"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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ill Communication

The tears of many taste of bitterness.

Penn State hockey is probably not going to win any popularity contests anytime soon - among NCAA or ACHA people.

The source of the ACHA hate is fairly obvious, as the ability to play for the ACHA National Championship with better players than would have otherwise been around has soured some people (I'm sure there's a twinge of jealousy in the commentary as well). Examples are readily available in one recent thread on the ACHA message board Hockey 101.

blaiser10:
"It is a sham that they're being allowed to play ACHA and compete at Nationals."
puckschmuk:
"An ACHA team of Varsity recruits playing in the Natty Light League bites the bag."
bigpoppy:
"First of all I agree this loop whole [sic] is a joke and it makes the ACHA looks terrible...you have a team like Penn State bringing in DI level player to use the ACHA as practice for 1 year so they can get ready to make the jump to the NCAA DI. That is BS and someone should stop it."
Ummm...sorry? I can't say that and sound sincere, so that's the best you're getting from me.

Some of it borders on the delusional, as in suggestions that PSU is no better than Oklahoma or that EJHL guys can't be DI-caliber players. While the Sooners have a number of good former NAHLers on their team, that logic fails for the simple reason that OU wasn't really any better than PSU last season, before the Icers added anyone. I'll even take it a step further and say that they didn't deserve to make nationals. At some point, you have to stop looking at the junior league someone played in and start looking at what they're doing right now, and on that count, I'm not impressed.

On the NCAA side of things, we've all heard plenty about how Penn State ruined college hockey by a) wanting an NCAA program, b) accepting $88 million and c) not defying the conference with which it cast its lot long ago. PSU's been blamed for everything from Alabama-Huntsville's awful situation to the entire existence of the NCHC, along with its fallout. But there's a new complaint, brought to light by a quick comment at the end of College Hockey News' article about Mercyhurst forward Taylor Holstrom's transfer to PSU.
The transfers have raised concern among some in the college hockey community, particularly Penn State's ability to take advantage of the transfer-period loophole to lure players.
The time to take advantage of this is quickly ending, and to the best of our knowledge, the haul amounts to two good players from Mercyhurst and two WCHAers who (in part because of valid reasons like injuries) didn't contribute all that much to their teams last year. Boo hoo. While playing an extra year of ACHA allows things like that, it's a double-edged sword - it also took away our ability to be a legitimate player in the John Gaudreau sweepstakes. The former Northeastern signee got a release from his letter of intent when coach Greg Cronin left, but...


If PSU goes varsity this year instead of next, one has to believe the Philly-area product and fourth-round Flames draft pick would have given more consideration to Hockey Valley. Maybe he would've even gone back to the USHL to join the program in year two and avoid some of the growing pains. Admittedly, it still would've been an extreme longshot (right now, he's taking visits to New Hampshire, Vermont and Boston College), but the ACHA year closes the window entirely, as well as on Gaudreau's brother Matt, who may eventually bail on his Northeastern pledge to follow John.

Zach Hyman is another case where the ACHA year killed any chance PSU might have had otherwise. Hyman was actually committed to Guy Gadowsky at Princeton, then reconsidered when Gadowsky left. Despite the presence of Princeton's former coaching staff, PSU was quickly ruled out because of the extra season. Now Hyman (this year) and brother Spencer (in 2012 or 2013) are both going to Michigan, where they may burn Penn State down the road.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I'm positive that a lot of what we're seeing right now is the result of changing our building plan mid-stream. Let's go back to something Joe Battista said in March, in response to the Big Ten's firing things up in 2013.
“It’s a year earlier than we originally thought,” Battista said. “So we are going to have to ratchet everything up. We will definitely have to hire the full staffs earlier than we had initially planned to. At the same time, it also means having more revenue coming in earlier because the arena will be built and ready for play.”

Hiring the staffs sooner will ease the transition from the current ACHA D-I club program to NCAA. Battista said it is necessary to have the staff, including the coaches, work hand-in-hand with the club teams, the ACHA Penn State Icers and Lady Icers, in their final seasons.

“The new coaches will have an opportunity to influence the systems the Icers will play next season to help the transition to the D-I team,” Battista said.
So basically, as of March, Battista and company:
  • Expected to have an extra "varsity" year of building the program before Big Ten play.
  • Didn't plan on having the NCAA coach leading the Icers this season.
  • Generally speaking, planned on a slower timeline for building the program - including assistant coaches and, in all likelihood, players.

Gadowsky's hiring helped escalate the building plan.

This season's schedule was first tentatively announced on April 7th, 15 days after Battista's quote was published. I'm going to guess that they were working on it well before Battista's statement, because that's certainly not a "get a pot of coffee on and see you in the morning" type of thing (like most of my posts). Gadowsky was hired on April 24th (17 days after the schedule), and by all accounts, he's joined the Big Ten announcement in kicking things up a few gears. One thing he probably didn't do: recruit players for Penn State before April 24th.

Add that all together, and I really don't think that the Icers initially planned on this year being fundamentally all that different from last year. This year's team was supposed to be the the 2012-2013 team, and the first varsity team will probably closely resemble what was originally in the plans for 2013-2014. Obviously, that all changed, but it was too late to substantially adjust things like the schedule. And we're certainly not going to take our foot off the gas with recruiting to compensate.

By the way, think it's easy to fix a schedule? Try it. I did, and was promptly called out by none other than Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley for forgetting about NCAA game limits and that fact that PSU, even as a club team, counts towards them. And I was just doing it for one weekend. I can only imagine trying to bounce all of Washington & Jefferson, Pitt, Rutgers, West Virginia, Mercyhurst (ACHA version) and Lebanon Valley.

If you manage to successfully upgrade our schedule, leave your suggestions in the comments, then call Bill Downey. Actually, call Downey first, I can wait.

Bottom line: understand what you're talking about before you criticize. The realities that led to where we are today are more complex than they appear on the surface.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breakout Past: La Vie of Penn State Hockey (Part II)


Here's the conclusion to the look at old Penn State yearbooks that I began last week. A couple reminders: my comments are in italics between rows of periods, and the "previous work" referenced throughout means the data generated from Daily Collegian archives that allowed me to produce a schedule/results page for the original varsity hockey team.

