"I felt we made a mistake in building a baseball field. I thought that should have been the ice skating rink, because I think hockey in this state right now, not just hockey, but ice skating, if you come up to our office building at 6:00 in the morning, some mornings you can't get a parking spot because parents have taken their kids up here to skate...I think hockey will be a great addition to our intercollegiate program. [The Pegula gift] is a great, great gift. And I think very far-sighted and I'm really pleased with it." - Joe Paterno

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Breakout Past: 2006 ACHA Showcase Pass


The Icers headed west on I-80 to Boardman, OH in October, 2006 for the fourth annual ACHA Showcase in sort of an early-season tune-up for the 2007 ACHA National Tournament, held at the same site. That site, the Ice Zone, also served as the home of the Youngstown Phantoms during their time as an NAHL team prior to jumping to the USHL in 2009. Also of note: the showcase marked Scott Balboni's fifth, sixth and seventh games as PSU's head coach.

Because my memory is lacking, I'm going to lean pretty heavily on the Collegian for details of the Icers' three games, against Oklahoma, Minot State and Weber State.
For Penn State, the Showcase began with a game against No. 7 Oklahoma on Friday afternoon. Unable to get into a groove early, the Icers fell behind. Despite outshooting its opponent, the team suffered its second loss of the season, 5-3.

"They really just capitalized on their chances," junior defenseman Keith Jordan said.

Head coach Scott Balboni thought his team lacked intensity in the loss to Oklahoma, and made sure that the players regained their composure going forward.

"We tried to take a more business-like attitude and come out more focused," Balboni said. "We weren't as focused in the Oklahoma game."
Oklahoma was in the midst of establishing themselves as an upper-crust ACHA team, and taking down the Icers undoubtedly helped towards that end - as did their wins over Lindenwood and Scranton the next two days to complete a sweep. From the Penn State point of view, a recovery followed quickly.
The Icers came back strong on Saturday, beating an overmatched Minot State, 7-0. Backup goaltender Nick Signet got the shutout as starter Matteo, who was removed in the middle of the Oklahoma game due to an injury, sat out Saturday and Sunday's contests.

"It's a big opportunity," Signet said of getting the start. "When you get your shot you have to use it wisely. Matteo left me some big shoes to fill."

Jordan was pleased with the way the team responded after Friday's disappointment, noting that the Icers did a good job in "burying" a team from the start.
Another win followed, this one against a better opponent.
On Sunday, Penn State took on No. 14 Weber State, taking the same no-nonsense approach to the match-up. Signet was once again strong, allowing only one goal to get by him in a 5-1 win.

"I felt like I was watching everything and seeing the puck really well," Signet said.

As far as the team's performance, the goaltender added that this was the best he's seen them play all year. Balboni agreed with that assessment.

"We played really strong for about 85 percent of the weekend," Balboni said. "As teams and as lines we are really starting to get it together. We obviously always want to win every game we play. Even though we have two losses on our record we are continuing to get better."
In a twist that probably merits its own post at some point down the line, that Weber State team featured a senior defenseman named Aaron Dufford who, yes, is John Dufford's grandson. The younger Dufford had a great career at WSU (including a spot on the 2005 World University Games team), then briefly coached the team before moving on to the Park City Pioneers, the semi-pro team that he helps manage when not playing.

Besides the teams I've already mentioned, the showcase included Ohio, West Chester, Michigan-Dearborn, Arizona, Duquesne, West Virginia, North Dakota State, Kent State, Western Michigan and Mercyhurst. Along with the Sooners, the Flashes, WMU, Dearborn and Ohio also emerged from the weekend unscathed. Minot State, Weber State, Scranton, Mercyhurst, West Chester and Duquesne were the opposite of unscathed.

To be honest though, my favorite part of the showcase wasn't an actual part of the showcase, it was a Youngstown State home game against John Carroll at the same rink after the showcase games had concluded for the day on the Saturday the 21st.


How to best describe the game? Well, make a list of every club hockey stereotype you can think of, then roll them into one game. The ACHA site says that YSU's 12 dressed skaters were shut out by the Blue Streaks 4-0, but that doesn't come close to measuring the full spectacle of what I witnessed. I still struggle to find the words for it nearly five years later ("gongshow" doesn't do it justice), and I was so moved by the experience that when JCU unloaded their jerseys worn during that game on eBay, I pounced. Some people attend Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and I'm pretty sure I've attended the opposite of that.


Apparently, this jersey was worn by Louis Grandinetti, a forward from Seven Hills, OH who recorded no stats in the game but had a decent run playing in games not depicted in ACHA marketing literature. The fact that I never bothered to look that up until today tells you everything you need to know.

Interestingly enough, I was able to re-capture the magic to some degree a few years later in a game between the same two teams - this one at John Carroll. The 4-3 Blue Streaks win featured a couple hockey dad fights and nearly a hockey dad-coach tilt involving former YSU boss Rocky Russo. Amazing how much can happen, even when you only make it to ticket no. 19.

I was not comped.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011-2012 Women's Schedule Released

Allie Rothman and her teammates will play eleven NCAA programs in the coming year.

The 2011-2012 women's schedule is out, and to say that its interpretation of "transition" differs from that of the men's schedule is an understatement.

While the men's schedule has just two games against varsity programs (November 4th and 5th against DIII schools Fredonia and Neumann), the women's version offers eleven such games. Highlights include three tilts with DI schools, starting with the season opener at Robert Morris, as well as assistant coach Gina Kearns doing battle with her former employer (Neumann) to close out the fall semester. The impressive array of NCAA teams leads me to believe that the starting points for assembling the schedule were the minimum game requirements of the ACHA and the ECWHL, although I can't speak definitively on that point. At the very least, it certainly appears that the women are eager for the future.

To be fair, these schools aren't the best varsity hockey has to offer. Chatham University, a 950-student institution in Pittsburgh - to pick on one - was 0-18-0 last season, the sixth "perfect" mark in the program's nine-year history. Still, it's an extremely challenging slate for a non-varsity program, and one that promotes growth into NCAA status for 2012-2013.

Also of note: home games are now at 7:00 p.m. Friday and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, in another assist to the transition process.

Here's the full schedule:

September
16 Blue-White Game, 9:15 p.m.
23 @ Robert Morris (NCAA DI), 7:05 p.m.
30 vs. Buffalo, 9:15 p.m.

