"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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodwin Joins the PSU Muskie Club

The Sioux City Musketeers announced via Twitter Saturday afternoon that center David Goodwin has committed to Penn State. His year of entry is listed as 2012 by recruiting guru Chris Heisenberg.

David Goodwin

Center
Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
5'9", 187 pounds
St. Louis, MO
DOB 2/27/1992

EliteProspects.com

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

2008-09  STL Amateur Blues 18U  Mdgt   44   17   21   38   28
2009-10  STL Amateur Blues 18U  Mdgt   47   31   40   71   40
2009-10  St. Louis Bandits      NAHL    1    0    1    1    0
2010-11  Green Bay Gamblers     USHL   57    9   17   26   18
2011-12  Green Bay Gamblers     USHL   11    4    6   10    2
2011-12  Sioux City Musketeers  USHL   16    7    6   13   10

Goodwin is a second-year USHLer who made a run to the Clark Cup finals with the Green Bay Gamblers last season. His playoff contributions included four assists in 11 games, as well as the game-winning goal against on May 8th against Cedar Rapids. That victory pushed the Gamblers to the championship series, although they fell to Dubuque in four games.

He did help the Gamblers get a (very) mild measure of revenge in this season's opener when his goal with 11 seconds remaining boosted Green Bay over Dubuque. It was named one of the USHL plays of the week (26 seconds in).



Any other thoughts Goodwin had of helping the Gamblers take one more step this season ended just over a month after that, when he was moved to Sioux City as part of the package used to acquire Jordan Schmaltz in a blockbuster trade. Here's Green Bay coach Derek Lalonde on the transaction:
"The trade was made with mixed emotions. David, Andy [Ryan] and Dan [Molenaar] are great people and were valuable players to our team. But at the same time you rarely have an opportunity to acquire a player the caliber of Jordan Schmaltz. He is a projected first round NHL draft pick and will be a tremendous addition to our team."
It has to be a harsh realization when you observe that a) you're not what a team thinks it needs to win a championship and b) two teams think some other player is of equal value to you plus two others (and an affiliate lister). If you want, add "c) you now have to play for a sub-.500 team plodding along near the Western Conference basement instead of the team with the best record in the league" to that list, go right ahead.

There are positives though. For one thing, he'll have a friend at Penn State when he arrives in the form of Musketeers goalie Matt Skoff. And while he didn't play with Tommy Olczyk, a former Muskie, he should at least have something to talk about with the Icers star.

Goodwin has certainly handled it well - he scored twice in a 4-1 win over Cedar Rapids in his third game following the trade. And Sioux City isn't complaining about their new top-line center, whose combined point totals place him second on the team in scoring, behind only Bemidji State commit Brad Robbins. That's not to say that it's a competition - in fact, the two are helping each other put up numbers as linemates. Said Robbins:
"He’s definitely a solid center to play with. He moves the puck well, he’s fast and very good defensively so it makes it easier for the wingers who play with him."
Speed, defense and moving the puck well mean he'll fit in well at PSU. And Robbins isn't alone among teammates in his praise.
Talking to the players this week, it seems the offensive spark has been generated by two factors: continuity among the forward lines and the impact of the new acquisitions from Green Bay.

One player in particular, David Goodwin, has really helped spawn the offense and he’s been outstanding since being acquired...in the Jordan Schmaltz trade.
He played midget major with the St. Louis Amateur Blues, scoring 109 points in 91 games over two seasons, a run which included a one-game call-up with the NAHL's St. Louis Bandits and leading the team in scoring in 2009-2010. The Gamblers were impressed enough with that track record to make Goodwin the 25th overall pick in the 2010 USHL Entry Draft.

How You Like Me Now?

Flyers blog Broad Street Hockey got to take a spin on the Winter Classic ice Friday afternoon and snapped some pictures. While ice guru Dan Craig and his crew will be polishing off the surface right up until the Flyers-Rangers alumni game at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, it certainly won't end up looking any different than this. Enjoy.



Friday, December 30, 2011

One Game, Two Coaches

Different coaches, identical scenes: Neumann's 2009 national championship (top), Princeton's 2008 ECAC championship (bottom).

While the schools employing Guy Gadowsky and Dominick Dawes could not be more different, the two coaches actually have similar reputations - as builders.

We know Gadowsky's track record well by this point. Following his playing days, he started coaching in the now-defunct West Coast Hockey League. His college career began at Alaska, where he took a six-win program to its only 20-win season since joining a major conference (the CCHA, in 1994). He moved on to Princeton which, since the NCAA hockey championship began in 1948, has had 11 winning seasons, three NCAA tournament appearances and two conference tournament titles. Three, two and one of those came in Gadowsky's seven seasons. Now, he's undertaking perhaps his most difficult challenge yet: turning new program Penn State into one that can compete in a conference with schools like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Dawes, despite not being among the coaching ranks for as long, has quickly developed a similar aptitude for success. He was a four-year defenseman for NCAA Division III Norwich from 2000-2004, winning a national championship in 2003 and playing in two other Frozen Fours. After a couple years in the Southern Professional Hockey League, he spent 2006-2008 as an assistant at Hamilton College before accepting his current position at Neumann. In his first season as a head coach Dawes led NU, a program with all of three winning seasons since its 1998 founding, to a stunning national championship. It wasn't a one-off either - another trip to the NCAA tournament followed in 2011, and the Knights are the No. 11 team in the country right now.

TYT recently asked the men behind the impressive resumes a series of identical questions related to their January 4th meeting. Here are their answers side by side.

Thank You Terry: What does this game mean to your program?

Guy Gadowsky: First and foremost, I’m really happy for the guys. I think it’s just going to be a great experience. I’m very thankful that they’ve asked our program to be a part of it, so I feel very good about that. But I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to play outside in this venue, so I think it’s going to be an experience that our players never forget.

Dominick Dawes: I think the games means a lot to our entire university. It's an opportunity for us to get the Neumann name and brand out there.

TYT: Any personal experience playing outside?

DD: To be honest, I have skated outside a few times but never actually played outside.

GG: I didn’t play inside until I was 11 or 12 years old. I’ve obviously never played in an outdoor venue like this, but growing up, I played the majority of games outdoors.

TYT: Are there any adjustments you have to make for an outdoor game that don't exist playing inside?

GG: I wouldn’t know. The last time I did play outdoors was when I was a kid. Every time I’d get a chance to come home for Christmas, or I coached in Alaska as well – we would play outdoors for fun. As far as playing a real NCAA game, this is the first experience that I’ve had.

DD: I don't think we are worried about any adjustments. This will be new and unique for both teams, we just need to focus on playing our game.

TYT: Could there be a period early on in the game where everyone's a little in awe of the surroundings and not focusing on the hockey game?

DD: We will just have to stay focused on playing the way we are capable. We have an older team that has played in some big games and fun environments over the past couple years.

GG: Well I think it’s interesting, because I’m not sure that either team will have an opportunity to have a pregame skate on it, so I think there is going to be that sort of look-around ‘wow,’ you know, sort of that wow factor. But I think once the puck drops, Neumann – obviously they won the NCAA Division III championship three years ago, they’re an excellent program. So they’re certainly going to be the most talented team that we face.

TYT: What do you know about Coach Dawes and Neumann/Coach Gadowsky and Penn State?

