College Hockey:
Robert Morris gets boost from hockey ‘busting at the seams in Pittsburgh’

— When Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley arrived in Pittsburgh nearly a decade ago, it was an ailing hockey city.

Despite an NHL dynasty in the 1990s thanks to a guy named Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguins were in a state of duress. The team was forced to file bankruptcy and there was talk of moving the team to Kansas City.

But then, after the NHL lockout canceled the 2004-05 season, the Pens got their first brush of good fortune and won a draft lottery that allowed them to select a kid named Sidney Crosby.

That, according to Schooley, didn’t simply benefit the Penguins, it rebuilt hockey in Pittsburgh.

“Hockey was on a downward spiral,” Schooley said. “Then lo and behold they got the envelope to get Crosby and that’s one of the things that’s really exciting in Pittsburgh. It’s really growing.

“Hockey is busting at the seams in Pittsburgh.”

Indeed, recent years have allowed hockey at all levels in Pittsburgh to grab a national stage.

Starting with the construction of the Consol Energy Center, something Schooley believes was accelerated because of the team’s success with players like Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the city has hosted two Stanley Cup finals (winning one), the NHL’s premier event, the Winter Classic and now this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft.

Now it’s college hockey’s turn to jump into the fray. On Friday, coinciding with the draft, Robert Morris teamed with College Hockey Inc. to host the Western Pennsylvania College Hockey Summit. Seventeen Division I head coaches were joined by 60 potential college hockey players to give these players the know-how and tools to become a college hockey player.

“The turnout was tremendous,” Schooley said. “These kids were really impressed by the educational package they get with college hockey. They learned a lot about college hockey.”

Next season, Robert Morris will team with the Penguins and the Consol Energy Center — a partnership that Schooley calls “tremendous” — to host the inaugural Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational. The late December event will feature host Robert Morris as well as Ohio State, Miami and Penn State.

And, of course, next April college hockey will really take the main stage in Pittsburgh when the Frozen Four comes to the Consol Energy Center.

All of these events bring players with dreams of playing college hockey — and possibly one day in the NHL — to the city of Pittsburgh, which otherwise they might not visit. In doing so, they’re seeing what really is a hidden gem.

“Any time you can show kids the city of Pittsburgh, it’s a positive,” Schooley said. “It’s a gorgeous city, it’s an up-and-coming city.

“You’ve got a little bit of everything here. You’ve got the Penguins, the Pirates, the Steelers. So it’s getting better all the time. People like Pittsburgh.”

The other hope is that this growth for the sport of hockey in the area will have a trickle-down effect to youth hockey. There was a burst of area players who took up the game when Mario Lemieux wore the Penguins sweater. Schooley believes that’s something that will happen again in the Sidney Crosby era.

“That would be a benefit to our program because we want to keep the best kids at home,” Schooley said. “The better Pittsburgh youth hockey gets, the better for us.”

And all of it goes back to the arrival of a kid named Crosby and the success of a team that once was on life support.

“It’s about the Penguins organization taking a liking toward growing hockey,” Schooley said. “It’s not just saying they’re growing hockey but taking an active role in doing it at all levels.”

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  • Yooper Hockey

    I would offer the Robert Morris Colonials a spot in the nWCHA.

    First rate program that wants to offer 18 scholarships.

    Coaches, Ad’s, and Presidents of nWCHA need to offer Robert Morris a spot because presence in Pittsburg wouldn’t be to bad for the nWCHA. They could have their tournment in Pittsburg in an NHL rink.

    You have my vote to join the WCHA.

    • B.D.

      But wouldn’t they be back stabbing the folks where they are now?

    • BulldogFan

      I love it. nWCHA fans whined and complained for the past year about how they are upset that the teams that left the WCHA for the National didn’t do what is best for the game of college hockey. However these nWCHA fans thought it would have been perfectly acceptable for the NCHC teams to stay in the WCHA and poach Notre Dame and Miami from the CCHA. Yeah that would have been great for the CCHA. So poaching Robert Morris from AHA while not inviting UAH to the nWCHA is also good for the game. What a bunch of whiny hypocrites. Keep it up though its very entertaining.

      • B.D.

        And you never hear them talk abou thte B10 teams departure which I find instructive….

  • JustDoIt

    Pittsburg is a hockey city more then Kalmazoo or Oxford.

    The NCHC must be must be salivating when they see this Robert Miorris program.

    Good thing the WCHA has some openings.

