|Air Force junior goaltender Jason Torf stopped 32 of 34 shots against eventual national champion Boston College in the NCAA tournament last season. He'll visit the Ice Pavilion on November 9th and 10th.|
The Atlantic Hockey Association has posted its 2012-2013 composite schedule. Penn State, while not a member of the conference, could almost qualify as an honorary one by virtue of appearing 11 times.
Three of the games, the series on October 12th and 13th with AIC that will serve as PSU's first home Division I games and the October 20th tilt as RIT's homecoming opponent, were already known. Here are the other eight:
October 26 at Army, 7:05 p.m.
October 27 at Sacred Heart, 7:05 p.m.
November 9 vs. Air Force
November 10 vs. Air Force
December 7 at Holy Cross, 7:05 p.m.
December 8 at Holy Cross, 7:05 p.m.
January 4 at Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.
January 5 at Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.
The complete collection of known games for next season can be found here.
Without a doubt, the jewel of those games is the home series with Air Force. The defending AHA regular season and conference champs were 21-11-7 in 2011-2012 and have represented the league in the NCAA tournament for five of the last six seasons, including last year when Frank Serratore's crew lost 2-0 to eventual national champion Boston College in the NCAA Northeast Regional. The Falcons join Frozen Four team Union and Michigan State as 2012 NCAA Tournament teams on the Nittany Lions' (still feels weird typing that) schedule, and for what it's worth, sources have indicated that Air Force will be the premier opponent visiting the Ice Pavilion. Holy Cross is the only other new opponent with a winning record last season. The Crusaders were 20-15-4 overall, finishing 3rd in AHA.
The original Nittany Lions varsity program played at Army on December 26, 1944, losing 18-3. Additionally, the Icers do have a little bit of history with several current Atlantic Hockey teams. During the formative years of the Robert Morris program when RMU was a member of College Hockey America, PSU beat the Colonials 3-2 in October, 2005 before losing 6-0 the following season. Current AHA teams Mercyhurst and Canisius were frequent Icer opponents in the 1980s and 1990s when the pair of now-DI programs were members of Division II.
As much fun as speculation on the Lions' first DI schedule has been, it's likely that we're close to the end, at least in terms of discovering DI opponents. Joe Battista has indicated that PSU will play 20-22 DI schools in this inaugural NCAA season, and this latest news brings us up to 19 such games. Furthermore Atlantic Hockey, the only (for now) mid-major conference in DI, represents the likely source for a large percentage of games. Roughly half (22 of 45) of the schools in the other DI conferences have formally announced their schedules. From here on out, most new opponents are likely to be a smattering of ACHA Division 1 (Ohio will visit the Ice Pavilion, while Arizona State and Oklahoma have been subjects of speculation) and NCAA Division III teams, as well as confirmation of the four games with the U.S. National Team Development Program.
With that in mind, there's a lot to like about the schedule. Air Force, along with Michigan State, Union, RIT and Wisconsin represent a nice collection of "reach" games (with the added bonus of getting the Falcons at home), while the lower division games will ensure that PSU doesn't go 5-28-1, setting a negative tone for the NCAA era. In between lies a stout collection of lower-tier AHA programs that will also help provide Guy Gadowsky and his staff with a barometer of where the program stands entering the Big Ten in year two.