October
1 vs. Buffalo, 3:30 p.m.
21 @ Potsdam (NCAA DIII), 7:00 p.m.
22 @ Potsdam (NCAA DIII), 2:00 p.m.
28 vs. California (PA), 7:00 p.m.

November
4 @ Chatham (NCAA DIII), 8:00 p.m.
5 @ Chatham (NCAA DIII), 2:00 p.m.
11 @ California (PA), TBA
18 vs. Cortland (NCAA DIII), 7:00 p.m.
19 vs. Cortland (NCAA DIII), 3:30 p.m.

December
2 @ Rhode Island, 9:30 p.m.
3 @ Rhode Island, 1:00 p.m.
9 @ Neumann (NCAA DIII), 7:00 p.m.
10 vs. Neumann (NCAA DIII), 7:00 p.m.

January
6 vs. Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
7 vs. Rhode Island, 3:30 p.m.
13 @ Sacred Heart (NCAA DI), 7:00 p.m.
14 @ Sacred Hearth (NCAA DI), 2:00 p.m.
28 vs. Ohio State, 3:30 p.m.
29 vs. Ohio State, 2:00 p.m.

February
3 @ Northeastern, TBA
4 @ Northeastern, TBA
10 @ Massachusetts, 9:00 p.m.
11 @ Massachusetts, 4:00 p.m.
18 vs. Vermont, 7:00 p.m.
19 vs. Vermont, 12:00 p.m.
25-26 @ ECWHL Tournament - Boston, MA

March
8-10 @ ACHA National Tournament - Wooster, OH

Monday, June 27, 2011

Three Stars: June 20-26

Would John Gaudreau be pumped to play at a school close to home and with a coaching staff he likes?

3. Yanis talks Penn State pledge
(Lions 247)

Andrew Dzurita continues to plug away at tracking down everyone committed to Penn State so far, and his latest effort doesn't disappoint. Mark Yanis looks set to join a long line of great PSU athletes who share my major. On the hockey end of things, that includes former Icers Garrett Divins, Eric Harbaugh, Luke Walker, Chris Matteo, Joe Sheridan and Jason Zivkovic (who, unlike me, actually went on to graduate from law school).

2. Jonathan Milley commits to Penn State University
(CCHL)

While Mark Yanis and Luke Juha have drawn the most attention of that group of three recruits from a couple weeks ago, don't sleep on Milley. He's increased his points-per-game output in each of his four seasons in the CCHL/CHL/CJHL/whatever they're calling it these days.

Milley will be back with the Pembroke Lumber Kings this year to help them defend their RBC Cup title, and you can bet that Juha - who will be joining the Vernon Vipers team Pembroke beat to win it - will be gunning for the honor as well. The 2012 event is in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. If the rematch happens, I will find a way to get there. Assuming there is a way to get there.

Roadie of the century...if I leave now. Saskatoon doesn't have an airport, does it? 

1. Northeastern Thrown in Further Flux After Draft
(College Hockey News)

Some drah-mah up Boston way in the wake of Greg Cronin's departure to the Maple Leafs.
The speculation over recruits began immediately. Following the draft on Saturday, the Fargo/Moorhead Forum reported that [signee and fourth-round Calgary Flames draft pick John] Gaudreau would not attend Northeastern. Later in the day, a source close to the program said that the Gaudreau family has requested a meeting with Northeastern athletic director Peter Roby. Typically, this signals a request to be released from a National Letter of Intent, which Gaudreau signed.

Gaudreau, the former USHL rookie of the year hasn't made a decision, but sources say a pair of Division I schools are both in play should he be released from his NLI. If he is not granted release, he would have to return to the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints for one season, sign with Calgary or sign with a CHL club.
Now, I don't know anything, but allow me to lay a couple of dots out there. Gaudreau is from Carneys Point, NJ, not terribly far from Philadelphia. According to the author of the linked article, Gaudreau considered Princeton in February, 2010 (of course, the Penn State coaching staff resided there at the time) before committing to Northeastern. Finally, after initial reports said that Gaudreau wouldn't be back in the USHL this year, he's now "likely" to return to Dubuque. Which of course synchronizes the start of NCAA play for both Gaudreau and PSU. One has to think Guy Gadowsky will at least make a call. Will it be more than that? We'll see.

Best of the Rest

Gulutzan says today's game about defense and tempo
(Bellingham Herald)

This is a Dallas Morning News interview with new Stars coach Glen Gulutzan that I wanted to read, but it's behind a pay wall (that particular paper's site has the highest pay-to-free ratio of all time). I didn't want to become a subscriber to read one article, but I really, really needed to know why I got a Google Alert hit on it. Solution? In steps some anonymous paper in the state of Washington with an apparent grudge against the Morning News, and we all get to read the article for free. Thanks, Bellingham Herald. Your contribution to killing the newspaper industry is appreciated, at least by me.

As it turns out, Gulutzan played for Coach Gadowsky back in his Fresno Falcons days and cites him as one of his coaching influences.

Big Ten may mean big issues for hockey
(Wisconsin State Journal)

Tom Oates doesn't strike me as particularly bullish on Big Ten hockey in this opinion piece, but he introduces a couple things that qualify as news-ish. First, the Big Ten conference schedule will be backloaded to avoid conflicts with football, which of course dominates the conference. However, with other conferences not following suit, scheduling quality out-of-conference games may prove difficult - even with the rumored Big Ten-WCHA scheduling agreement.

Second, each conference school has already been asked to play two Monday games per season, due mostly to Big Ten Network considerations. I fully expect more attempts to get live hockey on the air when no Big Ten basketball is being played.

'A real, living Paul Bunyan'
(Grand Forks Herald)

The tragic story of George Pelawa, who was killed in a car accident on August 30, 1986 - just two months after being drafted with the Calgary Flames' first-round pick and two months before what would have been his first game at North Dakota.

Pelawa, a truck even by today's standards at 6'4", 240 pounds, was recruited by Penn State to play linebacker, but decided that his future was hockey. Sadly, that future never happened.

Terry Pegula got some face time at the draft.

