|Robert Morris Settles for 1-1 Tie to Take Series|
Pittsburgh, Pa. - Junior Kristen DiCiocco (Niagara Falls, Ontario / Stoney Creek Jr. Sabres) made seven saves in a furious sequence during the final 30 seconds of overtime to help the Robert Morris University women's hockey team preserve a 1-1 tie and take a series from Syracuse in College Hockey America (CHA) action Saturday afternoon at the RMU Island Sports Center.
DiCiocco finished with a team season-high 35 saves, the second-best mark of her career, as she helped keep the Colonials in the game as they once again produced a rally against the Orange. The netminder's seventh-career 30+ save outing also moved her into fourth nationally in goals against average with her 1.59 mark.
Saturday's game marked the fourth-consecutive contest between Syracuse and Robert Morris in which the Colonials trailed in the second period or later but produced a comeback to earn at least one point. RMU might actually have been unfortunate not to come away with two points as one of its shots in the overtime session appeared to find the back of the net, but the referees did not agree.
Freshman Rebecca Vint (Caledon, Ontario / Brampton Junior Thunder) tallied the Colonials' score and notched her first-career game-tying goal in the process. With the score, Vint, who is ninth nationally in goals per game, moved into a tie for fourth in single-season goals at RMU (14) and into a tie for seventh in single-season points (18).
Sophomore Thea Imbrogno (Etobicoke, Ontario / Mississauga Jr. Chiefs) and freshman Katie Fergus (Oakville, Ontario / Burlington Jr. Barracudas) both assisted on Vint's goal. Imbrogno extended her point streak to five games while Fergus, in addition to Vint, captured her first CHA point on the sequence.
Robert Morris got great efforts from both DiCiocco and the Colonial skaters in front of her to hold Syracuse scoreless on seven power-play opportunities, including a 47-second 5-on-3 advantage in the final three minutes of regulation. RMU blocked 22 shots on the day, none bigger than one stopped by senior assistant captain Brianna Delaney (Stittsville, Ontario / NCCP Raiders) late in the third period that prevented a near-certain goal as DiCiocco was still recovering from making a previous save. The Colonials held the Orange to a 1-for-14 mark on the power play in the series and have held their opposition scoreless on 39 of their past 43 opportunities.
After Syracuse took the first two shot attempts of the day in the first two minutes of play, Robert Morris took control of the contest by ripping 13 of the game's next 15 attempts, but the Colonial onslaught was not rewarded with a goal. The tide of the opening period changed when the Orange received a power play at the 14:39 mark. Syracuse began to get more shots at DiCiocco, but RMU killed off the chance to keep the game scoreless into the first intermission.
Holly Carrie-Mattimoe struck early in the second for Syracuse as she put home a rebound on the doorstep after the initial shot was saved. RMU did not play from behind for long, though, as it soon struck even.
Sophomore defensemen Anneline Lauziere (St. Thomas, Ontario / London Jr. Devilettes) battled an Orange double team at the blue line and was able to not only keep the puck in the zone but send it forward to Fergus. The rookie immediately batted a nice backhand pass to Imbrogno who was alone in the right circle. Imbrogno initially looked as if she might shoot but instead sent a crisp pass in front of the cage to a charging Vint who poked it home just 2:08 after the opening score.
With the momentum back in hand, the hosts looked for the go-ahead goal but were unable to find it. RMU again had to kill off a penalty in the closing minutes of the frame and this time did not allow a single Syracuse shot during the two minutes to keep it tied after 40 minutes of play.
The Orange received three power plays in the third period, which helped the visitors have their share of offensive chances. Robert Morris proved quite resilient, though, and continuously held off Syracuse.
With about 150 seconds remaining in regulation, DiCiocco made a sprawling save near the post. A Syracuse forward picked up the puck and quickly wrapped around behind the net in hopes of finding an opening. It seemed as the Orange might have its chance as DiCiocco was still gathering herself near the other post, but Delaney alertly protected the space by dropping to her knees. The Syracuse shot attempt drilled the senior square in the upper body, but her sacrifice paid off as it kept the Orange from taking the lead. It was one of eight shots blocked by RMU in the final four minutes of regulation and overtime.
Robert Morris drilled a shot in the first two minutes of overtime that looked as though it may have crossed the goal line, but the Colonials were forced to continue playing.
Syracuse pulled its goalie with 29 seconds left in anticipation of a penalty and skated the remainder of the game with an extra attacker, including utilizing it with a man-advantage, which created a 6-on-4 chance for the visitors. DiCiocco was at her best when it mattered most, though, and continually stuffed the Orange to maintain the 1-1 score.
Senior captain Paige Pietrangelo (Niagara Falls, Ontario / Hamilton Hawks) and sophomore Kylie St. Louis (Windsor, Ontario / Southwest Wildcats) tied for game high honors with five blocked shots as each tied their previous season best.
Allowing only one goal for the second straight game helped Robert Morris remain third nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 1.53 goals per game.
After wrapping up the first half of its season with an 11-2-2 mark, Robert Morris will now take its longest break of the season. The Colonials will next be in action Dec. 30-31 when they host No. 7 Bemidji State for a pair of games, the first of which will be part of the RMU Hockey Showcase and will take place at the CONSOL Energy Center.