GG: I know Coach Dawes, he would come and work our camps at Princeton. He’s a very good guy, he’s a very hard worker, so I have a lot of respect for him. And from what he’s done at Neumann, like I said, they won the Division III national championship, so I’ve got a great deal of respect for him, I know he works hard, and I’m sure his teams are going to emulate those characteristics.

DD: I know Penn State has a very strong and rich tradition in hockey. I worked the past couple summers with Coach Gadowsky and his staff at the Princeton hockey camps. They did a great job rebuilding that program and I am sure they will great job building the PSU program and transitioning into Division I.

Gadowsky knows Dawes from the latter's working Princeton hockey camps. Now they're ticketed to go head to head under the stars and under the lights.

TYT: Who is the biggest Phillies fan on the team?

DD: Not sure. I would probably say our trainer Sal Capone. He grew up in South Philly.

GG: You know what? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s several, but I don’t know who’s the biggest.

TYT: How is your team looking injury-wise coming off of the holidays?

GG: My biggest concern right now is Bryce Johnson. I think everyone else will be fine. I expect to have Taylor Holstrom back. Matt Madrazo will be back. But I think Bryce Johnson, who suffered a broken hand against Liberty, is going to be a question mark.

DD: Hopefully everyone will be healthy.

TYT: Will you be able to watch the Winter Classic, or are there preparations that take priority?

DD: I will not. We have a pretty busy schedule. We get back to campus on December 26th and play in a holiday tournament in Oswego, NY over New Year's.

GG: I won’t see it personally, we’ve got a lot to do – after we play the game with Neumann, we head out the next day to Oklahoma. I know some of the guys talked about possibly making the trip up to see it, so hopefully they’ll get the opportunity. But as far as the coaching staff, we’re going to be here getting ready.

TYT: Flyers or Rangers?

GG: It’s funny, because those are actually two teams I liked when I was a kid. When I was a kid, the Flyers, they were my team. Until the Oilers joined the NHL, the Flyers were my team, and then we had recent Princeton grad Darroll Powe who did a great with the Flyers in their run to the Stanley Cup finals, and he was an instrumental part of that. I really enjoyed watching them then, but he got traded to the Minnesota Wild. I don’t know what’s going to happen here with [Claude] Giroux (who was out with a concussion, but returned on December 21st), I know [Chris] Pronger’s out. The Flyers have some injuries, but I still like their team. It should be an excellent game, but I’ve got to pick the Flyers.

DD: Flyers.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Union's Station


While it's not signed and official just yet, Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette is reporting that a series between Penn State and Union is in the works for November 23 and 24 next season. The games are to be played at Messa Rink, the home ice of the Dutchmen.

Without a doubt, Union is a program in ascendancy. The former NCAA Division III school joined Division I in 1991 and spent more than 15 seasons toiling below or near .500. Former coach Nate Leaman's program turned the corner with a 21-12-6 mark in 2009-2010 and took another step last season by winning the ECAC regular season title and qualifying for its first NCAA Division I tournament. The Dutchmen lost in the opening round to eventual champion Minnesota-Duluth but still, point made. Leaman parlayed that success into a job at Providence in the offseason, but the team hasn't missed a beat this year under former assistant Rick Bennett at 9-3-5 so far and No. 10 in the polls. Also, a small senior class of four means that a large percentage of this year's team will face PSU in November (although one of the four is leading scorer Kelly Zajac, brother of New Jersey Devil Travis).

Of course, Guy Gadowsky and his staff already know Union rather well from their time at Princeton, one of UC's conference rivals.

Once the weekend set with Union becomes official, it will join an October 20th game against RIT at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena and an October 30th game at DIII Fredonia State on PSU's rapidly-filling fall schedule. Additionally, two games each at Michigan State and Wisconsin, four games against the U.S. National Team Development Program, and two games at the Robert Morris Hockey Showcase over the holidays (possibly including two of RMU, Miami and Ohio State) have been confirmed, but without firm dates.

Multi-Dimensional Thompson Commits For 2013

Thompson attempts to shut down an offensive attempt as a Quesnel Millionaire last season.

Chilliwack Chiefs defenseman David Thompson has accepted a scholarship to Penn State in 2013, according to a team release.

David Thompson

Defenseman
Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
6'2", 187 pounds
Glen Mills, PA
DOB 5/19/1992

EliteProspects.com

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

2010-11  Quesnel Millionaires   BCHL   60    5    9   14   43
2011-12  Chilliwack Chiefs      BCHL   31    4   12   16   29

Here's the release quote from Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl:
"He's just settling in to become a nasty player to play against with all kinds of ability. He's very deserving of this scholarship. It's nice to see him rewarded for all his hard work."
PSU's defensive recruiting so far has been a nice mix of puck movers and guys with some snarl. And given that Thompson cites Chris Pronger ("he’s mean and he can control a game all by himself," said Thompson) and Scott Stevens ("he was just an animal out there and I definitely try to model myself after him") as two of his favorite players, it might be tempting to pigeonhole him as the latter. He can certainly take care of himself when punches get thrown (1:26 in, and no, I'm not sure why I continue to post fight videos when this is a college hockey blog).



But that would be ignoring the righty's place as the leading scorer among defensemen on a Chiefs team in the Interior Conference, just two points off of the second-place pace set by Merritt (but well behind Curtis Loik's juggernaut Penticton team).

Last year with the Quesnel Millionaires, Thompson won the team's final rookie of the year award (the Millionaires relocated and became the Chiefs during the offseason). Two of his five goals came in the same game, and an assist also helped him take home first-star honors in a 7-4 win over Prince George on November 30, 2010. That victory was one of only 13 for Quesnel in its final season, and a mercifully quick departure from the inclusive BCHL playoff bracket followed.

Before relocating to Canada, Thompson came up largely with the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, where his midget major 18U team was the 2010 Atlantic District champions. Thompson scored once and added two assists during the Jr. Flyers' run at nationals, which didn't ended until a championship game loss and a silver-medal finish. Captain of that team? Thomas Seravalli, Icer Nick's cousin. Small world, this hockey thing.

I'll leave this post with a link to a great Thompson article in the Chilliwack Progress that I couldn't incorporate into this post as much as I would have liked. Don't let my limitations as a blogger limit your knowledge.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another Transition?


As the readership of this blog has grown, I occasionally get asked questions. The idea of people caring what I think still amuses me, but it's your fault for assigning me credibility.

One of the more frequent queries concerns the future of the ACHA Division 2 Ice Lions, specifically whether they'll "become" the Icers. My answer - keep in mind that I have no inside information, this is just an opinion (an educated one, sure, but still an opinion) - has always been no. Here's ACHA Division 1 policy I(C)(6), in pertinent part:
While all Men’s Division 1 teams should strive to reach these membership requirements, all existing teams receive a grandfather on all items. Any new team failing to meet these requirements could petition Men’s Division 1 for an exception.
     (a) Main Hockey Team on Campus (No NCAA Program)
The grandfather clause and the fairly loose wording of the "requirement" account for the presence of Adrian, Canisius, Cornell, Cortland, Mercyhurst, Niagara, Oswego, Robert Morris, RIT and Western Michigan in ACHA D1. Penn State, as one of the founding fathers of the ACHA and a long-time model program, surely could play D1 if it wanted after a couple handshakes.

