|What happens when you try to club a ram over the head with a composite stick.|
So last weekend was nice. Against West Chester, we got to see the Icers firing on all cylinders for maybe the first time all season. Then again, let's be honest, that wasn't exactly the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens on the opposite bench. What if we upgrade the competition to, say, the ACHA's No. 11 team, one who took points from both regular season weekends against Penn State last year and who was one ridiculous Chris Cerutti outburst from stealing the ESCHL tournament title? And let's play the games in their building, just for good measure.
One way or another, we're going to find out something about the Icers tonight and tomorrow night at Rhode Island's Bradford R. Boss Ice Arena, and that's an exciting prospect. Penn State seeks to improve their worst-that-I-can-remember No. 8 ranking, while URI looks to continue down the road to redemption after missing the ACHA championship tournament last season. These games are not only important nationally, but within the ESCHL as the two contenders jockey for early position.
Oh, and in case you're planning on making the road trip to Kingston, you should know that URI has declared whiteouts for both Friday's and Saturday's games:
WHITE OUT Weekend vs. Penn State Nov. 12-13, 6:45 Game Time. Wear your WHITE. Student Tickets on sale all week (Nov. 8-12) at HOPE from 11-1PM lunch time. Meet the players, get your weekend game tickets. 2 GAME URI Student Package $3.00Such is the ugly, ugly flip side of being from a school known for that sort of thing, I guess - people try to take it and use it against you. The least you guys could've done is change up the color or something. But anyway, wear blue to the games.
On to the team itself. For the second time in the last month, the Icers are facing a transfer from an NCAA Division I program. First, it was Ohio goalie Blake MacNicol (from Alabama-Huntsville), now it's leading scorer (11 goals, 14 assists) Shawn Tingley, formerly of Providence College. Tingley doesn't have nearly the DI resume MacNicol did, as he only played two games for Tim Army's Friars in 2008-09 before becoming one of many players to leave the program in 2009. Still, with 25 points in his first 14 ACHA games, it's easy to see why he ended up at a DI program in the first place.
Tingley isn't the only former NCAA player on Rhody's roster. Second-leading scorer (7 goals, 12 assists) Alan Dionne, a defenseman, started his college career at Division III Wentworth Institute of Technology. At Wentworth, Dionne scored 42 points in 42 games over two seasons, and actually led the Leopards in scoring among blueliners in 2008-2009.
While those two newcomers lead the way for the Rams, the team also has a very solid group of returning secondary scorers, including every single one of the 10 players who scored a goal against the Icers last season. URI has diminutive, yet productive, forwards in waves, as Mike Tait, David Macalino, Jay Dupras, Evan Dietz, Kyle Krannich and Jaryd Coleman all stand 5'9" or less, but all know where to locate the net. That group has combined for 26 goals this season, and 10 of the 14 scored against Penn State last season. Dionne isn't the only offensively-active defenseman on the roster, as Dan Lassik and Jeff Lace also pull their weight on the scoresheet.
Faceoff stats aren't generally easy to come by in the ACHA, but it's no wonder the Rams show theirs off - as a team, they're winning two-thirds of their draws. Yikes. Like the old saying goes, you can't score if you don't have the puck. Krannich, the top center, is coming out on top 70 percent of the time.
What's between the pipes? Good question. Let's just say that Penn State's not the only team in these games with some tough decisions in that department. Paul Kenny (3.24 goals against average, 0.913 save percentage) has the majority of the minutes this season, however in each of the last four weekends, Kenny started on Friday but has given way to Andrew Marks (1.78 goals against average, 0.929 save percentage) on Saturday. What's more is that the Rams seem to perform better in front of Marks, coming back to earn splits with Delaware and Arizona State after Friday losses. It will be interesting to see if coach Joe Augustine taps Marks for both games, or if he sticks with the rotation. For his part, Augustine doesn't seem to see an issue, or at least he doesn't want to air the laundry in the school paper. Here's what he said after that Delaware series:
"I thought [Kenny] played very, very well and he should have got a lot more out of that than getting a loss."By the way, Rhody's paper is called The Good 5 Cent Cigar. I don't even need the backstory to appreciate that, athough reading its articles (as well as the West Chester Quad last week) makes me appreciate having a top-shelf paper at Penn State.
"Kenny and Marks played very well. All the goals scored this weekend I don't think they could've done anything about, that's on the whole team playing in front of them."
The official site mentions that Penn State and Rhode Island played to the only scoreless tie in Icers history, back in 2004-2005. I had forgotten that somewhere around 2005-2006.
Per the Collegian, the Icers' goalie situation is still up in the air. Also, this is PSU's longest road trip of the season. Well, until the ESCHL playoffs, which are also at Rhode Island.
No game updates tonight, sorry. I'm planning on tweeting tomorrow's game, but it depends on the staff at the Starbucks in Selinsgrove, PA - I need their WiFi and their calorie bombs for two and a half hours.