The Robert Morris men’s ice hockey team is set and ready to begin another season with high expectations. Last season, the Colonials had one of their best seasons in school history, winning an astounding 24 games. Finishing first in the Atlantic Hockey Conference (AHC) for the first time in school history, their season would be cut short in falling to the Mercyhurst Lakers in the AHC semifinals.
Head coach Derek Schooley must be given credit for the major turnaround of the school’s hockey program. Since being the head coach in 2004, Schooley has been a part of two 20-win seasons, the only two in school history.
“Last year we were right where we needed to be,” Schooley said. “We were prepared, focused and confident but we weren’t overconfident. I think our guys learned a lot from the previous start to the year.”
The Colonials will enter the season with a very familiar roster. Returning seven of their nine forwards, their retention of contributors is vital. Of course, Coach Schooley will miss Cody Wydo and Scott Jacklin, who were number one and number five all time in scoring in school history. Also returning to the team are all eight defensemen and three goaltenders, exemplifying the consistency Coach Schooley has created in the program.
After being nationally ranked last season, Robert Morris has soaring expectations set in stone by the seven of 11 first place votes cast to the school in the ACH Preseason polls. Additionally the Colonials, while not ranked in the top 20, have received votes in the USCHO Division-I Men’s preseason poll.
When looking at the schedule, Bobby Mo will be playing in the Three Rivers Classic that will take place on December 28th, and 29th. The first matchup will be against Penn State University, the second being the winner of UMass-Lowell and Clarkson game.
Turning over to the new year Robert Morris will also be participating in the Ledyard Classic. The Colonials will travel to New Hampshire to play against Dartmouth College on January 2nd, followed by a game against Union on the 3rd.
Dressing nine seniors this year, the Colonials have an abundance of leadership. The seniors will work to help freshmen forwards Kyle Horsman, Brandon Watt, Kyle Eastman, Alex Tonge, and defensemen Eric Israel adjust and find consistency in their personal game.
“Our guys are confident in what we need to do and confident in their belief in themselves but I don’t think they’re overconfident,” Schooley assessed. “We have something to prove from how last season ended.” Coach Schooley and players alike are prepared for the challenge of another enduring season. Although this level of success is new to the program, continual strides must be made to ensure sustained competitiveness.
Robert Morris will begin their season tonight at home in the 84 Lumber Arena on the RMU Island Sports Center. They will be playing host to the Air Force Falcons at 7:05 pm and expect a packed house to rooting their team to victory.
Hockey has become a major sport in RMU’s athletics program. Laying a foundation for success, Coach Schooley has done an outstanding job in finding the right players who mix well in his strategies. Fans have reason to be excited, and it appears they cannot wait for the opener.
Photo credit: USCHO.com