But could PSU do it and should PSU do it are two different questions. There's a reason the ACHA bylaw, flimsy though it may be, exists. Running a proper program at that level is a heavy investment, and those that do it right (PSU, Delaware, Ohio, Rhode Island, Lindenwood, Illinois, etc.) receive a decent (in a strictly relative sense, nobody gets rich on club hockey) return on that investment, in the form of support from the university community. Does a D1 team sharing a campus with an NCAA team get anything near that in terms of attendance, boosters, sponsorship and school backing? Of course not, and the differences are usually reflected in the competitive product (one doesn't need to spend a ton of time evaluating the list of schools from this paragraph with the one from the last paragraph to see that).

D2 programs, on the other hand, can and do thrive in the shadows of an NCAA program, largely because they operate in smaller geographic spheres, both in terms of scheduling and recruiting. For example, the Ice Lions only leave the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia once this regular season, for the ACHA Showcase in St. Louis. The Icers, on the other hand, go to Oklahoma, Illinois and Rhode Island this season and have frequently gone to places like Michigan, Arizona and Iowa in the past. The Icers roster 17 out-of-state players this year to eight for the Ice Lions.

Perhaps most importantly, the NCAA DI-ACHA D2 model has proven to be effective by fellow future Big Tenners Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, each of which has perennially solid ACHA teams (Minnesota and Wisconsin also have D2 teams). The NCAA DI-ACHA D1 model...not so much, especially when talking about the two schools trying it with major-conference NCAA programs, Cornell and WMU.

None of this prevents PSU from applying the name "Icers" to the D2 program, so let's take a quick look at that option.

We already know that the Icers name for the ACHA D1 program will officially be dropped in favor of "Nittany Lions" when the transition to NCAA DI is complete. This is a subjective matter, but my preference is to see the Icers name depart into history along with the most dominant program in non-varsity hockey since the ACHA's 1991 founding. I think the most honorable treatment of the name, given its immense history, is to retire it while celebrating the tradition that allowed PSU to get an NCAA program somewhere prominent in Pegula Ice Arena. The alternative just doesn't seem right. Besides, I'm positive that people who were around for the ACHA D1 years will still refer to the NCAA team as the Icers on an informal basis, perhaps even to the point where it becomes the accepted thing to do among everyone who follows the program closely.

Let's not sell "Ice Lions" short either. While there aren't seven ACHA national championships attached to that name, the team does have a winning history to it, including a national runners-up finish in 1997 and a semifinal appearance in 2004. And maybe, just maybe, we're witnessing the beginning of the program's golden age under Josh Hand. Why not allow them the chance to build their own tradition?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Commit Cycle: December 27

The men's and women's Commit Cycles have been temporarily reunited this week due to the small number of players - three - playing games with available results between December 20th and 26th. Not surprisingly, the Canadians and Minnesotans kept plugging along while most were on break.

Men

David Glen

Center
Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
6'0", 175 pounds
Fort Saskatchewan, AB
Class of 2012
DOB 2/14/1991


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/21 vs. Sherwood Park       W 5-3  0   0   0   2 [box score]

The Saints retained their spot as the AJHL's best team with a win over former commit Jessi Hilton's Sherwood Park club.


Reed Linaker

Center
Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
5'9", 165 pounds
Edmonton, AB
Class of 2012
DOB 11/4/1991


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/21 vs. Calgary             W 3-2  -   -   -   - [box score]

Linaker has now missed nine games since getting hurt during his Bandits debut following his trade from St. Albert December 1st.


Bo Pellah

Defenseman
Langley Rivermen (BCHL)
5'11", 150 pounds
New Westminster, BC
Class of 2014
DOB 5/25/1995


In a team announcement of Pellah's commitment to PSU, Rivermen assistant coach Jordan Emmerson said: "We are excited and proud of Bo on his commitment to a great program at Penn State. He will be playing under a great coach in Guy Gadowsky and will flourish in a hockey mad state like Pennsylvania."

Related stories:
Pellah commits to Penn State University (langleyrivermen.wordpress.com)


Zach Saar

Right Wing
Chicago Steel (USHL)
6'5", 200 pounds
Plainwell, MI
Class of 2012 or 2013
DOB 6/22/1993


The Steel put out a series of short videos spotlighting each of their college commitments - Saar's version is below.

Related stories:
Chicago Steel College Commitment - Zach Saar (YouTube)




Women

Paige Jahnke

Defender
Roseville (MN) High School
Height/weight unknown
Oakdale, MN
Class of 2012
DOB unknown


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/20 at White Bear Lake      W 5-1  0   0   0   0 [box score]
12/23 vs. Coon Rapids         W 5-0  1   0   1   2 [box score]

Jahnke scored her second goal of the season, and the Raiders kept rolling with their ninth and tenth wins in 11 games.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Three Stars: December 19-25


3. Should Philadelphia Follow Bostons Lead with Future Outdoor Hockey Events?
(gcobb.com)

Someone found a new angle on the outdoor game, as crazy as that sounds.
Following in Boston’s footsteps, could Philadelphia support another outdoor hockey event in the future?

While there isn’t as large of a following for college hockey in the area, Penn State is looking to promote their advancement to a Division I Hockey program for the 2012-13 season.
"There isn't as large of a following for college hockey in the area" is a flaming pile of understatement, since Philly is sort of a dead zone for DI (something that's hard to find in the northeast part of the country). Outdoor games where college hockey is the entree work in Boston because there are a large number of established programs in the area (including two all-time giants in BC and BU), and a bunch of others where one only needs to drive across a tiny New England state or two to be in Boston.

What about sliding across the commonwealth with a tripleheader of PSU-Robert Morris women, Robert Morris-Mercyhurst men and PSU-Ohio State men at Pittsburgh's PNC Park? Involving all three in-state DI hockey schools and another in an adjacent state with a decent following in Western PA? Yeah, that could work.

2. Hockey club riding hot streak
(Centre Daily Times)

A nicely done semester-in-review piece on the Icers.

1. NHL Releases Winter Classic Rendering
(Crossing Broad)

It was a tight call between this and something showing actual, current progress on the ice at Citizens Bank Park. I decided that this is more fun.

Best of the Rest

Drexel and Villanova to Meet in City Ice Hockey Clash at Citizens Bank Park
(drexel.edu)

I caught this news roughly 12 seconds after I started thinking about how it seems like fewer "auxiliary" games than usual are popping up around the Winter Classic. There's Penn State-Neumann on the fourth, of course. Malvern Prep-LaSalle precedes it that day. The AHL gets its turn two days later with a Hershey Bears-Adirondack Phantoms tilt. Now there's this all-ACHA affair on the fifth.

Wait, why does a Drexel-Villanova game have a zippy name and logo, yet PSU-NU doesn't?


This article, and everything else I find about the outdoor game that covers new territory, goes on the dedicated TYT page for the event - because of the page, I'm not going to automatically include everything in Three Stars, so you might want to check over there periodically. Sorry, had to get one more plug in.

RESTORING OUR ROAR: 2012 Penn State Nittany Lions Branding Renewal
(Google Docs)

This popped up on the internet early in the week, and I needed to sign in to Google to see it. Just in case you have an issue in that department (you shouldn't, I tweaked it for mass viewing): the gist of it is that given recent events, Penn State should change its athletic branding to...


