PITTSBURGH — Two players will not return to the Robert Morris men’s hockey team for the second half of the 2016-17 season, head coach Derek Schooley said Thursday.
Senior defenseman John Rey and freshman forward Chris Schutz have both decided to continue their hockey careers elsewhere following the team’s break, which ends Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. Schooley called the players’ decisions “disappointing.”
“It’s not something that will effect our hockey team in a negative way,” Schooley said. “We’re moving forward in a positive direction.”
Rey, an offensive defenseman, had played 15 games this season, scoring one goal and recording three assists. In his four years with the Colonials, he played 95 games and had three goals and 31 assists.
After playing 37 and 33 games in his first two seasons, Rey lost playing time to then-freshman Eric Israel in 2015-16. After starting the 2016-17 season back in the starting lineup and manning the second power play unit, Rey had been a healthy scratch for the final three games of the team’s first half.
He was replaced by freshman Sean Giles and Alex Robert in the lineup and by captain Rob Mann on the second power play unit the final weekend of the first half against Mercyhurst. Robert will dress against Ferris State Thursday and Schooley said Giles and Robert will “battle it out” throughout the second half for the vacant spot in the top six.
Rey still had one semester of NCAA eligibility remaining, but has decided to continue his hockey career in the professional ranks. He signed a contract with the Knoxville Ice Bears of the Southern Professional Hockey League on Thursday.
Schutz, a freshman, was injured before the season and did not play in a game. He will retain his full NCAA eligibility and intends to transfer to a different institution, according to Schooley.
“We’re disappointed in that outcome, because we thought we would have three strong years with him,” Schooley said.
The two losses leave the Colonials a bit shorthanded, especially on defense, where they have just seven players on the roster. Schooley said that the rest of his roster is healthy and available to play, including forward Brandon Watt, who will play his first game on Thursday since Oct. 29.