Hobey Baker candidate Wydo leading surge for Robert Morris men's hockey team
For the past month, Robert Morris has been among the hottest men's hockey teams in Division I. The Colonials won just twice in the first three months of the season, but since the calendar flipped to 2014, they are 9-1-2, including 7-0-2 in their past nine games.
They've thrust themselves into the thick of the Atlantic Hockey Association title chase, and junior Cody Wydo has been front and center. During the unbeaten streak, Wydo has recorded nine goals and six assists. He leads the AHA and is tied for third nationally with 21 goals — the same total that allowed him to share the conference lead last year.
“I don't want to say it's just me being better the last couple weeks,” said Wydo, a native of Southgate, Mich. “Everyone on the whole team has been picking their game up. So when everyone on the whole team is playing better, it makes it easier for everyone to get points and be able to be successful.”
Points always have come relatively easily for Wydo. He led the North American Hockey League with 91 points (40 goals) the year before coming to Robert Morris. After cracking the Colonials' lineup six games into his freshman season, he posted 13 goals and added 21 last year.
His career total of 55 goals leaves him just 10 away from becoming RMU's all-time leader.
What hasn't come easily is recognition.
“He goes under the radar a little bit,” Colonials coach Derek Schooley said. “He hasn't ever got any league awards. He led the conference in goals last year and wasn't on the top three teams at the end of the year.
“He just quietly goes about his business. I think he's a little bit underrated, comparatively, to some of the other top college players.”
That might be changing just a bit. When the watch list for the Hobey Baker Award — college hockey's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy — was released Jan. 14, Wydo's name was on it.
Wydo, however, deflected much of the recognition from himself.
“I was pretty excited to hear about that, not only for my name, but for the school aspect of it, just getting our school's name out there,” he said. “We're not that big of a school across the nation, yet. So having the school get that kind of publicity is good for everything.”
Wydo might not be getting as many accolades as Schooley thinks he deserves, but opposing defenses give him plenty of attention. Even with that target on him, Wydo continues to fill the net.
Making his success even more confounding for opponents is his perceived lack of physical gifts; he's not the biggest (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) or the fastest skater. What he might lack in those areas, Schooley said, Wydo makes up for in hard work and hockey IQ.
“Everybody questioned his size, his skating ability,” Schooley said. “He just knows how to score. He goes to the right places. He goes to the dirty areas, and he goes to places to create offense.
“He's an incredibly smart hockey player. He knows where to go before the puck gets there.”
Though Wydo admitted he set a target of 25 goals this season, he's more concerned with the Colonials getting a first-round bye in the AHA playoffs. Robert Morris is just four points behind conference-leading Mercyhurst and has two games with the Lakers to close out the season.
Talk of a conference title might have seemed far-fetched given the way Robert Morris started the season. But behind their Hobey Baker nominee, the Colonials have become a factor again.
Chuck Curti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.