It's well done, and I don't have a problem with change in and of itself, but...
  1. The notion that changing the logo helps move on in some way or is necessary on some level is ridiculous, and only a few stops on the logic train from "Penn State needs to change its name...now!" A logo is certainly not going to stop this from happening just about everywhere PSU plays for the foreseeable future.
  2. I've never been big on plugging the S or "State," to be honest. Schools that emphasize generic words like "State" or "Tech" usually do so because it's a way to differentiate from a rival. For example, "State" works for Sparty because of big brother over in Ann Arbor, but this isn't 1925 and UPenn isn't PSU's rival in...well, in anything. They don't even have hockey anymore, one of the few sports left where the Ivies are relevant. Besides, PSU gets like $17 a year from the state, no need to start giving them undue credit.
Positives? Sure. I dig the keystone, and have long felt it should be a bigger part of Penn State's branding.

Tips for Saint Nick
(USCHO)

In a light column serving as an open letter to Santa Claus on behalf of the women's DI head coaches, here is what was requested from St. Nick for the CHA bosses.
Vince O’Mara, Lindenwood: A year ago, he was coaching Lindenwood’s dominant club program. How about a recording of “Both Sides Now”? I’d say Joni Mitchell, but in Missouri, maybe Willie Nelson is a bigger hit.

Paul Flanagan, Syracuse: I’m guessing that Flanagan envisioned being at a different point by now when he left St. Lawrence. The Orange have a lot of youth on the roster, and better seasons are likely ahead, but get him “Airplanes” by B.o.B., for those days when he needs a wish.

Josh Sciba, Niagara: In his first season as the head man, and not yet five years removed from his own playing days, Sciba is not that much older than his players. He needs a camera so that he can take photos of himself to show his grandkids some day and explain, “See — I was young once. And then I became a head coach.”


Paul Colontino, Robert Morris: These are heady times for the Colonials, as a program that has never won more than 12 games in a season or lost less than 20 sits at 11–2–2. I’d suggest some sort of calendar or journal with an inspirational message for each day or week, and it wouldn’t hurt if those messages are especially meaningful on the dates when Mercyhurst is scheduled.

Mike Sisti, Mercyhurst: Sisti needs a league rival. He doesn’t know it; he probably thinks he already has one, but I don’t see anyone in the CHA capable of beating Mercyhurst twice in the same weekend. Just don’t expect him to thank you the weekend it happens. Keep this in mind when you’re getting the gifts for Lindenwood, Syracuse, Niagara, and Robert Morris. While you’re at it, you may want to get started early on Penn State.
"Started early?" Ouch. We'll be okay on our own, thank you very much.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gunning For a Record


Citizens Bank Park has a listed capacity of 43,647 for baseball, and it's hockey capacity is even greater, thanks to seating added to areas normally occupied only by the Philadelphia Phillies and their opponents.

How many of those seats will be filled for Penn State vs. Neumann on January 4th? Your guess is as good as mine, but regardless of the answer, it stands a good chance of setting a record. Maybe two.

We're all familiar with the Greenberg Ice Pavilion attendance record - 1,603 against Rhode Island on January 13, 1990 - largely because it was perpetually in the first few pages of the program before omission in recent seasons. But what's the largest crowd to see the Icers play at any location?

My first instinct was to look into Penn State's appearances at Mellon Arena. On January 3, 2003, Penn State played Washington & Jefferson. It was part of a doubleheader with NCAA DI teams Ohio State and Princeton, making the attendance easy to look up. That night's crowd of 5,430 is a nice starting point, although it was undoubtedly hurt by OSU's football team playing for the national championship that night.

On January 8, 2010, Penn State again took to the Igloo, against the ACHA version of Robert Morris. Thanks to a gongshow of technical problems, that game became a two-period exhibition. Fortunately, the crowd of 3,654 for the NCAA Robert Morris-Miami game that was also part of the Pittsburgh Hockey Showcase that day tells us those issues won't mar the PSU attendance mark.

Next, I took a look at games the Icers have played at the Tucson Convention Center, Arizona's home rink. The Wildcats (formerly Icecats) and their 7,712-seat behemoth have long been known for some of the ACHA's largest, most raucous crowds, so that seemed like a logical next stop. Thanks to some legwork I did early in TYT's history, I got a quick boost in my search.
The Icers beat Arizona 7-3 on Friday night in front of 6,800 screaming Arizona fans. It was the biggest crowd ever to see the Icers play, and was topped the next night by Saturday's sold-out attendance of 7,200.
I think I just found a winning lottery ticket, sparing me from days of fruitless research on games from 1971 through 1994. Nice. "Saturday" in the quote is also known as January 8, 1994, and PSU lost that game to the Icecats 6-3. While the Icers have been to Tucson five times since then, none of those with listed attendances approach 7,200. In one notable game, Penn State's 8-3 win over the host Icecats at the 2001 ACHA national championships was witnessed by 5,000.

When I shared this news with an UofA-affiliated Twitter follower, he told me that former coach/overlord Leo Golembiewski had a penchant for inflating crowd numbers. The divisible-by-100 aspect to all of these figures probably lends credibility to that idea. Still, it's what we have, so we'll just go with it.

A question that comes to mind at this juncture: where else have the Icers played since 1994 capable of beating 7,200, knowing that Mellon Arena has been ruled out? Answer: nowhere. The Von Braun Center of Alabama-Huntsville (an October, 1996 opponent) is the only one that comes close, but it falls a little short with a listed capacity of 6,602 for hockey.

So 7,201 on January 4th would be the largest crowd to ever see the Icers play. If talking about the "Penn State hockey" record and not the "Icers" record, it could be a short-lived mark with games at Rochester's 11,200-seat Blue Cross Arena and Wisconsin's 15,325-seat Kohl Center next season (not to mention other possible large venues like Pennsylvania's two NHL and two AHL arenas), but nevertheless...

You may be wondering about Neumann as well - thankfully, that research is a lot more cut-and-dried thanks to collegehockeystats.net, which includes box scores for every Neumann game from 2001 through the present. NU's Division III independent years, 1998-2001, are largely addressed by USCHO. However, USCHO is missing box scores for 15 of Neumann's 63 games during this period (one of which is a 4-1 win over Penn State - Delaware County in the Knights' inaugural season), and they also use "NA" for attendance on a few other games.

In any case, the number to beat for Neumann, according to the available data, is 3,731. That throng comes from a 7-3 loss at Utica on November 6, 2009. With the exception of the 2009 DIII Frozen Four (topped by 3,141 witnesses to NU's national championship), every crowd of more than 3,000 to see Neumann did so at Utica's Memorial Auditorium, the home of DIII's attendance king since 2006-2007.

While all of that does leave a little bit to interpretation, keep in mind that outside of Utica and its 4,000-seat barn, only three DIII schools - St. John's, Wentworth and Fitchburg State - even have the capacity horsepower to top 3,731. Neumann did not play any of those schools (including Utica) in the 1998-2001 period not comprehensively covered by collegehockeystats.net.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fall Semester Review: Lady Icers

Freshmen Tess Weaver (left) and Cara Mendelson (right) - both from Josh Brandwene's rapidly-growing Pittsburgh pipeline - have become lineup mainstays.

As one might expect with a program that will make its NCAA Division I debut roughly nine months from now, the past six months have brought an avalanche of news related to the Penn State's women's program, all of it positive.

