RMU Hockey: Cody Wydo Sets Program Scoring Mark, Top Line Erupts In Rout


With a five-point outburst Saturday night, senior winger Cody Wydo established a new program record for points in a career. Credit: Jason Cohn/RMU Athletics)

NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. – The Robert Morris men’s hockey team is deep enough that it can succeed without Cody Wydo scoring at a prolific rate.

Still, things are a bit easier when the captain has it rolling.

Wydo certainly had everything working Saturday night at 84 Lumber Arena, scoring three goals and adding two assists as the Colonials overwhelmed visiting American International by a 9-4 count. With the five-point game – the first of Wydo’s four-year tenure at RMU – he broke the program record for points in a career.

The senior Michigan native now has 139 points in a Colonials uniform, one more than alumnus Nathan Longpre (2007-11). Wydo recorded four of his five points in the third period, including all three of his goals as first-place RMU (15-5-4, 12-3-3 Atlantic Hockey) scored six times in total.

“It’s a great feeling,” Wydo said. “I’m honored to be part of this program…I give credit to all the linemates that I’ve had here. Hopefully I’m not on top of the leaderboard for too long and some of the other guys can catch me.”

Wydo wasn’t alone in his offensive eruption. Linemate and fellow senior Scott Jacklin also had five points (1g, 4a), tying the program mark for points and assists in a single game. Junior Zac Lynch scored a pair of power-play goals and had four points in all, giving RMU’s top forward line 14 points on the evening and 19 for the weekend.

“We spoke with those guys today, and they felt they were close (to breaking out),” said RMU head coach Derek Schooley of the trio, which had just four points in seven games going into Friday. “They thought last night was a step in the right direction, but their whole line was great tonight. They responded to a challenge.”

Three Robert Morris juniors joined Lynch in the multi-point club, led by Matt Cope, who had his first career three-assist outing. Greg Gibson buried two goals and Brandon Denham picked up a goal and an assist.

“There is a correlation between doing the right things and getting results,” Schooley said. “We asked them to support the puck and shoot from all over the place. I think we needed something like tonight to get our confidence going again.”

Beyond the offensive pyrotechnics, the Colonials completed their fifth weekend sweep of the season, four of which have come at home. Saturday’s blowout victory also ended a four-game losing streak in the second leg of back-to-back situations and marked the first time since taking four in a row from Nov. 22-Dec. 13 that RMU has won consecutive contests.

“It was a big four points for us this weekend to stay on top of the standings,” Wydo said. RMU leads second-place Canisius by four points with 10 conference games left in the regular season. “In the past few games we struggled as a team to put the puck in the net, but a weekend like this gets our confidence up for what’s coming.”

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The resounding win came in front of a sellout crowd of 1,589 that helped commemorate Military Appreciation Night. In partnering with the local It’s About The Warrior (IATW) Foundation, the Colonials sported camouflage jerseys and socks to honor our nation’s military personnel.

Add it all up and it was one of the most memorable nights in the 11-year history of RMU Division I hockey. It was already shaping up to be a fun evening on the Island when the Colonials carried a 3-2 lead into the third period, but they had only just begun to torment American International (3-16-5, 3-10-5 AHC).

Wydo scored his first goal of the night at 5:44, receiving a pass from Jacklin in the offensive zone and cruising in on Yellow Jackets freshman goalie Alex Murray. Wydo outwaited the youngster, holding onto the puck until the last possible moment and sliding it into the net from a sharp angle to the left.

“We weren’t trying to be too cute or make the extra play,” Wydo said. “We were keeping it simple and getting back to our original game plan.”

That surgical finish gave the Colonials some margin for error while also breaking Wydo’s eight-game goal drought, his longest since his freshman season of 2011-12. Wydo then returned the favor by setting up Jacklin’s 10th goal of the season 32 seconds later, scored with a spectacular diving backhand from the slot.

“I think we got back to what made us successful before, both last season and earlier this year,” Jacklin said. “We just focused on making small plays and getting pucks to the net.”

