The Battle for the Confluence Cup begins anew this weekend at Consol Energy Center with the return of the Three Rivers Classic college hockey tournament in Pittsburgh.
The quest for the Cup will see the Boston College Eagles and the Bowling Green State University Falcons join the Penn State Nittany Lions and the host Robert Morris University Colonials in the second annual match-up. Last December, close to 23,000 fans took in the four games over the two-day event.
Robert Morris won the inaugural Three Rivers Classic tournament and captured the Cup last year by first shutting out Penn State 6-0 on Friday, and then coming back on Saturday to defeat the Miami (Ohio) University Red Hawks, ranked No. 5 at the time, 1-0 in the title game.
Colonials senior goaltender Eric Levine had 48 saves against the Nittany Lions, and turned away 51 shots between the pipes against the RedHawks.
Penn State, in their inaugural season as a program, won last year’s consolation game by outscoring the Ohio State Buckeyes in a 5-4 upset. Then-freshman goaltender and McKees Rocks native Matt Skoff had 36 saves in the victory.
The schedule will see Boston College taking on Bowling Green at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, while Penn State will drop the puck with RMU in the second half of the doubleheader at 7:30. The consolation and championship games will be held on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30.
City of Champions’ Matt Gajtka wrote about the common theme linking the Penn State and Bowling Green teams earlier in the week while I took a look at nationally-ranked Boston College. It’s time to preview host Robert Morris.
Colonials Clipboard: RMU is 2-10-2 overall this season and 2-5-2 in the Atlantic Hockey Association. In their last game before the Christmas break, the Colonials tied with the Mercyhurst University Lakers 5-5 in AHA action.
Coming off the Mercyhurst contest, Robert Morris is now five points behind Air Force, Connecticut, and RIT, who are all tied for third place in the AHA standings.
Derek Schooley is in his 10th year as the Colonials’ Division I program’s only coach, and enters the 2013-14 season with a record of 124-156-40 in his first nine seasons at Robert Morris. He led the Colonials to a program-record 20 wins last season, including two seven-game win streaks.
Schooley’s teams have provided Robert Morris with some major upsets in the past few seasons. In January of 2007, the Colonials knocked off No.2-ranked Notre Dame 4-2 in South Bend, Ind. Later that year, RMU won the prestigious Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage, Alaska, with an upset of four-time national champion Boston University, which was ranked eighth at the time. Schooley’s signature victories came in the 2009-10 season with a home-and-home sweep against No. 1-ranked Miami.
Players To Watch: After 14 games played this season, sophomore center and Pittsburgh native Zac Lynch leads the team in assists with 10 and in points with 17. Junior left wing Cody Wydo is first in goals with 12 and second in points with 16. Junior center Scott Jacklin has 10 points on three goals and seven assists.
Senior defenseman Andrew Blazek and sophomore defenseman Tyson Wilson each have four assists this season to lead the blueline crew. Between the pipes, sophomore goaltender Terry Shafer is 2-8-2 with a goals-against average of 3.69.
With the inaugural Three Rivers Classic in 2012 and the NCAA Frozen Four last April, Robert Morris University – in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Penguins – continues to forge a new legacy in college hockey. See you at Consol Energy Center!
Snyder and Gajtka will have live coverage of the Three Rivers Classic all weekend on City of Champions.