NHL Draft: Dear Diary
(Inside College Hockey)

We're still (probably/hopefully) a year away from a living, breathing Penn Stater being selected in the draft, but this year's first round - live-blogged at the link - still had a couple of storylines with PSU ties. The Namesake announced the Buffalo Sabres' 16th overall pick, Finnish right wing Joel Armia, which prompted this reaction:
How’d you like to be Pegula? He singlehandedly funds the Penn State college hockey program, is hailed as a savior for buying the Sabres, and, today purchases the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans so he can bring the Sabres’ top minor league affiliate back to western New York. Pretty sure he owns a unicorn ranch, too.
Icer George Saad was spotted at least once on television Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center - although it wasn't a good evening for brother Brandon, the former top-ten projection who fell out of the first round altogether, before being scooped up by the Chicago Blackhawks with the 43rd overall pick on Saturday.

Tsunami Watch: CCHA
(Without a Peer)

WaP continues their Tsunami Watch series by looking at the conference most likely to be hit by one during the realignment process. Really, the program that needs to be worried is Miami. Notre Dame can more or less pick its conference. And if one's willing to be brutally honest about things, the other remaining CCHA teams outside of ND and the RedHawks might actually be better served by sticking together as a second mid-major conference (with some possible shuffling between their side and Atlantic Hockey).

New power program Miami is the one who will either have to plead their case to the WCHA/Hockey East or see that lofty status disappear in a hurry when they're stuck in a small conference.

Debunking Myths
(Tumblr.com)

College Hockey, Inc. gets salty when Canadians marginalize college hockey. They should probably get used to it, because that's what people do when their accepted order of the universe is threatened.

Rules Committee Discusses Changes
(College Hockey News)

Because it was the middle of the two-year "rules cycle," no actual changes took place for this season, just a lot of discussion and clarification regarding halfies and headshots.
Specifically, the committee clarified that a player does not have to "target" an opponent for the penalty to be called. In addition, they added several bullet point examples for what deserves to be called under the contact to the head rule.

The committee further emphasized, as well, language that already appears in the rules: “A player delivering a check to an unsuspecting and vulnerable player puts themselves in jeopardy of being penalized under this rule.”
Click the link for a handful of other rules committee points of emphasis.

College hockey on brink of conference realignment as Alabama-Huntsville waits
(Huntsville Times)

Just a little reminder about the Chargers dangling out there, and their attempt at business as usual. I think there's a very obvious problem that they're sort of brushing aside though: Huntsville is still not really an attractive add for a conference. The instability that exists now helps, but in order for it to ultimately benefit UAH, some conference - maybe the aforementioned CCHA, or Atlantic Hockey should the CCHA turn around and pillage it - has to need them. Like down to five teams and have to add someone to survive-level need.

Regardless, I'm rooting for them, and you should too. If you're unfamiliar (I'm not sure how that's possible with me always bringing it up), UAH was probably the biggest, baddest kid on the club hockey block just before jumping to NCAA Division II in 1985, frequently standing in the Icers' road to glory. One time they didn't - 1984 - resulted in PSU's first national title, a controversial one from their side of things. If there was an internet on November 22, 1983, I'm sure this article wouldn't have eased tensions during the once-heated, now-forgotten rivalry.

Yes, this was against Huntsville. I promise.

Cornell loses another hockey assistant
(Ithaca Journal)

Scott Garrow is moving on to Princeton as they continue their efforts to replace the coaching staff that PSU stole.

Mike Eaves linked to NHL opening
(Bucky's 5th Quarter)

Assistant coach Hill leaving; Guentzel reportedly to return
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)

A couple of Big Ten coaching moves - one rumored and one actual.

One of the tightropes I try to walk here is deciding when "general" college hockey news is relevant enough to Penn State for its own TYT post. With the Tom Anastos hire at Michigan State, I established a conference head coach change as sufficiently newsworthy. I suppose that here, I'm making the opposite determination with assistants in the conference. It's also my backwards way of saying that Eaves gets his own post if his departure exits rumor territory.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Conversation With Luke Juha

On Wednesday evening, 2012 recruit Luke Juha, a defenseman from Mississauga, ON, graciously spent a little time talking to TYT. We reviewed his career to this point, his style and hockey influences, the twists and turns of his decision to play college hockey (not to mention those involved with the selection of a particular school), his plans for this season and his NHL draft prospects as well as those of a few of his high-profile former teammates.

I left the conversation with little doubt that Penn State is getting a quality individual who will be a true asset to the program, both on and off the ice.

....................

Thank You Terry: Let’s start by going back to when you were 16. You’re drafted by Guelph in the Ontario League [in the fifth round] and could’ve played there, but decided to stay in Junior A. Talk a little bit about that decision.

Luke Juha: Well, it’s definitely out of the norm for Ontario players. I really defied convention when I decided to go the NCAA route, and I was supposed to go possibly late first, early second in the OHL draft, and I think my draft suffered a bit because of it – my draft position.

The OHL’s a great way to go, but you know, I thought the NCAA route was the right choice for me, just because I love the team atmosphere there. Education is still very important to me, and I also love the camaraderie of NCAA hockey. There’s no trades, and the best part about it is that you also get two extra years of development, sometimes three, for the NHL. If you go to the OHL, NHL teams have to sign you when you’re 20, or your career’s pretty much over. You go play AHL, or even the East Coast League, or in Europe. In the NCAA, you get two extra years, you can sign at 24. Being a smaller guy, it’d be more beneficial to me to get those extra two years of growth and development.

TYT: You committed to Clarkson last year. But I did see somewhere – I forget where I saw it – that you had Princeton on your final list. Was there a connection with Coach Gadowsky early in the process?

LJ: Oh yeah, 100 percent. I got recruited by a lot of schools as a 16-year-old, and I took a long time to decide to go to Clarkson. Princeton was my second choice, and a huge part of that was because of Gadowsky. The big thing lacking at Princeton was the fan support and the academic support from the school. At Penn State, obviously we’re going to get them. But going back to Gadowsky, Fisher and Lindsay, they’re great guys and they have a track record of developing players to the NHL, in particular, offensive defensemen. So I’m definitely excited to come to Penn State and be coached by them.

TYT: Yeah, I mean, you listen to Gadowsky talk about the system he likes to play, and I read a little bit about how you like to play, and I’m like hey, that works out pretty well, it seems like you’d be a good fit.

LJ: For sure, yeah, I take everything into consideration, and he plays an upbeat possession game, and that’s kind of how I want to play. I want to have the puck as much as I can, and move up in the play with the forwards, and try to make offensive opportunities.

TYT: So then a year passes, you have a good year in Junior A, but then Clarkson makes a coaching change. Is that the biggest reason you decided to start looking around?