To recap: On June 1, former Icers defenseman Josh Brandwene was introduced as Penn State's first varsity women's coach. He moved quickly to fill out his staff with previous ACHA head coach Mo Stroemel and former Boston University star-turned-Neumann assistant coach Gina Kearns. On September 6, a press conference took place announcing that PSU will join College Hockey America beginning with the inaugural DI season (also of note in the CHA: a web streaming deal was finalized and Lindenwood was added as the conference's ever-important sixth member). Two days later, the team's 2011-2012 roster was released, including a fourteen-player recruiting class. In August, National Sports Academy senior Emily Laurenzi became the first NCAA-only recruit in program history, and in November she was joined by 12 other players in signing National Letters of Intent for next season. And I didn't even mention developments concerning the Pegula Ice Arena, breaking ground in February, until now.

Got all that? Good.

Turning to what has transpired on the ice so far this year, it's probably fair to say that the Lady Icers' final pre-varsity season has gone about as expected. A brutal fall semester schedule that included eight games against NCAA Division III competition plus one against future CHA rival Robert Morris resulted in a 4-9-2 record (4-2-0 in ACHA games).

Then again, despite the 0-7-2 mark in those NCAA games, PSU has shown remarkably well. Only twice (once against the DI Colonials) have the Lady Icers lost by more than two goals. Before a semester-closing 5-0 home loss to Neumann (the other game with a large margin), Penn State had a five-game DIII streak that went like this:
  1. November 4: A scoreless tie at Chatham.
  2. November 5: A 2-2 tie at Chatham.
  3. November 18: A 2-1 overtime loss at home to Cortland.
  4. November 19: Another 2-1 Ice Pavilion defeat to Cortland, this time in regulation.
  5. December 9: A 2-1 loss at Neumann in which PSU arguably had the better of the play over the last half of the game
As frustrating as a large series of close losses is, the team's competitiveness while playing up in weight class has to be seen as a large positive. Games such as these are definitely something that will serve Brandwene's charges well moving forward.

Those charges so far have been led by an interesting mix of freshmen and veterans. Newcomers like dynamic scorer Tess Weaver, talented forward Katie Murphy and a sturdy defense group including the pair of Madison Smiddy and Ashton Schaffer, along with Paige Harrington, Cara Mendelson and Lisa Frank, have played vital roles.

Sophomore Allie Rothman has shown great versatility in jumping from defense to forward.

They have been well complemented by returning players Sara Chroman and Allie Rothman - who linked up with Weaver in the December 9 Neumann game to form a particularly dangerous line - as well as hard-working Katharine Gausseres and consummate teammate Carly Szyszko (we learned about that last year, when she played goalie). And of course, there's Katie Vaughan, the goalie with DI ability who liked Penn State enough to pay to attend. Vaughan has been spectacular all season, although unfortunately, many of her biggest games have come in losses (her 92 saves in 98 shots in two games against DIII Potsdam in October come immediately to mind).

If the first semester was about the Lady Icers flexing some muscle against the NCAA, the spring will be about building an ACHA resume worthy of a trip to nationals in Wooster, OH from March 8-10, 2012.

Two more NCAA games, at DI Sacred Heart on January 13 and 14, await. But for the No. 12 team in the country, the more important contests will be at home against No. 5 Rhode Island (the team's next games, on January 6 and 7), at home against No. 10 Ohio State (January 28 and 29), at No. 1 Northeastern (February 3 and 4) and at No. 6 UMass (February 10 and 11). Those latter eight games will determine whether PSU is able to claw its way up the poll in time for the final ranking on February 17.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recupero Named to D2 Selects

Ice Lions senior captain Jim Recupero was confirmed Wednesday as a late addition to the ACHA Division 2 Select Team. The D2 Selects will play six games in Munich, Germany and Bled, Slovenia, beginning December 28 through January 5.

Said Recupero, via the release:
"It is an honor and great opportunity for me to get to represent Penn State University and my country with the select team. This is a great honor for me after playing for the Ice Lions the last four years, I will do my best to represent everyone with pride and dignity during my time overseas."
PSU head coach Josh Hand was also excited:
"This is a great honor for Jim. He really deserves to take part in a trip like this, he has worked extremely hard the last four years for the Ice Lions and has done an outstanding job as the captain of our team this year. This is why I enjoy coaching so much, getting a chance to see great people and players get the opportunity do great things with the sacrifice and hard work they put in at this level."
So far this season, the North Huntington, PA native forward has led the Ice Lions in assists (19), and his 33 points are good for second on the team. He scored an overtime winner against DePaul in the ACHA Showcase on October 7, one of PSU's 17 wins against just two defeats - a record that has earned the No. 3 ranking in ACHA D2's southeast region.

Among the opponents for the D2 Selects in Munich are ERSC Ottobrunn, ERC Sonthofen and EHC Waldkraiburg. HDD Olimpia Ljbubljana, HDD Bled or Acroni Jesenice and EC Pfaffenhofen IceHogs represent the opposition in Bled. Joining Recupero on the team coached by Florida Gulf Coast University's Bob Brinkworth are two other MACHA players, UMBC defenseman Nikolaus Jost and Temple goaltender Will Neifeld.

Further information about the D2 Select Team is available at achad2selects.com.

We've Been Here Before

When Penn State plays Neumann at Citizens Bank Park on January 4th, it won't be Penn State's first time playing a hockey game outside. Actually, it will be a culmination of a more than 100-year long journey notable for its frequent connection with Mother Nature.

Outdoor ice skating at the Duck Pond (just off campus, near the intersection of College Avenue and Porter Road) was a popular activity in Centre County during the first half of the 20th century. In response PSU (well, PSC at the time) made numerous failed attempts at bringing it and the informal hockey games that sprung up to campus via outdoor rinks during the athletic director tenures of Pop Golden (1903-1912) and Hugo Bezdek (1918-1936).

The story, as it relates to hockey, largely picks up during Penn State's original varsity era from 1939-1947 - in fact the concept of outdoor hockey, now seen as a nostalgia-inspired spectacle, was one of the reasons for that program's failure. Here was the most frequently used (or at least attempted) home ice in those days:


You'll stretch your imagination trying to picture it, but this picture was taken from West Halls, across Curtin Road. The occasionally-flooded tennis courts are where Kern and the large area in front of Chambers are today. Later attempts at a rink were made in the background of the picture, behind New Beaver Field's east stands (the set on the right). As you might expect, this arrangement at the mercy of the weather resulted in exactly one verified on-campus home game during that entire varsity run, a 6-1 loss to the Hershey Jr. Bears on January 27, 1940, during which legendary goalie Larry Lightbody made 27 saves.

Click to read.

While a majority of games were played indoors, most notably at what's now known as Hersheypark Arena, Penn State was hardly unique among colleges who played on outdoor rinks, with game cancellations a regular occurrence for away games as well. One example is Cornell, which played on Beebe Lake when PSU visited on January 5, 1944 and lost 8-1. For that one completed game, there were at least three others scheduled in Ithaca - on February 15, 1941, February 26, 1943 and February 1, 1947 (yes, PSU played in 1947, contrary to what you'll see just about anywhere else) - cancelled due to mild weather. In fact, the inconsistency of the outdoor ice caused Cornell to drop their program altogether in 1948. Unfortunately, the similarity to PSU ends there. CU built Lynah Rink, where they still play today, and reinstated hockey in 1957.

If one's willing to accept a slightly more flexible definition of "outside," there are more recent instances. In 1995 and 1997, the Icers played games at the Geneva Recreation Complex, home of the NCAA Division III Hobart College Statesmen (incidentally, Hobart now shares an ECAC West conference affiliation with Neumann). While the facility is now fully enclosed, prior to 2007 it was not.

