Former Icers head coach Scott Balboni and current NCAA women's director of hockey operations Mo Stroemel have been selected to lead the 2013 World University Games men's and women's hockey teams, respectively, USA Hockey announced Wednesday afternoon. The bi-annual event will take place December 11th through 21st in Trentino, Italy and, as has been the case since 2001, the American entries will be stocked with ACHA players.
Both men have extensive backgrounds with Penn State hockey. Balboni, a lieutenant for Joe Battista from 1997-1999 and 2002-2006 (periods that include the Icers' 1998 and 2003 ACHA national championship teams), took over as head coach when Battista stepped aside to - as we know now - focus on landing nine-figure donations. The former Hockey East champion defenseman at Providence put together a 149-33-9 record from 2006-2011, including an ACHA championship game appearance, an ACHA Coach of the Year award (both in 2007) and six ESCHL regular season or playoff championships. He was inducted into the Penn State Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
Stroemel has been involved with PSU hockey in one form or another since 1994, always going wherever needed and doing a fantastic job. He was an assistant coach (1994-1997) and the head coach (1997-2004) of the ACHA Division 2 Ice Lions during their formative years and built them into a national power through a 131-62-11 record and an appearance in the 2004 D2 semifinals. He then served as an assistant with the Icers from 2004-2007 and head coach of the Lady Icers from 2007-2011 before Josh Brandwene's hire as the first NCAA women's head coach moved him to an assistant coach's role in 2011-2012 and then to his present position.
Penn State has been well represented at the World University Games over the last dozen years of ACHA participation. Balboni was an assistant coach on both the seventh-place 2009 men's team and the sixth-place outfit in 2011, while Stroemel reprises his role as the head coach of the first-ever U.S. women's WUG team, which finished fourth in 2011. Battista, now PSU's associate athletic director for ice arena and hockey operations, was Team USA's head coach in 2003, where he was assisted by Brandwene (then the head coach with the Delaware men's team). Men's Director of Hockey Operations Billy Downey was a player on that 2003 team, which finished 11th in Tarvisio, Italy. Current NCAA men's senior Eric Steinour was a forward on the 2011 team, while NCAA women's senior Lindsay Reihl played defense on the 2011 women's team.
Notably, ACHA women's goalie Katie Vaughan, now a junior, was also on the 2011 team as a freshman. In the tournament, she appeared in four games with a 2-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record, a sparkling 1.81 goals against average, a 0.857 save percentage, and a shutout of host Turkey. With the selection of Stroemel, her coach at the 2011 WUG and also with the Lady Icers of course, Vaughan would seem a likely candidate to become the third Penn State player to appear in two World University Games, following former Icers Josh Mandel and Lukas DeLorenzo.
Here's a complete list of Penn State's World University Games player and coach participation, as of today.
2001 in Zakopane, Poland: Mandel, Mike Blevins, Scott Curry, Greg Held
2003 in Tarvisio, Italy: Downey, Mandel, Curtiss Patrick, Neal Price, Battista (head coach)
2005 in Innsbruck, Austria: Eric Harbaugh, Kevin Jaeger, Joe Maglaque
2007 in Torino, Italy: DeLorenzo, Frank Berry, Keith Jordan, Michael McMullen
2009 in Harbin, China: DeLorenzo, Jamie Zimmel, Balboni (assistant coach)
2011 in Erzurum, Turkey (men): Steinour, Tim O'Brien, Balboni (assistant coach)
2011 in Erzurum, Turkey (women): Vaughan, Reihl, Heather Rossi, Denise Rohlik, Stroemel (head coach)
2013 in Trentino, Italy (men): Balboni (head coach)
2013 in Trentino, Italy (women): Stroemel (head coach)