LJ: Yeah, there’s a coaching change – I loved the coaches there. The assistant coach and the head coach, George Roll and Greg Drechsel, got fired. I had committed there for almost a year and two months, so it was kind of a blow to me. Clarkson’s still a great option, I just felt that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity at Penn State with Gadowsky, Fisher and Lindsay coaching.


TYT: Penn State then enters the picture, obviously the coaches are there, were there other things that drew you to the school?

LJ: I didn’t know much about it until obviously, there’s a coaching change and I started looking around. But the academics are great, Penn State’s ranked 41st in North America academically. The fan support, even at the football games, they get great support. I heard Penn State’s just an all-around great school to be at, a great experience, and finally, just the fact that we’re starting up a new program. I really want to be a part of that because I think it’s going to be something special.

TYT: It’s going to be pretty cool. I’ve been around it a little bit, and everyone’s just kind of waited for this moment, and you being one of the first group in there, it’s going to be pretty nuts I think.

LJ: Definitely. Even with the rink coming up, it didn’t impact my decision but I feel like the rink’s really going to bring a new life to the program.

TYT: It’s just too bad you’ll have to play a year in the old rink first.

LJ: When I came down, I saw it, but I feel like it’ll still be special because it’s the first year.

TYT: Yeah, it’ll be a different atmosphere.

LJ: And then the second year, you get to come in with the new rink and there will be a new buzz. So there’s two years of this huge buzz around the hockey program.

TYT: Now obviously you like Penn State enough that you’re delaying going to college for a year. Are you sticking with the [OJHL’s Burlington] Cougars this season?

LJ: Actually no, I’m going to play – they’re just finalizing the deal – with the [BCHL’s] Vernon Vipers right now. I’m going to go play there. They’ve had a great program.

TYT: Yeah, they’re pretty good. [The Vipers have won four RBC Cups, symbolic of Canada’s Junior A national championship, including in 2009 and 2010.]

LJ: I guess you know about it, yeah. Those coaches there are both great coaches, [Mark] Ferner and [Jason] Williamson, and I’m excited to be coached by them as well. And hopefully make a run for the RBC.

TYT: They actually got upset by Jonathan Milley, another guy that’s coming in with you there, and his team [the CCHL's Pembroke Lumber Kings at the RBC Cup this past year].

I saw somebody on a message board compare you to Tomas Kaberle and you listed Nicklas Lidstrom as your favorite player. Is that who you’d most compare your style to?

LJ: I guess you could talk about Lidstrom and Kaberle, both of them are great players and they both have great poise with the puck, and make great first passes. That’s what I try to do, and I also try to jump in the rush and make odd-man rushes. It’s important to generate offense, even as a defenseman. So I try to pattern myself around those guys, those types of players.

TYT: Speaking of the NHL, you do have a chance of being drafted this weekend. What have you heard or what are your expectations about that?

LJ: You know, I haven’t talked to many NHL teams. It’d be great to get drafted, and I know I’m on some teams’ radar, but it’s not going to change the game I play. There’s a huge cliché that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I definitely believe that even if I don’t get drafted this year, I have two more years to get drafted. It’s not going to affect how I train and play on the ice. It’s a good feather in the hat, but at the end of the day, my goal’s still going to be playing in the NHL and developing.

In Ontario, I think it hurt my draft a bit that I’m playing in Junior A hockey, because it’s not the best league. It’s definitely not as good as the BCHL and the USHL. There’s a negative stigma about it in Ontario, so that’s part of the reason why.

TYT: And you talked about going the college route, which gives you a little bit of extra development time.

LJ: Oh yeah, I still think it’s the best option for me, and I have no regrets whatsoever. And even being coached by Coach Gadowsky, Fisher and Lindsay, those guys have developed those players. Hopefully they can help me develop even further into a potentially great NHL player.


TYT: Even if you don’t get drafted, you have a little bit of a reason to watch, other than for yourself. You have those other four guys [Ryan Strome, Michael Curtis, Evan Rodrigues and Steven Strong] – you played together for seven years [with the Toronto Marlies organization]. A couple of them are going to go, one maybe a first-rounder, one maybe a middle round. That has to be pretty exciting too.

LJ: I know a bunch of the guys, Ryan Strome, [Stuart] Percy, Brett Ritchie. It’s going to be interesting to see, and I’m hoping they all do well and go to the teams they want to go to, I’ll definitely keep an eye on that. They’re all great players, and I wish them the best.

TYT: I saw that Evan Rodrigues is going to [Boston University] – kind of hoping they show up on the schedule at some point?

LJ: You know, I work out with him every day, we go to the same high school, he’s my best friend, so I hope we play them in the next four years because I definitely want to get a chance to beat him. We’ve got a little rivalry going for sure.

TYT: Obviously, BU’s a great program, so I hope you guys beat them too.

LJ: Yeah, exactly. It’s funny you say that because we were actually talking about it today at the gym. We were talking about potentially playing each other. I’m definitely excited to come down and start playing and build the program into something special.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Breakout Past: Goalie Masks

On Tuesday, new Penn State goalie Tim Carr tweeted a preliminary sketch of his mask artwork.


That mask suffers from some kind of undiagnosed sickness (that's a compliment, trust me), although Carr may end up replacing the outdated logo on his left side with an S, per Nick Seravalli's suggestion (even better: make it an S inside a keystone like one of my go-to lids).

Carr's design gave me an idea: use this week's Breakout Past to put together a gallery of some of the other great masks that have adorned Penn State tenders over the years.

Please accept my apologies for the quality of some of the photos - without having the university archives at my disposal, I had to resort to scanning pictures from old programs.

Going plain white might be seen as non-committal (or a financial consideration, if you know how much artwork costs), but it's a look that works at Penn State, as Tara Wheeler (left) or Matt Madrazo (right) can tell you.

Teddy Hume would like you to know that gray also appears on the PSU jersey.

Mark Scally (pictured here with the the ECHL's Texas Wildcatters) had a choice of headgear that contributed to his nickname - Dominik. He wore a blue version of the Hasek bucket at PSU.

The Dukes of Hazzard and this mask were both born in the 70s.

Chris Matteo's mask drew its inspiration from Gollum, of the Lord of the Rings series. The left side had the scene of Gollum looking though the bars in Moria, while the right side had a full-body representation. The words “My Precious” were written across the bottom front.

