to lead the Colonials back to the CHA and NCAA Playoffs as she was named an alternate captain. In her junior year, the Colonials finished yet again atop the CHA standings, winning their third regular-season title in as many years. Gebhard passed Howard for the most single-season points in franchise history with 51.

“I knew with Brit gone, obviously I wasn’t sure on how my junior year would go as I kinda played with her consistently through the first two years. I knew that I really needed to step up with her gone and that there was probably going to be some doubt in people’s minds.”

RMU finished the year 16-14-2 which may seem like a step back, but some of this can be attributed to the new scheduling with non-conference top-10 NCAA teams in the early parts of the season. The most points in the CHA was awarded to Gebhard as well as the most power-play points (23) and power-play assists (18). It was also this year where Gebhard became second in RMU history in all-time points, which would end up changing later on.

After defeating Syracuse to clinch the CHA regular-season title in the regular season, Syracuse got revenge on RMU in the CHA Final. Syracuse won 6-2, which would end the career of Amber Rennie, leaving Gebhard with the keys to the car.

This season, Gebhard is currently the rightful captain of Robert Morris women’s hockey and sits atop the CHA standings with a 15-9-2 record as of early February. After just one period in the game against Lindenwood, Gebhard had become the all-time leader for the franchise in points. Continuing to lead by example and keep the team competitive is what Gebhard strives to do in the final stretch of her career as a Colonial.

“I was able to be a leader in different ways every year, and now as a senior, there are so many different ways I need to lead compared to my first few years… My biggest thing is just leading by example every practice, being the hardest worker and being supportive in that way.”

The biggest goal for Gebhard and her teammates, however, is another CHA regular-season championship as well as another CHA title. Gebhard and Natalie Marcuzzi make up the only players on this year’s roster that won the 2017 CHA Title and hopefully they can claim this feat again in their senior years.

Gebhard maintained a 4.0 GPA for her junior year; the pathways for her after graduation are seemingly endless.

“If I can keep playing that’s obviously what I want to do if that means going over to Europe or staying here in North America… If I can keep playing that is definitely the plan, if not, I definitely want to get into coaching of some sort.”

As of right now the main focus for Gebhard and RMU women’s hockey is the rest of the season. Robert Morris is coming off of a bye week and will get back into CHA play at Penn State (10-10-6, 5-4-3 CHA) on Feb. 7 at 6:00 p.m. and February 8 at 2:00 p.m.

Jaycee Gebhard has really carved out a great legacy for herself here at Robert Morris. From the frozen ponds of Plenty Saskatchewan to Division 1 hockey in Pittsburgh, Gebhard is a player that Robert Morris Athletics should certainly be proud of.

Listen to the full interview with Jaycee Gebhard here.