1942 La Vie (1941-42 season)

Coach.............................Art Davis
Captain.....................Larry Lightbody
Manager.........................John Clarke

VARSITY SQUAD

L. Lightbody, J. Dufford, E. Johnson, M. Fedock, T. Goodwin, B. Anthony, R. Hill, S. Sussman, A. Gladstone, W. Freesland, K. Herrick, T. Cauffman, R. Templin, J. Burford, J. Fisher, W. Bitner, D. Steva, A. Bitner, F. Bernbaum, T. Heberling

SEASON’S RECORD

Penn State.............7 Carnegie Tech..........0 Away
Penn State.............3 Georgetown.............5 Away
Penn State.............3 Carnegie Tech..........2 Away
Penn State.............5 St. Josephs............1 Away
Penn State.............4 Franklin and Marshall..1 Away
Penn State.............4 Lehigh.................2 Away

Penn State’s ice hockey players, without any home rink, and with practically no ice on which to practice, compiled another remarkable record under the coaching of Dr. Art Davis. Although six lettermen returned from last year, the majority of the squad was green, and the only practice session held were the actual games played.

Perhaps the outstanding player on the squad was Captain Larry Lightbody, the goalie. It was Lightbody’s steadiness which carried the icemen through to victory on many occasions, and it was this same expertness and steadiness which enabled the Lions to make a fine showing against the two non-college opponents on the schedule.

Only one college team was able to defeat the Penn State hockeymen. Georgetown handed the Lions a 5 to 3 defeat in an early season contest in Washington, D.C. College opponents defeated were Carnegie Tech (twice); St. Josephs College, F. and M., and Lehigh. Games were played in Hershey, Johnstown, Washington, D.C., and Youngstown, Ohio.

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

The only discrepancy here is the presence of games against the Hershey Jr. Bears and the Navy All-Stars in my previous work, which is supported by recaps given in the 1/16/1942 and 3/12/1942 Daily Collegians.

That one is pretty easily explained by La Vie and its repeated qualifier of "college" games - they simply weren't counting those two tilts. While I understand the sentiment to consider them as exhibitions, they were never expressed as such in the Collegian, and playing non-college teams was not at all out of the ordinary at the time. In fact, the Jr. Bears are a former conference foe.

Since no dates and locations are given for the remaining games, I was only able to verify scores, opponents and sequence - all of which were dead on what I already had.


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

1944 La Vie (1942-43 season)

Coach.............................Art Davis
Captain........................Ted Cauffman
Manager.......................Paul Panneton

VARSITY SQUAD

R. Bacher, F. Bernbaum, W. Bitner, J. Burford, T. Cauffman, A. Gladstone, R. Herr, B. Levy, J. McKechnie, S. Skuta, D. Steva, S. Sussman, B. White, E. Williams, H. Yocum

RECORD

Feb.  8 – Penn State.............4 Drexel.................0
Feb. 16 – Penn State.............4 Drexel.................1
Mar. 13 – Penn State.............0 Baltimore All-Stars...11
Mar. 14 – Penn State.............1 Washington All-Stars...5

The Penn State ice hockey team was limited to competition in only four games after several opponents dropped the sport for the duration.

In their first game of the winter season, after only two weeks of practice, the Nittany icers defeated the Drexel Engineers, 4 to 0. Acting Captain Cauffman pushed two goals past the Engineer cage watcher, which the other Lion wingman, Bernbaum, was credited with two assists in the game.

Two weeks later, the Penn State squad met the Drexel stickmen at Hershey and again sunk the Philadelphia team. This time the score was 4 to 1, with McGreger tallying the Drexel lone marker in the last period. Cauffman and Bernbaum again played excellently and they accounted for two markers each.

The regular season completed, the Lions then moved down to Balitmore to meet the Baltimore All-Stars in a game which saw the Nittanymen suffer a 11 to 0 defeat. The icers were completely outplayed by the fast All-Stars.

The stickmen met the Washington All-Stars on the next night in Washington, D.C. Again an All-Star squad proved too much for the Penn Staters, and they lost, 5 to 1. Captain Cauffman scored the lone tally for the Lions.

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

Four games, and not only a confirmation of everything we knew, but some added detail - the scores of the pretty unsuccessful trip to the Baltimore-DC area.

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

1944-46 La Vie (1943-44 season)

Ice hockey ran into the usual problem of keeping its outdoor rink in condition for competition, and succeeded in playing only two matches – both away from home. The pucksters were licked in both encounters, losing to Cornell and Army. Mild weather forced the postponement of all home matches.

SEASON OF 1944

Feb.  5 – Penn State.............1 Cornell................7 Away
Feb. 26 – Penn State.............3 Army..................18 Away

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

Hockey wasn't the only extracurricular activity affected by World War II - La Vie also was suspended for the duration after the 1944 edition, then a consolidated 1944-46 volume was published once the war was over.

One of the advantages of games against still-active teams is that another source of information exists: media guides. Army's 2010-2011 version verifies their shellacking of PSU (overlooked by my Collegian search), while Cornell's insists that the score was 8, not 7, to 1.

While I do have two extra games in my records, unlike last week, I can definitively prove that they happened. First, here's the 12/17/43 Collegian on the game against the Jr. Bears on December 15th.



And here's the game against the Army Air Corps, from the 1/21/1944 edition.


Elsewhere in that same Collegian, this one was referred to as a "practice game," so feel free to assign it less weight than the other games if you wish. However, for the sake of completeness and because there isn't a consistent way to identify such games, I'm going to include it in the 1943-44 record.

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

1947 La Vie (1946-47 season)

Coach..........................James O’Hora
Captain.......................Fred Bernbaum
Manager.......................Richard Yoder

LETTERMEN

Fred Bernbaum, Lloyd Black, Theodore Cauffman, John Egan, John Fast, Arthur Gladstone, Thomas Goodman, William Levy, Richard Neilson, Cliff Sullivan

RECORD

Jan. 18 – Penn State.............0 Colgate................14
Jan. 27 – (Game cancelled with Georgetown)
Jan. 29 – (Game cancelled with Lehigh)
Feb.  1 – (Game cancelled with Cornell)
Feb. 12 – Penn State.............3 Army...................12
Feb. 15 – Penn State.............4 Georgetown.............11
Feb. 22 – (Game cancelled with Colgate)

The Nittany Lion ice hockey team ran into bad luck with old man weather and opposing pucksters as Penn State’s first squad since 1943 took the ice. Seven games were scheduled to be played, but the cold weather didn’t come around at the right time and four contests had to be canceled. With practically no practice, the Lion puckmen took on three opponents and lost all games by decisive margins.

Jim O’Hora, new addition to the football coaching staff, was selected to head the hockeymen for the 1947 season. The return of veteran players helped very little as Colgate, Army and Georgetown sank the Blue and White pucksters. The first game was to be played on New Beaver Field, but the cold weather didn’t hold out and the contest was shifted to Hamilton, N.Y., where the Lions proceeded to drop a 14-0 game to a powerful and undefeated Colgate team.

