Robert Morris steals spotlight in Three Rivers Classic
Robert Morris' Cody Wydo celebrates after scoring in the first period Friday against Penn State in the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center.
Robert Morris' Scott Jacklin battles for a loose puck with Penn State's Michael McDonagh in the first period Friday at Consol Energy Center.
Robert Morris' Tyler Hinds, middle, is congratulated after scoring in the third period against Penn State in the Three Rivers Classic Friday at Consol Energy Center.
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Every rivalry is built upon a history, a chronicle of games between two teams that come together to create a tradition.
If Penn State and Robert Morris become the Western Pennsylvania college hockey rivalry that everyone seems to expect, the second meeting between the two teams won't go down the most memorable game in the teams' history. But, in a budding rivalry, every game adds a chapter.
The Colonials powered their way to a 6-0 victory Friday against Penn State in the first game of the inaugural Three Rivers Classic in front of 11,663 at Consol Energy Center.
The Colonials advance to the championship game at 7:35 p.m. today against Miami (Ohio), which defeated Ohio State, 1-0.
"The main thing is we're advancing to the championship, that was our goal," Colonials goalie Eric Levine said. "Shutout or no shutout, we got the win. That was the important thing."
It was the Colonials' second consecutive win against Penn State, the last one coming Dec. 15. That game was a gritty, 3-2 Robert Morris victory that wasn't over until the final buzzer. This one wasn't quite as tense.
Robert Morris scored three times in the final 3:27 of the first period, claiming a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes and cruising to victory over the final two periods.
"Just going out there, getting a full team effort in the first period, that's what it was," Colonial left winger Cody Wydo said. "Everyone was clicking."
After defenseman Andrew Blazek gave Robert Morris a 1-0 lead 1:49 into the game, the barrage at the end of the first period came courtesy of Wydo's line, with David Friedmann at center and Adam Brace at right wing. The trio was on the ice for all four first-period goals.
Brace scored the second goal on a nice move to get open in the slot and fire a shot through the five-hole of Penn State goalie PJ Musico with 3:27 left in the first. Wydo added a pair of goals on scrambles in front of the net before the first-period buzzer sounded.
"I think getting an early lead was key for our hockey team, and then, obviously, we had a tremendous last five minutes of the period there," Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said.
The Nittany Lions pressed in the second period, outshooting Robert Morris, 14-4, but couldn't get anything past Levine, who earned his second shutout this season with 48 saves, none more important than when he stonewalled Penn State's David Glen on a breakaway midway through the first period.
"Our defense, our backcheckers did a good job," Levine said. "Not too many shots came from high-percentage scoring areas, so we kept it to the outside. ... Even though we gave up a lot of shots, we did a good job taking away some of the scoring chances."
Penn State coach Guy Gadowski decided to make a change in his own net after the first period, pulling Musico in favor of Matthew Skoff.
Skoff, a McKees Rocks native, stopped 18 shots in the second and third period, but Robert Morris added a pair of goals in the third to turn it into a blowout.
"You're not going to win a lot of games scoring zero goals," Gadowski said.
While this contest wasn't as competitive as the teams' first meeting two weeks ago, the general chippiness of a rivalry game still prevailed. Players routinely gathered for shoving matches around the net after whistles, and the teams combined for more penalty minutes (37) than they did in their first game (32).
Fifteen of Penn State's penalty minutes came when Glen was whistled for contact to the head on a hit on Blazek behind Robert Morris' net with 34 seconds left in the second period. Glen was issued a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
"We knew we were going to get a call," Gadowski said. "I don't think it deserved a game disqualification."
The Nittany Lions will have to wait until next season for their shot at revenge at Robert Morris. The two teams are scheduled to meet next season, and Schooley said Friday he was hopeful the series would continue beyond that.
"I like playing them," he said. "It's good for college hockey and it's good for hockey in Western Pennsylvania."
And where, exactly, will the result Friday fit into what is becoming Western Pennsylvania's college hockey rivalry?
"We're going to remember it," Gadowski said. "The guys already know it. We're going to get a shot again. We're in our infancy stage and we understand it, but we deserved the result we got tonight."
• Miami (Ohio) 1, Ohio State 0: In another rematch of teams that played two weeks ago, Miami (Ohio) advanced on Curtis McKenzie's goal 14 seconds into the final period. The Buckeyes put together chances in the first two periods, but couldn't get the puck past Miami goalie Jay Williams, who finished with 29 saves. "I thought Ohio State played great," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. "I thought the first 40 minutes they were the better team, in fact. If it wasn't for Jay, they might have been up one or two and we were out of the game. We seem to find our legs in the third period. McKenzie scored a big goal and we seemed to find our game a little bit." Ohio State will play Penn State in the tournament's consolation game at 4:30 p.m.
First Published December 29, 2012 12:00 am