After helping the Pittsburgh Penguins host the NCAA Frozen Four last April, the Robert Morris University men’s hockey team find themselves participating for the first time as a program in the Atlantic Hockey Association Frozen Four, with a bid to the NCAA tournament on the line.
RMU, a No. 5 seed in the AHA, will face off against No. 6 Niagara University in the conference semifinals on Friday night at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.
Since losing both games at the Three Rivers Classic in late December, the Colonials (17-17-5, 13-9-5 AHA) went on an 11-4-3 run in January and February to close out the regular season. Robert Morris put together a 4-1 run in the tournament to earn the coveted spot in the final four.
Their opponent Niagara ended their season with a record of 15-19-5 overall and 11-11-5 in the AHA. The two programs will face off in the second semifinal Friday night.
Head coach Derek Schooley’s crew advanced to the AHA semifinals after a two-game sweep of the fourth-seeded University of Connecticut by scores of 3-0 and 3-2 at the Freitas Ice Forum last weekend.
Freshman goaltender Dalton Izyk was between the pipes for both games after earning the decisive victory in Game 3 of the opening-round series against Army. In the two contests against the Huskies, the native of Oswego, N.Y., turned away 69 of the 71 shots he faced for a .972 save percentage. For his efforts, Izyk was named the AHA goaltender of the week.
Junior left wing Cody Wydo became the fourth Colonial in program history to record 100 points with an assist in Saturday’s 3-2 victory. The Southgate, Mich., native leads RMU in goals with 26 and points with 47; he’s the first junior in program history to reach 100 career points.
Sophomore right wing Zac Lynch has 18 goals and a team-leading 23 assists for 41 points. Junior center Scott Jacklin has contributed 33 points on 14 goals and 19 assists, while sophomore Tyson Wilson is the leading scorer among defensemen with three goals and 16 assists for 19 points.
In the regular season, Robert Morris and Niagara went 1-1-1 with each team winning on its home ice back in February, while the two programs skated to a 3-3 tie at 84 Lumber Arena on Neville Island in early October.
Sophomore center Hugo Turcotte had 11 goals and 16 assists to lead Niagara with 27 points. Junior right wing Isaac Kohls was second with 24 points on 12 goals and 12 assists while freshman defenseman Vince Muto led the blue line crew with five goals and 14 assists for 19 points.
No. 7 seed Canisius (16-20-3, 11-13-3 AHA) will take on No. 1 seed Mercyhurst (21-12-7, 17-4-6 AHA) in the first of the two semifinal games at 4:05 p.m. Friday. The Purple Eagles and the Colonials will face off approximately one hour afterward. The AHA Championship will be contested at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.