Five Thoughts on the 2014 AHA Championship Game

Five Thoughts on the 2014 AHA Championship Game

Cody Wydo with a performance to remember

There is the saying “big time players step up in big time games.” And for Robert Morris, its leading scorers showed up in a big way. Junior forward Cody Wydo had a night to remember at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York, in the Atlantic Hockey Championship. Wydo, who set the program’s record for goals back in March, had a four point effort, including a hat trick. The second was a highlight reel goal, curling and dragging the puck between the legs of Canisus defender Matthew Blackhouse and putting it passed the blocker of goaltender Tony Capobianco. For the weekend, Wydo recorded five points (four goals and an assist). With the performance, the Southgate Michigan native was named the Atlantic Hockey Tournament MVP. With the hat trick performance, Wydo now has been where no Colonials has ever been before, the 30 goal season plateau.

Matt Cope and the five minute major

Following Grieg Gibson’s goal early in the third, Canisus defender Ben Danford took a run and blasted RMU forward Matt Cope into the boards. Cope was slow to get up and went directly down the tunnel. Danford was sent to the dressing room with a game misconduct, giving RMU a five minutes power play. During the power play, the Golden Griffins held strong in their end, led by Capobianco. But on his first shift back on the ice while the power play was expiring, Cope blasted a shot past Capobianco’s blocker to put RMU up, 4-2. It was much like the scenario in game six of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals when Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward Paul Kariya was laid out by legendary New Jersey Devils defensemen Scott Stevens. Kariya was about to be taken the hospital but returned to the bench, and on his first shift back on the ice, he blasted a slapshot which passed Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. Cope’s goal gave Robert Morris a huge boost in the final period.

Third period

Going into the third period, as in the semifinal against Niagara, the Colonials were up 2-1 over Canisus. What followed left many people in the Blue Cross Arena at the edge of their seats for the entire period. The two teams combined for eight goals in the third, including an incredible six minute sequence where five of the goals were scored. What made the sequence of play incredible is that neither team scored two goals consecutively. Cope scored at the end of the RMU’s five minute power play to give them the 4-2 lead. Mitch McCrank followed his three minutes later by put putting a rebound passed the blocker of Colonials goaltender Dalton Izyk to make it 4-3. Then, 27 seconds later, David Friedmann answered with a huge wrist shot past Capobianco to give RMU a 5-3 lead. Eighty nine seconds later, Canisius defender Chris Rumble blasted a slapshot which passed a screened Izyk to make it a 5-4 game. And at 29 seconds, Greg Gibson buried one into the net to give RMU their two goal lead.

What a difference four months can make

During a trip north in December 2013, Robert Morris took on Bentley, in Watertown, Massachusetts, and sat in last place in Atlantic Hockey. Atlantic Hockey Commissioner Robert M. DeGregorio was in attendance and Schooley had some interesting thoughts for the commissioner on his team at the time. “We were the best last place team in the nation. We had everything here. It was just a matter of putting it all together and getting something for us to believe; we wipe 2013 clear.” In the four months following the series at Bentley, the Colonials went from dead last, to the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Champions.

Polish the dancing shoes

The 7-4 victory over Canisus not only gave Robert Morris its first ever Atlantic Hockey Tournament Championship, but also the automatic bid for the conference in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. On Sunday morning, the bracket was revealed and Robert Morris will travel to St. Paul, Minnesota, to take on the number one seed Minnesota Golden Gophers. For Robert Morris, the challenge is an enormous one. Not only will they be facing the current number one team in the country, but they will also be playing them in their home state, a state which has the nickname of “the state of hockey.”Up until last night’s victory, the Colonials were a team known for upset victories against programs like the Golden Gophers they will face this weekend in St. Paul.

“We’ve had a lot of big wins.  We’ve beat a lot of ranked teams. We’ve won our tournament, The Three Rivers Classic [beating then ranked #5 Miami]. We beat Miami [Ohio] when they were number one twice; we beat Boston University.” said Schooley.

Following that statement, Schooley brought it back to something that will stay in the record books forever, “But the one thing that was missing we achieved tonight, it was winning a championship, it’s something that they can never take away from you.”