Scott Graham (left) and Paul Mammola (right) both borrowed from the look made famous by Joe Paterno's football team.

Katie Vaughan keeps people out of her crease with a scary dragon.

Early Icers goalies were clearly fans of the geometric law of vertical angles.

Nick Signet looks pretty calm considering the vicious-looking guy on his head.

Quite possibly the Penn State answer to the iconic Gerry Cheevers mask, however...

...Larry Lightbody, shown wearing his mask, thinks kids today are soft.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brandwene Adds Stroemel, Kearns to Women's Staff

Women's head coach Josh Brandwene announced today that Mo Stroemel and Gina Kearns have joined his coaching staff.

The tapping of Stroemel, the now-former Lady Icers boss who will serve in the lead role as associate head coach, comes with little surprise. Shortly after Brandwene beat him out for the NCAA squad's head coaching job, it became known that Stroemel would remain with the program in an unspecified position. Given his background, it wasn't a massive violation of logic to assume that the position would ultimately be that of an assistant coach.

Here's the press release quote from Brandwene:
"I have known Mo for 15 years as a colleague and friend, and I am grateful to have him on board. He has been a consistently positive influence on Penn State Hockey for almost two decades, and his passion for and commitment to Penn State Hockey will be instrumental in our success."
One can't help but feel good for Stroemel, who has faithfully served Penn State hockey wherever needed for going on 20 years. TYT has already gone into his career in Head Coach Candidate: Mo Stroemel, so if you're looking for the biographicals, I'll direct you there.

Kearns is the newcomer to Penn State, and she brings an impressive resume with her, largely as one of the top players in the history of Boston University's six-year-old program.


In her four seasons (2005-2009), she finished among the team's top three scorers every single year, and her career totals of 52 goals and 50 assists meant that the Norwood, PA native departed as the leading scorer in program history. Her statistics were built up, in part, by 27 multi-point games, and she was at her best in tight situations - among her 52 goals were six shorties and 11 game-winning tallies. Kearns was also a leader, in the form of a three-year captain who never missed a game.

I'll leave it to BU's bio to address her career prior to lighting up Walter Brown Arena.
Graduated from Interboro High School in Prospect Park, Pa., where she was a senior captain of the boys' varsity ice hockey team during the 2004-05 season ... Played for the Princeton Tiger Lilies of the Mid-Atlantic Women's Hockey Association in 2004-2005 and totaled 121 points (81 goals, 40 assists) in 51 games ... As an assistant captain, led the Tiger Lilies to the bronze medal at the 2005 USA Hockey Girls' 19 & Under National Championship ... Captained the Philadelphia Little Flyers of the MAWHL in 2003-04 and tallied 146 points (92 goals, 54 assists) in 53 games ... Received the Presidents Award for Educational Excellence, the Interboro High School Faculty Award and was a member of the National Honor Society.
Incidentally, former Lady Icers star Jessica Waldron played for that Princeton Tiger Lilies team as well. Kearns and Waldron also teamed up to win the 2004 Summer Keystone State Games tournament, with Kearns taking home the outstanding amateur athlete award.

The 2005 USA Hockey girls 19U bronze medal winners. Kearns is right in the middle with pretty much just her head visible, and the Penn State shirt is the giveaway with Waldron.

I can't say that it's surprising when someone with more Cs than Minnesota has lakes (sorry about that one) gets into coaching. Kearns did exactly that, as the only full-time assistant with the Division III Neumann University Knights, in Aston, PA, from 2009-2011.

In her final season at Neumann, Kearns and head coach Casey Handrahan helped the team to a 16-7-4 mark, which included a ten-game unbeaten streak at the end of the season, halted only by a 2-1 loss to Plattsburgh in the ECAC West semifinals. 2009-2010 saw the Knights finish a level 12-12-1 under Matthew Kennedy.

Here are Brandwene's thoughts on Kearns:
"I am incredibly excited to welcome Gina to the Penn State Hockey family. Gina's experience as a player in the first four years of a brand new college program, her outstanding leadership ability and coaching experience make her a terrific addition. She will be a fantastic role model for the women in our program."
Undoubtedly a great hire. TYT welcomes Gina Kearns to Penn State and congratulates Mo Stroemel on his position being solidified!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Three Stars: June 13-19


3. Penn State Hockey Lands Defenseman
(Fight On State)

I know I'm cheating a little with this one, since I've already linked the official release in the usual place. But I wanted to underscore the Mark Yanis commitment, because he's received more attention across the internet than any of our other recruits. I'm guessing it's because he's pretty good.

Fight On State gets the nod for link attention here over numerous others because they linked the TYT recruiting page (and gave it a sticky) on their hockey message board.

2. Billy's Back
(View From The Booth)

One friend of TYT likes to say that "it's not official until Steve Penstone's interview." Well, feel free to call the Bill Downey hire official.

Between Downey and guys like Josh Brandwene, it's extremely telling and a testament to the program Joe Battista and others built that alumni seem to be gravitating back to PSU now that the paid jobs that are part of an NCAA program are available.

1. The long road to UAA
(Anchorage Daily News)

This article was linked in the post about new Penn Stater Justin Kirchhevel, but in case you missed it, it's a must-read if you want to fully appreciate the road Kirchhevel's traveled from Brookings, SD to NCAA Division I hockey.

He's also trying to pave that road for future players from The Mount Rushmore State by holding a camp in his hometown during the last weekend in July.

Best of the Rest

U-M Regents OK $14M for Yost Ice Arena renovations
(Detroit News)

Welcome to the facility arms race, UofM.

The house that Jim Thome built may see outdoor hockey in January.

Outdoor hockey at Progressive Field?
(ESPN.com)

Speaking of Michigan, they appear set to participate in their 58th outdoor game this coming January at the home of the Cleveland Indians against host Ohio State. If everything goes through as planned (a scheduled announcement Friday was postponed, so it's not a lock just yet), it will be the first significant NCAA hockey event in my home metropolitan area since Kent State dropped their NCAA program in 1994 ever.

The Stanley Cup Effect: When The Local Team Wins, So Does Amateur Hockey
(United States of Hockey)

In the nine months since starting our NCAA programs, I've had the following conversation with fans of more established NCAA hockey schools several times.

