First place at stake for RMU during Classic Week
Baldwin's Denny Urban won't be among the hockey players skating on outdoor rinks at or next to Heinz Field this week.
Of course, skating at Consol Energy Center is pretty cool, too.
Urban will help lead nationally ranked Robert Morris University against RIT in a men's hockey game that is part of a Dec. 30 doubleheader at the arena.
At stake is first place in the Atlantic Hockey Conference.
"We've played at Consol before, which is good because this is a huge game for us and the setting won't make us nervous," said Urban, a defenseman who ranks among the NCAA's leaders for scoring at his position. "Our main goal this season is to finish in first place so we get a first-round bye (in the conference tournament). That gives us a better chance at taking that next step."
That would be a first-ever berth in the NCAA tournament in the program's seventh season. Getting there, coach Derek Schooley figures, will bring added attention to his program -- not that some pretty big hockey fans aren't paying attention.
The Penguins, Schooley said, have "helped our program in so many ways." The biggest so far is the team partnering with Robert Morris to bring the NCAA "Frozen Four" (national semifinals and final) to Pittsburgh in 2013.
Robert Morris played one of the first games at Consol Energy Center in October. Penguins president David Morehouse attended that one, but he had another one in mind -- inviting Robert Morris to be part of a Winter Classic Week doubleheader that also includes a showdown between the AHL affiliates of the Penguins and Capitals.
Schooley described sharing a building for one day with professionals as "a great opportunity for our players."
"This is a rare chance to see games at the second-highest level -- how big, strong and fast those players are and what it takes to make it at the next level," he said.
Another rarity is attending a Winter Classic. The entire Robert Morris squad scored tickets.
"I try not to tell too many friends because they want tickets, too," Urban said. "We're pretty fortunate. You don't get too many opportunities to play in a game like we will at the arena, then be at one like the Classic as a team."
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