At least one game in the upcoming Three Rivers Classic is bound to be a goal-fest. Which is good news, considering those teams won't meet at the same time and place per usual next season.
Robert Morris and Penn State will face off at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Consol Energy Center in the fourth-annual tournament. Massachusetts Lowell and Clarkson play at 4:30 p.m., with the losers of the opening games playing at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and the winners playing at 7:30 p.m. in the championship.
Penn State will not participate in the 2016 Classic, the first time the school will miss the tournament since it began in 2012. But for this year, at least, the game should live up to the in-state rivalry hype.
The Nittany Lions (11-2-3), ranked No. 14, and Robert Morris (9-4-3), receiving votes for a national ranking, are tied for the second-best team offenses in Division I -- the Colonials and Nittany Lions each have scored 70 goals so far this season. Robert Morris also tops Division I in power-play goals with 23 while Penn State comes in second with 21. But Penn State has the most shots on goal in Division I, averaging about 45 per game, while Robert Morris is fourth with about 36 per game.
"Both of us are high-powered offenses," Robert Morris senior forward Zac Lynch said. "It will be exciting to see which team can out-power the other one.
"I mean, I can't see that one being a low-scoring game unless a goalie is going to stand on his head."
Lynch is a main reason for Robert Morris' success on attack. He ranks sixth in Division I with 25 points from 12 goals and 13 assists. Senior forward Greg Gibson also ranks 12th with 21 points from 11 goals and 10 assists.
Senior forwards Kenny Brooks and Curtis Loik lead Penn State, each with five goals and 11 assists so far.Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said the game should be fun to watch despite both teams playing without their leading scorers from a year ago -- Robert Morris' Cody Wydo graduated and Penn State's Casey Bailey left for the pros.
"People that looked at both our programs might have anticipated a drop in offensive output," Gadowsky said. "But as it seems, [Robert Morris is] just rolling right along. They've got a tremendous ... offensive team. I love the way they play. They play to score goals. I like to think that we do the same."
Robert Morris has won the tournament once, in 2012. Penn State has yet to win.
On the other side of the bracket, Massachusetts Lowell (10-3-4) is ranked No. 8 and sports one of the best defenses in Division I, coming in sixth in total defense. Senior goaltender Kevin Boyle ranks ninth with a 1.74 goals-against average. It'll be a tough matchup for Clarkson (7-6-2), who has yet to win a game in the Eastern College Athletic Conference -- a blow to the team's one-loss start to the season.
"You're looking at four teams that have been in the top 20 at some point during the year, and it just shows the quality of the field," Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. "I'm expecting a highly competitive, good two days of hockey."
This article was written by Megan Ryan from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.