The 2017 Three Rivers Classic tournament will feature host Robert Morris and three first-time opponents: Arizona State, Lake Superior State and Providence.
The 2017 iteration will be held on Friday, December 29 and Saturday, December 30, 2017. Arizona State will match up with Providence in one semifinal and Robert Morris will face Lake Superior State in the other.
Robert Morris has won back-to-back titles and three championships overall in the tournament, which will be entering its sixth season at the building now called PPG Paints Arena.
The Colonials have made it to the Atlantic Hockey Conference championship game in back-to-back seasons and will return seven of their top eight scorers.
Robert Morris is the only team that has played in every season of the tournament. Head coach Derek Schooley is entering his 14th season with the club as the only head coach in program history.
The Friars have made four consecutive NCAA tournaments under head coach Nate Leaman and they won the Frozen Four in 2015. They also won the ultra-competitive Hockey East regular seasons crown in 2016. Providence has won 20 games or more in three consecutive seasons.
Senior forward Brian Pinho is the Friars’ leading returning scorer, with 40 points in 39 games in 2016-17. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2016 second-round pick Kasper Björkqvist is a sophomore left winger for Providence. He had three goals and six assists in 30 games last year.
The newest NCAA Division I ice hockey program, the Sun Devils played their first full season at that level in 2016-17, posting a 10-19-3 record under Greg Powers, who is entering his fourth year with the program.
The Sun Devils will feature a forward with a familiar last name to the Pittsburgh faithful. Austin Lemieux, son of Penguins great Mario Lemieux, will be a freshman with the squad this fall. The 21-year-old scored 74 points in 45 games with the Islanders Hockey Club in 2016-17.
LAKE SUPERIOR STATE
The Lakers are the only team Robert Morris has faced in the past, with the Colonials holding a 3-7 record against the team from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Lakers have 10 program NCAA Tournament appearances, but none since 1996. They won the Frozen Four in 1988, 1992 and 1994. Head coach Damon Whitten will be entering his fifth season.
Lake Superior State will come to Pittsburgh with two local connections. Junior goaltender Nick Kossoff played junior hockey with the NAHL’s Keystone Ice Miners in Connellsville, Pa. Junior forward Josh Nenadal played with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms.