UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State women’s hockey team closed out its six-game homestand with a 6-5 loss to Robert Morris in a College Hockey America (CHA) contest Sunday afternoon inside the Pegula Ice Arena. Senior Laura Bowman (Minnetonka, Minn.) netted her third career hat trick in the game.
“Teams of championship caliber, sometimes they’re made in the difficult moments, and I truly believe today was one of those days,” head coachJosh Brandwene said. “It’s one thing to face adversity once. It’s one thing to face it over an eight or ten minute stretch. It’s another to be down the way we were down on a number of times today, and it is one thing not to quit. It’s another thing to play with heart, but it’s another thing altogether to play with the “it” factor where you just want it so badly you can taste it.”
On the day, seven Nittany Lions (5-10-3, 4-3-1 CHA) tallied at least one point, including Katie McMillan (Minnetonka, Minn.), who posted two points (0-2–2) and Bowman, who recorded three points (3-0–0). In net for the Nittany Lions, freshman Daniela Paniccia (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) recorded a 24-save performance.
For the CHA-leading Robert Morris Colonials (12-1-5, 7-0-1 CHA), Jaycee Gebhard (2-1–3) and Brittany Howard (0-3–3) paced the offense with three points apiece. In net RMU, goaltender Jessica Dodds turned away 31 Nittany Lion shot attempts, which included 13 during the final period of play.
The Colonials jumped out to an early 2-0 lead as Gebhard and Amanda Pantaleo each scored once within the first 5:15 of play. Gebhard notched the game’s first goal at 4:55 and 20 seconds later, Pantaleo put the Colonials up 2-0.
Robert Morris then added to its lead at the 4:26 mark of the second period on Amber Rennie’s seventh goal of the 2016-17 campaign. The 3-0 RMU lead held until 2:04 left in the second period when Bowman went to play the puck across the ice to Amy Petersen (Minnetonka, Minn.). The puck ended up deflecting off the skate of a RMU skater and past Dodds for the Nittany Lion score.
RMU took back its three-goal lead with 37 seconds left in the second stanza on Gebhard’s second goal of the game and 12th of the season.
The third period of play featured the Nittany Lions outscoring the Colonials, 4-2, but they were unable to overcome the three-goal deficit.
Just 92 seconds into the third frame, sophomore Meike Meilleur(Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) tallied her fourth goal of the season with an assist from McMillan. On the goal, McMillan found Meilleur open in front of the net and Meilleur then back-handed the puck past Dodds for the Nittany Lion tally.
With 14:29 left in regulation, Bowman captured her second goal of the game to bring the Nittany Lions within one at 4-3. On the play, senior defenseman Kelly Seward (Williamsville, N.Y.) played the puck down ice to Bowman, who then played the puck to Petersen on the right side of the ice. Petersen moved up the ice before finding Bowman, who connected on a one-timer for her 12th goal of the 2016-17 slate.
The Colonials then took a two-goal lead with 8:45 left in regulation on Maeve Garvey’s fourth goal of the season.
Trailing 5-3 with under six minutes to play, freshman Kate Rydland (Eden Prairie, Minn.) tallied her second career goal as she beat Dodds stick-side from close-range. On Rydland’s goal, sophomores Meilleur and Victoria Samuelsson (Leksand, Sweden) were credited with assists.
The back-and-forth action continued as each team found the back of the net during the closing minute of regulation. With an empty PSU net, Robert Morris’ Mikaela Lowater scored her first goal of the season with 55 seconds left in regulation.
Down 6-4 with 30 seconds to go in the third period, Robert Morris’ Emma Low-A-Chee was called for Cross-Checking, which sent the Nittany Lions to their fifth power play of the afternoon.
On the PSU power play, the Nittany Lions pulled Paniccia once again and played 6-on-4. With 13 seconds left in regulation, McMillan fired a shot from the point, which was redirected by Bowman past Dodds to bring the Nittany Lions within 6-5.
RMU was then able to hold off Penn State for the final 13 seconds of play securing the 6-5 conference win for the Colonials Sunday.
The Nittany Lions close out the 2016 calendar year with a pair of road games. Penn State takes on Quinnipiac inside the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn., on Dec. 30 and will play Princeton inside the Hobey Baker Memorial Rink in Princeton, N.J. on Dec. 31. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Dec. 30 and 3 p.m. on Dec. 31.