The Wydo brothers were reunited at center ice Saturday night. Cody Wydo, 22, wore his camouflage Robert Morris jersey, and Lance Cpl. Collin Wydo, 20, wore his dress blues.
The Colonials had invited Collin to drop the first puck on the first Military Appreciation Night at 84 Lumber Arena.
It was originally intended to be a surprise, but since the brothers had seen each other just once in the past eight months, Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley and the family ultimately decided not to risk giving Cody such an emotional surprise right before the faceoff.
So, Collin dropped the puck, Cody pulled it in, and the brothers embraced at center ice.
The Colonials beat Niagara, 5-0. Cody earned the crowd’s loud approval with two pretty assists, and almost every fan shook Collin’s hand and thanked him for his service.
“It was a special night for us,” Cody said.
These brothers have always had a strong bond. They shared a bedroom growing up and, they reckon, were closer than their older twin siblings, Chad and Chelsea.
But they also were destined to follow different tracks. Every Halloween back home in Southgate, Mich., Cody would dress as a hockey player, and Collin as a military man.
In May 2012, after a year at Wayne County Community College in Detroit, Collin enlisted in the United States Marine Corps like he always wanted to do. His first call was to Cody, who was in his freshman season at Robert Morris.
“I was pretty shocked, but I wasn’t surprised,” Cody said. “Anytime somebody enlists it’s a little shock because there’s a chance they might get sent overseas. But I was happy he was following his dream.”
Now, Collin is stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., and Cody is the fourth-leading scorer in Division I (21 goals) and the Colonials’ Hobey Baker candidate.
“I’m pretty much his biggest fan,” Collin said, grinning. “And he’s supported me every step of the way.”
Cody calls his brother as soon as he steps out of the locker room after every game. Collin, who played hockey through high school, will crow about his brother’s goal or deke and perhaps offer a tip or two.
Cody, a junior, has 55 career goals, 11 shy of the program record set by Chris Margott (2005-08). He owns the record for game-winning goals (11) and has the best plus/minus (28) in program history.
“He’s been tearing it up, obviously,” Collin said. “He’s a natural-born hockey player. He loves the game. There’s nothing else he’d rather do than be out there with the team, lighting it up.”
Cody hasn’t done it alone, though.
A key component to Robert Morris’ 10-2-2 turnaround in the past seven weeks has been the resurgence of the top line, which features the Colonials’ top three scorers: Wydo (37 points), sophomore Zac Lynch (32) and junior Scott Jacklin (23).
Lynch and Jacklin each scored Saturday, with Cody assisting on both goals to extend his point streak to seven games.
“That’s one great quality about Cody,” Collin said. “He’ll never take full credit for himself. He’s always putting his team ahead.”
Robert Morris (12-14-4, 12-7-4 Atlantic Hockey) will square off against Canisius (11-16-3, 10-10-3) in a home-and-home series this weekend. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Colonials are fifth in the conference standings.
Collin will be back in his barracks at Camp Lejeune watching the game on his computer as usual. And, soon after the final horn, win or lose, he’ll wait for the call from his big brother, the hockey star.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.