Three games in succession were canceled with Georgetown, Lehigh and Cornell, and it wasn’t until February 12 that Penn State traveled to West Point to take on the Cadets. The Lions pushed three goals into the net, but Army in turn tallied 12 points to win the contest, 12 to 3. Three days later Penn State journeyed to Georgetown and dropped an 11 to 4 game to the Hoyas. The classic with Colgate on February 22 failed to materialize when the weather once more warmed to melt the ice.

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

One minor conflict to close things out, the date of the Georgetown game, which stands (for now) as the last varsity game at Penn State.


The above is from the 3/6/1947 Collegian, and refers to the game as having happened "Monday night." March 6th was a Thursday that year, making Monday the 3rd.


I often wish that someone had thought to ask Jim O'Hora - who died in 2005 and is best known to people under 50 years old for his appearance in the Sensational Sixties football highlight video - about hockey. While he only coached three completed games and is generally forgotten as a hockey personality, I think he would've had some interesting thoughts on the closure of this chapter of PSU's hockey history. At the very least, he's good at explaining how the play-action pass beat Ohio State in 1964.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PSU Wins Battle of Waterloo


The USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks announced on Monday that goaltender Eamon McAdam has committed to play at Penn State, starting in 2013-2014. McAdam becomes the second member of the 2013 recruiting class, joining defenseman and fellow Pennsylvania native Connor Varley.

Eamon McAdam

Goaltender
Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
6'2", 175 pounds
Perkasie, PA
DOB 9/24/1994

USHL player page

Season   Team                  Lge   GP  Rec      GAA   SV%
-------------------------------------------------------------

2009-10  Team Comcast          Mdgt  23  12-10-1  2.47  0.920
2010-11  Austin Bruins         NAHL   9   2- 4-2  3.32  0.904
2010-11  Waterloo Black Hawks  USHL   4   2- 2-0  3.48  0.888

Here's the full text of the release:
Perkasie, Pennsylvania native Eamon McAdam became the first Waterloo Black Hawk player to commit to Penn State’s new varsity hockey program, the Hawks announced Monday.

The Nittany Lions will begin playing NCAA Division I hockey in 2012-2013. McAdam will join the squad as a freshman in 2013-2014.

A goaltender who appeared for the Black Hawks off of the team’s affiliate list last winter, McAdam played in four USHL games. He was 2-2-0 for Waterloo, posting a 3.48 goals-against average and 88.8% save pct. McAdam’s first league win came during a 20-save performance versus the Chicago Steel on January 15th. The 16-year-old also played for the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League in 2010-2011. Taking the ice nine times for the Bruins, McAdam was 2-4-2 with a 3.32 GAA and 90.4% save percentage.

“We were fortunate to have Eamon available to us at several key points last season,” said Black Hawks Head Coach P.K. O’Handley. “Having had that experience should prepare him to be a significant contributor to the Black Hawks this season.”

Last winter, 14 Black Hawks players had commitments to Division I universities. McAdam is the ninth player on Waterloo’s 2011-2012 preseason roster to choose a school.
Following a sturdy midget season with Team Comcast (including a pair of shutouts), McAdam was drafted twice in 2010: by the London Knights in the fourth round of the Ontario Hockey League Draft, and by the Black Hawks in the sixth round of the USHL Futures Draft. He decided in favor of Waterloo and retaining amateur status, so the Black Hawks put him on their protected list and sent him to the NAHL's Austin Bruins to begin last year. "Respectable stats on a bad team" might be an accurate way to describe McAdam's nine games in the Texas capital, and he allowed three or fewer goals in his last five games.

When the second half of the season started, McAdam found himself up in the USHL and got into four games. While he was shelled (6 goals in 40 minutes) by Indiana in his debut, he improved with each outing - his last two appearances were wins, including one goal against on 21 shots versus Chicago and a 14-for-14 relief effort against Dubuque.

McAdam is a popular selection for elite-level camps and showcases, including the recent USA Hockey Select 17 Development Camp from July 7-13, where he posted a 2-1-0 record with a 3.20 goals against average and a 0.910 save percentage. Earlier this summer, he was at the Warren Strelow National Team Goaltending Camp (May 12-15) and the Liberty Bell Games (June 10-12). That latter event is attended by numerous scouts and coaches from across professional, college and junior hockey, and assistant coach Matt Lindsey represented Penn State - one can't help but think that a strong performance there ultimately helped lead to McAdam's becoming the newest Nittany Lion.

Until that's official though, he'll return to Waterloo, where he will likely start the 2011-2012 season as the team's No. 2 goalie.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Crawford Releases More Pegula Ice Arena Renderings

On Friday, Crawford Architects shared two computer-generated Pegula Ice Arena pictures via their Facebook page. Today, they gave us two different looks.



The top exterior shot differs a little from Friday's version (which, interestingly, no longer appears in Crawford's Facebook album).


How do we resolve that one? For starters, GoPSUSports.com posted a video interview with Guy Gadowsky today where the Friday exterior photo served as a makeshift backdrop. Also, I'm no architect, but if I had to guess, the watercolor phase comes before the plug it into the really expensive software phase. So with those two things in mind, I tend to view the earlier picture as more accurate (one also has to acknowledge the possibility that Crawford leaked something we weren't supposed to see Friday, hence the deletion and replacement with possibly older versions).

Just to make it a complete "everything we know about Pegula Ice Arena" photo dump, here are the scoreboard and suite renderings one more time.




Three Stars: July 18-24


3. College Township looks at traffic impact of planned Penn State ice arena
(Centre Daily Times)

You know that fun part of arena planning that involves sketches and imagination? This is the opposite of that. A traffic impact study for the Pegula Ice Arena is underway, and the College Township Planning Commission will discuss it on August 16th, after it's completed. But just as a heads up, there might be new turning lanes in the area of the arena.

2. Lions Add 2013 Defenseman
(Lions 247)

The Whalers fan in me desperately wants to find a way to drop "Varley Valapski" in a post somehow. Guess I just did.

1. @tommyolczyk
(Twitter)

BRIERE!

TSA agent just mistook me for Danny Briere. #shouldhavegonewithit #compliment #thanks #iwish.
Other than changing things up from the usual "recruiting, recruiting, other" pattern, I wanted to use this occasion to point out how much the new players have elevated Penn State hockey's tweet game. Olczyk, Steve Edgeworth, P.J. Musico and Josh Daley in particular are clutch follows. Thanks, gentlemen. #beauties

Best of the Rest

Lions Add Some Fire Power
(Fight On State)

Did I give FOS a demotion for their apparent unawareness of Jonathan Milley until last week's Lions 247 piece? Nah, I just didn't want to put a picture of him at the top two weeks in a row. Beyond that, newer recruits get tiebreaker advantages.

