By: Ian Altenbaugh
The Consolation Game
Western Michigan Broncos (7-9-2) versus the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-6-2)
For Penn State, day two of the Three Rivers Classic went very much like day one. The opposition, Western Michigan in this case, staked out an early lead in the game, scoring at 7:22 when Broncos center Sheldon Dries picked up a loose puck and rifled it past PSU goaltender Matt Skoff. And Penn State, despite throwing 33 shots on net, was unable to generate much in the way of offense, going 0-4 on the powerplay for the evening.
The Nittany Lions had a golden opportunity to get back into the game when Western Michigan forward Nolan LaPorte took a slashing penalty at 9:49 in the first. The Broncos took another penalty at 11:30 of the first, a cross-checking penalty from Josh Pitt, giving Penn State a brief two-man advantage, but the Nittany Lions were unable to convert on either penalty and the first period ended with Western Michigan up by one.
The turning point of the game happened in the second period, when Tommy Olczyk was handed a hooking penalty and 10-minute misconduct for directing some salty words towards the referee. The Broncos wasted no time converting the powerplay, with Aidan Muir scoring his third goal of the season and first of the game.
Up by two goals, Western Michigan continued to finish all of their checks and send bodies to the Penn State net. At 8:30 of the second period, PSU goalie Matt Skoff finally had enough of the traffic in his crease and started pushing and shoving WMU forward Taylor Fleming. The scuffle resulted in both players getting penalized.
The game was put out of reach for Penn State at 14:58 of the second period, where Broncos forward Colton Hargrove took a loose puck and whipped it past Matt Skoff.
Penn State managed to get on the board at 3:53 in the third, when center Curtis Loik beat WMU goaltender Lukas Hafner stick-side. It would be the only goal PSU would manage that day, as Western Michigan gave the Nittany Lions little space to work with, forcing much of the play to the perimeter of the ice.
The Broncos would close out the scoring at 11:22 in the third when Muir redirected a feed from Justin Kovacs past Skoff for his second goal of the game, putting Western Michigan up 4-1.
Three Rivers Classic Championship Game
Robert Morris Colonials (12-3-3) vs. the Colgate Raiders (11-6-1)
With the Consol Energy Center at a temperature fit for a person of gelid reserve, the championship game of the 2015 Three Rivers Classic was able to commence.
Heading into the game, Robert Morris had been averaging 4.12 goals per game—the only team in the nation score over four goals a game on average, while Colgate was scoring 2.82 goals on average, ranking them right in the middle. Those averages would not really matter however, as Robert Morris would be held to one goal all game and never really looked like much of a threat offensively.
Robert Morris opened the scoring at 7:26 of the first period when RMU forward Matt Cope retrieved a loose puck in the offensive zone and threw it towards Colgate Goaltender Charlie Finn. The puck trickled past Finn and Robert Morris would take a 1-0 lead.
The Colonials lead lasted a little more than a minute, as Colgate forward Kyle Baun took the puck around the RMU net and threw it towards the crease, where it bounced off a defender and past goaltender Dalton Izyk.
About seven minutes later, Colgate defenseman Jake Kulevich rifled a shot from the high slot, putting Colgate up 2-1. While Kulevich’s goal ended up being the game-winner, Colgate continued to pile on the shots and goals in the second and third period. In the second period alone, Colgate attempted 39 shots on net, 25 of which made their way to the RMU net, and two of which made it past Izyk.
“That was a very fast hockey team we played. They were a step quicker than us,” Said Robert Morris head coach Derrick Schooley, “We’ve got a lot of speed, we played hard and with tenacity, but for whatever reason, we were a step behind, a step slow, and we had our ears pinned back in our end a lot the time.”
Colgate did not let up in the third period either and by the end of the evening finished with 52 shots on net.
The Spink twins closed out the scoring for Colgate. Tyson Spink knocked in a rebound at 7:10 into the third, then his brother Tyler closed out the scoring at 13:39.
“That was probably as complete a game as we’ve played all year. I was really proud of our effort tonight,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said following the game.
Notes and Quotes
Failing to Capture that 2012 Magic
Robert Morris forward Cody Wydo has been one of the top offensive players in the nation the past two seasons and is currently third in the nation with 11 goals and 25 points through 18 games. So it was surprising to see Wydo held off the scoresheet in both tournament games.
“Cody Wydo’s a good hockey player, and I think the last time he went three straight games without a point was, I don’t even know when. He’s had chances, it just didn’t go for him,” said Schooley when asked about Wydo’s slump. “I would hate to be on the other side when he breaks out again.”
To find the last time Wydo went three games without a point, one would have to go back to the 2012-13 season, when Wydo was unable to get on the scoresheet in four games. As it happens, the game he broke that scoring slump in was the inaugural Three Rivers Classic tournament, where he posted two goals against Penn State on December 28th, 2012.
Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray was pleased with his team’s overall performance on Tuesday, though he felt the team lost something in the second period, when they yield 16 shots to Penn State.
“We lost a little respect for the game in the second period; we started to think it was easy. The game of hockey is hard, and as soon as you think it is easy, it’s troublesome. We came out in the third period and had good puck possession, we are pleased with the win for sure.”
You Want Offensive Depth? Take Some. Not Enough? Have Some More.
Colgate managed eight goals from eight different players in the tournament. All four forward lines chipped in, though none contributed more than the top line with the Tyson and Tyler Spink and Kyle Braun, who combined for seven points in the two tournament games.
The Name is Aidan Muir
Western Michigan freshman and Edmonton Oilers prospect Aidan Muir raised his profile significantly at the Three Rivers Classic. Muir, who the Oilers selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, had two goals in 16 college games prior to the tournament. Maybe it was feeling refreshed from winter break, but whatever it was, Muir was a beast for much of the tournament, scoring three goals and using his 6’4 frame to wreak havoc on the forecheck.
The Three Rivers Classic All-Tournament Team
Aiden Muir, RW, Western Michigan
Curtis Loik, LW, Penn State
Daniel Leavens, RW, Robert Morris
Kyle Baun, RW, Colgate
Jake Kulevich, D, Colgate
Charlie Finn, G, Colgate