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

The Latest

Pittsburgh's Tomorrow – What We Need in the Future

As the year comes to a close, we look forward to what Pittsburgh can be –– and what we'd like to see change –– in the coming years.

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Drink Like the French on Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Why and where to celebrate on Thursday, which marks the annual release of the young wine.

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

We should be relieved that the tech giant opted not to move in.

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

Instead of one city, the giant retailer is splitting its second headquarters between northern Virginia and New York City.

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Coen Brothers' western anthology is less than the sum of its parts, but it boasts some great tales.

New Restaurants That Opened in October in Pittsburgh

A tasting menu restaurant, Brazilian cuisine and new sandwich spot are among the offerings.

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.

The 400-Word Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy shines in an unconventional tale.

How to Plan Your Light Up Night Like a Pro

We've got a few tried and tested ways to enjoy the start of the holiday season without giving yourself a stress headache.

Just Films Series Opens Big Conversations

The screening series will next week feature "Served Like a Girl," about the lives of female veterans in the United States.

The 400-Word Review: Outlaw King

In Netflix's historical epic, Braveheart gets another chapter (and an upgrade).

More than $2 Million Raised in the Wake of Tree of Life Tragedy

The Tree of Life shooting shook the Pittsburgh community — but its reverberations reached way past city limits. Donors near and far have shown their support in a variety of campaigns and fundraisers.