Robert Morris ties school wins record, but more awaits

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Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley met with his team late Saturday night after a two-game sweep of Canisius that pushed the Colonials' win total to 18 this season.

There was brief joy at 84 Lumber Arena on Neville Island, considering that 18 wins ties the Colonials' record for wins in a season.

But Schooley made clear it is no time for celebration.

With two games left, Robert Morris can set a new season win record and, with help, earn a first-round bye in the conference playoffs with a weekend sweep of rival Mercyhurst and a split by Holy Cross or Connecticut.

"Eighteen wins is a good year, but they remember how you finish," Schooley said. "We've put ourselves in a position to have a really good year, but we're not done yet. The minute we start thinking about how content we are and how good things are is when we get in trouble."

The Colonials (18-12-2, 13-11-1 Atlantic Hockey Association) are in fifth place in the league and in the running to crack the top four and earn a first-round bye. If the Colonials finish between fifth and eighth they would start the playoffs on home ice March 8.

Robert Morris is 4-2 in its past six games and is riding a three-game unbeaten streak. Mercyhurst has lost five of its past six.

It's fitting to close with Mercyhurst, said goalie Eric Levine, considering their rival handed them an 8-1 loss at home three weeks ago.

"Had we not had the chance to play them the rest of the year, we'd be pretty upset," said Levine. "We're very grateful for the opportunity to play them again and to show them what happened was a bit of a fluke. I think it humbled us as a team and I think we realized what we have to do consistently as a team to win."

Levine, who set a single season win record in goal at 17 last weekend, turns to a quote on the team's white board in the locker room from Colonials alumnus Chris Kushneriuk, who is fighting cancer.

"Be thankful to have another opportunity to go out there and battle with your teammates."

Old friends meet again

RMU forward Matt Cope faced juniors hockey teammate Chris Rumble, who plays for Canisius, last weekend, notable considering the meeting once seemed in jeopardy.

Rumble spent last hockey season fighting acute myeloid leukemia and was only cleared to play for Canisius in December.

"It's a dream come true, obviously. I used hockey as the light at the end of the tunnel when I was in the hospital. It was the one thing that kept me going," said Rumble, a 21-year-old freshman.

Cope and Rumble spent a season playing for the Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey League, and Rumble continued to skate with the team for a season after he had used up his eligibility..

The team was stunned when they learned of his illness.

"He was skating with our team, he was always a little sluggish, but I thought it could've been because he wasn't playing," Cope said before last weekend's series. "He told us, and it all made sense. He said he felt like he'd had the worst sinus infection he ever had for two months, and that's all he thought it was."

Rumble now has 2 goals and 5 assists in 14 games for Canisius.

Poll update

There were no changes in top 5 of the USCHO.com or USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll this week with Quinnipiac (23-4-5) hanging on at No. 1, followed by Minnesota (21-6-5), Miami (Ohio) (21-8-5), Boston College (18-8-3) and New Hampshire (17-8-5).

RMU got two votes in the USCHO.com poll but remains unranked.

That Bobby Valentine?

Sacred Heart, the team that finally broke a season-long slump with two wins last week -- against Holy Cross and Bentley -- will get a new athletic director today: Bobby Valentine.

Valentine, the former manager of the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox, will be named to his new post at Sacred Heart in an 11 a.m. news conference.

Notable games

No. 10 ranked Massachusetts-Lowell swept Boston University for the first time in 11 years Saturday with a 3-0 win at Boston University and a 3-1 win at home. ... No. 4 Boston College beat Merrimack in overtime to create a three-way tie atop the Hockey East standings with one weekend to go. ... No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 8 Western Michigan tied twice over the weekend, 3-3 and 1-1, and remain back-to-back in second and third place in the CCHA standings with a week to go.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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