TICKETS ONLY $10 – CALL 412.642.PENS OR VISIT THE GATE ONE BOX OFFICE
On Friday, the Penguins won’t be in Pittsburgh.
However, there will be plenty of exciting hockey action at Mellon Arena.
The Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase will take center stage that day. It features an NCAA Division-I game between Robert Morris and Notre Dame at 8 p.m. at Mellon Arena.
“We can’t be more excited to showcase on program on a national stage playing at Mellon Arena against the third-ranked team in the nation,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “College hockey is a fast-paced, hard-hitting and enthusiastic game. We only play 34 games, so every game is like the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals. When people come out and see college hockey, they are very impressed by it. We’d like to get our product exposed to as many people as possible. For that, we thank the Penguins for putting this showcase on.”
The preliminary contest that night will pit Robert Morris’ ACHA non-varsity team against Washington & Jefferson at 5 p.m.
“They’ve had a great rivalry with W&J the last couple of years, so it will be a big game for them,” Schooley said. “It should be a great day college hockey at Mellon Arena.”
The Fighting Irish (16-3-1) are ranked third in the country in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll and second in the USCHO.com/CSTV poll – its highest ranking in nearly 30 years. And, Notre Dame features a name familiar to Penguins fans – David Brown, Pittsburgh’s eighth-round pick (228th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Also, the Irish features three players with local ties – Peters Township High School graduates Christian Hanson, a sophomore, and Christiaan Minella, a freshman, as well as Jeannette native Stewart Carlin, a freshman.
Coincidentally, Hanson is the son of former professional hockey player Dave Hanson, who also starred as one of the famous Hanson Brothers from the movie Slap Shot. Dave Hanson is the director of the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island, which serves as the Colonials’ hockey facility.
“I think this is going to be a fun event for everyone involved. Whether it’s Notre Dame playing in an NHL facility or David Brown playing in front of the Penguins or local kids coming home or our kids playing in an NHL facility against one of the top teams in the nation. I think it’s going to be an exciting event,” Schooley said. “I sure hope people realize this is an opportunity to see fast-pace, exciting NCAA Division I hockey.”
Brown, a senior goaltender, is looking forward to the opportunity to play at Mellon Arena.
“That is exciting for sure. Even being a Penguins draft pick, I have never been to Mellon Arena or Pittsburgh in general,” said the native of Stoney Creek, Ontario. “It will be exciting to see the surroundings and everything that goes on in Pittsburgh and Mellon Arena, for sure. It will be a great thrill. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Brown has been a huge reason for Notre Dame’s success. He ranks fourth in the country in goals-against average (1.73), eighth in save percentage (.928) and third in winning percentage (.816). He has a 15-3-1 mark between the pipes this season.
“It’s been a real great time so far this year. I’ve had some personal success, which is definitely a plus,” he said. “But, I am just glad I am able to contribute to the team winning. I’ll do whatever I can to play at my best to help the team play at their best. It’s a good all-around situation.”
The Irish has won its last six games heading into this weekend’s battle with Robert Morris.
“Anytime you get national recognition, it’s definitely a positive. We’re glad people are taking notice, but we’re not resting on our ranking. We’re going each week ready to beat the next opponent,” Brown said. “A ranking is only a ranking; it’s not going to make you play any better. We can’t rest on that. We can’t worry about our ranking or what other people think of us. We’re just hoping to get better every time we get on the ice and looking to get better every weekend.”
Robert Morris owns a 6-9-1 record, but Brown and his teammates aren’t focusing on the Colonials just yet.
“We go into every weekend evaluating the other team and looking at their weak points and where we can exploit them and, at the same time, we’ll be looking at where want to focus our strengths and be fine-tuned,” he said. “That’s not going to be any different for us playing Robert Morris. We’re going to go in there trying to get another two points and pick up another win.”
Brown attributes a lot his team’s success to another year of experience as well as familiarity with head coach Jeff Jackson’s system. The highly-successful Jackson is in his second year with the Irish.
“That plays a role, of course. We have all kind of grown together and learned alongside each other. Definitely, Coach Jackson has implemented a very good system for us to follow,” Brown said. “Guys have become much more familiar with it and been able to buy into it to a large degree. We’ve been able to execute the system right from the get-go, which has been a real key for us being able to do what we need to do to shut teams down and work within our system to create offense and play great defense.
“We’re happy with how things are going right now,” he continued. “We want to keep moving ahead and doing what we’re doing, build on our success so far and carry that full force ahead so we can continue to win and continue to get a step closer to our goal at end of season of making NCAA tournament.”
Tickets are priced at $10 and are available by calling 412-642-PENS; at the Mellon Arena Gate 8 box office on Penguins game days; and at Robert Morris University. For more information on Robert Morris University hockey, please log on to www.rmu.edu.