Lofty goals for Robert Morris hockey this season
College Football Videos
It wasn't always like this.
Atlantic Hockey Association teams weren't always competitive on a national scale. But in the waning weeks of the 2012-13 conference tournament season, the AHA had multiple teams vying for a spot in the 16-team NCAA Tournament. Robert Morris was chief among them, needing an at-large bid to even have a chance of getting to the Frozen Four at Consol Energy Center.
The Colonials didn't get that opportunity. Not after setting a program record for wins (20). Not after defeating eventual national runner-up Quinnipiac in the season's opening weekend. Not after winning the inaugural Three Rivers Classic in which the Colonials knocked off then-No. 5 Miami (Ohio).
And to see Yale find its way into the NCAA Tournament with the final at-large bid and pull off the most unlikely of runs in winning its first national title? That put RMU's motivation on ice.
“Their run solidified the belief that anything is possible,” said RMU senior captain Colin South, a Quaker Valley product. “The way they played at the end of the year was just incredible.”
For South, Yale's run was almost as unpredictable as his career at RMU has been. With his brother, Furman, a sophomore on the team, South arrived at RMU during a transition period. The Colonials were to be first-year members of the AHA and had gone 10-19-6 in 2009-10, the last season for the College Hockey America conference. Since then, RMU hasn't had a losing season.
“I don't think when I committed that I could have seen it going this well,” South said.
The same goes for his career. South said he felt out of place when he was a freshman. Even so, he played in 30 of 35 games, recording 10 points on five goals and five assists. As a junior and assistant captain last season, South had 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists), fourth best on the team.
“He's just matured as the program's matured,” RMU coach Derek Schooley said. “I wouldn't say he's a pure goal-scorer. I wouldn't say he's a pure setup man. He's just a very consistent hockey player.”
But it was consistency that plagued South last season — he consistently was not scoring.
South went 16 games from early November to early February without a goal. He finally scored what was his sixth goal of the year Feb. 2 against Sacred Heart.
“I think that was the turning point — to still do other things effectively to help the team win some games,” South said. “When I finally did score a goal, it just gave me so much confidence that there's more to the game. That really helped clear my mind.”
And RMU likely will need South to maintain his yearly offensive improvement. The Colonials lost two of their top three scorers: Adam Brace, the program's fourth all-time leading scorer with 92 points in three seasons, and Zach Hervato (29 points). Junior Cody Wydo is their top returning scorer (21-12-33).
The Colonials also will need to replace goalie Eric Levine's 19 wins and .929 save percentage. Terry Shafer, a sophomore, returns after playing 194 minutes in net last season. Freshmen Brandon Lane and Dalton Izyk also will lobby for playing time.
“You're not going to replace Eric Levine,” Schooley said. “But if you can get consistent quality goaltending, whichever one of the three steps forward, that's a good thing.”
RMU will play five nonconference games, including hosting the Three Rivers Classic. The second-year tournament will include Penn State, five-time national champion Boston College and Bowling Green, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma's alma mater, on Dec. 27-28.
But South said the Colonials can't lose sight of the ever-strengthening AHA. Six AHA teams were recognized in preseason national poll, with Niagara ranked No. 20 and five others, including Robert Morris and Mercyhurst, receiving votes.
“We don't have the high-profile schools,” South said. “We don't play in the buildings (those) programs do. But look at the track record. The conference is getting a lot stronger from where it was a few years ago, and people are finally starting to realize that.”
Matt Rosenberg is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Shazier returns just in time
- Fire at Dollar General in Rostraver under control, dispatchers say
- California University police officer alleges discrimination
- Script is it: Classic Pitt helmet design to return
- Fayette County woman pleads guilty to trying to kill romantic rival with SUV
- MLB notebook: Rays manager Maddon opts out of contract
- Hit-run motorist in Mt. Lebanon sought
- Blind players battle for chess championship
- Attack on Egypt army post in Sinai peninsula kills 30 troops
- Protestants preparing for Reformation Sunday observances
- Sweden calls off search for mystery submarine