Former Hempfield standout excited to join reborn Robert Morris hockey program

The reinstatement of the Robert Morris hockey program meant a lot to alumni and fans of the program.

It may have meant more to future Colonials prospects like Dominic Schimizzi.

His allegiance to RMU was re-energized when hockey came back to Moon. The men’s and women’s programs were cut last May before a collective outcry made officials change gears.

Schimizzi, a former Hempfield standout, recently committed to play for RMU, which will skate again beginning in 2023-24.

The forward has been on an upward plane since he left Hempfield. And he doesn’t plan to slow down.

“I’ve had my sights set on RMU since I was playing for Pens Elite out of Neville Island when I was 13 or 14, as well as my sister being an RMU graduate,” Schimizzi said. “RMU was also the only school I applied for out of high school. I was definitely upset when I heard the news the hockey program was being discontinued. My family and I were speechless, but knew it wouldn’t (be permanent).”

Schimizzi, 20, spent his senior year of high school and a post-graduate year at Gilmour Academy near Cleveland. There, he played on a prep team before he was selected in the second round of the North American Hockey League Draft by the Johnstown Tomahawks.

After a season, he was traded to the expansion Amarillo Wranglers, where he played until mid-February, when he was traded again, this time to the Aberdeen Wings.

He finished the season with Aberdeen.

Schimizzi played in the NAHL’s top prospects game in front of college scouts. An offer to play at RMU surfaced soon after.

“Pittsburgh needs and loves their hockey,” Schimizzi said. “I can’t express what It means to be a part of the RMU comeback other than excitement.”

Schimizzi’s best prep season came in 2019-20 when he had 24 goals and 25 assists at Gilmour. He had 16 goals as a junior at Hempfield.

“I’m really happy for him and the work he’s put in,” Aberdeen coach Steve Jennings told NAHL.com. “He’s the kind of player we love to have here in Aberdeen. He works hard, brings his ‘A’ game to games and practice equally. He works hard to make those around him better, which is why he’ll succeed in college.”

Schimizzi finished with 17 goals and 19 assists in 90 games in the NAHL

He said his game has progressed and improved gradually as the competition has intensified.

“I feel I have become more mature and consistent as a player and a person,” he said. “I believe maturing is what helped my game grow into what it is today. When I started working out issues with myself, I began to see improvements and understand the game more. I never had issues with skating or shooting; it was the little details that held me back. When I decided to focus on those details, that is when I felt like I grew into the more complete player I am today.”

Now, a winding path will bring him closer to home.

“It’s been a long road filled with ups and downs, just like any journey,” Schimizzi said. “After I made my commitment, that was the first time I really was able to take a breath and appreciate an accomplishment that I set out to achieve. Looking back on my path and the work involved, it gave me a moment to just appreciate all the sacrifices from the people around me. It wouldn’t have been possible without my family’s support and the support from the people around me.

“I feel great, but I understand there is still plenty of work to come and the path to the next level only gets increasingly more difficult.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter ,

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