2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Robert Morris Colonials

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Paul Colontino (5th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Unannounced

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 11-19-5 (8-8-4 CHA/4th place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; swept by RIT in the first round of the CHA playoffs

After fighting for first place in the league the season prior, the Colonials faced a bit of a drop-off in 2014-15. They started off the year with three straight losses, two to Bemidji State and one to Maine, and had to settle for splits against Maine, Colgate, and St. Lawrence. They didn’t go unbeaten in a series until Oct. 24-25, when they beat Northeastern and then tied the Huskies the next day. Robert Morris was then swept in its first College Hockey America series, against Mercyhurst.

The team split a pair of overtime wins with Lindenwood the following weekend, and then played to draws twice against Syracuse. After winning one of its games against Penn State in the first series of the season against the Nittany Lions, Robert Morris stood at 2-4-2 in CHA competition through Dec. 6, not quite the start the squad was hoping for in league play. Later in January, they found a bit more solid footing and swept Lindenwood, earning a big 7-1 win in the second game, but that was after two losses to Quinnipiac and a split with RIT. Heading into a big match-up with Mercyhurst, the Colonials snagged one game against the Lakers after losing in overtime the previous night.

The next weekend, Robert Morris fell twice to Syracuse, mustering up just two goals in the series. A pair of 2-2 ties with RIT followed, and the Colonials then ended the regular season on a high note, sweeping Penn State with a pair of 4-1 wins on the road. That high was short-lived, however, as they welcomed the Tigers to town for the first round of the playoffs and ended up on the losing side in both games to the eventual CHA champions.

Senior forward Rebecca Vint and sophomore defender Mikaela Lowater both garnered All-CHA Second Team accolades after the season. Senior Katelyn Scott became the first-ever four-time recipient of the CHA Student-Athlete of the Year Award, and 21 Colonials made the cut for the CHA All-Academic Team.

Meet the Newcomers

G Lauren Bailey, Choate Rosemary Hall, Mid Fairfield U19

With Choate in 2013-14, Bailey posted a .969 save percentage, 1.08 goals-against average, and seven shutouts to go along with her 15-6-3 record. She won the team’s Excellence in Hockey Award for her efforts. With Mid Fairfield, she captured a Connecticut state title in 2014, and has attended five USA Hockey development camps, as well as the 2012 Warren Strelow Goaltending Camp.

D Maggie LaGue, North American Hockey Academy

A four-time attendee of USA Hockey national development camps, Lague served as the captain for the NAHA White squad this past season. Posting five goals and 25 assists in 2013-14, she led the club to the last two JWHL championships, and played in the 2014 JWHL all-star game. She was also selected for the all-star game at national camp in 2011.

D Kirsten Welsh, Whitby Jr. Wolves

In 2013-14, Welsh tallied eight goals and 21 assists in 69 games with the Jr. Wolves, and helped the team capture back-to-back PWHL championships. She also earned a silver medal with Team Ontario Blue at the 2013 Canadian National Women’s Under-18 Championships, and participated in two Canadian National Under-18 Team selection camps. Welsh represented Ontario again at the Canada Winter Games in 2015.

F Victoria Harshman, Etobicoke Jr. Dolphins

Through 23 games last season with the Jr. Dolphins, Harshman had tallied five goals and nine assists. The year before that, with the Barrie Jr. Sharks, she led the team with 15 assists and finished second in goals with seven. She was invited to try out for Team Ontario last year.

F Sarah Quaranta, Canadian Under-18 Team, Stoney Creek Jr. Sabres

Quaranta helped Canada win a silver medal at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Through 33 games last season, she had notched 15 goals and seven assists for her Stoney Creek club, and helped the Jr. Sabres to a bronze-medal finish at the 2013 PWHL Championships. Back in 2009, she was recognized as the Niagara Falls Athlete of the Year. The St. Catharine’s Standard published a story on Quaranta back in January, before the U18 World Championships.

F Amber Rennie, Notre Dame Hounds

In 2013-14, Rennie scored 13 goals, 16 assists, and 29 points for the Hounds. She was a member of Team Saskatchewan at the 2013 Canadian National Women’s Under-18 Championships. Playing for the Saskatoon Stars in 2012-13, she collected MVP honors after posting 12 goals and 12 assists in 34 games.

F Caitlyn Sadowy, Mississauga Jr. Chiefs

Sadowy had posted totals of 12 goals and 14 assists for the Jr. Chiefs through 24 games in 2014-15. She helped the Chiefs earned silver at the PWHL championships in 2013-14, as well as at the 2013 Provincials, before capturing a Provincial title in 2014.

