It wasn’t anticipated, but it wasn’t another “Miracle on Ice” either. When Robert Morris University swept the nation’s No. 1 college hockey team via back-to-back upsets in January, it fell somewhere in between. “A surprise but not a shock,” assessed Mike Eidelbes, editor of Inside College Hockey.com.
The victories over Miami of Ohio – 3-1 on Jan. 8 at Mellon Arena, then 2-1 two days later in Oxford, Ohio – were the first time the Colonials beat a No. 1 team since they began competing in Division I in 2004-05. In fact, RMU had never played a No. 1 team before meeting the RedHawks, who narrowly missed the national title last year after losing 4-3 to Boston University in the NCAA championship game.
The Colonials had previously played giant-killer with victories over No. 2 Notre Dame in January of 2007 and over No. 8 Boston University the following October. This season they followed up their success against Miami with two victories over Bemidji State, a perennial Top 10 team. The Colonials and Beavers met again in the conference tournament consolation game, and played to a 3-3 tie.
Of RMU’s “big-time upset” over Miami, Eidelbes said, “Nationally, it’s viewed as a surprise. But people also know the type of program Robert Morris has, and how good a job Derek Schooleyhas done building that, and the talent level that he has there. Guys such as (defenseman) Denny Urban and (forward) Nathan Longpre, those are kids that can play. You can put them up against anybody in the nation. They’ve come a really long way in a short period of time, no question.”
Eidelbes is impressed with the Colonials’ aggressive style of play. And with its annual Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase, which pits the Colonials against a top national team on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ home ice, RMU shows it is serious about wanting to host the NCAA “Frozen Four” tournament in the future.
“They have a good coach and they’ve found a formula there that’s definitely going to work,” Eidelbes said. “They’re always reaching for the next rung on the ladder rather than being content. I really like that about their program.”
WRITTEN BY MIKE PRISUTA