by Larry Snyder
Before a crowd of 11,663, the Robert Morris University Colonials and the Miami University RedHawks recorded shutouts over Penn State and Ohio State, respectively, to move on to Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game at Consol Energy Center. The Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes will battle in the consolation game at 4:30 p.m.
GAME ONE: During the 4:30 p.m. game, the Colonials brought all muskets to bear on Penn State by shutting them out 6-0. At just 1:49 into the first period, junior defenseman Andrew Blazek picked off a clearing attempt by the Nittany Lions. Blazek then skated in to the offensive zone past the PSU defense and sent a wrist shot past the outstretched glove of sophomore goaltender P.J. Musico to get RMU on the scoreboard.
Robert Morris would then close out the first period with goals from senior right winger Adam Brace at the 16:33 mark, sophomore left winger Cody Wydo at 17:01 and, finally, Wydo found the back of the net again with just 38 seconds left on the clock, giving the Colonials a 4-0 lead over the Nittany Lions.
At the start of the second period, Penn State turned to freshman goaltender Matthew Skoff from McKees Rocks, Pa., to silence the Colonials assault on the scoresheet. But, RMU senior goaltender Eric Levine would continue his impressive effort between the pipes to keep the second period scoreless.
Freshman forward Matt Cope scored his first goal as a Colonial at the 4:23 mark of the third period. Cope’s goal came after he corralled the rebound of a shot by fellow freshman Zac Lynch. Finally, Robert Morris would get their sixth goal of the evening when senior defenseman Tyler Hinds put the biscuit in the net at the 15:52 mark of the period.
GAME TWO: Miami’s freshman goaltender Jay Williams and Ohio State’s senior goaltender Brady Hjelle put on a clinic for the fans during the 7:30 game of the inaugural Three Rivers Classic. Hjelle expertly handled his end of the ice, but let one shot slip by him, leaving Williams, who turned away all 29 shots by the Buckeyes, to bring home a 1-0 victory.
RedHawks senior forward Curtis McKenzie scored the only goal of the game just 14 seconds into the third period. Miami was in complete charge in the last period of play, outshooting the Buckeyes 14-6. With the win, Miami improved to 2-0-1 against the Buckeyes this season.
COLONIALS CLIPBOARD: Robert Morris’ overall record is now at 8-4-2 this season. The RMU offense is firing on all eight cylinders with a 3.1 goals-per-game pace, while the defense and goaltending is allowing an average of 2.3 goals per game.
Senior Eric Levine has 1,439 career saves, and needs just 61 more to become the third Colonial goaltender in school history to reach the 1,500 benchmark.
The Colonials continue their outreach efforts to help former three-year captain Chris Kushneriuk in his battle with cancer. There is a fundraising table on the Consol Energy Center concourse near section 104. You can learn more about Chris’s journey by visiting http://www.chriskushneriuk.
REDHAWKS TALONS: Miami is in their 34th season of men’s hockey, and the program has appeared in 10 NCAA D-I Tournaments.
The RedHawks have scored 14 power-play goals in 87 chances so far this season. When on the penalty kill, Miami has allowed 11 power-play goals in 91 opportunities.
Miami is 4-2-0 all-time against Robert Morris, all under head coach Enrico Blasi. However, the Colonials swept the RedHawks the last time they met in a home-and-home series during the 2009-2010 season. Miami is 1-1 when facing RMU in Pittsburgh.
BUCKEYE BULLETINS: Ohio State volunteer assistant coach R.J. Umberger is from Plum, Pa. Umberger has spent seven seasons in the NHL, the last four with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Umberger was an all-American at Ohio State from 2001 to 2003.
Ohio State and Robert Morris are among the “others receiving votes,” with both sitting just outside the Top 20 in the USCHO.com poll.
NITTANY LIONS NOTES: Sophomore forward Tommy Olczyk, who played his high school hockey at Chartiers Valley, is the son of former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Eddie Olczyk. He is the first captain in Penn State Division I program history.
The 4:30 p.m. consolation game will be the first meeting on the ice between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State.
REMINDER: The 2013 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four will be played at Consol Energy Center on April 11 and 13. Robert Morris University will serve as the host institution in conjunction with Visit-Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Penguins. This will be the first NCAA Division I men’s hockey championship event to ever be held in the state of Pennsylvania. Tickets are available online now through ncaa.com