DiCiocco Wins Local Athlete of the Year Honor

By Spencer Kowitz • Robert Morris Sports Information Graduate Assistant • Friday, January 20, 2012

Read more: http://www.rmucolonials.com

Moon Township, Pa. - After winning College Hockey America (CHA) Goaltender of the Week honors in four consecutive weeks in which she competed, junior Kristen DiCiocco (Niagara Falls, Ontario / Stoney Creek Jr. Sabres) of the Robert Morris University women's hockey team recently claimed a prestigious honor from another organization as she was selected as the Athlete of the Year by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

DiCiocco, who recently broke RMU's single-season record for goaltender victories, will be presented with the Athlete of the Year award, which is open to both male and female competitors, Sunday, March 11, at the Westin Convention Center Hotel as part of the 26th Annual Awards and Scholarships Banquet.

When she snatched her most recent CHA Goalie of the Week honor, DiCiocco became the first Colonial ever to win awards in four straight weeks in which RMU competed.

DiCiocco won the first of the quartet of accolades Nov. 28 after leading RMU to a victory at Colgate and then earning the Laurie Belliveau Outstanding Goaltender award at UConn's Nutmeg Classic. She posted 30 saves against the Raiders while facing their power play 10 times before notching a shutout of Yale to break the record for longest winning streak in program history.

When Robert Morris began league play in early December, DiCiocco played a prominent role in leading the Colonials to an unbeaten weekend against Syracuse. She stopped 26 shots in a 2-1 victory Dec. 9, including saving four Orange shots in the final 75 seconds when Syracuse skated with an extra attacker. The junior saved her best for the series finale when she made seven saves in a furious sequence during the final 30 seconds of overtime to help ensure that the Colonials earn a point. DiCiocco finished with a then team season-high 35 saves, her seventh effort of at least 30 saves at Robert Morris. She helped RMU hold Syracuse scoreless on seven power-play opportunities in the Dec. 10 matchup, including a 47-second 5-on-3 advantage in the final three minutes of regulation as well as a power play chance in the overtime session.

DiCiocco continued to rack up the save totals as 2011 flipped to 2012. After registering 36 saves against nationally-ranked Bemidji State Dec. 30 in the CONSOL Energy Center, she tallied a career-high 43 stops Jan. 6 at Providence to help Robert Morris tie the program record for wins in a season. She notched an amazing 20 saves during the third period against the Friars while holding Providence scoreless over 3:18 of consecutive power-play time in the middle of the frame, including a 42-second 5-on-3 advantage.

As Robert Morris is set to head into the bulk of its conference schedule, DiCiocco currently has a 1.81 GAA and a .933 save percentage. If she can maintain those averages, both of those figures would eclipse the current top marks in the Robert Morris single-season record book.

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1986. Since then, the chapter has inducted nearly 100 Italian-Americans athletes from the greater Pittsburgh region. Each year, the Pittsburgh chapter also gives out achievement awards to outstanding individuals in the community and issues scholarships to exceptional Italian-American students in financial need.

The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and heritage of Italian Americans in sports by honoring Italian-American heroes who have made lasting contributions to sports and society. Since its founding in 1977, more than two hundred glorious champions of sport have been enshrined in the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

Robert Morris will begin the majority of its league schedule this weekend as it plays a home-and-home series with No. 4/5 Mercyhurst, the defending conference champion. The Colonials and Lakers will meet Friday, Jan. 20, and Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7:05 p.m.