No. 20 Robert Morris University begins its quest for another Atlantic Hockey Conference postseason championship as it hosts rival Niagara in a best-of-three quarterfinal series at 84 Lumber Arena. The Colonials (22-7-5 overall, 19-5-4 AHC) are the tournament’s top seed and the regular-season conference champions, while the Purple Eagles (7-26-4, 5-19-4 AHC) had a rare down year, finishing last in the 11-team league.

This is the seventh time in 11 seasons that RMU will face Niagara in the playoffs. After losing four of their first five postseason meetings, the Colonials dropped the Purple Eagles in last year’s AHC semifinal game en route to the title, winning 5-4 in overtime in Rochester, N.Y.
– These rivals from the now-defunct CHA closed the regular season against each other with a home-and-home series Feb. 27-28. After falling 2-1 in Niagara, RMU struck back with a Senior Night victory by the same score at 84 Lumber Arena.
– In recording a program-best 22 victories, the Colonials earned their first regular season title. RMU posted a pair of nine-game unbeaten streaks on its way to a wire-to-wire conference championship.
– Not only do the Colonials carry a 9-2-1 run into the postseason, they also have gone unbeaten in their last five on Neville Island (4-0-1). In addition, RMU has gone 6-3 at home in the playoffs, going 3-0 in best-of-three AHC series.
– Scoring depth defined RMU this year, led by Hobey Baker Award candidate Cody Wydo (19g, 21a) and Pittsburgh’s own Zac Lynch (15g, 21a). Eight Colonials scored at least 20 points, while four more topped 10 points – including three defensemen.

– The revitalized Purple Eagles pulled off the lone upset of the first round, eliminating sixth-seeded Holy Cross in three thrilling games. Niagara is the lowest seed to make the quarterfinals under the AHC’s current playoff format.
– Niagara started the season 0-9 before winning three straight in November. The Purps then went 18 consecutive games without a win (0-15-3) before topping Air Force 6-1 on Feb. 20; they are 4-2-1 since.
– Niagara holds a 29-17-10 advantage in the all-time series, although the Colonials are 8-7-6 against the Purps on the Island. This will be the first postseason matchup between the programs at RMU; five of the previous seven were on neutral ice.
– Sophomore goalie Jackson Teichroeb has been central to Niagara’s late turnaround. The 6-foot-1 netminder has stopped 243 of the past 266 shots fired his way since Feb. 20, including 58 saves in a triple-overtime loss to Holy Cross last Saturday.
– Although senior winger Isaac Kohls (19 points) continues to pace the Purple Eagles in scoring, Lawrence Smith and Kevin Patterson led Niagara with three points each against Holy Cross.

Hanging Another Banner: With a record of 19-5-4 in Atlantic Hockey action, the Colonials claimed their first regular-season conference title in 11 seasons of Division I play. RMU’s 42-point total in the AHC standings tied the 2012-13 Niagara team for the second-most in conference history. The Colonials clinched the title with three games to go after a 4-3 victory at RIT on Feb. 20.

The Fergie Flyer: Freshman Brady Ferguson was named to the Atlantic Hockey All-Rookie Team after posting 25 points (11g, 14a) in the regular season. The native of Lewisville, Texas, brought a sterling offensive reputation from junior hockey and delivered by setting a new program best for points by a freshman, surpassing Nathan Longpre’s 2007-08 total.

Longevity in the Polls: The Colonials broke into the top 20 on Nov. 3, taking the No. 18 ranking. It was the first time RMU had a number next to its name since 2012-13. RMU bumped up to No. 17 on two occasions during the fall semester, matching an all-time high for the program in any national survey. As of March 9, the Colonials had been ranked in a program-record seven straight USCHO polls.

Five Year Plan: Robert Morris has risen to national prominence over the past five seasons, all of which have seen the Colonials finish at .500 or better. Since joining Atlantic Hockey in 2010-11, RMU is 96-68-24 overall – the 13th-best winning percentage among 59 Division I teams over that span. On top of that, the Colonials have won at least 13 conference games in each of the past five years and have never finished lower than fifth in the AHC.

Cody Keeps Climbing: After a program-record 31-goal, 54-point junior year, Hobey Baker Award candidate and Senior CLASS Award finalist Wydo has paced RMU’s attack once again. The Michigan native, who entered the season as the active Division I leader in goals, has 40 points (19g, 21a) in his 34 games. His five-point night Jan. 17 vs. AIC gave him the all-time program scoring record, passing Longpre.

Kudos from Atlantic Hockey: The Colonials have not only succeeded on a team-wide basis this season, they’ve also earned several individual honors. Wydo and Dalton Izyk earned Atlantic Hockey monthly awards in October, Daniel Leavens won player of the month for December and Zac Lynch claimed the prize for January. RMU has won 16 AHC weekly honors in total this season; Friedmann (two), Wydo (two), Terry Shafer (two) and Izyk (three) have all won multiple weekly awards.

Fighting the Possession Battle: Thus far this season, RMU has launched 48 percent of the shot attempts in its games, a measurement known as Corsi. Judging by Fenwick, which factors out blocked shots, the Colonials stand at 50 percent. In terms of simple shots on goal, RMU has owned 52 percent of those.
-RMU PR Staff


Posted in Sports Talk Radio