RMU Hockey: Greg Gibson Hopes To Again Find Offensive Stride Late


Robert Morris junior center Greg Gibson calls for the puck in a game earlier this season. Gibson is seeking to replicate last season’s late scoring surge. (Credit: Jason Cohn/RMU Athletics)

NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. – The Robert Morris University men’s hockey team prides itself on its speed, but Greg Gibson stands out even among this fleet bunch.

The junior center from Ontario soars on his skates, backing off the opposition and otherwise making them uncomfortable. When he’s skating well, it’s easy to envision him keeping foes off-balance as the Colonials make a push for a second consecutive Atlantic Hockey Conference tournament title.

Getting his stride back was a relief for Gibson, who missed four games in early November with a lower-leg injury.

“It definitely set me back,” he said. “I had to do a bunch of rehab before I could get back on the ice. Now (the leg) feels up to par and 100 percent.”

Gibson has played most of his third RMU season between junior wingers Matt Cope and Brandon Denham, accumulating 13 points (6g, 7a) in 21 games. While that’s not a meager total by any means, it ranks him eighth on an explosive Colonials squad that has scored the second-most goals per game in Division I hockey.

“Any line can go out and contribute if they need to,” Gibson said. “We have so much depth this year.”

Last season, Gibson finished fourth on the team with 31 points (15g, 16a) in 41 contests, so he’s only slightly behind his 2013-14 scoring rate.

But here’s what inspires optimism that the 5-foot-10 speedster is about to further boost the RMU attack: he had an identical six-goal, seven-assist scoring line at this point last season before shifting into a higher gear.

Starting with last year’s final eight regular-season games, Gibson posted 18 points (9g, 9a) in RMU’s last 16 contests. He scored four goals and assisted on three others in seven AHC postseason games, earning all-tournament team honors in the process.

Coincidentally enough, this year’s Colonials are down to their final eight regular-season games, starting with this weekend’s series against Air Force in Colorado Springs.

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“You gotta stay confident,” Gibson said. “You’re not going to score every game, but once the goals start to come it feels good and you hope it carries over.”

Although he didn’t write his name on the scoresheet in last weekend’s two-game sweep of league foe Holy Cross, Gibson jump-started the Colonials in their most recent home series against American International on Jan. 16-17.

First-place RMU (17-5-4, 14-3-3 AHC) was struggling on the attack entering that series, scoring just 11 total goals in a seven-game stretch that produced a 2-4-1 record. That changed less than a minute into the Jan. 16 contest against AIC, when Gibson took a cross-rink pass from Denham and snapped a shot under the crossbar from the top of the right circle.

After Gibson’s quick strike, RMU went on to score 13 more goals in a pair of breakout wins. Although the Colonials’ top forward line of Cody Wydo, Scott Jacklin and Zac Lynch stole the show in a 9-4 rout Jan. 17, combining for 14 points, Gibson’s three-goal output on the weekend bodes just as well for the team’s long-term success.

“It was good to see (Gibson) going this weekend,” RMU head coach Derek Schooley said following the series. “For us to have success, we need to have him contributing.”

Gibson’s first goal of the series in particular showcased his excellent shot, a release that junior goalie Terry Shafer complimented following a recent practice at the Island Sports Center.

“After practice I try to work on my shot as much as I can,” Gibson said. “A lot of guys do that and have better shots than you might think. The coaches are telling us to use our shots more and it’s starting to pay off.”

In addition to his quick feet and rapid release, Gibson also brings an ability to keep his teammates loose with an outgoing personality. However, he admits that jovial nature fades to the background when opening faceoff approaches.

“I think during practices and off-ice stuff I keep it light,” Gibson said, “but once it comes to game day I get more serious, especially about 20 or 30 minutes before game time.”

That intensity will be needed in the coming weeks, as the 20th-ranked Colonials chase their first regular-season conference championship in 11 years of Division I play. After that, they’ll attempt to repeat last year’s memorable postseason surge, with the goal of a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

If Gibson can once again hit his offensive stride, it goes without saying that RMU will have a better shot to accomplish that.

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