For more information on the Colonials’ incoming class, read the RMUColonials.com release here.

2015-16 Season Preview

Key Departures: F Rebecca Vint, F Maddie Collias, F Katie Fergus, D Erin Staniewski
Key Returners: D Mikaela Lowater, F Mackenzie Johnston, F Rikki Meilleur, F Brittany Howard, G Jessica Dodds
Key Additions: F Sarah Quaranta, D Maggie LaGue, D Kirsten Welsh, G Lauren Bailey

After almost beating out the Lakers for first place in the conference a season before, I’m not sure the Colonials got what they wanted out of the 2014-15 season. Injuries were certainly a problem there; captain and offensive leader Rebecca Vint battled some things throughout the year, and Brittany Howard sat out the season after a very promising rookie campaign. There were also some unforeseen issues in goal, and the team never really got a chance to get its offense going, scoring less than two goals per game on average. Robert Morris will be looking for a fresh start in a few different ways this year and hopefully work its way back into the conference title discussion.

After Jessica Dodds had a fantastic rookie season in 2013-14, expectations were tempered a bit to start the last season. She was a sub-.900 save percentage goalie throughout the first half of the season, which is one reason why the Colonials struggled so much early on. She improved a lot after the calendar turned to 2015, posting a .942 save percentage and 1.74 goals-against average in 16 games in the second half. She has proven that she is a talented goaltender who can perform at a high level. The key for both Dodds and the team this season will be a strong start to the year. USA Hockey’s Warren Strelow Goaltending Camp alum Lauren Bailey makes for a nice addition for the future between the pipes, but Robert Morris will be better off sticking with Dodds for the time being.

The Colonials will be losing a big piece of their offensive puzzle in Rebecca Vint, who still managed to tie for the RMU lead in goals last year with 11 despite missing five games and dealing with injury issues. Her leadership in all facets will be sorely missed, but the team still has a couple of options to turn to. Junior Mackenzie Johnston led Robert Morris in scoring last season with 21 points, and classmate Rikki Meilleur was up there too with 16 points. Brittany Howard will make her return to the line-up after redshirting last season, and it will help out the Colonials a ton if she can return to the 40-point pace from her rookie season. The losses of Maddie Collias, Katie Fergus, and Katelyn Scott all hurt from both a depth and production standpoint, and so the Colonials will hope to see bigger contributions from sophomore Jessica Gazzola and senior Ashley Vesci. Rookie Sarah Quaranta should also garner a decent amount of responsibility but we’ll see if she can produce right off the bat.

Mikaela Lowater is far and away the team’s leader on the blue line, and bigger things may be in store for the junior this year, especially if the team as a whole generates more success. Last season she led the Robert Morris defensemen with 17 points, and the team as a whole with 83 blocked shots. The Colonials will have to deal with the loss of two veteran defenders in Kelsey Gunn and Erin Staniewski, both of whom were regulars in the rotation. But senior Leah Carlson returns, and should be a mainstay in the top-four as a stay-at-home type. Sophomore Natalie Fraser may work her way into top-four discussion, and we should also see some more things from classmate Katherine Murphy, who posted 10 points as a rookie last season, though she came to Robert Morris as a forward. As for the newcomers, Kirsten Welsh is a solid addition, and fellow freshman Maggie LaGue has potential. Besides Lowater, though, the team is lacking a player with strong two-way abilities.

Robert Morris has some shortcomings on the back end that will need to be covered up, and it will be relying a lot on Brittany Howard to be a dynamic player up front and spark the offensive effort. After a year on the sidelines, it’s a little too early to tell if she’s ready to take up that role. The Colonials’ scoring depth as a whole isn’t the most convincing, and they will likely have trouble keeping up with conference foes like Mercyhurst and Syracuse. A big year in the crease from Jessica Dodds could help settle their worries again, just as that played a part in their second-place finish in 2013-14, but this won’t be the strongest line-up iced in the CHA this season.

Schedule Highlights

Sept. 25-26 at Bemidji State
Oct. 9-10 vs. Merrimack
Oct. 30-31 vs. Syracuse
Nov. 27-28 vs. Maine
Dec. 4-5 at Mercyhurst
Dec. 12-13 at Lindenwood
Jan. 2-3 vs. Providence
Jan. 15-16 at Quinnipiac
Jan. 22-23 at Penn State
Feb. 5-6 vs. Mercyhurst
Feb. 19-20 vs. RIT

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