RMU men’s hockey releases schedule, no Three Rivers Classic in 2019-2020


The Robert Morris men’s hockey team discusses a play during a game against Niagara Nov. 2, 2018. (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media) Photo credit: David Auth

Logan Carney, Digital Content Manager

PITTSBURGH — On Tuesday, the Robert Morris men’s hockey team released their 2019-2020 schedule and for the first time since the 2011-2012 season, there will be no midseason hockey tournament in Pittsburgh.

“With the decline in attendance at the Three Rivers Classic in recent years, all of the partners involved have decided to take some time off from the tournament to evaluate future strategies for promoting college hockey in the region,” stated a team spokesman. “For this year, we will focus on the single game at PPG Paints Arena that will be an exciting event for our student-athletes and our loyal fans.”

According to the team’s spokesman, the Three Rivers Classic drew 1,500 fans both days last year for a combined total of 3,000. That daily total is down from 2,126 fans in day two of the year prior, and the total attendance is down from 22,000 in the first year. The capacity at PPG Paints Arena, where the Three Rivers Classic was annually held except for day one of last year’s tournament, is 19,758. Last season, the first day of the Three Rivers Classic was held at the Pittsburgh Penguins practice facility, the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township.

Substituting for the lack of the Three Rivers Classic will be a home game at PPG Paints Arena against Penn State University on January 4th. It is not the first time these two teams have met at the arena as they faced off against each other in the 2013 Three Rivers Classic which saw an attendance of 8,500 people. That game will be the second in a home-home series against Penn State, as the Colonials will travel to State College on October 25th. Starting with Penn State’s first season in 2012-2013, the two Pennsylvania schools have played each other every year, except in 2016-2017, when Penn State stopped participating in the Three Rivers Classic.

Also highlighting the schedule will be a trip to Tempe, Arizona to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Sun Devils surprised the college hockey world last year when they finished 21-13-1, and made the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament. Not only was it the program’s first-ever postseason appearance, but Arizona State also became the first independent school to make the tournament since 1992.

The young program down south is entering their fifth season and, despite being in the 2017 Three Rivers Classic, have yet to face Robert Morris. Pittsburgh fans may recognize Arizona State as the school where the son of Pittsburgh Penguins’ owner Mario Lemieux, Austin Lemieux, currently plays.

The series against Arizona State ends a difficult two-week stretch for Robert Morris, when they will play against 2019 AHA Champion American International College the weekend prior. Last season, AIC won the AHA and then upset no. 1 St. Cloud State in the NCAA playoffs.

As noted in the school’s press release, Robert Morris will also play Michigan Tech for the first time in program history. This will mark the 44th D-I team that Robert Morris has played, with Arizona State becoming the 45th, out of the other 59 active D-I programs. Michigan Tech, Arizona State and Penn State mark the only non-conference teams that Robert Morris will face this year, although the schedule currently has January 4th marked down as an exhibition game against a to-be-announced opponent.

“This is an exciting schedule for our hockey program,” said Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley. “While we continue our home-and-home series with Penn State with our home game at PPG Paints Arena, with a trip to Arizona State and hosting Michigan Tech, we’re getting the opportunity to play new opponents that we haven’t had the chance to play before.”

The men’s hockey team at Robert Morris will start their season against Michigan Tech on October 5th at the RMU Island Sports Center. They will finish that home series on October 6th before starting AHA play against Bentley the following weekend at home.