An early glimpse at incoming freshman commit Zach Hyman
(The Michigan Daily)

This isn't included as a what-might-have-been as much as for its insight into Guy Gadowsky's recruiting methods.
Former Princeton hockey coach Guy Gadowsky told Zach Hyman to go be "The Man."

At the young age of 15, Hyman committed to play for Gadowsky and the Tigers. With already two years of experience in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, that still wasn’t enough for the college stage — Gadowsky wanted Hyman to play one more year in the OJHL.

According to Gadowsky, once Hyman became "The Man" in the OJHL, he’d learn what it felt like to be the best and translate that feeling into being an impact player as a Princeton Tiger during his freshman campaign.
Hyman, of course, did as Gadowsky asked and was heavily criticized for playing beneath his abilities. Then he decommitted from Princeton when Gadowsky left, ending up at Michigan.

As we've figured out by now, Gadowsky likes players who have proven to be "the man," even if it means staying in junior a year past the comfort zone of most. Winning players bring a winning culture with them - and it worked at former doormat Princeton, so why not at new program Penn State?

...then it got a lot less tough. Then it got a little tougher, but not as tough as it was originally.

Northern Michigan to Rejoin WCHA Family
(WCHA.com)

Your conference alignment segment of this week's post begins with another conference that's official and effective for 2013-2014. As of that season, the dub is now up to a membership of Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, NMU and St. Cloud State.

Huskies are left with only questions
(St. Cloud Times)

Kurtz led PSU from 1974-76.
I feel like St. Cloud State is one of the big losers of the conference shifting - a competitive program in a top conference that's now in the hockey equivalent of the MAC. They might end up needing an autobid to make the NCAA tournament after taking an at-large slot six times in the last thirteen years. In the aftermath, a former PSU coach and faculty member (who, by the way, has made recent trips to State College) was not spared from criticism.
SCSU also is paying athletic director Morris Kurtz nearly $130,000 to stay around for a lame-duck year before his June 2012 retirement. What exactly is his role with the hockey program now? Does he even have one?
WCHA commish has no guarantees for MSU Moorhead
(The Dickinson Press)
“It is really tough to make a commitment … and if I could tell Moorhead in three years you’ll be in the WCHA I would, but in these circumstances, I cannot even come close to that,” [WCHA commissioner Bruce] McLeod said. “I cannot make promises, but at the same time I’d love to encourage that the Fargo-Moorhead area is really fine.”
Nothing to see here, I suppose. But it's pretty clear that school and conference need each other right now.

Another view: Thinking of history and the conference realignment
(USCHO)
Of course, I realize this is not about storied teams and traditions, but about money. If you don’t think this is the case, then consider this — a three time NCAA Champion [Lake Superior State] is being (kind of) replaced by a school (Penn State) that up to this point has had nothing more than a club team. I cannot be the only one that finds this astounding.
Flexible definitions of "storied" aside, I think people need to wake up to the fact that winning a national championship doesn't grant your program some sort of immunity, or even respect, until the end of days. Northern Michigan realizes that, and is trying to position themselves as well as they're able in the present reality. RPI does too. Evolve or die - it's true in life, and after a period of complacency-inspiring status quo, it's true in college hockey too. LSSU has done very little evolving since losing Jeff Jackson to the newly-formed U.S. National Team Development Program in 1996.

CCHA, Atlantic Schools To Meet, Weigh Options
(College Hockey News)

Speaking of, four Atlantic Hockey programs are using the upheaval to grow.
CCHA officials will meet within the next two weeks with representatives of four Atlantic Hockey schools about a potential change in conferences in 2013-14.

Robert Morris, Niagara, Mercyhurst and Canisius are all actively exploring the possibility of switching from Atlantic Hockey to the CCHA. It is believed that the four would leave as a group, or not at all, though that is not set in stone.
Depending on when Notre Dame decides to move, this could be the one that brings this all to an uneasy detente. AHA would still be viable with eight teams, and the WCHA and CCHA both would have added enough to survive.

Canisius coach Dave Smith may be looking to grow his program through a move to the CCHA - and none other than The Namesake may be helping him by financing another college hockey rink.

Like how I snuck a bonus link in the caption?
Serious discussions have been ongoing about [Terry] Pegula backing (see: major donation) a movement toward a new on-campus events center. It would serve as a home for Canisius and the Buffalo Junior Sabres, a practice rink for the Sabres and be available to youth teams. There's talk it could also become a basketball venue and a place for graduation ceremonies that are now held at UB.
Just as this whole thing might be hurting St. Cloud State, it might be helping the former Icers rival.

Alberts says 'The National' will raise Mav profile
(Omaha World Herald)

I already have an anti-NCHC bias, in part because I really think Big Ten-NCHC in hockey will be a lot like Big Ten-SEC in football in due time. Hopefully minus the part where the Big Ten is pretty vastly inferior to the other side. So to get their side of things in here and make it somewhat palatable, I took an article from my favorite NCHC school, Nebraska-Omaha (and yes, Trev Alberts is the AD there if you didn't know that).

To be honest though, I hate conference chest beating, and I hate it even more when schools and fans identify themselves as a member of a conference seemingly ahead of all else (PSU administration is guilty of this on occasion). In the grand scheme of things, I couldn't care less about the Big Ten. I didn't go to school at "Big Ten," I went to Penn State.

Minnesota Gophers Hockey: Creating A New Tournament Tradition
(SB Nation)

...so let's segue into to talking about another Big Ten team just because they're in the Big Ten! The Gophers and their in-state soon-to-be-former conference rivals are looking to possibly start an in-season tournament at the Xcel Energy Center - like a State of Hockey Beanpot by all accounts. Sounds great to me, it could be huge if given time to grow into the deep hockey culture there.

Timeline: College hockey conferences through the years
(USCHO)

In case you're lost.

Versus may be interested in college hockey TV package
(Schenectady Daily Gazette)

While most have heard by now that Versus is looking to get into the college hockey business (in all likelihood via a deal with whichever conference Notre Dame ultimately joins), it's somewhat of a surprise that they may look to take the plunge as soon as this season.
Numerous sources have indicated that Versus is discussing the possibility of televising regular-season college hockey games, beginning in January. What conferences would be involved, or what night the games would be shown (either Friday or Saturday) is unclear right now. Versus, part of the NBC Sports Group, is the cable home of the NHL. A few months ago, the NBC Sports Group signed a 10-year deal to keep the NHL on NBC and Versus.
Skating through the past
(The Temple News)

A look at the history of Temple hockey, which dates back to 1940. Penn State, as we now know, dealt the Owls a pair of losses in their inaugural season. Today, Temple is a fierce rival of PSU's ACHA Division 2 Ice Lions.

