The Robert Morris University men’s hockey team took command of the scoreboard in the third period and defeated Canisius College 7-4 to win their first Atlantic Hockey Association championship on Saturday night in Rochester, N.Y.
By virtue of the victory, RMU will make its first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Colonials (19-17-5, 13-9-5 AHA) were 2-12-2 entering January, but a strong conference season and two AHA postseason series wins put them into Friday’s semifinal matchup with Niagara, which they won 5-4 in overtime.
According to some bracketologists, Robert Morris will most likely travel to St. Paul, Minn., as the No. 16 seed, and take on the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.
RMU had reached conference title games twice before, losing them both in overtime while part of the College Hockey America conferene. In 2007, Alabama-Huntsville slipped past the Colonials 5-4, and RMU was defeated 3-2 by Bemidji State back in 2009. When the CHA folded, Robert Morris joined the Atlantic Hockey conference for the 2010-11 season.
After a scoreless first period Saturday, junior left wing and tournament MVP Cody Wydo scored twice in the second period on Golden Griffins senior goaltender Tony Capobianco to give the Colonials a 2-1 lead.
It was time for Robert Morris to load up the muskets in the third period as sophomore center Greg Gibson found the back of the net twice to go along with scores from Wydo, sophomore left wing Matt Cope, and sophomore center David Friedman.
Wydo’s third goal came with just 1:54 left to play in the third period; the Southgate, Mich., native now has 30 goals for the season.
In the second period, it was freshman left wing Shane Conacher who got Canisius on the scoreboard. In the third period, junior defenseman Doug Jessey, junior center Mitch McCrank, and sophomore defenseman Chris Rumble all got the puck past RMU freshman goaltender Dalton Izyk, but the rally fell short.