While the NHL remains mired in a lockout, fans in-and-around Pittsburgh have been looking for a hockey fix. Many eyes were locked into the inaugural Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center as The Robert Morris Colonials, Penn State Nittany Lions, Ohio State Buckeyes and Miami Redhawks each played under the bright lights of an NHL arena Friday night.
“It’s a pretty unbelievable arena and setup here,” said Miami freshman goaltender, Jay Williams. “When you’re preparing for the game, you try not to think about it too much like that. You just try to focus on the next game. It doesn’t matter where you’re playing, who’s watching, whatever. You just try to focus on going out there and doing whatever you can do to help your team win, try to make saves and give the guys a chance.”
Williams and the Redhawks advanced to the Championship Round as they shutout Ohio State in the nightcap, even though Ohio State dictated the play for a majority of the evening.
Consol Energy Center proved to be a great host for the event according to Redhawks head coach, Enrico Blasi. “If tonight’s crowd and energy and the way they conducted the games today are any indication of how the Frozen Four is going to go, it’s going to be spectacular.”
Pittsburgh hosts the NCAA Frozen Four April 11-13th. “Pittsburgh’s a great hockey city and I’m sure they’re ready for the NHL to be back,” said Blasi, “What a great venue for the Frozen Four.”
Many players also walked away impressed by the amenities of the Pittsburgh Penguins digs. “It’s pretty awesome to get an opportunity to play here in this new arena,” said Miami Senior Curtis McKenzie. “I know we got to play here a couple years ago, my freshman year, in the old Igloo, and what a place this is to be in, it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a lot of fun and you catch yourself looking around at how nice it is when you first get out there. It’s awesome.”
“We’re pretty lucky to have the opportunity to play in a place like this,” stated Jay Williams
It could be intimidating for a college student to play in front of nearly 12,000 hockey-starved fans but nerves didn’t appear to be an issue for any team. “I don’t think we were intimidated by the big stage,” said RMU coach Derek Schooley. “I don’t think we had any nerves. We just went out and played hockey.”
“It was a big crowd, probably one of the biggest I’ve ever played in front of,” said RMU sophomore, Cody Wydo.
“This is the first time I’ve had the chance to play here. It’s an unbelievable rink,” said Eric Levine “Happy we got the win.”
With the initial awe wearing off, tonight’s game is a battle of hot goaltenders. Both Jay Williams (Miami) and RMU Senior goalie, Eric Levine are coming off strong performances, both notched shutouts in the first round of the Three Rivers Classic. However, Levine was a little busier as he kept 48 Penn State shots out of his net.
The puck drops at 7:30 tonight for the Three Rivers Classic Championship between RMU and Miami.