Brian Slugocki has been a key figure throughout the reorganization of Arizona hockey. Now, he and his mates finally have a new coach.

Sean Hogan Returns to the ACHA as Head Coach of the University of Arizona
(ACHAHockey.org)

A while back, I wrote about the state of affairs in a former PSU nemesis' program. And despite the accusations from some (possibly people affiliated with former coach Leo Golembiewski) that the coup out west was a case of hockey parents run amok, it's a story with a happy ending. Sean Hogan takes over the newly-rechristened Wildcat program after a year as Jeff Blashill's video coach at Western Michigan. Icers fans may remember him as the guy who led Oakland to the ACHA D2 national title in 2006, then moved the team up to D1 and won another in 2007 - a championship made possible by an upset of Penn State in the final.

Best wishes to Arizona Wildcat hockey as they move forward with a fresh start.

Arvanitis Named Head Coach
(OUHockey.com)

Speaking of coaching changes, one of our opponents this season made one as well, promoting Peter Arvanitis from his assistant position. The former Oklahoma City Blazer has been with the Sooners for two non-consecutive seasons, 2005-2006 and last year. For what it's worth, OU has also acknowledged cancellation of the January 5th game with the Icers in Norman, one minor step towards finalizing the game at Citizens Bank Park on the 4th.

I'll close by saying that I like how Oklahoma registered "OUHockey.com" before Ohio. Sucks to suck, fake OU.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Hol Package


On Sunday evening, Andrew Dzurita of Lions 247 broke the news that Mercyhurst rising sophomore Taylor Holstrom is transferring to Penn State for this season. As with the other NCAA DI transfers coming in, the 2011-2012 ACHA season will count as his NCAA-mandated sit-out year.

Taylor Holstrom

Forward
Mercyhurst Lakers (AHA)
5'9", 165 pounds
Yorba Linda, CA
DOB 4/4/1990

Mercyhurst player page

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

2008-09  Omaha Lancers          USHL   55    8   11   19   56
2009-10  Youngstown Phantoms    USHL   60   11   22   33   87

2010-11  Mercyhurst College     AHA    36    9   24   33    8

Fellow former Laker Nate Jensen, who is also transferring to PSU for this season, is an obvious connection to Holstrom. But he also shares a bond with incoming goalie P.J. Musico - the two teamed up to help the Los Angeles Selects to the 2008 USA Hockey Pacific District U18 Tier I title. Both Holstrom and Musico were key to the clinching win against the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, with the netminder stopping 39 of 41 shots, and the diminutive forward sniping twice on the power play. Selects coach Jeff Turcotte on Holstrom:
“I’ve had Holstrom in my program a while, and he just has been one of the most dominant forwards on the ice. He chases down loose pucks and has great speed. He never really got much attention until this year, but now he has a lot of people noticing him.”
He certainly did, as Musico and Holstrom went their separate ways at that point. The former took a route to Penn State through the EJHL, NAHL and SJHL. Holstrom - who didn't even play hockey until he was nine, and started after attending an Anaheim Ducks game - was a 12th round selection of the Omaha Lancers in the USHL draft and began his junior hockey career in Nebraska.

Holstrom contributed to a star-studded Lancers team that included Louis Leblanc, Danny Kristo and Seth Ambroz by, among other things, scoring the game winner on November 8th against Waterloo. That victory was one of 32 for Omaha (against 21 regulation losses and 7 overtime losses), although they were unceremoniously dumped out of the first round of the playoffs by Fargo after a second-place regular-season finish.

After that 2008-2009 season, Holstrom was scooped up by the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL expansion draft when the former NAHL squad (whose alumni include George and Brandon Saad) decided to elevate itself to the Tier 1 junior league.


While the Phantoms predictably struggled (20-36-4, last place in the East Division), Holstrom had a solid year. His 33 points tied for second on the team, and he earned a -2 rating - outstanding on a bad team (only one player who played more than 25 games with the Phantoms that year had a better plus-minus). He was named to the 2010 USHL All-Star Game, and registered an assist in the East Division's 5-4 win. Other highlights included a four-point effort against the USNTDP on January 18th and a trifecta of three-point outings.

Mercyhurst assistant Bobby Ferraris, who recruited Holstrom for the Lakers, gave the USHL version of Holstrom this endorsement:
"He was noticeable (for) his work ethic. For a shorter kid, he certainly was quite brave the way he played."
Ferraris' boss, Rick Gotkin, was also impressed.
"Clearly he has the potential to be a great player, not just for us but ... in our conference."
In February 2010, when Holstrom committed to Mercyhurst, he was considered a huge get for the school, which beat out major conference members Bowling Green and Dartmouth for his services. He certainly lived up to the hype in his freshman season, earning time on the Lakers' top line as well as power play and penalty kill duties. He was third on the team in scoring (first in assists and power play goals), and perhaps just as importantly took only four minor penalties on the season. Because of all of that, Holstrom was Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year.

Now he's an Icer, soon to be a Nittany Lion. And if the ACHA wasn't already on notice, it should be. Blogging about this team is certainly going to be both fun and challenging at the same time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Niagara Chapter Closes Early

Joe Baldinelli (right), a senior last year, ended his Niagara career with more than 100 points in just two seasons. Photo: Gordon Anderson / NUACHAHockey.com

Sources have confirmed to TYT that this season's Niagara at Penn State game, which had tentatively been scheduled for December 16th, will not be played due to scheduling conflicts involving finals week.

Normally, something that in the grand scheme of things is a minor tweak to a not-yet-finalized schedule isn't newsworthy. This instance, however, deserves to be treated as an exception. Because barring some kind of resolution or a meeting at the ACHA National Tournament, it marks the end of the Penn State-Niagara ACHA series, and that deserves to be eulogized for a few minutes.

Leading up to what now stands as the final game between the teams last December 10th, I wrote about Niagara's appearance on PSU's schedule in 2003 and in place of originally-scheduled Eastern Michigan. Those games took place literally 22 days after Eagles program was suspended for hazing, and saved the Icers from having to go more than 40 days between games.

The Purple Eagles, or Purps if you're on a first-name basis, later became an annual Friday-only arrangement to close the fall semester. It was a setup that worked well for the two academically-conscious teams preparing for finals. While Penn State won all five of those games, that didn't happen without going through a hard-working, well-coached team capable of pushing the Icers beyond their comfort zone on multiple occasions.