Image: Hobart and William Smith athletics

I was unable to locate a picture of the GRC in its pre-2007 state, but see that glass behind the far goal and down the far side? Imagine that's not there, and you get the idea. All of the rink's 500 seats are located down the previously-open side (with the benches on the near side), so I imagine it was a blast to watch a game there in the middle of a Finger Lakes region winter. Or to try and keep freeloaders from entering through the open side.

The Icers had mixed success there, opening the 1997-1998 ACHA championship season with a 6-2 win, but losing 6-5 in overtime three seasons prior after entering the third period with a 5-2 lead and surrendering the tying goal with 19 seconds left. Joe Battista, never one to mince words early in his coaching career, wasn't pleased.
"We just pissed away a golden opportunity, we made some real bonehead plays. We definitely played well enough to win this game."
West Virginia, a frequent Icers opponent through the years (although at the Ice Pavilion the vast majority of the time), also formerly played in an open rink. While the Morgantown Ice Arena was constructed in 1979, it was not fully enclosed until 1997.


As with Hobart, the internet failed to deliver the ideal picture. But it's pretty easy to tell where the original pavilion-style roof ends and the fill-ins begin. Former WVU coach Brian Bronk felt that his team had a home ice advantage prior to enclosure.
"Our rink is so unique. The elements really play into our favor. It [is] a big advantage."
Advantage or not, the Icers didn't seem to notice, winning 10-0 on Valentine's Day 1997 in their last pre-enclosure visit.

Those later pieces of Icers history bring us full circle in a sense, to the original Ice Pavilion, the rink that arrived several years too late to save the original varsity program. It was constructed in 1954 as a full-on outdoor rink, then had a roof added in 1959 and walls in 1962. PSU didn't have a formal hockey team during this time, but played in the (by then) indoor venue from the Icers' founding in 1971 until 1978 when it was converted to an indoor track and turf facility (it was demolished in 1999 to make way for the now-infamous Lasch Football Building).

Post-roof, pre-walls.

The loss of The Pavilion to football and indoor track forced the Icers to play home games in Mechanicsburg and practice on flooded tennis courts (by that time, on the other side of campus) for two years until the present-day Ice Pavilion opened in 1981 - a situation that did not sit very well with those associated with the hockey program at the time. Undoubtedly, 13 days from today will mark a much happier foray into the elements.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Middle of Somewhere

...or not.

With all the talk of outdoor games, PSU and otherwise, it seemed only natural that the age-old (not really, it just seems like it) idea of a Winter Classic at Beaver Stadium be brought up again. Brother of Nick Seravalli recently did exactly that with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and...
"Through the course of discussions, probably every conceivable option has likely been raised, even if it's discussed for 2 seconds and kicked aside. Or sometimes, it's 20 seconds, or sometimes, there are more legs to something. Because of what it does for the host market, we're pretty much going to stay close to a team's market. Instead of being absolutely in the middle of nowhere, it doesn't make sense when we think we can be connected. I'm not talking about a stadium that's not downtown. But not being in either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, I'm not sure it makes a whole lot of sense - at this point."
Womp, womp.

To be clear, there are reasonable arguments against a Beaver Stadium Winter Classic. For a league still trying to find its legs to a large extent (hence the rotation of the event between the same few teams), it's a risk to venture away from large cities. The PSU community hasn't proven able to draw six figures for hockey. The Penguins or the Flyers have been involved in every single Winter Classic except 2009's Wings-Hawks tilt at Wrigley Field. Last but certainly not least, there's the alcohol issue. NHL fans demand beer, and beer isn't sold at Beaver Stadium.

Contrary to popular belief, that's not due to an NCAA rule or a state law. The NCAA does prohibit alcohol sales at championship events, like the Frozen Four. But neither they, nor the athletic conferences, prohibit sales at regular season games (or at professional sports events held in college facilities). Big Ten schools Iowa and Wisconsin sell beer to the masses at their football games. Illinois, Purdue and fellow state-related school Pitt take the more measured approach of only selling it in premium seats, which generally keeps it away from students. Minnesota tried to join that latter group when TCF Bank Stadium was built, but a resulting spat with the state legislature resulted in the whole stadium being dry.

In all, roughly three dozen of the 120 Division I - Football Bowl Subdivision schools sell alcohol at home football games in some capacity. It's a school-based decision, and given the notion of this being a one-off (and one that stands to bring quite a bit of money in), hopefully Penn State would be willing to be flexible. Then again, knowing PSU administration and culture like I do, an NCAA rule might be easier to work around.

When this happened, half of the people in State College bars went crazy, and the other half wanted to fight that half.

Regardless, to dismiss the idea of the game out of hand, as Bettman seems to have done, demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of demographics.

Penn State's not in the middle of nowhere, it's in the middle of somewhere. Two somewheres actually, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. That's the whole point. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a pervasive east-west rivalry that uniquely collides in that small central Pennsylvania town called State College. Everyone there, even the out-of-staters like myself, chooses up sides (not about to alienate half of my readership by disclosing, sorry). And with the Steelers and Eagles in opposite conferences, the Pirates sucking since forever, and Pittsburgh not having an NBA team, the NHL is where it comes to a head most frequently and most passionately. Pens-Flyers games are a big deal at PSU. Playoff series are gigantic. The Winter Classic would be off the charts. It just needs a few people with guts at both the NHL and the university to give it a shot.

While we wait for that to happen, maybe we should try something else to get a six-figure hockey crowd on campus. B1G Ice Hockey recently solicited suggestions for outdoor games involving conference schools. Guess which program was the only one to be mentioned in two separate potential games?
Ohio State has been building a rep for themselves as a school that can indeed compete with the big boys, making six NCAA appearances including four in the past nine years and putting up some big rankings in both major college polls this year. Now as Penn State looks to close out its ACHA run at the end of this season and featuring its outdoor game debut before making the jump to NCAA Div.I in 2012-13, why not pair up with a team that tends to get lost in the mix from time to time.
I really believe that, given the large following of both schools and the border rivalry, this one would fill either school's football stadium. And face it, with Michigan tending to pair off with Sparty over Brutus for hockey purposes (and of course Minnesota-Wisconsin), both need a hockey rival. Here's another suggestion:
Ok I know, little talk has been discussed about the possibility of Illinois moving up to Div.I status and thus being eligible for Big Ten hockey, but this is coming from my partial American Collegiate Hockey Association biased (Cyclone Hockey original). In my four years working with Cyclone Hockey from 2006-10, few teams were better than Illinois and Penn State. The Nittany Lions have hoisted six ACHA National Titles (1990, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003) as the Fighting Illini have captured two in 2005 and 2008. Toss that in with the fact that--hypothetically speaking if Illinois gains NCAA Div.I sanction-- both were able to establish their programs as a Div.I team, why wouldn't you want to see them go back to their roots and compete?
A little off in hypothetical territory for my taste, and I'm not sure that it would have the same widespread appeal as PSU-OSU, but as someone who will always have a soft spot for the ACHA era, I'd certainly appreciate this one as well.

The major downside to a Penn State hockey game at Beaver Stadium: while it could prove the drawing power for hockey at PSU (both in terms of fans and sponsors) to the NHL, it may also preclude getting a Winter Classic, as I'm not sure that the NHL's willing to go sloppy seconds on a venue. It's partly for this reason that I'd expect a Detroit-hosted Winter Classic to be at Comerica Park and not Michigan Stadium...also the Ilitch family owns both the Wings and Tigers.

Upsides? Numerous. You can start with the eyes of the entire hockey world being on Penn State in a way that just doesn't happen with an ACHA team playing an NCAA Division III school. Especially if a Beaver Stadium game takes a run at Michigan's attendance record.

It's certainly something that needs to wait a couple years, until a) whatever outdoor fatigue resulting from Penn State-Neumann is gone, b) we're certain we're ready to compete and c) (ideally) just after the newness of the program and Pegula Ice Arena wear off, but why not? I don't think there's any reason to shoot down ideas at this point (after being discussed for "20 seconds"), before they've been appropriately studied or required any kind of commitment.

Then again, I'm not Gary Bettman.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who is Neumann?


What most people think of when you mention "Neumann" and "hockey" in the same sentence. Preferably a spoken sentence, since "Neumann" and "Newman" are spelled differently.

A fair question, to be sure. Because if you're excited enough about the upcoming Icers game at Citizens Bank Park, it's going to come up.

You: I am soooooo pumped!!! THE ICERS ARE PLAYING OUTSIDE!!!
Guy or girl who doesn't care as much as you: That's cool. Who you guys playing?
You: Neumann!
Guy or girl who doesn't care as much as you: Who is Neumann?

Sure, you could finish that one off with "I don't know, some DIII school. I think they're pretty good." But are you really doing justice to what you consider a monumental occasion by doing that? In hockey (all sports, really), you're defined in a lot of ways by your opponent. The guy you're trying to beat is a vital part of big games and big moments within games. Think about it. Who are last year's Bruins without Alex Burrows? Who are the 1996-2002 Red Wings without the Avalanche? Sidney Crosby without concussions? Like it or not, this isn't the same event if PSU's playing Drexel.

Stop for a second to give thanks that we're not playing Drexel.

Back with me? Good, let's go. First, the basics on the Catholic school located in Aston, PA. Help me, Wikipedia.
Neumann was founded as Our Lady of Angels College with 115 female students in 1965 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. The name was changed to Neumann College in 1980 in honor of Saint John Neumann, a former Bishop of Philadelphia. Neumann achieved 'university status' from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in 2009. Today, there are over 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Neumann.
Aston is about 22 miles down I-95 from Philadelphia, which means it's 25 miles up I-95 from Newark, DE, home of the UD Fightin' Blue Hens. So there's a decent reference point (Neumann tried their best to make things confusing by adopting blue and gold colors nearly identical to Delaware). Academically, NU is best known for nursing - literally more than one sixth of its undergrads (547 of 3,087) are in that particular program.

Also of note: Neumann has 10,415 total alumni, 10,170 of whom aren't dead. Basically, don't expect a massive throng of people sporting Delaware colors at the game. If there's any information that I missed before I move on, try this exercise before asking me something in the comments: answer your question in terms of Penn State, then take the opposite of that. Because really, the two schools could not be less similar. Well, both schools do have a nice looking campus, I suppose, although on a completely different scale.

Yeah, that's pretty much all of it.

As mentioned, NU is an NCAA Division III school, sponsoring 21 sports at that level. Their athletic teams are called the Knights. One of those 21 forms of Knights is men's hockey. Incidentally, another is women's hockey, and the Citizens Bank Park game will not be the first time PSU has played NU in hockey this season - the Knights beat the Lady Icers 2-1 and 5-0 on December 9th and 10th. PSU assistant Gina Kearns was an assistant at Neumann from 2009-2011, so I suppose you could probably ask her about the school if the opposite game doesn't answer your question.

The Knights' men's program is relatively new, starting up in 1998. It had extremely limited success under initial coach Nick Russo, going 20-113-4 in its first six years of existence (the first three as a DIII independent, the last three in the ECAC West - their present conference). Dennis Williams took over for Russo and got things turned around in relatively short order, delivering NU's first winning season in 2005-2006. They haven't had anything but since then. Williams gave way to one year of Phil Roy in 2007-2008. Current coach Domenick Dawes, who would lead the Knights to even greater heights, stepped in for the following campaign.

In late February, 2008-2009 didn't look to be substantially different than the three previous seasons at Neumann. Following a road split against Hobart, the Knights sat in their usual solid-but-unspectacular station at 12-9-2. Then a funny thing happened: they didn't lose the rest of the year. Beginning with their final regular season games against Lebanon Valley (yes that Lebanon Valley, remember, they used to be DIII), NU went on a nine-game winning streak through the ECAC West and NCAA tournaments. It didn't end until the Knights, to that point rather irrelevant in hockey, stunned several titans of DIII and won a national championship.


While the core of the 2009 champs rested in its 14-player senior class heavy on Canadian transfers, five players remain from that team. They weren't insignificant to the title run either. One is forward Marlon Gardner, third on NU in goals and fourth in points in 2008-2009. Another is forward Bill Foster, who scored the overtime goal against No. 1 Plattsburgh in the NCAA quarterfinals to boost the Knights to the Frozen Four. But the name that looms largest of all is Ross MacKinnon, the goalie who surrendered just one goal on 61 shots to take home Frozen Four MVP honors in 2009.

Individual players come and go to be sure, but Dawes and the culture established by that championship remain to this day. Largely driven by a new generation, NU made a return trip to the NCAA tournament last season, but fell to Bowdoin in the first round.

This year appears to be more of the same, thanks in part to 25 returning players. Neumann lost to Division I Princeton 5-1 in an exhibition opener - an impressive result for a DIII team - and has gone 7-3-0 since then as MacKinnon has split the starts with Matt Tendler, his backup on the 2008-2009 team. In front of goal, the defense duo of Buffalo State transfer William Lacasse (a third-team All-American last season) and Ottawa native Scott Farrell provides plenty of punch while Cory Park, another former Buff State Bengal, leads the team in scoring.

On January 4th, the tiny, newly-minted DIII power and the ascendant-to-DI behemoth may find they have something in common beyond "nice campus" after all - the two opponents will join forces to provide us with a fantastic hockey game.

Commit Cycle: December 20 (Men)

Casey Bailey

Forward
Omaha Lancers (USHL)
6'3", 195 pounds
Anchorage, AK
Class of 2012
DOB 10/22/1991


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/16 at Fargo                L 1-7  0   0   0   2 [box score]
12/17 vs. Sioux Falls         W 5-2  0   0   0   0 [box score]

The Lancers, at 15-9-2, remain the best USHL team with a Penn State commit...that record is good for a first-place tie in the Western Conference, although co-leader/archrival Lincoln has a game in hand.


Kenny Brooks

Forward
Tri-City Storm (USHL)
6'2", 195 pounds
Las Vegas, NV
Class of 2012
DOB 12/11/1991


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/13 vs. Sioux City          W 7-1  2   0   2   0 [box score]
12/17 at Sioux City           W 3-1  1   0   1   0 [box score]

Despite a lopsided score last Tuesday, Brooks' goals were both important ones - the first opened the game's scoring, while the second (just 37 seconds into the third period) helped break open what had actually been a tight game to that point...Brooks won the team's hard hat award for the hardest working player of the game...USHL rookie Trevor Moore is happy to have Brooks as a linemate, saying "Some of these have full-grown beards and missing teeth. It was a little intimidating at first, but you get used to it. I have Kenny out there with me so I knew Kenny would protect me...just watching [Brooks and fellow co-captain Nick Lappin] play in practice and games, they’re unbelievable guys. I’m so fortunate to be on their line."

