The next step for RMU Hockey

Men%E2%80%99s+hockey+gathers+before+their+playoff+game+against+Niagara.+Photo+credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

Men’s hockey gathers before their playoff game against Niagara. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

By Nathan Breisinger, Editor in Chief

For the past seven months, fundraising to save the RMU hockey programs has been a focal point in the Pittsburgh area.

After a lengthy road to reinstatement for the program filled with donations, pledges, interviews, videos, and fundraising events, what are the next steps for the teams?

A top priority moving forward until the 2023-24 season is to build a roster and that starts with the remaining players at Robert Morris.

When the decision was announced to disband the hockey programs back on May 26, 2021, 48 players were in need of a new home.

Of those players, 39 of them moved on to another hockey program, leaving nine players without a new team for the 2021-22 campaign.

Nolan Schaeffer, Gavin Gulash, Nick Lalonde, Geoff Lawson, Gillian Thompson, Allyson Hebert and Wasyn Rice utilized the time off from playing to help support the Save RMU Hockey Campaign as they all participated in the RMU Hockey Celebrity Face-Off game. Several players also continued their academic studies at the university.

While Derek Schooley has already gone through a round of recruitment years ago for the men’s program when it was first born, he will have to do it once more.

“We want to make sure that we do everything to try and extend our talks and see who potentially wants to stay and who doesn’t,” Schooley said.

One of the players who is hungry to return to the ice for Robert Morris is Gavin Gulash, as he expressed he is “150%” in to play for the team in 2023-23.

“Obviously our top goal was to play next season at RMU, but nonetheless, I could not be more excited that hockey is coming back,” Gulash said.

Another player on the men’s team is Roman Kramer. The Pittsburgh native spent the past several months playing on the Robert Morris Division I ACHA Club Hockey Team.

As some players like Gulash plan on returning to play, for others, it is not feasible.

For defender Wasyn Rice of the women’s hockey team, she completed her academic studies this semester and has graduated from the university. However, she wants to be involved in the program any way she can.

“If I had the opportunity to help in any possible way, I would love to,” Rice said. “This program has done a lot for me, and the area has become a second home.”

The work that has been put into saving these teams cannot be overstated as the Pittsburgh area and hockey community rallied together to make it possible.

“There isn’t a word to explain how thankful I am, and I believe most would say the same,” Rice said. “Those who have come together to make this happen put in so much work, and I hope everyone can value how much work has been put in behind the scenes.”

When the programs were first cut, many of the individuals within the program were puzzled, but seeing the support surrounding the team has shown that Pittsburgh can maintain a college hockey program.

“When this first happened there was a feeling of hopelessness where nothing we could do would change the outcome,” Gulash said. “There are too many people to thank all at once but from top to bottom, the amount of support that these two programs have gotten not only in the Pittsburgh area but nationally as well, is really cool to see and I could not be happier to be a part of the future of Colonial hockey.”

For Schooley, who currently stands as the coach and director of men’s and women’s hockey operations, there is a long road ahead in recruitment and building back the programs to what they once were.