The series was always on the friendliest of terms off the ice, although on the ice was sometimes a different story - which occasionally led to the bizarre, as in the 2009 game.
The main melee started after Penn State forward Paul Daley went to the ice and was hit by a Niagara player. [Niagara goalie Patrick] Janokowski once again was involved as players on both sides got into altercations.

As referees rushed in to break up the main brawl, Icers forward Tim O'Brien took a Niagara player and tossed him to the ice and skated to the bench.

"There was a little scrum in front of the net and it kind of dragged out towards the red line," O'Brien said. "He had my stick and I just kept pushing him in the head until he let go of it and he never did. It was nothing big."
Janokowski was ejected from the game following the incident and Niagara was left without a backup goaltender. A 30 minute delay ensued as the Purple Eagles sent defensemen Patrick Martin to the locker room to suit up and get in net.
All things considered and in case you're wondering, Martin did okay for himself, stopping 27 of 34 over roughly half of the game.

TYT extends its best to Niagara, both this season and in the future. The Purps are definitely one of the ACHA programs we'll continue to keep an eye on, even after this season.

My advice to PSU fans to close this post: savor this season. Many of the things familiar to most of us will soon be gone for good, and you'll miss them more than you think. One of them now already is.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pegula Ice Arena: Another Angle

Just before noon this morning, Pegula Ice Arena architect Crawford Architects posted an album of their sports portfolio on their Facebook page. Here's one of the pictures (click on all pictures in this post for a larger size).


Now, the picture wasn't captioned, but...


So we have a pretty good grasp on the exterior and the scoreboards...get me a shot of the seating bowl, and I think we're set.

UPDATE 2:17 P.M.: Shortly after the original post, Crawford added to the album - including a picture of a Pegula Ice Arena suite, as well as captions for both PIA pictures. The rumors are true: every suite will contain at least two pictures of Teddy Hume.


UPDATE 8:41 P.M.: Courtesy of Penn State alumnus Steven Pierce, here's a picture of Guy Gadowsky pointing at a sketch of the seating bowl. His recollection of what Gadowsky said while showing it confirms everything we know about the design.

The left side is PSU shoot twice, where it seems to separate itself from the regular bowl is the student section (including a section for the band). If I remember right, the plan is that the main part of the bowl will be chair back seats and the student section will be wide bleachers (designed for standing on). Coach also said that the bowl is going to be as steep as code will allow which should allow for a great home ice advantage and sight lines.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Breakout Past: La Vie of Penn State Hockey (Part I)

Last weekend, as all Penn Staters know, was Arts Fest. One of my favorite things to do while walking the sidewalk sale is a quick stop at the Hintz Family Alumni Center - where every La Vie yearbook ever exists for public consumption - to see my dad, a former student manager for our basketballers.

And so a great family tradition of wearing a tie while others play sports was born.

Anyway, this past weekend, I did something different, when it suddenly occurred to me that hey, I write a blog about Penn State hockey, and I bet they have stuff about old hockey teams in these yearbooks. So that's how I ended up photographing a bunch of 70-year-old pages in Hintz's large reception area. I felt like a spy until they tried to set up some lemonade and water on the table I was using.

Here's the text of everything about PSU's original varsity team in the yearbooks. There were pictures too, but you can pretty much see how that goes above. Also, I altered my usual style to make this easier to read - my commentary is in italics (and between rows of periods). I'll try to resolve all discrepancies between La Vie and that time I read a bunch of old Collegian articles as well. From this point on, I'll refer a lot to "my records" (or similar phrasing), meaning the end result of putting together the old Collegian articles, shown here.

1940 La Vie (1939-40 season)

PARTICIPANTS

William Stohldrier, Manager
Oscar Smith, Captain

J. Dufford, P.R. Dowler, D.M. Irwin, M.J. Gates, J. Bachman, R.P. Johnson, Larry Lightbody, C. DeLong, M.P. Fedock, G.S. Wolbert, W.C. Garrett, R. Omalecki, S. Matula, J.C. Robbie, C.S. Herrick, R. Magerum, F.G. Bowman, A.W. Bitner

SEASON’S RECORD

                                                     P.S.  Opp.
Dec.  8 – Pennsylvania..........at Hershey.........   1     4
Jan. 12 – Hershey Junior Bears..at Hershey.........   1     4
Jan. 27 – Hershey Junior Bears..at State College...   1     6
Feb.  2 – Hershey Junior Bears..at Hershey.........   3     7
Feb.  3 – Princeton.............at Princeton.......   0     4
Feb. 10 – Huntington, W. Va.....at Huntington......   3    12
Feb. 11 – Charlestown, W. Va....at Charlestown.....   3     9
Feb. 16 – Duquesne..............at Johnstown.......   1     4
Feb. 27 – Lafayette.............at Hershey.........   7     2
Mar.  1 – Lehigh................at Hershey.........   8     2
Mar.  8 – Carnegie Tech.........at Johnstown.......   4     1


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

Right up front, we have one missing piece of information filled in (the score of the game actually played at PSU) and a number of conflicts, mostly concerning dates. I'm sticking with the Lafayette game on March 12th, as opposed to February 27th. The March 1st Penn State Collegian indicates that a Lafayette game was scheduled for the 27th but it "was called off when the Leopard outfit was unable to travel on the dangerous highways" (it seems likely that the 3/12 game was a makeup for that). Likewise, I'm going to maintain that the score of the March 8th game with Carnegie Tech was 4-0 as reported in the March 12th Collegian, not 4-1.

As a general rule, I'm going to side with the thing written within a few days of the games over the thing written at the end of the academic year on items like scores and dates. So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm also sticking with the Charleston game as having happened on the 9th instead of the 11th. But the yearbook wins on the date of the Duquesne game - it was reported as taking place at "8 p.m. tomorrow" in the 2/16 Collegian, but the recap of PSU's defeat referred it as taking place "last Friday," and the 16th was a Friday.

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

PSU succeeded in playing a home game on these tennis courts in 1940.

1941 La Vie (1940-41 season)

LETTERMEN

G.S. Wolbert, J.M. Dufford, B.D. Anthony, L.N. Lightbody, M.P. Fedock, R.P. Johnson, G.H. Gates, E.J. Maslow, J.E. Fowler, A.W. Bitner, W.C. Garrett, C.S. Herrick, R.W. May (Manager)

SEASON’S RECORD

Dec.  6 – Penn State.............3 Carnegie Tech..........1 Away
Jan. 17 – Penn State.............6 Temple.................1 Away
Jan. 25 – Penn State.............3 Carnegie Tech..........1 Away
Feb.  7 – Penn State.............5 Temple.................3 Away
Feb. 28 – Penn State.............2 John Carroll...........3 Away
Mar.  6 – Penn State.............3 Hershey Junior Bears...5 Away
Mar.  8 – Penn State.............4 Georgetown.............4 Away
Mar. 15 – Penn State.............4 Lehigh.................1 Away
Mar. 21 – Penn State.............2 Georgetown.............3 Away
Mar. 28 – Penn State.............5 Franklin and Marshall..
3 Away

In its first year as an official college team, Penn State’s ice hockey squad concluded a successful season in spite of many handicaps. The squad again had the misfortune of losing valuable practice on account of unfavorable weather conditions, and were therefore forced to journey to Johnstown for scrimmage sessions.

