RMU kicks off hockey rivalry with win over Penn State
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UNIVERSITY PARK — There weren't many style points, but then rivalries hardly ever produce them.
And a rivalry might have been born Saturday at Penn State.
Robert Morris battled a precocious Penn State team that has fared well during its first season as a Division I program before finally pulling away for a 3-2 victory.
Penn State outshot Robert Morris, 40-28.
“I don't know if we deserved it,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “But we earned it. I think we showed a tremendous amount of character. We showed a lot of guts.”
Robert Morris defenseman Tyler Hinds' first goal of the season midway through the third period was the game-winner.
“He's just been a warrior the last three games,” Schooley said.
The Colonials knew before the game that nothing would come easily against a Nittany Lions team that has made up for its lack of top-notch skill by outworking teams to produce a 7-8-1 record.
“Look at their results,” Schooley said. “They're a good hockey team. They've got a lot of guys who have played at high levels. This isn't your typical start-up program. When you're building an $88 million building, you get the best of the best.”
Although Robert Morris struck first on a goal by defenseman Chase Golightly, Penn State took the lead in the second period.
Playing before another packed house at Greenberg Pavilion — the highly touted Pegula Ice Arena is set to open next year — the Nittany Lions controlled much of the second period.
“I'm happy with how we played,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “But at the same time, we probably deserved the result we got. We made some mistakes we shouldn't have made.”
Captain Tommy Olcyzk, son of former Penguins player and coach Ed Olcyzk, evened the score early in the second period. Teammate Curtis Liok required only 1:52 to give Penn State an advantage.
Robert Morris goalie Eric Levine, exceptional in the first period when Penn State controlled much of the play, made a couple of big saves to keep the Colonials deficit at a goal. He stopped 38 of 40 shots.
The Colonials eventually got goals from Jeff Jones and Hinds to take the lead for good.
“A characteristic of a good team is to find a way to win when you don't have your ‘A' game,” Schooley said. “We didn't have our ‘A' game because Penn State came out and punched us in the mouth. We rope-a-doped our way to a 3-2 win.”
Robert Morris and Penn State figure to have a special rivalry in years to come.
“You tell me,” Schooley said. “Was that exciting hockey? Those were the two youngest programs in college hockey. It was exciting to the end.”
And this is only the beginning.
The teams meet again Dec. 28 in the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center.
“We're licking our chops,” Olcyzk said.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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