    • Jess

      Envious you are. So glad I don’t have to watch Michigan Tech, Mankato, Anchorage and especially Bemidji anymore. Wish The National was starting in 12-13.

      • Mike

        You clearly never have watched a great battle between Bemidji and Robert Morris. I feel sorry for you, but not everyone gets to receive such joy!

        • BulldogFan

          I think it ranks right behind that Sacred Heart Bentley heated rivalry. Remember the game in 2008 in front of 250 indifferent fans. It was epic.

          • B.D.

            Oh yes, I particularly recall the deathly silence after the first, second, and third goal….

  • NotForTheNCHC

    The nWCHA is looking to recruit more poorer schools to join their league. If a rich school, have an updated rink, and some cash in the bank .you can play in the NChC.

    The poorer your school we can watch your schools hockey budget turn red, this will make the NCHC laugh at your program.

    So iF Robert Morris is poor you join those small schools with no budgets to do anything, welcome to the nWCHA.

    • B.D.

      It is a question of willingness to pay the piper. Those in the NCHC are willing. THose in the nWCHA are not.

    • davyd83

      The NCHC, Big Ten wannabees. Which of the NCHC schools, besides Miami and Western, actually matter outside hockey?

      • B.D>

        Does it matter?
        I do not watch college basketball, nor football.
        I watch college hockey.
        THerefore why would I watch the B10 network?

  • NCHCnobodycares

    Bulldog fan
    In reallity your NCHC left the WCHA with five teams and the CCHA teams with four teams.

    The nWCHA has nine teams with the two Alaska teams that the NCHC. Doesn’t want the expense of traveling up to Alaska because they are cheap NCHC teams. The NCHC left a bunch division two teams with the expense of traveling to Alaska.

    The NCHC took six teams from the WCHA from a league that had 12 teams. You know the NCHC took 10% of the NCAA teams from one league and made a NEW league. All that was left was poor college teams with dwindling budgets and more expenses.

    nWCHA has nine teams in a couple of seasons. There is room for more teams in the league this would help lower the travel costs to Alaska if their were more teams in the league.

    Robert Morris Colonials indicated they were interested in having 18 scholarships and the nWCHA would do this for them. Also, with Bowling Green near by this would help in traveling for them as nobody in the nWCHA is close to them and also add Mercyhurst Lakers who also fit this criteria.

    • B.D.

      In reality, the expense of the trip to Alaska did not enter into it. The NCHC teams have shown a commitment to shell out money to fund decent programs that travel pretty extensively. Its just that frankly the level of play when they get to Alaska makes it tough to justify the expense of the travel.
      Hey, I will Alaska Anchorage the best after I spent part of last winter up there – but call a spade a spade – they just do not play at the level we will expect to see in the NCHC.

  • RMUtoThenWCHA

    Robert Morris would be an excellent addition to the financial strapped WHCA. Bowling Grreen could use some Peensylvania teams to play, they are soooo far from the rest of the WCHA.

  • HomeboyIsALeftover

    The NCHC started all this mess not the Big 10.

    The Big 10 was already an established conference and the NCHC is a make believe league by a few coaches and Ad’s living the pipe dream.

    The NCHC was established to kill college hockey. Look the Alaska plan is the first of many problems established by the NCHC. The NCHC left two leagues without enough teams to run their leagues. They left the left overs all Division two programs to fit the bill to Alaska and possibility to Alabama, how nice. So when the NCHC was established it left poor teams with no league forced to merge and with the hefty expense of taking care of Alaska.

    Thanks NCHC for destroying college hockey.

    • B.D,

      Please, by all means, I cannot WAIT for you to make that case.

  • LastPlaceOnEarth

    Is the NCHC for real?

    I heard some teams are having second thoughts?

    • BulldogFan

      Not true. But what is true is the leftovers approached Amsoil Arena “HOME OF THE UMD BULLDOGS” and wanted to have Amsoil host the leftover’s final five every other year. Amsoil was not interested. They probably figured more people would show up for the Lakeside Seniors craft show. I heard that 60 people attended last year. No way 60 people would show up in Duluth to see Mankato battle Tech for the leftover title even if the winner would be the only WCHA team in the NCAAs. Remember most Duluth residents will be at the Target Center rooting the ‘Dogs on it the NCHC title game.

      • http://www.facebook.com/PEJZ2PRUCKA Pejz Prucka

        i thought it be a good fit there. its sad to think it not considered

        • waterlover

          I thought so to. Duluth is about as central of a location as they’ll get. I assume Green Bay has gotten the same call?