The season was highlighted by victories over Temple, Carnegie Tech, and Lehigh, and by the game with John Carroll, in which State held the unbeaten Clevelanders to a 3-2 victory.

Throughout the season, John Dufford and Peany Gates led the puck chasers in scoring, closely followed by defense star Fowler. Goalie Harry [sic] Lightbody turned in many brilliant saves throughout the season and was given the Outstanding Player Award. George Wolbert was elected honorary captain for the year.

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

This season is the biggest mess of the lot, and I'm not talking about the fact that we're bragging about losing to John Carroll by one. The yearbook contains two games not included in my research, while I have two games they don't.

First up, let's tackle that Temple game on February 7th. There was definitely a game scheduled for the next day as a part of a Winter Sports Carnival (along with figure skating, skiing and ice sculpting), but it was called off due to weather. A game between the same teams on the 7th was never mentioned in the Collegian. But what's more likely, the yearbook fabricating a game out of thin air, or the Collegian overlooking one in the buildup to the Carnival? I'll count it.

I'll also include PSU's 3-1 win over Carnegie Tech on January 25th. The Collegian didn't publish between January 19th and February 2nd of 1941. Hockey articles appeared on the day before (recap of the 1/17 Temple game) and after (previewing that carnival) the hiatus with no mention of an additional game between the two. So I'll again assume that the yearbook staff didn't simply invent a game.

On the other side of things, evidence for my two extra games appears a little flimsy on second look. The 2/21 game against Carnegie Tech was based on a preview article, coupled with a later mention of PSU's undefeated record. I should know better than to assume that game took place with circumstances being what they were back then.

I need pictures to explain the 12/13 Lafayette game in my records.



The left-hand article, from November 16, 1940, mentions a game with Lafayette to be played 12/13. On the right is a passing reference to a "Lafayette triumph," published on January 8, 1941. But there's a problem. Look at what came out just eight days after that last article.


Idle since beating Lafayette on December 6th? Opening triumph? Everyone is in agreement than PSU beat Carnegie Tech on 12/6 by a score of 3-1 to open the season. The Collegian even published a box score (John Dufford scored twice, Peany Gates once). My suspicion, therefore, is a simple case of mistaken identity after the fact. It's not like the writer could do a quick fact-check on the internet. This theory, of course, means that the Lafayette game on the 13th never happened.

It all adds up to good news, since the April 23, 1941 Collegian and all other accounts I've seen insist that the team's record was 6-3-1 for the season.

Two other minor issues were resolved in favor of previous work. The score of the March 6th game was 5-2 for Hershey instead of 5-3, and the March 21st and 28th games were flip-flopped here, as F and M was played before Georgetown.

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

So there you have it. Your takeaway: it's pretty hard to get a handle on all of this stuff. I'll hit the last four yearbooks, and their decidedly smaller number of issues, next week.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Three Stars: July 11-17


3. Prospects looking to lock on with Penguins
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Your "sweet, we're gonna be awesome" story of the week: Pens prospect camp invitees Rob Madore and Andrew Blazek, both Pittsburgh-area natives who elected the college route, think Penn State's kinda nifty.

2. DCT: Penn State/Neumann University hockey game not yet official
(Nittany WhiteOut)

It's probably a gross understatement to say that the leaking of the try at an outdoor game didn't go as anyone planned. NWO calls out some people ("blogs" with an "s" - that could be me!) on that front and re-emphasizes the preliminary status of things, but neither are really my purpose for linking this one. It's more because of this:
The exposure that an outdoor hockey game will bring to the Penn State hockey program cannot be understated. An attention grabbing gimmick like this outdoor game just days following the Winter Classic is just what a program on the brink of rising to the Division I ranks like Penn State needs to make a splash on the hockey scene. Even the opponent will be a significant step up from the usual ACHA club-level opponents. What better way to attract the attention of scholarship athletes during the midst of our final ACHA season than scheduling the 2009 Division III national champions in an outdoor venue. A true coming out party for the soon-to-be newest member of the Division I hockey fraternity.
To be honest, I think the whole thing needs to be dialed back just a tad. A great experience for both teams? Fun for fans? An outdoor game where tickets won't require selling a kidney? Sure, I can get behind each of those things. But the hard reality is that this, if it happens, is probably going to be a lot closer to Adrian and Concordia (WI) at the Big House (What? Who? Exactly.) than to BU-BC at Fenway. It's not going to be on TV, 10,000 would be a fantastic attendance number - the Adrian-Concordia game drew 1470, I'm assigning what I think is fair credit to the Penn State name - and with the proliferation of outdoor hockey, I'm not even sure how much attention will be attracted from scholarship athletes.

1. Hockey Adds Defenseman
(Fight On State)

Forward a 'big-time' get for Lions
Canadian forward commits to Lions
(Lions 247)

Broadly speaking, "recruiting" takes the top spot this week, thanks to Andrew Dzurita's typically-excellent work and FOS popping in with a hockey recruiting article for the first time since Mark Yanis. The links are on Connor Varley, Jonathan Milley and David Glen, respectively.

Best of the Rest

We Are...........PENN STATE! (and soon to be Buffalo South)
(HockeyBuzz.com)

Julie Robenhymer makes a habit of visiting NCAA hockey schools, then posting a bunch of pictures and information she picked up on the trip. Which is pretty cool, but since the target market is generally those from places other than the one being visited, there's not much in her PSU post for people who have been following closely. Except for this little nugget:
They plan to host a combination of Sabres development camps, training camps and pre-season games once the new building is complete.
It's been known for quite a while that PSU would seek something like that for the Pegula Ice Arena, and since the facility's namesake also happens to own the Sabres...well, it wasn't exactly a reach to get there. Still, it's now somewhere in print.

...and we now know about this guy at camp too.