Me: I think Penn State will have a very good program eventually. Pennsylvania's an underrated hockey state.
Other guy: Why? Because you have Sidney Crosby on your side? Hahahahahaha.
Me: Well, yeah, kinda. What do you think gets people into a sport in the first place?
Other guy: You're an idiot.

This post, which includes data showing that USA Hockey memberships jumped 20 percent in western PA immediately after the Penguins' two recent finals appearances, proves me right. Now if only eastern PA had some motivation to pick up the slack. I'm looking at you, Ilya Bryzgalov. Sign the deal.

Curley To Receive National Football Foundation's John L. Toner Award
(GoPSUSports.com)

Tim Curley could be the athletic director for the next 8,000 years and not top the last two months of his tenure. Obviously, there were great hires in men's and women's hockey. He also landed a basketball coach who is the subject of quite a large collective mancrush, scheduled Pitt in football and helped get two of my favorite coaches in sports on the same stage at the same time today. I may have forgotten something, but that's sort of my point. And now he's taking home an award for "an athletics director who has demonstrated superior administrative abilities and shown outstanding dedication to college athletics and particularly college football." Well earned, sir.

Maroon and gold vs. black and red
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Just in case you thought Curley's job was easy, here's a school with Big Ten television money and a revenue-producing non-Big Ten (for now) hockey program that's perpetually walking the tightrope.

AJHL Announces 2011-2012 League Schedule
(AJHL.ca)

2012 recruit Reed Linaker and the St. Albert Steel kick off the regular season on September 9th.

Lammers and Ellsworth Named Assistant Hockey Coaches
(GoRiverhawks.com)

New UMass-Lowell assistant coach Jason Lammers worked for Guy Gadowsky at Alaska in 2003-2004, then followed him to Princeton in 2004-2005.

Cronin Leaves Northeastern for NHL
(College Hockey News)

Speaking of the coaching carousel, it's not done spinning on the head coach side just yet either, as Northeastern's Greg Cronin took a job assisting Ron Wilson with the Maple Leafs. The late move left the Huskies without the ability to conduct a full search for a replacement - Sebastian Laplante will take over duties on an interim basis.

Kirchhevel Transfers to Penn State


Justin Kirchhevel, who just completed his freshman season at Alaska-Anchorage, confirmed to TYT today that he is transferring to Penn State for the coming season. The 2011-2012 season of ACHA competition will meet his mandatory "sit-out" year as dictated by NCAA Division I transfer rules, and he'll be ready to play out his remaining eligibility beginning in 2012-2013.

Justin Kirchhevel

Forward
Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves (WCHA)
5'10", 190 pounds
Brookings, SD
DOB 9/5/1989

UAA player page

Season   Team                     Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM
---------------------------------------------------------------
2006-07  Omaha Lancers            USHL   13    0    0    0    2

2006-07  Springfield Jr. Blues    NAHL    7    4    4    8   16
2007-08  Fargo-Moorhead Jets      NAHL   33    8   11   19   68
2008-09  St. Louis Bandits        NAHL   55   17   34   51   73
2009-10  St. Louis Bandits        NAHL   18    4    7   11   36

2009-10  Fairbanks Ice Dogs       NAHL   21   12   10   22   52
2010-11  U. of Alaska-Anchorage   WCHA    8    2    1    3    2


Kirchhevel (pronounced Kur-CAVE-uhl) played in just eight games last year, due to the lingering effects of a broken ankle suffered in the final game of his junior career, a playoff tilt for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.

That injury put his hopes of becoming one of the first two South Dakota natives to play NCAA Division I hockey (Matt Ferris, who plays at Princeton, formerly coached by Guy Gadowsky, is the other) in jeopardy, so when Alaska-Anchorage offered him a spot as a recruited walk-on last summer, it didn't take long for Kirchhevel to accept. The move paid immediate dividends for Seawolves coach Dave Shyiak too. Once Kirchhevel was healthy in late October, he scored a pair of redirection goals in his collegiate debut and added an assist the next day.

But he was never able to stay in the lineup long enough to develop consistency. He finished the season not only pointless after that second game, but without a single shot. That doesn't mean Penn State fans should be worried about his health though.

"My ankle is actually the best its ever been," he said. "I was supposed to have surgery this summer and I had a walking boot on for six weeks at the end of the school year."

"I guess that is exactly what my ankle needed according to the doctors."

While it's impossible to say for certain what Penn State's roster will look like in 2012 when NCAA play gets underway, one thing is clear. Not too many Nittany Lions will have previous NCAA game experience, let alone in the always-tough WCHA. While that might eventually mean that Kirchhevel emerges as a team leader, he's not quite ready to declare himself one.

"I will be one of the older players on the team once we make the transition and it will be a learning process for all of us," the former captain of his junior team said. "A new start always sparks great opportunity, but I'm not too worried about that right now and I'm just going to focus on what is best for the team and contribute in whatever way Coach asks me to."

"Coach," of course, is Gadowsky, who played a lead role in getting Kirchhevel to Penn State once he made the decision to leave Anchorage for a fresh start.

"Coach Gadowsky is a professional caliber coach who knows how to propel his players on and off the ice," he explained. "He has a long track record of making players live up to their potential and I can't wait to get on the ice with him."

Kirchhevel also cited PSU's strong hockey background and academic track record as reasons for picking the school. He also believes there were good reasons why PSU picked him.

"I think my strengths are being a heads-up hockey player that can anticipate the play and make plays and create space and time for my teammates," he said.

"I've been working a lot on my two way play the past couple years with numerous coaches so that I can be solid contributor on both sides of the puck."

Prior to committing to UAA, Kirchhevel had a nice junior run, primarily in the NAHL, where he averaged close to a point per game over three-plus years to go with an outstanding +39 rating over his final two seasons. His 2009 St. Louis Bandits squad won a third straight Robertson Cup as league playoff champions. Because the NAHL is the only Tier II Jr. A league in the U.S., the Bandits were also the USA Hockey national champions in that category for a third time in a row. Kirchhevel was named to the West Division team for the 2010 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.

Kirchhevel as a Fairbanks Ice Dog in 2009-2010.

But to truly understand what Penn State has in Kirchhevel, one has to understand his commitment to the game. The Brookings, South Dakota native didn't come from a hockey hotbed and frequently made 210-mile trips to Minneapolis with his father in order to compete at a level appropriate to his ability.
As a young teenager, Kirchhevel's father, Pete, often drove him 210 miles to Minneapolis for practices and games in an elite league.