  • LastPlaceOnEarth

    Talks of the NCHC folding?

    Stay tuned, but the walls are falling down.

    • BulldogFan

      The talk that you and your only friend had in your parent’s basement last Saturday night, while sharing a wine cooler and debating what ” naughty movie” to order without your parents finding out would not be considered a reliable source when it comes to the NCHC. Is there nothing better for the fans of the leftovers to do but make crap up about the National?

      • B.D.

        Its the same guy, he just uses sock puppet screen names to make it look like his POV is larger and more popular.

  • nWCHAbridgetonowhere

    Bulldog Fan

    If you Amsoil statement is true that the Amsoil arena will not accept the nWCHA final five. That is sad that Duluth a mid sze venue for the nWCHA won’t even accept them it is how bad the formation of the NCHC has done to college hockey.

    Also, the Alaska plan is far from over it shows how much financial pain it will cause for the future nWCHA. More teams need to be added to the nWCHA to off set the costs. Robert Morris, Mercyhurst, UAH Chargers, Cansius, and Niagara all should be considered for the nWCHA.

    The Alaska teams survival after the Big and NCHC form are going to be hard as Division two schools and Bowling Green(almost folded) can’t take the financial burden.

    • BulldogFan

      Oh yeah that makes a lot of sense add even more schools with small rinks and tiny fan bases that makes the conference even more spread out geographically.

      • B.D.

        The thing is the nWCHA final five will NOT be a great attraction. Doubltless our old 5,000 seat arena would have had double capacity. The outlay of resources would not have had much return.
        When UND travels, it travels big.
        WHen MTU travels, you barely note they are there.

  • NCHCThanksForTheMess

    I can’t believe Joel Maluri supports the Alaska plan, he doesn’t support the breakup of the WCHA which was ignited by the formation of the NCHC.

    Does he honestly think Penn State would join the CCHA? no

    When Penn State was added you had to form the Big 10. All the schools play in all sports only makes sense to add hockey.

    Joel acts like he doesn’t support the Big 10 by wanting Penn State to join the CCHA.

    The Big did not break up the WCHA it was the six teams that formed the NCHC. Only two teams left the WCHA for the Big and we had a whopping 10 teams. With 10 teams left the WCHA couldn’t run what a joke.

    • BulldogFan

      The WCHA would have 10 teams if they take UAH. So by your logic “With 10 teams left the WCHA couldn’t run what a joke”. Stop blaming the NCHC and blame the current WCHA leadership for its current state.

      • B.D.

        Hell, Homeboy thinks UAH and RMU would be fine additions, I guess not leaving his mothers basement or the womyns studies office at Merrirfield Hall colors ones vision.

    • B.D.

      Your logic is flawed.
      On the one hand the creation of a new league called the B10 which here to fore had not played hockey is innocent of the destruction of the WCHA because other sports have such a league.
      But if the NCHC which had no other foundation in another sport is guilty.
      By your logic, if the nCHC was renamed the “Great West League” or “Big Sky Conference” it would be innocent.
      Rage all you want, but that is logical extension of your argument.

  • NCHCsFault

    Bulldog Fan

    So you blame Bruce McLeod for the reason that the NcHC formed?

    Don’t you think it would just been easy to have voted Mr McLeod out of his job last season if he is the reason for the formation of the NCHC. He kind of is affiliated with two founding members of the NCHC as he played for the UMD. Bulldogs and has his office on the University of Denver’s office. Bruce must have been a blind pig when the NcHC formed. The five original teams didnt show any indication that the NCHC was forming.

    Also, the Big did not Force the NCHC to form. After Minnesota and Wisconsin left there was still ten teams left, Denver, CC, ND, UNO,UmD, St Cloud, Mankato, Bemdji, UAA and MTU. With 10 teams how are you forced to form a eight team league after being in a 12 team league.

    Bruce McLeod or formation of Big 10 hockey who to blame?

    • BulldogFan

      You should google why he left UMD….interesting read that shows his true character. The teams that left for the NCHC felt that this is what they had to do in order to compete. You may no agree with it but its over and done with move on and stop whining like a 5 year old that didn’t get his way.

    • B.D.

      Why would UND remain with the WCHA post B10 departure? Two of the teams who in the past had voted in favor of increased outlays to support the leagues and programs had departed (Along with UND’s closest reivalries) and now the WCHA was made up of mostly teams who would vote to do hockey on the cheap.
      Nope, it was time.
      The NCHC is made up of teams who are willing to expend resources to create a premiere league.
      THose who remain in the nWCHA were not willing, thus they were left behind.