Smith's departure leaves Badgers in tough spot
(Bucky's 5th Quarter)

Wisconsin star forward Craig Smith unexpectedly left his last two seasons of college eligibility on the table to sign with the Nashville Predators, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2009. Since he possibly could have played Penn State as a senior (in the unlikely event he was still there), you might be thinking "great." Not so fast. UW now has some scholarship flexibility, and...
One option if they did bring someone in [for this season] would be Reed Linaker from the St. Albert Steel in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Linaker was linked to the Badgers this spring when Jordy Murray was considering leaving. Instead the coaching staff decided to bring in Brad Navin a year early from Waupaca high school. Linaker told me in late April that if the Badgers offered, he would accept.

However that offer never came. Instead Linaker gave a verbal commitment to start up program Penn State for 2012. When reached Friday afternoon Linaker told Bucky's 5th Quarter that he had not talked with Wisconsin recently.
That said, B5Q hockey guru Chuck Schwartz doesn't believe the Badgers will seek to re-fill Smith's scholarship. But it's still something to keep an eye on.

New conference will alter landscape of college hockey
(USA Today)

The Superleague, now with the similarly-hubristastic name of National Collegiate Hockey Conference, became official on Wednesday. And wherever it ends up hockey-wise, one thing's for sure: they need to hire some media relations people ASAP.

NCHC logo evolution. Well done, fellow big-timers.

COMMENTARY: Welcome to the Jungle
(College Hockey News)

...and like I said last week, let's just acknowledge things for what they are and ditch the "we considered everyone's interests before doing this" garbage. Adam Wodon, and most people, see through it. Good? Bad? We don't know, and we won't for some time (my hunch is that it just depends on the school). But in the meantime, quit insulting our intelligence.

Minnesota State-Moorhead Moving Towards Division I
(Western College Hockey Blog)

Penn State was nearly bumped from its spot as the newest NCAA hockey program this week when MSU-Moorhead announced it was holding a press conference...then announced, essentially, that they were simply working on it.
Moorhead's plan is to set up an endowment for the program to give them some financial security, and make sure they receive no taxpayer money (Because no state money has worked out great for the other MSU in the WCHA). They estimate that they will need $37 million to make that happen. So far, they've raised 40%, or $15 million of that goal in soft commitments (people who've said they'll write a check when the program is created). Part of that $37 million is allotted for "the best coach that money can buy."
It's actually a pretty savvy move in my opinion. Moorhead set a deadline of three months to raise the rest of the money, which coupled with the existing progress will hopefully inspire donors to come out of the woodwork. And they're making the WCHA aware of their presence before they get too far down the road of trying to salvage their conference.

Small school? Yes. But a big winner in the logo department. MORTAL KOMBAT!

WCHA to Formally Accept Northern Michigan
(College Hockey News)

Domino No. 3...wait, I think it's 4. Something like that.

The State of American Hockey - 2010-11
(The United States of Hockey)

I'm a huge fan of USoH to the point where it's in my regular rotation of must-read blogs. Proprietor Chris Peters, simply put, doesn't miss a thing and knows his stuff cold. This particular link got bumped with a busy week last week but guess what? Still topical.

Hockey East Extends Contract of Commissioner Joe Bertagna
(HockeyEastOnline.com)

Well, when you're the commissioner of the only major conference that hasn't been gutted recently, why not? Worth noting as well: he reportedly helped repel a Superleague raid on Boston College and Boston University.

Exter Joins Ohio State Hockey Staff
(OhioStateBuckeyes.com)

In what's universally being praised as a great hire, former Merrimack goalie Joe Exter is now a conference rival. He brings a tremendous depth of experience, primarily with USA Hockey as the NTDP's goalie coach, and also on the staffs of the gold medal-winning U.S. teams at the World U18 Championships and World Junior Championships. Prior to that, Exter spent one season each as an assistant in the USHL and with American International.

Guentzel Joins Minnesota Staff
(GopherSports.com)

Minnesota makes it two Big Tenners who beefed up their coaching staffs this week, as highly-respected Mike Guentzel returns to his alma mater and a place where he previously spent 14 years as an assistant before spending the last three seasons with Colorado College, the USHL's Fargo Force and Nebraska-Omaha (in that order).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gadowsky Rides a Varley

According to AmericanJuniorHockey.com, Des Moines Buccaneers defenseman Connor Varley has committed to Penn State.
The Penn State Division I hockey team is still more than a year away from playing its first game but the program continues to build its roster. It's a preparation that has included gathering commitments from a number of United States Hockey League players in recent weeks and it continues with the announcement that Des Moines Buccaneers' incoming defensemen Connor Varley will play his collegiate hockey at Penn State.  
Varley was drafted by the Bucs in the fifth round of the May Entry Draft after spending last season with Alberni Valley of the Junior A British Columbia Hockey League. A native of Lansdale, PA, Varley checks in at 5'11, 195lbs.

"We're excited for Connor and the opportunity he's earned," said Bucs' head coach and general manager Regg Simon. "Penn State evaluated Connor at our try-out camp and with him being a Pennsylvania native, moved on him right away."

Connor Varley

Defenseman
Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
5'11", 195 pounds
Lansdale, PA
DOB 6/3/1992

Eliteprospects.com player page

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

2009-10  Northwood School       Prep   38    4   13   17   --
2010-11  Alberni Vly Bulldogs   BCHL   60    9   20   29   75

According to Chris Heisenberg, it's not yet certain whether Varley will enter with the 2012 class that will help debut PSU's Division I program or wait until 2013. What is a little more clear: when you put Varley together with guys like Brandon Russo and Luke Juha, it seems as if Guy Gadowsky is recruiting a very particular brand of defenseman - ones who will fit well in his up-tempo system.

More specifically:
Varley is a well-rounded player who can bring an offensive punch along with quick feet on the back end.

"I don't know if I can really fit into a distinct category of hockey player," he noted. "I just try to become the player that the team needs me to be."
Jeff Matthews, Varley's coach at Northwood, thinks highly of his Montgomery County protege, who came up through a couple different Atlantic Youth Hockey League organizations before heading off to prep school in Lake Placid, NY.
"His commitment is off the charts at any level he is at," he said. "That's exactly what we try to teach the kids. It's all about your approach. When you combine the example he gives with his talent, he was a nice player for us."
When you coach a prep program that's produced guys like Tony Granato, Mike Richter and Craig Conroy, that's pretty high praise.

Last year, with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Varley's 29 points were good for second on the team in scoring among blueliners, and he added four more in the Bulldogs' four playoff games. As noted, the USHL Buccaneers were impressed enough to draft Varley in the fifth round back in May, and he'll spend at least this season under the tutelage of Simon in Des Moines.

Here's a video introduction of sorts from a local newscast last season - note that Alberni Valley coach Paul Esdale mirrors Matthews' opinion of Varley's work ethic.



...and because practice footage didn't quench my thirst...



...that wasn't exactly Barb Penstone-esque, was it? Okay, one more.