Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Even When Pens Aren't Playing, There's Good Hockey to Be Found In Pittsburgh

PPG Paints Arena hosts a number of exciting hockey teams this month, and none of them play in the NHL.




Photos by Jason Cohn

 

They play for the national championship rather than the Stanley Cup as undergraduates, and nobody playing at that level will ever be accepted as the quote-unquote “best player in the world” by proclamation.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give college hockey a try.

If you haven’t previously, now’s your chance.

Robert Morris and No. 18 Penn State will invade PPG Paints Arena on Friday night, the first game of a home-and home series that will continue on Saturday night at Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena.
 

Considering Robert Morris didn’t begin playing at the NCAA Division I level until 2004-05 and Penn State revived its long-dormant program in 2012-13, that’s a pretty good rivalry on ice.

The Colonials will return to the home of the Penguins in late December. Robert Morris will take on Lake Superior in the Three Rivers Classic on Dec. 29 (Providence and Arizona State will meet in the other semifinal). The two first-night winners will battle for the Confluence Cup on Dec. 30 (a trophy Robert Morris has captured and proudly celebrated in 2012, 2015 and 2016).

If your attraction to hockey begins and ends with Sidney Crosby, chances are you couldn’t care less.

But if you’re a fan of the game to the extent that you can enjoy a game even when the Penguins aren’t playing in it, you might be pleasantly surprised, as well as thoroughly entertained.
 

“The NHL season is a marathon, a college hockey season is a sprint,” Colonials head coach Derek Schooley offered. “We play 34 regular-season games. We practice four days a week and play twice a weekend. The energy and enthusiasm is heightened every time you play.

“If you like a hard-hitting, fast-paced, energy- and skill-based game, then college hockey is for you.”

There are also pep bands.

That still might not be enough to get your attention, but the NHL has noticed.

A record 314 former college players appeared in the NHL in 2016-17, an all-time high 32 percent of the league (up from 21 percent in 2003).

The Penguins have long been an organization that appreciates what a player that spends more time practicing and in the weight room as an amateur, relatively speaking, can ultimately achieve as a professional.
 


 

Their current roster includes former college guys Chad Ruhwedel (UMass-Lowell), Justin Schultz (Wisconsin), Brian Dumoulin (Boston College), Riley Sheahan (Notre Dame), Bryan Rust (Notre Dame), Matt Hunwick (Michigan), Ian Cole (Notre Dame), Carter Rowney (North Dakota), Conor Sheary (Massachusetts), Josh Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha), Carl Hagelin (Michigan), Phil Kessel (Minnesota) and Casey DeSmith (New Hampshire).

Head coach Mike Sullivan (Boston University) also once wore a letterman’s jacket on campus, as did assistant coach Jacques Martin (St. Lawrence) and goaltending coach Mike Buckley (Massachusetts).

Still not impressed?

Maybe a good local angle will provide the necessary nudge toward college pucks.

There are plenty of those to choose from. Luke Lynch (Shaler), Alex Dagnal (Peters Township) and Jake Coleman (Moon Township) of Robert Morris are all area products. Penn State’s Nikita Pavlychev is a 2015 seventh-round draft pick of the Penguins. And Providence assistant coach Kris Mayotte is a former goaltender at Pittsburgh’s Central Catholic High School, to name three.
 


 

PPG Paints Arena will also be hosting the Frozen Four in 2021.

You probably knew that already if you can recall Pittsburgh’s initial hosting of the event that decides college hockey’s national championship back in 2013.

The NCAA thinks Pittsburgh is a pretty good college hockey town.

Now is as good a time as any for Pittsburgh to return the favor.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The Other Moving Documentary About a Curious Pittsburgher

In "Will Work For Views," the video artist and musician Weird Paul is a little bit Dr. Demento and a little bit Mister Rogers.

Pittsburgh Might Mow Your Lawn for Free

The city is launching a free grass cutting service for the elderly, disabled and veterans.

PPG Paints Unveils 2019 Color of the Year: Night Watch

Paying homage to the restorative power of nature, this deep green shade is one to watch in the coming year. Here’s how to use it on your walls.

Influx of Red, White and Blue Coming to City of Black and Gold

The National Flag Foundation is bringing the Star Spangled Banner’s history and colors to the Koppers Building –– and on some nights, it will be visible for miles.

Toppers That Take the Cake

Over the traditional bride and groom standing on top of your cake? Try some of these different ideas for cake toppers.

Renting in Pittsburgh? You're Getting a Great Deal

The Steel City ranks first in Zillow’s 10 Most Affordable Markets for Renters list.

Iconic Pittsburgh Meteorologist Joe DeNardo Dies at 87

DeNardo was well known in Pittsburgh long before a series of promotional TV spots cemented his place among the city's broadcasting icons.

Olczyk Embraces Awareness, Understanding to Fight Cancer

Olczyk found out last August, in the wake of a six-hour surgery that removed 14 inches of his colon and “a tumor the size of my fist,” the severity of what he was suddenly confronting.

Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Readers' Choice Poll Results

Diners, food trucks, dive bars and more. Here's the most popular stuff in town.

Conor Lamb Doesn't Want to Know How You Voted for President

The new congressman discusses his upset victory –– and his thoughts on the state of the Democratic Party in 2018.

Restaurant Review: The Twisted Frenchman is an Ambitious Endeavor

Andrew Garbarino moved his fine-dining restaurant into a multimillion-dollar new home. Does it live up to its new digs?

Vietnam Vets – The Warriors No One Wanted to Thank

When veterans returned from Vietnam, they didn't often hear the phrase “Thank you for your service.” But now, Pittsburgh veterans think people are learning to separate the war from the warrior.

Web Exclusive: Pittsburgh Vets Recount Their Time in Vietnam

From a medic who fainted when his blood was drawn during his physical to an Army nurse, area Vietnam veterans share stories about their time in country.

Sadie's Tree: A Plea for Kindness in Memory of a Bullied Teen

In an obituary read round the world, the family of Bedford, Pa., teen Sadie Riggs called out those who had bullied her and pleaded for people to be kind to one another. A year after Sadie’s death, lessons remain to be learned from her suicide.

What Anthony Bourdain Meant to Me

Reflecting on the loss of a person so many of us admired.