For The First Time, Robert Morris Ice Hockey Qualifies for NCAA Tournament
Robert Morris University (RMU) men’s ice hockey has reached a second landmark in two years with their first trip to the NCAA Division 1 tournament. The program gained exposure last year hosting the tournament’s semi-final and championship rounds, The Frozen Four.
The Colonials earned their tournament spot after winning the Atlantic Hockey (AHA) title for the first time since entering the conference in 2010.
RMU Director of Athletics Craig Coleman says winning the conference championship is a huge accomplishment after a slow start to the season.
“We just exploded and really moved up the standings, got ourselves into a decent seed, and then really put it all together, overcoming an injury to our starting goalie and played our best hockey when it counted the most,” said Coleman.
The Colonials ended the season at 19-17-5, after finding themselves at 2-12-2 at the start of 2014.
Coleman says qualifying for the tournament the year after hosting the Frozen Four has been great for the program’s reputation.
“It was a great honor and a privilege for us and really put our program, and our city, and hockey in Pittsburgh on the map,” said Coleman, “and then to follow that up with our first actual tournament participation ourselves is yet another step forward as we continue to make a statement that we are a major player in college hockey.”
RMU will face number one seeded Minnesota in the tournament’s first round Saturday. The Minnesota Golden Gophers have won 5 national championships in the past - three in the seventies and consecutive titles in 2002 and 2003.
Coleman says going up against the number one seed will be a major test for the Colonials.
“Over the years we have been somewhat of a giant killer at times and we’ve beaten teams that are ranked number one, number two in the nation. Certainly not in the context of the NCAA tournament, but we look at these games as great challenges for us,” said Coleman.
Last season the Gophers were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Yale in overtime.
Coleman has high hopes for the program’s future.
“We want the experience of going to the NCAA tournament to be something that stops being a novelty and starts becoming an expectation,” said Coleman.