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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Commonwealth Clash

What: Penn State-Behrend at Penn State-Altoona

Where: Galactic Ice, Altoona, PA

When: Saturday, January 12 at 3:50 p.m.

Tom Lantz is in charge of the Altoona bench.

“The deeper I go into myself the more I realize that I am my own enemy.” - Floriano Martins
You don't have to go very deep to see how Penn State can be its own enemy - the school is playing against itself in an ACHA Division 3 hockey game in a couple days.

Seriously, though... Penn State vs. Penn State. How do you choose up sides for something like that? Let's look a little bit more closely at the teams from Behrend and Altoona that will be opening their spring semester schedules against each other on Saturday. First of all, here are the standings of College Hockey East, the conference both call home.

North Division
W
LOTTPts.GFGA 
Robert Morris
7
1
0
0
14
48
20
California (PA)
5
2
0
0
10
43
26
Fredonia State
4
5
0
0
8
42
42
Penn State-Behrend
2
5
0
0
4
21
48

South Division
W
LOTTPts.GFGA 
Pitt-Johnstown
6
4
0
0
12
58
42
Saint Vincent
3
4
1
0
7
28
45
Penn State-Altoona
1
6
0
0
2
22
39

The situation is pretty evident: both teams need wins. The good news is that both will have plenty of chances to get them, as both finish up with five CHE games in six total.

Altoona, coached by Tom Lantz, has struggled to a 4-8-1 overall record with a young team even by the (for the most part) freshman-and-sophomores-only standards of commonwealth campuses, although it's decidedly improved from last season's 3-16-0 squad. The team has good firepower on their side, with Conlan Sodrosky (who has a 7-10-17 scoring line), Ben Kinch (6-6-12), Charles Dunton (4-6-10) and James DiBerardinis (3-7-10) leading the way. On the other hand, an average goals against of 5.57 per game in the conference will need to be addressed if Altoona is going to climb back into contention, with a three-headed goaltending monster of Zach Sheriko (the minutes leader), David Winegarden and Jacob Ullom attempting to help lock things down.

Both teams have coaching connections with University Park's ACHA Division 2 team, the Ice Lions. For Altoona, Patrick Kinch (who started his collegiate career down I-99 from State College) assists Lantz after scoring ten goals for last year's MACHA champions and ACHA tournament participant. At Behrend, head coach Ed Maras and assistant Brendan Conlon run the show, and both played for the Ice Lions from 2006 though 2010.

Kevin Backoefer is Behrend's leading scorer.

Maras' team, which is 7-10-1 overall, also presents as an improved (4-17-1 last year) team that plays in some high scoring games as they attempt to turn the corner. Kevin Backoefer (11-12-23), Jared Bagnato (12-10-22) and Robert Banks (7-4-11 in just six games) lead the way offensively - with Banks and Bagnato both listed as defensemen. The type of outscore-the-opponent style also seen at Altoona was perhaps never more evident than in November 16th's 7-5 win over Saint Vincent, a game in which Behrend trailed 5-2 early in the third period before rattling off five unanswered. Banks had a hat trick with an assist in the comeback, while Jacob Grumski put up a four-point night as well.

It's probably important to note that the teams have already met in Erie this year, with Behrend topping the visitors 3-2 in overtime on October 21st. Bagnato potted the winner after Altoona had rallied from a 2-0 second-period deficit with goals from Matthew Torello and Kyle Lees.

In the end, it's clear that there's not too much separating the two. Which makes sense, given that they're both Penn State.

No comments:

Post a Comment