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Robert Morris relishes College Hockey America tournament title

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Robert Morris senior Brianna Delaney's final goal turned out to be a record-breaking score.

Delaney stuffed home a rebound Saturday to bring her career goal total to 53 and establish a Robert Morris women's hockey record. But more importantly, it served as the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Mercyhurst in the College Hockey America tournament final.

The win gave the Colonials, who won a program-record 19 games this season, their first CHA championship. It also snapped the Lakers' streak of nine consecutive tournament titles.

The Colonials, however, were shut out of the NCAA Tournament, which opted for Mercyhurst as an at-large selection. The CHA champion does not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

That did not seem to dampen Delaney's enthusiasm for what Robert Morris accomplished.

"As a senior, it's my last game, so it's a pretty amazing feeling to help our team do that," said Delaney, who has nine game-winning goals, 68 assists and 121 points during her career, each mark tops all-time at RMU. "Then to show the younger girls ... hopefully next year someone else gets a bigger goal."

The Colonials' victory over Mercyhurst came against Lakers goalie Hillary Pattenden, who has the most wins in women's college hockey history. It also came in coach Paul Colontino's first season -- he had spent the past five years as an associate head coach with the Lakers.

"It feels awesome," Colontino said. "Our players are super excited. It feels great to get that first championship on the board for Robert Morris women's hockey."

While Delaney's score provided the final margin, goaltender Kristen DiCiocco was named the tournament's most valuable player after she stopped 45 of 47 shots in the championship game, 72 of 76 overall.

DiCiocco split time last season and allowed nearly three goals per game but transformed herself into the CHA's goaltender of the year this winter, as she led the league in goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.926) during the regular season.

"Our new coach came in, gave us a clean slate and gave us all a chance to show what we could do," DiCiocco said. "He showed confidence in me, and I was able to play well."

Robert Morris opened the tournament with a 3-2 win over Niagara, with freshman Rebecca Vint recording her sixth game-winning tally of the season -- making her one of only eight players in the country with a half-dozen game-winners.

The goal gave Vint 22 for the season, the most all-time for an RMU freshman, but it would take a back seat to Delaney's tally, which produced the biggest win in program history.

"We were picked to finish last in our league," DiCiocco said. "We had a new coach coming in. We didn't really know what to expect. And we ended up beating the only team that's ever won the championship. It was huge for us, the alumni and everybody that supports Robert Morris."




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