Robert Morris University's men's ice hockey team is looking for a repeat championship as the host of the 5th annual Three Rivers Classic college hockey tournament taking place Dec. 29-30 at PPG Paints Arena.
"We're very excited once again to host the Three Rivers Classic in conjunction with the Penguins and PPG Paints Arena," Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said. "We're really excited about the field we put together, it's a great field."
The field this year includes both Boston College and Quinnipiac, two Top-10 teams who will play a rematch of the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four semifinals to open the tournament. Ferris State will also compete, coming off of their first conference tournament title in program history and making the NCAA tournament. Closing out the field is Dartmouth, led by senior forward Kyle Nickerson, cousin of former Penguins' defenseman and Dartmouth graduate, Ben Lovejoy.
"You look at the history of this tournament and we've had Miami, Ohio State, Boston College. We've had some big names here," Schooley said. You can't ask for a better field. Year to year this is the best field in all of college hockey."
Schooley, who is in his 13th season with the Colonials, led Robert Morris to back-to-back regular season Atlantic Hockey conference championships (2014-15, '15-16) and assisted the team in making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament after winning the Atlantic Hockey tournament championship in 2014.
The Colonials have won the tournament twice in the last five years under Schooley, reigning victorious in 2012 and '15. Last year, Robert Morris defeated Penn State 6-4 in the championship game to claim their second title.
"To be able to say we're playing three games this year against Dartmouth and play at the home of the Stanley Cup Champions, it goes a long way in recruiting," Schooley said. "It opens people's eyes, it gets people excited playing games down here. It gets our guys really thrilled and jacked up to play down here."
The Three Rivers Classic also helps build awareness for college hockey to help grow the sport.
"It raises the profile of college hockey," Schooley said. "It gets people to know a little more about college hockey. It gets people thrilled about college hockey."
The tournament will also feature eight Pittsburgh natives, including Chris Shero from Boston College, son of former Penguins GM Ray Shero.