AIC stayed in the game when Jason Popek popped in a lively carom off the end boards at 7:56, but Denham made it 6-3 on the next shift when he finished Cope’s nifty blind pass from behind the net.

That was followed by another quick exchange of goals, as Yellow Jackets sniper Austin Orszulak set the program single-season record with his 16th of the year on a power-play one-timer with 9:05 remaining, but then Gibson polished off the rebound of Cope’s left-wing shot to put the game out of reach at 7-4 with seven minutes left.

That’s when Wydo put his personal stamp on the wild evening, hammering Jacklin’s cross-crease feed behind a helpless Murray with 6:19 to go. That goal, his 13th of the season and 78th of his career, pulled him into a deadlock with Longpre at 138 points.

“I actually hadn’t thought about it until that moment,” Wydo said of making history. “(Assistant coach) Matt Nicholson tapped me on the shoulder and told me after my fourth point.”

The record was then broken in crowd-pleasing fashion, with Wydo soaring in behind the AIC defense and tucking a backhand around Murray’s left leg. It was Wydo’s fifth career hat trick and his second this season, putting him in a tie with Boston University phenom Jack Eichel for the nation’s scoring lead at 32 points apiece.

“When Cody scores, he scores in bunches,” Schooley said. “Obviously we saw that in the third period.”

The six-goal period not only capped a night to remember, it also set a new season-best for the Colonials, who scored nine goals for the first time since they dropped 10 at Sacred Heart on Dec. 3, 2011.

A competitive Jackets squad took the ice for Saturday’s first period, blasting the first six shots of the game on net. Fortunately for the Colonials, goalie Terry Shafer was ready to go from the drop of the puck. The junior denied Nathan Sliwinski and Chris Porter in quick succession midway through the period, then added a few more scrambling saves as the puck bounced around the crease.

Shafer saved his best stop for late in the frame, when Orszulak skated in on a shorthanded breakaway. Orszulak, who entered the night tied for the most goals in Division I, snapped a shot that Shafer calmly punched away with his blocker.

“I thought Shafer was outstanding in the first period,” Schooley said of the junior, who improved to 7-2-3. “He kept it close when it could have been 2-0 or 3-0. He did what he needed to do…very sneaky good tonight.”

RMU worked their way in tight for most of their first-period shot attempts, but their cleanest look was a one-timer that Gibson slammed off Murray’s mask from between the faceoff circles. After that chance went by, the Colonials had to settle for a 0-0 tie after 20 minutes.

It was the opposite case in the second period, as the teams traded the lead back and forth. AIC struck first at 2:11, as David Gandara rammed a Matt Cassidy pass behind Shafer to cap a 2-on-1 rush. The Yellow Jackets got the chance when an RMU point shot was blocked.

The Colonials responded on the power play at 7:25, as Lynch connected for his first of the night. After Jacklin’s turning drive was stopped by Murray and Brady Ferguson’s follow-up was blocked, Lynch wheeled a wrister into the net from the inner edge of the left circle.

The visitors took advantage of a rolling puck at center ice to regain the lead at the period’s midpoint. Alexander MacMillan scooped up the disc and broke into the RMU zone on a 2 on 1 with Orszulak; instead of passing, MacMillan wired a shot into the net for his third goal of the weekend.

But a two-goal burst by the Colonials gave them the advantage for the first time, as Gibson and Lynch struck two minutes apart. Gibson’s goal, his second in two nights, was set up by a lunging Jeff Jones, who poked the puck into the middle from the left wing. Gibson ripped a knuckling drive past Murray to knot it up with 4:08 to play.

Lynch then nudged RMU ahead when he lifted the rebound of Jacklin’s shot over Murray from a tough angle left of the net. That power-play marker briefly tied Lynch with Wydo for the goal-scoring lead at 11 each.

“I thought we actually got outplayed early,” Jacklin said, “but we got back to our game and started skating in the second period. They just couldn’t keep up with us, that’s what it came down to.”

RMU hits the road for the next two weekends, starting with two games at Holy Cross next Friday and Saturday.

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