The coaches have spoken in the Atlantic Hockey Association in their preseason poll and they have chosen the Robert Morris University men’s ice hockey team to finish seventh in the AHA for the upcoming 2013-2014 season.
Receiving three first place votes in the coaches’ poll was last season’s regular season champion, Niagara University. The Purple Eagles. with a total of 102 points overall, claimed the poll’s top spot. Air Force with two first place votes and the Mercyhurst University Lakers with four first place votes tied for second place with 98 points each in the poll.
Collecting three first place votes, Canisius finished in fourth place with 92 points, followed by RIT in fifth with 81 points, Connecticut placed sixth with 79 points, and then the Colonials.
Holy Cross was selected for eighth place with 59 points, with Bentley coming in ninth with 53 points. Army with 28 points, American International with 22 points, and Sacred Heart with 16 points were in the final three spots in the poll.
The Colonials are looking to continue their success from last season, when they won a program-record 20 games. RMU also earned a national ranking after shutting out fifth-ranked Miami University to win the inaugural Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center. The Blue and White made it to the quarterfinals of the AHA tournament last season.
Now in his 10th year as head coach, Derek Schooley enters the 2013-14 season with a record of 124-156-40 at RMU. He has been consistently building the program, culminating with last year’s record wins and the Colonials’ third consecutive season with a winning percentage of at least .500.
Schooley brings in a group of six freshmen – two forwards, two defensemen, and two goaltenders – that will look to mesh with a rather young lineup that also includes nine sophomores. The rest of the 26 man roster for 2013-2014 breaks down as follows: five seniors, one redshirt senior, four juniors and one redshirt sophomore.
This year’s Blue and White squad has 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders. They will be led by senior left wing and captain Colin South from Sewickley, who had 13 goals, 14 assists for 27 points in 36 games last season.
Also coming back to help lead the Colonials attack are junior left wing Cody Wydo, junior center Scott Jacklin and redshirt-senior defensemen Andrew Blazek.
Wydo put up 21 goals last season, which ties him with Canisius senior forward Kyle Gibbons for the most goals among returning players in the AHA this season. He is second amongst all juniors, behind Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau, in career goals scored with 34.
Jacklin had 10 goals, 12 assists for 22 points in 34 games while Blazek contributed 9 goals, 9 assists for 18 points in 32 games.
Some of the young Colonials to watch this season include sophomore defenseman Chase Golightly, as well as freshman forward Daniel Leavens and freshmen goaltender Dalton Izyk.
The Colonials will start out on their tenth season with an exhibition contest against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 4:05 p.m. at 84 Lumber Arena, part of the RMU Island Sports Complex, located on Neville Island.
Colonials Clipboard: It was announced by AHA Commissioner Robert DeGregorio last month that Dr. Craig Coleman, the Director of Athletics at RMU, will serve on the league’s Executive Committee for the 2013-2014 season.
The committee will be chaired by Bob Beretta, the Executive Athletic Director at Army, while Robert DeFelice, the Director of Athletics at Bentley University, will serve as the committee’s treasurer. The other members of the board are Richard Bedard, the Director of Athletics at American International College and Aaron Kemp, the Senior Associate Director of Athletics at Mercyhurst University.
Also at the end of August, head coach Derek Schooley announced the promotion of Matt Nicholson and Mark Workman to the position of Associate Head Coach.
Schooley told rmucolonials.com, “Mark and Matt are starting their fifth season at Robert Morris and both are integral parts of our team, Both have done an excellent job in all aspects of our program and are very deserving of the promotion. We are lucky to have two high quality coaches on our staff.”
Last season, RMU men’s ice hockey set the standard with three student-athletes being named a Student-Athlete of the Year by the AHA. The Colonials also led the way with 25 members on the All-Academic Team, 15 of which earned the honor for at least the second time in their careers.