|RMU Stuns No. 4 Mercyhurst with Two Late Goals|
Erie, Pa. - Sophomore Thea Imbrogno (Etobicoke, Ontario / Mississauga Jr. Chiefs) scored with just 53 seconds remaining in regulation to cap a furious comeback as the Robert Morris University women's hockey team stunned No. 4/5 Mercyhurst with a pair of goals in the final three minutes to claim a thrilling, 3-2, road victory, ending the Lakers' 28-game conference unbeaten streak Saturday evening at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.
The victory for the Colonials was significant for a litany of reasons, including the fact that their 13th triumph of 2011-12 broke RMU's previous program record for wins in a season.
In his first season at the helm, head coach Paul Colontino, a former member of the Lakers' staff, led Robert Morris to its first-ever victory over national powerhouse Mercyhurst in the program's young history.
RMU led 1-0 for much of the game before both teams provided a flurry of scoring action in the third period. Mercyhurst scored a pair of goals within the opening eight minutes of the final frame, and it looked as though the Lakers would once again top the Colonials. However, Robert Morris evened the proceedings with a goal off the stick of junior defenseman Jamie Joslin (Richmond Hill, Ontario / Aurora Panthers) with just 2:38 to play, which set up Imbrogno's heroics. As a result, it marked only the second time in school history in which the Colonials won a game in which they trailed with 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
Imbrogno had previously added the primary assist on Joslin's tying goal and notched her seventh multi-point effort of the season in the process, tying her total from her rookie campaign. Her second game-winning goal of the season moved her into a tie for sixth in career points (54) and into a tie for seventh in career goals (21) and gave her nine points in seven career games against Mercyhurst.
Freshman Rebecca Vint (Caledon, Ontario / Brampton Junior Thunder) supplied assists on both the tying and winning goals for RMU to notch her ninth multi-point outing of the season and first in College Hockey America (CHA) play. With her two points, Vint moved into a tie for second in single-season points at Robert Morris and is just a single point away from tying the current top mark.
The Lakers entered Saturday's action tied for the longest unbeaten streak nationally as they had not lost since Dec. 9, but RMU managed to limit the nation's best offense en route to a victory. Robert Morris held Mercyhurst to just two scores even though the Lakers began the day averaging more than 5.1 goals per game.
Robert Morris successfully killed off all seven Mercyhurst power plays in the contest, a feat made more noteworthy since the Lakers boast the nation's top man-advantage unit, converting on over 30 percent of their chances. The Colonials also held Laker senior Bailey Bram without a single point even though she entered the weekend leading the nation with over 2.5 points per game.
RMU showed no signs of letting down from the opening whistle as the Colonials had four of the first five shot attempts in the game before a pair of penalties turned the tide. Mercyhurst received a pair of two-minute power plays within a five-minute span, putting the Robert Morris penalty kill corps under considerable pressure. However, RMU responded with great poise as it blocked four shots during the chances while junior netminder Kristen DiCiocco (Niagara Falls, Ontario / Stoney Creek Jr. Sabres) chipped in with three saves.
The two penalty kills by the visitors appeared to energize them as Robert Morris found the net fewer than two minutes after killing off the second Laker power play. Junior Cobina Delaney (Stittsville, Ontario / Ottawa Senators) lit the lamp at the 16:44 mark courtesy of her sister, senior assistant captain Brianna Delaney (Stittsville, Ontario / NCCP Raiders), and sophomore defenseman Brandi Pollock (Virden, Manitoba / Westman Wildcats).
Brianna's 13th-career point against Mercyhurst extended her current point streak to four games and gave her an assist on 10 of her younger sister's last 14 goals. Cobina edged into the top 10 in career goals while Pollock collected her first point of the season on the play.
The Lakers looked for a quick equalizer, but DiCiocco made four stops over the closing minutes of the first to maintain the RMU advantage after one period.
Robert Morris again faced notable adversity to start the second stanza as the Colonials were forced to defend a 5-on-3 Mercyhurst advantage for 1:29. DiCiocco came up absolutely huge for the visitors as she posted seven stops during the 89 seconds of craziness to hold off the Lakers.
After having a share of chances during the middle portion of the frame, Robert Morris moved into a defensive mode over the closing minutes as Mercyhurst was granted two more power plays. On these occasions, Colonial skaters combined to block five Laker shot attempts to ensure that RMU would keep the lead after 40 minutes of action.
Mercyhurst finally broke through in the early stages of the third as the Lakers used goals by Christie Cicero and Kelley Steadman to quickly flip the flow of the game.
Despite having the scoreboard turned 180 degrees, the Colonials showed strong resolve as RMU actually managed to take eight of the game's next nine shot attempts after falling behind.
With RMU clinging to life, Colontino used his timeout with 2:58 to play, and his message to the Colonials was perfectly timed. Joslin tied the game just 20 seconds later with Imbrogno and Vint providing the assists.
After getting a late tying score, Robert Morris was not content to simply enter overtime. The Colonials fired three more shots on net in the waning minutes before the fourth from the stick of Imbrogno found its way across the goal line with 53 ticks left.
Mercyhurst would call a timeout and pull its goalie in an attempt to fight back, but Robert Morris held the Lakers without a single shot in the final three minutes and held on for the historic upset.
DiCiocco finished with 26 saves while being one of the key factors to keeping the Lakers scoreless on their seven power-play chances.
It was the first win over a nationally-ranked team for RMU since October of 2010 and the first over a foe ranked among the top five since October 2009.
RMU improved to an impressive 8-1-1 on the road with the win.
Saturday's contest marked the second half of the first-ever home-and-home series in RMU program history. Robert Morris will waste little time before embarking on its second such series, though, as it will tangle with Niagara next weekend in both Pittsburgh and New York. The opening puck drop is set for Friday, Jan. 27, at Niagara at 7:05 p.m.