Related stories:
Storm surge behind five third-period goals (Kearney Hub)
Shorthanded Tri-City dominates Sioux City (Grand Island Independent)
From nervous to confident, Storm’s Moore showing promise (Grand Island Independent)

Brooks (left) doesn't seem to care that his future teammate is upset.

David Glen

Center
Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
6'0", 175 pounds
Fort Saskatchewan, AB
Class of 2012
DOB 2/14/1991


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/14 vs. St. Albert          W 6-1  0   1   1   4 [box score]
12/17 vs. Sherwood Park       L 4-5  0   0   0   2 [box score]

Glen misfired in the shootout against former commit Jessi Hilton's Sherwood Park team, helping to seal the Saints' fate.


Luke Juha

Defenseman
Vernon Vipers (BCHL)
5'11", 180 pounds
Mississauga, ON
Class of 2012
DOB 3/9/1993


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/16 vs. Trail               W 10-1 -   -   -   - [box score]
12/18 vs. Chilliwack          W 6-3  -   -   -   - [box score]

Juha (upper body) remains on injured reserve...he's had a tough-luck season in that regard, which sometimes presents issues other than not being able to play.



Reed Linaker

Center
Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
5'9", 165 pounds
Edmonton, AB
Class of 2012
DOB 11/4/1991


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/14 vs. Camrose             W 2-1  -   -   -   - [box score]
12/16 at Grande Prairie       W 5-4  -   -   -   - [box score]
12/17 at Drayton Valley       W 7-1  -   -   -   - [box score]
12/18 at Sherwood Park        L 3-6  -   -   -   - [box score]

Linaker has now missed eight games since getting hurt during his Bandits debut following his trade from St. Albert.


Curtis Loik

Forward
Penticton Vees (BCHL)
6'1", 205 pounds
North Vancouver, BC
Class of 2012
DOB 4/23/1993


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/13 at Merritt              W 4-1  0   0   0   0 [box score]
12/16 vs. Westside            W 5-1  1   0   1   0 [box score]
12/17 vs. Powell River        W 7-2  1   0   1   2 [box score]

The Vees, thanks in part to Loik's scoring touch in a checking role, are on a franchise-record 18-game winning streak.


Eamon McAdam

Goaltender
Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
6'2", 180 pounds
Perkasie, PA
Class of 2013
DOB 9/24/1994


Date  Opponent               Score SA GA  Sv% GAA
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/16 at Des Moines          W 2-0 --  -  --- ---  [box score]
12/17 at Dubuque             L 1-5 --  -  --- ---  [box score]

Hopefully Jay Williams' 20-for-25 effort against Dubuque helps McAdam gain another start in short order.


Jonathan Milley

Right Wing
Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL)
6'4", 220 pounds
Ottawa, ON
Class of 2012
DOB 5/8/1991


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/16 vs. Brockville          L 1-2  -   -   -   - [box score]
12/17 at Kemptville           W 3-1  -   -   -   - [box score]

Milley (sports hernia) last played on September 11 and has missed 35 games in all.


Bo Pellah

Defenseman
Langley Rivermen (BCHL)
5'11", 150 pounds
New Westminster, BC
Class of 2014
DOB 5/25/1995


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/16 vs. Powell River        L 0-5  0   0   0   0 [box score]
12/17 vs. Prince George       L 2-3  0   0   0   2 [box score]

Pellah makes his Commit Cycle debut with a slashing penalty and a pair of losses.


Zach Saar

Right Wing
Chicago Steel (USHL)
6'5", 200 pounds
Plainwell, MI
Class of 2012 or 2013
DOB 6/22/1993


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/16 vs. Indiana             W 3-2  0   1   1   0 [box score]
12/17 vs. Indiana             L 2-6  0   0   0   5 [box score]

Saar's power play assist in the first game with the Ice was important to the shootout win.


Matt Skoff

Goalie
Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
6'0", 186 pounds
McKees Rocks, PA
Class of 2012
DOB 7/23/1991


Date  Opponent               Score SA GA  Sv% GAA
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/13 at Tri-City            L 1-7 33  6 .818 6.14 [box score]
12/16 vs. Sioux Falls        W 3-2 36  2 .944 2.00 [box score]
12/17 vs. Tri-City           L 1-3 25  2 .920 2.06 [box score]

Skoff was the unfortunate guy on the other end of Brooks' big game...he recovered to have a very nice rest of the week (including stopping the first 28 shots he saw against Sioux Falls), although the Muskies' struggles against Tri-City continued on Saturday.


Connor Varley

Defenseman
Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
6'0", 190 pounds
Lansdale, PA
Class of 2012
DOB 6/3/1992


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/16 vs. Waterloo            L 0-2  0   0   0   2 [box score]
12/17 vs. Youngstown          L 4-7  0   0   0   0 [box score]

Varley was -2 in the loss to Youngstown with the three minuses (against one plus) coming on the Phantoms' last three goals of the game as a 4-3 game through two periods became one-sided.


Thomas Welsh

Defenseman
Salisbury School (Prep)
6'0", 195 pounds
Toronto, ON
Class of 2013
DOB 2/1/1995


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/14 at Albany Academy       L 3-5  0   0   0   - [box score]
12/16 vs. Kimball Union Acad. L 1-2  0   0   0   - [box score]
12/16 vs. Milton Academy      W 1-0  0   0   0   - [box score]
12/17 vs. Deerfield Academy   W 2-1  0   0   0   - [box score]
12/18 vs. Westminster School  W 4-1  0   0   0   - [box score] 

Following a loss to Albany on Wednesday, Salisbury concluded its pre-holidays schedule by finishing third at the venerable Flood-Marr Tournament...the Crimson Knights recovered from a tourney-opening loss with consecutive overtime wins, before a more decisive one versus Westminster in the third-place game...Welsh and his teammates are ranked sixth in USHR.com's DI prep poll for December 19th, with a 7-2-0 record.


Mark Yanis

Defenseman
Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
6'2", 195 pounds
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
Class of 2012
DOB 5/26/1994


Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------

12/17 at Team USA             L 2-3  0   0   0   4 [box score]
12/18 vs. Indiana             W 3-2  0   0   0   2 [box score]

While a statistical summary such as this probably isn't fair to a tough, physical stay-at-home guy like Yanis, the Detroit-area product now has something in his corner never before seen in Commit Cycle - an isolation video of every second he spent on ice for an entire game (11/26 vs. Chicago, see below)...the scout who shot it had this to say:
"The type of defender that players hate to be squared up against: Big and mean. Hits to hurt and to make a lasting impression. Aggressive and will seek out opportunities to use his size. Intimidating in front of his own net and makes it a grueling place to dwell. Takes care of business in his own zone with size and stick-work. Extremely strong and powerful skater for his size and has a surprisingly quick first set of steps. Great communicator on the ice and is effective at getting the puck out of his zone. Occasionally activates on offense but is normally the stay-at-home type. Has a relentless shot that is heavy and hard. At times can be overzealous with his pinching instincts."
Related stories:
Mark Yanis, #14 Muskegon – USHL (reelhockeyscouting.com)