After a wild night of upsets Thursday in the quarterfinals, the favorites prevailed in the semifinals of the CHA Women’s Hockey Tournament. Both No. 1 seeded Robert Morris and No. 2 seeded Syracuse won on Friday night earning themselves spots in the Championship game on Saturday.
No. 1 Robert Morris 2, No. 6 Lindenwood 1
The first game of the night got off to a slow start as the defense controlled the game in the first period. Both teams only took six shots each in the opening period.
Robert Morris went on the power play as Carrie Atkinson went to the box for roughing. The Colonials took advantage as CHA Player of the Year Brittney Howard took a shot from the top of the circle and scored with 13 minutes to in the second. Jaycee Gebhard and Maggie Lague had the assists.
According to Howard the goal was an example of great teamwork and unslefish play.
“Maggie dished down-low to Jaycee and Jaycee tapped into the slot and I was able to take a few steps into it”, Howard said.
The Lady Lions were able to squeeze in a goal right before both teams headed for the locker room. Lindenwood kept the pressure on in the Colonial zone and Holly Dietzler found Sarah Bobrowski who knocked it in the net with 20 seconds left in the period.
“This weekend was probably the best pair of games I’ve seen Sarah play,” Lindenwood head coach Scott Spencer said.
Even though they gave up a quick goal, Robert Morris head coach Paul Colontino was expecting his team to get right back up a make a play in the third
“We have strong leadership in the locker room,” Colontino said. “I told them we’ve been here before. I knew one of them was going to step up and make a big play.”
Lindenwood, who had only won three conference games during the regular season, was looking for the second upset of the weekend.
The two teams went back and forth in the third period. Finally the Colonials broke through taking advantage of the Lindenwood mistake. Amanda Pantaleo picked up a loose puck in the Lion end and found Jessica Gazzola in front of the net for the game-winning goal with seven minutes left.
Despite the loss Spencer saw his young team take a big step this weekend. The Lions have a combined 15 freshman and sophomores on the team. Thursday was the first time Lindenwood had won a conference playoff game.
“We’re extremely young,” Spencer said. “Winning a game in the tournament is a big stepping tone for us.”
“I’m just excited,” Colontino said. “To play the way we did and put ourselves in a position for a championship is exciting.”
No. 2 Syracuse 4, No. 5 RIT 0
In the the second semifinal, both teams came out of the gate aggressive especially on the forecheck.
Syracuse was called for Too Many Men on the ice giving the Tigers the power play four and a half minutes into the game. RIT was unable to not only score but get anything going offensively.
The Orange outshot RIT 15-4 in the first period.
Syracuse finally got in the groove at around the halfway point of the second.
RIT was killing off its fourth consecutive penalty of the game and the Orange kept the pressure on. Finally, Heather Schwarz pushed one in to open the scoring with 11:37 left in the period.
A minute and a half later, Kelli Rowswell was open in the slot and took advantage putting Syracuse up 2-0, a lead they would take to the third period.
The Orange kept the pressure on in the third. Megan Quinn took a shot from the point that tipped off a defender and went to give Syracuse the 3-0 with 18 minutes to go.
After starting out the game 0 for 4 on the power play, the Orange took advantage of their fifth as Allie Munroe scored halfway thorough the period.
Syracuse kept the pressure on all game with 42 shots on goal compared to the Tigers’ 13.
“Syracuse is tough. They played tough, they looked like the fresher team,” RIT head coach Scott McDonald said. “They have great defensemen.”
For Syracuse this moment has been a goal all season.
“You start in September with a goal to get here,” Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan said. “To finally get here, its pretty exciting.”
Junior Abby Miller picked up her ninth shutout of the year in the win.
“We were really excited so we had a lot of energy coming into this game”, Miller said. “That played a huge role.”
The Championship game will be today at 4 p.m. at the HarborCenter.
Syracuse has been the runner-up in three of the last four years.
Robert Morris is looking or thier first championship since 2012.