Wydo makes big impact for Robert Morris hockey
When the puck is on Cody Wydo's stick, blaring sirens are soon to follow.
The Robert Morris junior forward continues to make noise with his goal-scoring ability. And he's rewriting the Colonials' record books in the process.
Through 41 games, Wydo set single-season program records with 30 goals and 52 points. In addition, he's equaled the team's career goal mark (64).
“He just scores goals. He has done it since junior hockey, since midget hockey. He just finds ways to score lots of goals,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “People may not like his size or skating. He plays physical and skates very well. He is a dynamic player who knows how to put the puck in the net. You can't teach that.”
Finding the back of the net comes naturally for the Southgate, Mich., native. His 30 goals rank second in NCAA Division I behind Boston College star Johnny Gaudreau's 32.
“Growing up, I have always been able to score goals,” Wydo said. “Just being able to continue to do that and improve on it every year has been great for me.”
At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Wydo may not look like a top scorer. It's a different story on the ice.
“I am not the biggest guy. Ever since I have come to Robert Morris, I have improved my strength, and I am able to compete with the bigger guys on the team,” he said. “That's definitely a motivating factor for me, to just go out and try to prove people wrong. I love trying to prove people wrong.”
Wydo and the Colonials proved many wrong this season when they captured the program's first Atlantic Hockey Association title and an NCAA Tournament berth. That seemed unlikely when the team struggled to a 2-12-2 start. Robert Morris went on a 17-5-3 run to claim the championship with a 19-17-5 record.
That earned a West Regional matchup with second-ranked and top-seeded Minnesota (25-6-6) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The game will air on ESPN2.
“The team is really enjoying it. We're really motivated to keep going,” Wydo said. “We never get down on each other. When something goes wrong, we just stay confident in our style of play.”
It wasn't clear sailing for the Colonials. They beat Niagara, 5-4, in overtime in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals Friday before rolling past Canisius, 7-4, in last Saturday's championship game.
“When you start off the season 2-12-2, it doesn't get much worse than that,” Wydo said. “We went 17-5-3 since then. To win a championship is just unbelievable. I give the whole team credit for competing.”
Wydo did his part to ensure Robert Morris earned its first banner, recording a hat trick in the championship game against Canisius.
That made him the first player in the country to score three hat tricks this season. Wydo had seven goals and five assists in seven tournament games and was named the tournament's MVP.
“The thing that was impressive was how he elevated his game. He was the most dynamic player on the ice in that championship game,” Schooley said. “You need your big guns to be your big guns in those games. Scott Jacklin had the OT winner the night before. Zac Lynch had a couple assists. Cody had four goals on the weekend, but we also got goals from Greg Gibson, Matt Cope, David Friedmann and Colin South. That just shows the depth we have in our top nine.”
Wydo skates on a line with Jacklin (15 goals, 36 points) and Lynch (18, 45), a Shaler graduate. They have produced 133 points this season.
“At the beginning of 2014, we started clicking, and that's when we started to have really good chemistry,” Wydo said. “Ever since then, all three of us have been doing tremendously well scoring and helping each other out.”
Wydo had 33 points last season and hopes for a big jump in production next year, too.
“I am a little surprised. This year, I was trying to get over 40. To hit 50 this year has been unbelievable,” he said. “You want to improve no matter what kind of year you have. You always want to do better than the year before. So hopefully, I'll be able to do that.”
Schooley said he believes Wydo will have a fulfilling hockey career.
“Cody is going to play pro jockey. It's just a matter if someone will give him the opportunity. He has been overlooked because of his size or skating by so many people. Thankfully, we didn't. Whoever takes a chance on him at the next level will get a heck of a hockey player.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.