Colonials’ Class of 2016 completes the sweep, all nine players now professionals

The final three seniors from the nine-man class agree to deals with professional teams in two different leagues.

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Colonials’ Class of 2016 completes the sweep, all nine players now professionals

Daniel Kitchen, Sports Editor

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After a flurry of signings saw six seniors of the Robert Morris Men’s Hockey team sign deals with ECHL and AHL teams, the remaining three made it a clean sweep for the program, with two heading to the ECHL and one to the American Hockey League.

Forwards Matt Cope and Brandon Denham and defenseman Chase Golightly all agreed to professional contracts over the last three days. Cope and Golightly are headed to the ECHL, while Denham becomes the third Colonial to jump straight to the AHL this season. In the ECHL, Cope will join the Norfolk Admirals, while Golightly is now a part of the Florida Everblades. In the AHL, Denham agreed to terms with the Manitoba Moose.

All three teams are affiliates of a franchise in the National Hockey League: the Edmonton Oilers (Norfolk, Cope), the Carolina Hurricanes (Florida, Golightly), and the Winnipeg Jets (Manitoba, Denham). Two of the three Colonials will be joining classmates on their respective rosters as well: Golightly rejoins Greg Gibson on the Everblades, and Denham is reunited with fellow 2016 team captain Tyson Wilson in Manitoba.

GOLIGHTLY_CARDMatt Merlino

Golightly finished his final year at Robert Morris with 24 points, second among defensemen on the team. For his career, Golightly joins five other members of his class in the top ten of the program’s career plus/minus rating, with a +45 mark, third all-time and highest among all Colonial defenders to ever suit up. He has also been a team leader in multiple playoff runs: he started at least one game in the playoffs each of the last three seasons, and was one of only two Colonials to start every playoff game this season (along with goalie Terry Shafer).

COPE_CARDMatt Merlino

Cope (along with Denham) formed half of the Colonials’ tandem of bruising forwards this season. Never afraid to engage the opposition and defend his teammates, Cope is one of three forwards from this class to appear in the top ten in penalties (85, tied for sixth) and penalty minutes (210, fifth) in program history. More than capable of scoring as well, Cope was sixth on the team this season in points, with 33, including two multi-point games in the playoffs this year.

DENHAM_CARDMatt Merlino

The other bruising forward for RMU this season, assistant captain Denham is one of three forwards to appear in the top ten in both points and penalty minutes in RMU history. Tied as the third-leading scorer for the Colonials this season with 42 points (good for a tie for 26th nationally), Denham was in the top ten across the nation for both goals (ninth, with 22) and powerplay tallies (sixth, with eight), numbers that helped him become a nominee for the Hobey Baker award this season. A top-ten performer in eight statistical categories in program history, including goals, game-winning goals, and assists (in addition to the points and penalty minutes listed earlier), Denham is also the proud record-holder of games played in a Colonial uniform, with 154.

The final three signings cap off a stellar career for their most successful class in program history. The nine players have witnessed four trips to at least the Atlantic Hockey Tournament quarterfinals, two Three Rivers Classic championships, two AHC regular-season titles, 87 total wins, and the school’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

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