For hockey fans, the excitement of a big rivalry game is unmatched. The intensity of the competition, the passion of the fans, and the history between the teams make for a thrilling and unforgettable experience. In the world of minor hockey in North America, one rivalry that stands out is between the Robert Morris Colonials and their opponents. This rivalry has endured for decades, and each matchup is a highly anticipated event. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the history of this iconic rivalry, from its roots to its current state, and explore the most important matchups between these two teams.
The Beginnings of a Hockey Rivalry
The Robert Morris Colonials hockey team was established in 1984, just a few years after the university itself was founded. In their first few seasons, the team had to build a reputation and establish their presence in the college hockey world. However, their rivalry with another up-and-coming team was brewing in the background.
The Penn State Nittany Lions also started their hockey program in the early 1980s, and as both teams began to gain momentum and success, their paths crossed more and more often. A fierce competition developed, and the games between these two teams became the most anticipated matchups of the season.
The Battle for Pennsylvania
As both teams continued to grow and solidify their place in college hockey, the competition between the Colonials and the Nittany Lions intensified. However, this rivalry was not just about two teams competing for dominance on the ice, but also about the state of Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has a rich hockey history, with several professional teams and a strong youth hockey program. For the Robert Morris Colonials and the Penn State Nittany Lions, this rivalry became a battle to establish themselves as the dominant team in the state. Every game was an opportunity to stake their claim and prove their superiority.
The Shift to Division I
In 2004, the Robert Morris Colonials made the leap from Division II to Division I, a move that only added fuel to the fire of their rivalry with Penn State. As both teams competed in the same conference, the Atlantic Hockey Conference, their games became even more significant, with higher stakes and national recognition on the line.
The rivalry between these two teams extended beyond just the hockey rink, with both schools’ fan bases fiercely supporting their respective teams. Students, alumni, and the entire communities of Robert Morris and Penn State were invested in the outcome of each game, as the rivalry grew to be one of the most intense and passionate in college hockey.
Throughout the years, there have been many memorable matchups between the Robert Morris Colonials and the Penn State Nittany Lions. In 2009, the two teams faced off in the Three Rivers Classic, a tournament hosted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in their home arena. It was the first time the two teams played in an NHL venue, and the game ended in a 3-3 tie, adding to the drama and excitement of the rivalry.
Another unforgettable matchup was in 2017, when the two teams faced off in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Penn State came out on top, winning 3-2 in a thrilling overtime game. While this loss was tough for the Colonial fans to swallow, the rivalry only grew stronger as a result.
The Future of the Rivalry
The rivalry between Robert Morris and Penn State shows no signs of slowing down, as both teams continue to compete at a high level and gain national recognition. However, the rivalry has evolved and taken on a new dynamic in recent years.
With Penn State’s move to the Big Ten Conference in 2012, the two teams no longer compete in the same conference. Yet, this has only added a new layer to the rivalry, as both teams now have the opportunity to meet in the NCAA Tournament. This presents a chance for the Robert Morris Colonials to take on their rivals in a higher-stakes, winner-takes-all matchup.
Moreover, the rivalry has also had a significant impact on the growth of youth hockey in Pennsylvania. As the success of both the Colonials and Nittany Lions continues to inspire young players, the sport is flourishing in the state, with more and more players joining minor hockey programs.
The rivalry between the Robert Morris Colonials and the Penn State Nittany Lions is a testament to what makes the game of hockey so special – the intense competition, the passionate fan bases, and the history between teams that fuels the fire. This rivalry has stood the test of time and continues to be one of the most highly anticipated matchups in both college and minor hockey. As the sport grows and evolves, this rivalry will undoubtedly continue to be a significant part of its history.