"I'd be sleeping, he'd be driving,'' Justin said of the late-night trips back to Brookings, a community of about 20,000 just across Minnesota's western border.
Well, not always.

"He'd do his homework on the way home, too,'' Pete said.
Minneapolis had to seem like a trip to the grocery store once Kirchhevel's career advanced. He played midget in Denver, then of course bounced to five different stops during his junior career. But he never wavered.

"I think it is just a matter of how bad you want it and your love for the game," he said. "There's just something about getting on the ice and representing not only your school, but where you are from. Obviously it has been a long road but it's always been worth every second and I would do everything over again no matter what."

"I'm just lucky enough to be able to be apart of the inaugural season for the Nittany Lions and cant wait to be apart of a great tradition at Penn State for the next four years."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Homecoming

Penn State announced today that former Icers captain and assistant coach Bill Downey has rejoined his alma mater as Director of Hockey Operations for both the men's and women's programs. Let's start with some quotes from the principals, from the PSU release.

Bill Downey:
"As all alumni can attest, returning to campus is already an indescribable feeling in and of itself. But to come back to work for a Division I hockey program at Penn State is truly a special opportunity, and one that I accept with great responsibility, humility and enthusiasm. I'm thrilled to help shape the program that ultimately shaped me -- as both a player and person."
Joe Battista:
"Bill Downey is the perfect link to the past, present, and future of Penn State Hockey. As an alum and former player he brings a passion for all things Penn State. I was blessed to have recruited and coach him and am thrilled to have him back on our staff."
Josh Brandwene:
"I have known Bill Downey for over a decade. I had the pleasure of coaching him as an assistant coach during the 2003 World University Games and have worked many summer camps with him. He is an outstanding choice for this role and it's great to welcome him back to the Penn State community."
Guy Gadowsky:
"Billy Downey is a great hire for Penn State Hockey. I have received several emails from alumni who recommended Billy highly as both hockey mind and as a person. He represents himself extremely well, and immediately establishes intelligence and a genuine honesty with whomever he communicates with. I have great respect for Coach Donato and he could not have been more complimentary with what he said about the job Billy did as Director of Hockey Operations for two very successful men's and women's hockey programs at Harvard. I know Billy will be a huge asset to Penn State Hockey."
Downey, of course, was a standout Icers forward from 2000-2004, scoring 159 points on 57 goals and 102 assists (starting with four goals in his first game) and earning a +103 rating in 134 games. He was a three-time ACHA national champion, two-time winner of the team's Tammy Smith Unsung Hero Award and was one of Penn State's representatives to Team USA for the 2003 World University Games.

Downey as a Johnstown Chief.

His professional experience following receiving his degree in economics is extremely diverse. As Gadowsky mentioned, Downey spent the 2010-2011 season in a similar role at Harvard, overseeing the day-to-day operations of their men's and women's programs. Immediately prior to that, of course, he made his first return to PSU - as one of Scott Balboni's assistants from 2008-2010, helping the Icers to a pair of ESCHL regular season and playoff championships. Following a four-season professional career that included stops in the ECHL, SPHL and UHL, Downey was an assistant for the ECHL's Reading Royals in 2007-2008.

The Pittsburgh native has fantastic connections in the recruiting world as well, serving as PSU's recruiting coordinator during his time as a coach. He's also run numerous camps and clinics, both at Penn State and elsewhere, served as a scout for the USHL's Chicago Steel, and is a former hockey director for Team Comcast in Pennsauken, NJ.

TYT extends its welcome (back, again) to Bill Downey!

More on Downey:

Payday Memorabilia: Bill Downey Jersey
Breakout Past: 2003 WUG T-Shirt

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Breakout Past: Ice Skating Rink Planned

One thing that I've observed quite a few times, in both professional and college sports, that once a team is lost, there's generally a five-to-ten-year moratorium before clamor for a replacement begins. I have no idea whether that's due to mourning, indifference (which either caused the issue in the first place or built up after the fact) or what, but it's definitely there. Just watch what happens in Atlanta if you don't believe me. Big league hockey will be completely off the radar for a few years. Then someone with a sizable readership will pump out a well-written and well-researched Thrashers retrospective. Shortly after, someone will suggest that Atlanta should get another crack at an NHL franchise.

Penn State hockey, of course, took its turn at the process following the discontinuation of the initial varsity team in 1947. Here's the media frenzy when that happened.


Anyway, my goal here was to test my theory relative to PSU, so I scoured the Collegian archives for any mention of ice hockey in the decade following that unceremonious ending of the program and sure enough, there was but one major story over the next seven years, although it was indeed "major."

Click to read.

So wait...hockey was ended because of the "extremely limited facilities," and we now have a facility that is artificially frozen and not entirely reliant on cold weather. Would a hockey team now follow? It took all of one day to squash the dreams of those who asked that question.

Click to read.

So we went from "no facility" to "it costs too much" somewhere between 1947 and 1954. That moving target might help explain why another 16 years passed before Penn State got another crack at a team following completion of the $200,000 rink. That team, of course, is the Icers - and they even ended up playing on the Ice Skating Rink, which had become The Pavilion in the intervening years by adding a roof and walls.

The rink as it was originally laid out. Now located somewhere underneath the Lasch Football Building.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stocking Up For The Big Time

In what should be considered the single biggest recruiting haul in the young history of Penn State's NCAA program, Guy Gadowsky landed three highly-touted players over the last two days according to recruiting guru Chris Heisenberg.

First thing's first: all three of the players in this post will be starting at PSU in 2012, as NCAA play gets underway. That's not the only commonality shared by the trio, however. All three hail from decidedly traditional hockey areas (two from Canada, one from Michigan), as Gadowsky continues to prove that he'll go where the players reside. And all three provide a glimpse of the Nittany Lions' recruiting pull once full-fledged varsity status arrives. Quite simply, that pull is pretty strong.


Luke Juha

Defenseman
Burlington Cougars (OJHL)
5'11", 180 pounds
Mississauga, ON
DOB 3/9/1993

OJHL player page

Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM
-------------------------------------------------------------

2009-10  Burlington Cougars     CCHL   29    6   25   31   24
2010-11  Burlington Cougars     OJHL   44    9   39   48   16

Did this post's intro get you pumped? No? Well, maybe this will. Sit down for a second - it's declaration time.

Luke Juha may be the first Penn Stater ever to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft.

