Pittsburgh, Pa. – There could be a three-peat on the ice at PPG Paints Arena just before ringing in the New Year. The Robert Morris men’s hockey squad hold back-to-back Three Rivers Classic crowns and return to 1001 Fifth Avenue December 29-30 to face the Arizona State University Sun Devils, the 11th-rated Providence College Friars, or the Lake Superior State University Lakers in the sixth edition of the college hockey tournament.
For the Sun Devils, Friars, and Lakers, it is the first time these programs participated in this event. Which team can rise to the challenge of the tourney?
RMU gathered their first TRC championship in 2012, followed by the Boston College Eagles in 2013 and the Colgate University Raiders in 2014, before the Colonials consecutive title run. The Blue, White, and Red laid claim to the crown in 2016 with a 1-0 victory over the Ferris State University Bulldogs, and a 5-2 triumph over the then 14th-ranked Quinnipiac University Bobcats.
Over the first half of the 2017-2018 campaign, the Colonials assembled an overall record of 7-11-1 and a 7-7-1 mark in the Atlantic Hockey Conference; they are coming off a two-game sweep of conference rival, the Mercyhurst University Lakers just before Christmas.
Robert Morris owns 57 goals in 19 contests, 21 of them coming on the power play. Head coach, Derek Schooley’s crew had 66 goals against them on the score sheet with 21 arriving when they were on the penalty kill.
Sophomore right-wing Luke Lynch checks in at the top with 11 goals while the trio of senior center Brady Ferguson, junior left-wing Michael Louria, and senior right-wing Timmy Moore tied for the lead in assists with 13 apiece. Ferguson has the most power-play scores with five. Senior center Spencer Dorowicz’s contribution is leading the way with three game-winning goals.
Junior defenseman Eric Israel helps to keep the opposition off the scoreboard with 43 blocked shots. Another member of the blue line brigade, senior Alex Bontje is only one back with 42 blocks.
When it comes to defending the net, sophomore Francis Marotte is the work-horse in goal. He is 7-7-1 with a 2.87 goals-against-average, and a .909 save percentage.
The Friars of Providence College ranked No. 11 in the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. The Black, White, and Silver built a 10-7-1 mark overall and a record of 6-4-1 in the Hockey East Conference. They lit the lamp 55 times over 18 contests with 17 coming with the man-advantage. Their opponents tallied 47 goals, 11 on the power play.
Leading the attack is Erik Foley, a junior forward, with 10 goals. Senior forward Brian Pinho is next with six. Foley and sophomore defenseman Jacob Bryson share the lead in assists with 11 each. One other forward to keep an eye on is sophomore Josh Wilkins.
Another second-year defenseman, Spenser Young helps his goaltender with 22 blocked shots. Freshman blue-liner Ben Mirageas is six behind with 16 blocks.
Goalie Hayden Hawkey a junior, brings a 2.61 GAA, and .906 save percentage to go along with his 10-7-0 record.
Followers of the Lake Superior State University Lakers have seen their squad struggle this season with a 4-12-4 overall record and a 3-8-3 mark in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Blue and Gold put the biscuit in the basket 43 times, 15 on the power play, but gave up 74 with 22 hitting the score sheet off the competition’s power play.
After 20 contests, forward Max Humitz, a sophomore, is atop the ladder with eight goals while senior forward J.T. Henke has the most helpers with 15. Junior forward Anthony Nellis is second with seven scores.
Humitz’s stock continues to be on the rise as he was a member of the WCHA All-Rookie Team in 2016-2017.
Goaltending has been split between freshman Mareks Mitens, a 3.67 GAA and a .892 save percentage, and junior Nick Kossoff with a 3.39 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
Arizona State University is also finding victories in short supply with a record of 4-10-4 overall and has no conference affiliation. The Sun Devils enjoy the desert as they are 3-5-0 at home and 1-5-4 on the road. The Maroon and Gold in 18 meetings have 34 goals with seven on the power-play. They permitted 54 goals from their opponents, 11 while they are a man-short on the penalty kill.
Center Tyler Busch, a sophomore, and junior defenseman Jakob Stridsberg are the team leaders with five goals apiece. Sophomore left-wing Brent Gruber has the most assists with eight and points with 11.
Brinson Pasichnuk, a sophomore defenseman, has the most blocked shots with 30. Sophomore goalie Joey Daccord is 4-8-3 with 3.04 GAA, and a .917 save percentage.
One familiar name on the ASU roster is freshman right-wing Austin Lemieux, the son of Pens owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux. He decided to redshirt this fall and not play this season.
Game Day Schedule: Providence begins the competition Friday, Dec. 29 with a 4:30 p.m. puck drop against Arizona State. RMU plays in the nightcap versus Lake Superior State at 7:30 p.m. The winners come together in the championship matchup Saturday, Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m., with the consolation contest at 4:30 p.m.
You can obtain tickets for the 2017 Three Rivers Classic at the PPG Paints Arena website or by calling TicketMaster CHARGE-BY-PHONE at 1-800-745-3000.
Video From RMU Athletics On YouTube.com – 12/30/2016 MHKY: Three Rivers Classic Championship, Robert Morris Vs. Quinnipiac…