ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Cody Wydo scored three times, and the Robert Morris Colonials rode a wild third period to their first Atlantic Hockey championship, defeating the Canisius Golden Griffins 7-4 at the Blue Cross Arena on Saturday.
“That was a long time coming,” said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. “It has been 10 years since the start of our program. We lost two finals in the old CHA in overtime. We’ve been in Atlantic Hockey four years and never made it to Rochester. This was a battle where you had to win every round. We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. To be able to cap a 10th anniversary season with a championship is so special.”
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The teams combined for seven goals in the final 20 minutes of play. Robert Morris entered the final period with a 2-1 lead before Canisius’ freshman Shane Conacher tied the score at the 1:16 mark with a blistering one-timer from the left faceoff dot.
But as they would all period long, Robert Morris (19-17-5) answered back 15 seconds later off the stick of sophomore Greg Gibson.
“Once again, going into the third period we had a 2-1 lead and I wanted to lock it down,” said Schooley. “That just meant outscore them.”
It was the first of three times during the third period that the Colonials would answer a Canisius goal in less than a minute.
“We stayed positive the whole game,” said Gibson. “It is part of our process that coach tells us every day is we have to stay positive on the bench. And we believed.”
Midway through the period, junior Mitch McCrank chipped in a goal off a rebound for Canisius (17-21-3) but sophomore David Friedman led a rush up ice for Robert Morris and scored 37 seconds after McCrank’s goal to keep the lead for the Colonials.
Then at 12:35, sophomore Chris Rumble scored from the left point on the Griffins power play to once again chip away at the Robert Morris lead. And again, Gibson answered 29 seconds later to give Robert Morris a two-goal cushion, this time 6-4.
“It was obviously a weird period of hockey,” said Rumble. “Every time we got the edge and think we were about to make our comeback, they would turn around and do the exact same thing. Every time we thought we were up, we were right back down.”
Wydo finished off his hat trick at the 18:06 mark of the third period, scoring his 30th goal of the season, to finish off the 7-4 victory for Robert Morris.
Wydo scored a pair of goals in the second period and was named the tournament MVP.
Canisius fell short in its bid to win the Atlantic Hockey title as the seventh seed for the second straight year.
“Our whole mind-set has been to keep working to get the game in our favor,” said Smith. “Not necessarily to score, the score will follow. Even though we were down, our guys were focused, hungry and composed. In the end, just too many things kept going against us and we couldn’t answer all of them.”
With the Atlantic Hockey tournament title, Robert Morris earns the league’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament.
Atlantic Hockey all-tournament team
F Ralph Cuddemi, Canisius
F Greg Gibson, Robert Morris
F Cody Wydo, Robert Morris
D Chris Rumble, Canisius
D Doug Jessey, Canisius
G Dalton Izyk, Robert Morris
Most valuable player: Cody Wydo, Robert Morris