In case it slipped your mind, we'll know about that soon enough - the draft is next weekend, June 24th and 25th to be exact. In the meantime, here's a projection from December that shows Juha as a second-rounder. Granted, he's not likely to be taken that high, as he's considered something of a sleeper. Opinions of Juha are widely varied, to the point where he doesn't even appear on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters. So essentially, he could go anywhere from the second round to undrafted. Glad I could nail that down for you.

In the event Juha's name does get called in St. Paul, some lucky NHL team will have acquired the rights to a defenseman with rare vision and puck-moving ability. According to TheScoutingReport.org:
He is a defenseman with tremendous offensive upside, will not over complicate the game and always makes the smart pass. Juha has been said to make passes that other players his age would not attempt, which supports the fact that the Mississauga native, has outstanding vision.
In other words, he fits perfectly in Gadowsky's up-tempo system. But it took a fortuitous sequence of events to get Juha to Hockey Valley. He originally spurned Gadowsky's Princeton program (as well as Maine, Harvard and the Ontario Hockey League's Guelph Storm, who drafted him in 2009) and committed to Clarkson last year, with plans to begin this fall. But in April, the Golden Knights dismissed coach George Roll, who recruited Juha. Put that together with Gadowsky's arrival at PSU and it's pretty easy to understand why Juha has now had an apparent change of heart regarding his college choice.

The guy's not exactly light on accolades either.
Luke Juha is the only player to receive recognition as both an [OJHL] All-Star, being named to the North-West Conference 1st All-Star Team, and as an All-Prospect. The seventeen-year old’s award-filled season includes winning a silver medal as a member of Team Canada East at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, participating in the CJHL Prospects Game and leading the Burlington Cougars to a West Division title.
Here's a video that shows a little bit of Juha's background before heading to Burlington - he and four others spent an unbelievable seven years as teammates through minor hockey. Two of that Fab Five are Ryan Strome and Michael Curtis, both anticipated NHL draft picks next weekend. Hopefully Juha will be joining them.




Jonathan Milley

Forward
Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL)
6'4", 215 pounds
Ottawa, ON
DOB 5/8/1991

CCHL player page

Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM
-------------------------------------------------------------

2007-08  Smiths Falls Bears     CJHL   30    3    5    8   29
2008-09  Smiths Falls Bears     CJHL   58   28   33   61  109
2009-10  Smiths Falls Bears     CJHL   31   13   29   42   78
2010-11  Pembroke Lumber Kings  CCHL   42   29   29   58   50

Jonathan Milley did a lot of winning last season.

Sure, his Pembroke Lumber Kings cruised to a CCHL-best 51-9-2 record last season and went on to take the Bogart Cup, symbolic of the league's playoff championship, for the fifth straight time. But while that's a destination for most outfits, for Milley and his teammates, that was just the beginning.

From there, it was on to the Fred Page Cup, contested each year by the champions of the CCHL, the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League, the Maritime Hockey League and a host team. Once again, the Lumber Kings met little resistance, going 2-1-0 in the round robin, then defeating QJAAAHL champion Longueuil College Francais for the Cup. That win allowed Pembroke to compete for the RBC Cup, Canada's Junior A national championship, along with champions from other regions. And as you might have guessed, the Lumber Kings won that too, topping the two-time defending champion Vernon Vipers in the final.

Not bad for a season's work.

At this point, you may be thinking "all of this is well and good, but team success doesn't necessarily say anything about an individual player on the team."

Except in this case it does, because Milley's play grew exponentially along with the importance of the games. During the CCHL regular season, his 29 goals and 58 points were good for second and fourth on the team, respectively. Then, come CCHL playoff time, he led the Lumber Kings in scoring. At the Fred Page Cup, he notched four points in the championship game and was named player of the tournament. By the final of the RBC Cup, Milley had taken over completely, scoring the only two goals in the game (part of his tournament-high seven).

Milley's RBC Cup-winning goal somehow found that hole.

Milley brings something important to the table - size and presence down low, particularly on the power play. Fifteen of his 29 goals last season came on the man advantage - I imagine many of them looked quite a bit like the one shown in the photo above as well as the ones in the videos on Milley's Lumber Kings profile page.

A big player who plays even bigger in important situations and important games. Name a hockey team that doesn't need one (or more) of those.


Mark Yanis

Defenseman
Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
6'2", 190 pounds
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
DOB 5/26/1994

USHL player page

Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM
-------------------------------------------------------------

2009-10  Belle Tire U16         Mdgt.  64    6   16   22  112
2010-11  Muskegon Lumberjacks   USHL   54    1    4    5  136

Coming off of a productive midget season in his native Detroit area, defenseman Mark Yanis was chosen by the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers in the ninth round of the 2010 OHL draft. If you're new in the game, there's a common dilemma faced by high-end players once they turn 16 - play Canadian major junior and lose NCAA eligibility or take what's commonly referred to as the college track and play in the USHL (or other junior leagues considered amateur by the NCAA) until ready for higher education.

Yanis (as well as fellow one-time OHL picks Juha and Milley) chose the latter, signing with the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks this past season and holding his own as the youngest player on the team to log more than ten games. He had a top-six defense spot on lockdown and contributed a physical presence on the back end.

If it's not obvious yet, he has a big-time ceiling. For starters, look at the college programs knocking on his door.
Yanis is a well sought-out player, with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, The Ohio State University and University of Notre Dame heavily recruiting him. [Note: Penn State wasn't on his radar at this point, as the article was written two months prior to PSU having an NCAA program.]
Yanis doesn't plan on ending his hockey career in college either, as he's considered a likely pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

A couple quick scouting reports are in order, first from Lumberjacks coach Kevin Patrick:
“Mark is a hard-nosed defenseman who loves to play physical and in a guy’s face. He skates well and moves the puck well. And he’s not afraid to get up and support the rush.”
Next, from the USHL Prospects Blog:
A big shut down style defenseman. At 16, Yanis already has pro caliber size, standing at 6'3" and 190 pounds. Yanis, like [Sioux City Musketeers defenseman Sam] Piazza, plays a more defensive game, not really producing offensively.
And finally, from Yanis himself:
"I skate well for a guy my size and I take pride in making tape-to-tape passes coming out of the defensive zone. I can mix it up in the corners and play a physical game...I like the way [Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas] Kronwall plays and I think I play hockey like he does."
Yanis dispenses some justice.