  • NCHCsFault

    I remember that Sacred Heart and Bentley rivaly.

    The twenty four kids who got their full ride to play Division One hockey in the AHA and a College degree which players in the NCHC wouldn’t understand. They leave the great college to early and give their scholarships to the next in line.

    Twenty four kids is twenty four more then North Dakota graduates.

    • B.D.

      What? Please explain?

  • ExapandnWCHA

    I like the idea of expanding the nWCHA into North and South Divisions

    MTU, NMU, LSSU, Mankato, Bemdji, And UAA

    FSU, BGU, RMU,Mercyhurst,UAH,and Alaska

    The WcHA can get back to 12 teams.

    • B.D.

      What would be the value in that.?

  • WhoIsGoingToFoldFirst

    When is the Hockey East going to form their own league?

    They have a mix of rich and poor teams. It might be good time to break up Hockey East.

    First I would take the top 6 financial teams in Hockey East. Then I would tell the six bottom dwellers to fend for themselves and get on the phone with the AHA and form their own league.

    Next, with the six big dogs of Hockey. East I would call on two teams from the ECAC and form my Super East Conference. I would give the NCHC a call and have a interlocking schedule.

    I would laugh at the bottom dwellers of the Hockey East as they fend for themselves as they call some AHA teams to form a conference.

    Maybe we can close shop on some Eastern teams since the Western teams have a jump on this accomplishment for college hockey.

    • B.D.

      Gee, Imagine if Boston University and Boston College were to have left to join another league in wich they already play badminton.
      Now imagine if that league had been split down the middle by the makers and the takers ala the WCHA were.
      Then imagine that BU and BC were makers who were departing.
      I Imagine Maine would probably start looking to somebody like the NCHC.

  • HomeboyWnatsRMU&Mercyhurst

    I can’t wait for the renew of the rivals of Bemdji and Robert Morris.

    I can’t wait for the renew of the rivals Bemdji and UAH Chargers.

    When is this hot nWCHA starting up with great hockey teams.

    No more Duluth, Grand Forks, St Coud, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Omaha.

    The Western now must recruit teams from the Eastern.

    The Western needs some Eastern bias.

    Pittsburgh would be nice place to start. Future site of the NCAA championship, they have a NHL team, and even hosted the NhL draft.

    The Western hasn’t had any eastern bias since they had a interlocking schedule with Hockey East.

    Pittsburgh and Erie Pennsylvania are hot hockey areas for hockey. The Erie Otters play in the OHL.

    I am for some Penmsylvania flavor in the nWCHA. Welcome Robert Morris and Mercyhurst as 18 Scholarships would be awesome to offer your programs.

    • B.D.

      Wow, Pennsyvania has not been considered WESTERN since about 1812.

  • NotBigEnoughForNCHC

    Not For the NCHC.

    NCHCs Fault

    Who is going to fold first

    NCHC thanks for this mess.

    NCHC nobody cares

    • B.D.

      Homeboy, why can’t you post under just ONE name? No courage?

  • Second-rateNCHC


    Read the comments from Chris Petere from Inside Hockey on his take on the NCHC. He refers to the playoff venue and tv deal as second rate. Plus viewers on watching college hockey on tv want to watch Michigan vs Minnesota, or Boston College vs Notre Dame over North Dakota vs St Ckoud.

    • B.D.

      I already covered your post ref the Chris Peters article.
      Reference the viewers watching tv, I am pretty certain that the reason the FCS covered UND games was due to viewership.
      Now that CBS sports s covering about half of them and another channel covers the other half you will see the same.
      And that will improve as NCHC asserts dominance.

  • WhyFormNCHC

    Great article on the NCHC by Chris Peters. He states that the NCHC plays it tournment in a second rate venue and has a second rate tv deal. But the main thing is that the NcHC lacks name recognition unlike the Big 10 and WCHA.

    The NCHC is a second rate league with no name recognition. Good luck .

    • B.D.

      Perhaps, but they are the first rate teams and the situation can only improve.
      After all, what positive marketing effect does having the WCHA brand do for a team?
      WHat is more likely?
      “Hey Gertie, there is an awesome WCHA game tonight on BLAAT TV, lets watch…”
      “Hey Gertie, the fighting Sioux are playing tonight on BLAAT TV, lets watch…”
      Nobobdy CARES about the leagues….

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