The Niagara University Athletics Department, Robert Morris University Athletics Department, National Hockey League, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Pittsburgh Steelers announce that the regular season finale between the Colonials and Purple Eagles will be played on February 26, 2017 at 7:05 p.m. at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
The outdoor game will be the first collegiate hockey game played at Heinz Field and third hockey game played at the venue, following the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic™ and the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, taking place on Saturday, February 25, 2017.
The outdoor game between Robert Morris and Niagara is the final game of the Atlantic Hockey regular season and is open to the entire community, with the game being free to attend for the general public.
“We are tremendously excited for the opportunity to play at Heinz Field,” said Niagara University head coach David Burkholder. “The exhilaration of an outdoor hockey game is hard to match. Playing in an NFL stadium is a highlight that our players, staff, and fans will remember for years to come.”
“This is a great opportunity for Niagara hockey,” said Niagara University Deputy Director of Athletics Stephen Butler. “A goal for our department is to establish an extraordinary student-athlete experience, and by playing in an iconic venue, in a special event outdoors, we achieve that goal in a significant way. This event will also assist Coach Burkholder in showcasing our program to prospective student-athletes and showing them what it means to be a Niagara University hockey athlete.”
“The Pittsburgh Penguins are big supporters of college hockey and we’re excited to have Robert Morris and Niagara playing outdoors at Heinz Field on February 26,” said David Morehouse, CEO and President of the Penguins. “We appreciate that both athletic departments altered their schedules to accommodate this unique opportunity. Our slogan is ‘It’s a Great Day for Hockey,’ but it’s clear that this will be a Great Weekend for Hockey in Pittsburgh.”
The Heinz Field games marks the second time in program history that Niagara will play at an outdoor venue. The Purple Eagles played RIT at Rochester’s Frontier Field as a part of the Greater Rochester Arena Honda Dealers Frozen Frontier on December 14, 2013, a game that finished in a 2-2 tie. Vinny Muto set up Matt Chartrain for the game’s first goal, and Ryan Rashid tied the game at two at the 11:45 mark of the third period. Muto and fellow seniors Kevin Patterson, Stephen Pietrobon, TJ Sarcona, and Jackson Teichroeb all played in the program’s first-ever outdoor game.
The outdoor game marks the second time in the Colonials history the team will play outdoors. The first outdoor game for RMU was played in Toledo, Ohio on the Class AAA baseball team, Toledo Mud Hens’ Fifth Third Field, on January 3, 2015.
“Our players and staff are thrilled to be playing at Heinz Field,” said Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley. “This is another event that Robert Morris men’s hockey is proud to be associated with and have a tremendous amount of gratitude to the Penguins, Steelers, NHL and Niagara University for making this a reality.”
Niagara and Robert Morris have a long-standing history since first playing as CHA opponents in the 2004-05 season. Niagara holds a 29-20-11 record in the all-time series, while Robert Morris has an 11-8-7 advantage in Pittsburgh.
The opportunity to play this game outdoors does bring a change to the previously scheduled series between Niagara and Robert Morris. The Colonials and Purple Eagles will not play the game scheduled for February 24 at Niagara. The series will begin with a game at Niagara’s Dwyer Arena on Saturday, February 25 at 7:05pm with Niagara’s Senior Night game at Dwyer Arena. Sunday’s 7:05pm game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh will close out the weekend.
This will be the second outdoor game played this season by a pair of Atlantic Hockey teams. Army West Point and Bentley University took part in a Capital One Frozen Fenway game on January 5, 2017.
Located on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, Heinz Field has served as the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, since the stadium opened in 2001. Robert Morris and Niagara will be playing in the third official hockey game held at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals played the first outdoor hockey game at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011 in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic™ and the Penguins will once again be skating on the outdoor ice in the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ game against the Philadelphia Flyers, taking place at Heinz Field on Saturday, February 25, 2017.