The third annual Three Rivers Classic college hockey tournament to be held Dec. 29-30 at CONSOL Energy Center features two of the top-20 teams in the country in 14th-ranked Colgate and 17th-ranked Robert Morris.
Penn State narrowly missed making it three schools from the Three Rivers Classic in the top-20, but the Nittany Lions fell 10 votes shy of cracking the polls for the first time in program history.
The fourth team, Western Michigan, recently upset defending NCAA champion Union College, 8-2, to win a Thanksgiving weekend tournament.
Robert Morris won the inaugural Three Rivers Classic in 2012, upsetting Miami (Ohio) University 1-0 in the championship game. Last year, Penn State advanced to the championship, before falling to Boston College.
Two-day packages and single-day tickets are on sale now and available at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Box Office at CONSOL Energy Center, consolenergycenter.com or charge by phone at 800-745-3000.
Colgate and Western Michigan will open the tournament at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 29, with Robert Morris and Penn State playing in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m.
The championship is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 30, with the consolation game dropping the puck at 4:30 p.m.
Head coach Derek Schooley and the Colonials are fresh off their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The team has picked up where it left off last year, jumping out to a 10-1-3 record thus far. Robert Morris is averaging a NCAA-best 4.21 goals per contest.
Leading the way for RMU is forward Cody Wydo, who ranks third (tied) in the nation with 21 points, and tied for sixth overall with 10 goals. Goaltender Dalton Izyk has posted a .937 save percentage, the seventh-best mark in the country.
The Penn State Nittany Lions and head coach Guy Gadowsky have been equally impressive, going 9-4-2 thus far, including a conference-leading 3-1 record against Big Ten foes.
Taylor Holstrom and Casey Bailey have paced the offense for the Nittany Lions, with each producing a team-leading 18 points. Holstrom ranks fifth in the NCAA with 14 assists, while Bailey has a team-high 10 goals. Penn State is converting on 26.7 percent of its power plays, the fourth-best success rate in the country.
Colgate has been hit with injuries this year, but the team has found a way to withstand those losses to post a 9-5-1 mark, including 3-2-1 against ECAC competition. The Raiders and head coach Don Vaughan play a sound defensive game, giving up just 2.07 goals per night.
Western Michigan, which competes in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), has a 5-8-1 record thus far. The Broncos are better than their record indicates, which they proved on Thanksgiving weekend when they trounced defending NCAA national champion Union College by an 8-2 count to win the Shillelagh Tournament.
Murray, who is in his fourth season at Western Michigan, coached with Penguins head coach Mike Johnston several times internationally with Team Canada.