The 2015 Three Rivers Classic college hockey tournament at Consol Energy Center might be the best one yet.
The tournament, now in its fourth year, will have one of its best fields ever as UMass-Lowell (Hockey East) and Clarkson (ECAC) join hosts Robert Morris (AHC) and perennial opponent Penn State (Big Ten) for the four-team, two-day affair at the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
A big part of the reason the 2015 field will be so strong is the emergence of Robert Morris and Penn State as regional college hockey powers.
The Colonials, fresh off the program’s first NCAA tournament berth in 2014, went wire-to-wire in the 2015 Atlantic Hockey regular season, setting a new school record with 24 wins.
Penn State, meanwhile, started to make waves in their third season of NCAA hockey. Guy Gadowsky’s squad clinched the schools first winning record with an 18-15-4 mark. In addition, star forward Casey Bailey made headlines as he finished his season with the Nittany Lions and immediately signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, becoming the first Penn State player to skate in the NHL.
The UMass-Lowell Riverhawks will certainly know their way around Consol Energy Center, as they represented Hockey East in the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four in Pittsburgh. The Riverhawks finished 17th in the final 2015 Pairwise rankings, just missing the school’s fourth consecutive NCAA tournament berth.
Clarkson had a down season in 2014-15, finishing just 12-20-5, but they are only one season removed from a 21-win performance in 2013-14. The Golden Knights will also bring a Pittsburgh connection to town.
Both of their top two goaltenders from last season hail from Western PA. Junior Greg Lewis is from Mars, while sophomore Steve Perry is from Ligonier. Perry led the team in wins (8) goals-against average (2.10), while Lewis was tops in save percentage (.911).
Clarkson also features Penguins prospect Troy Josephs. The 6-foot, 184-pound forward was the Pens seventh-round selection in the 2013 NHL draft. He was second on the Golden Knights in scoring a season ago, with three goals and 14 assists in 36 games.
This is the second consecutive year that the tournament will be held midweek, taking place on Tuesday, Dec. 29 and Wednesday, Dec. 30.
Photo credit: Pittsburgh Penguins