Monday, April 29, 2013

Three Stars: April 22-28

The Women's Ice Hockey Club and head coach Patrick Fung pose in front of Kelly's Steakhouse in Boalsburg, the site of their postseason banquet, Saturday afternoon

3. Olczyk Carving Out a Bit of His Own History

On the occasion of Tommy Olczyk being elected captain once again for the 2013-2014 season, Ben Jones went one step beyond the usual "snip the press release" (guilty) with a quick feature. I'll always have room for that kind of initiative here.

2. Neshaminy senior earns scholarship from NHL

A member of the ACHA Ice Lions on scholarship next season? Believe it.
Four years after skating for the first time, Neshaminy senior Ricky Lucas will be honored by the NHL Wednesday in Washington with a college scholarship.

Lucas, 18, is a goaltender on Neshaminy's ice hockey team. He said he would attend Penn State in the fall and plans to try out for the school's club hockey team.

Lucas got his start in hockey during his freshman year with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, which offers the opportunity to play hockey to underprivileged youths.

The NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarships are given to two college-bound students from the NHL's Hockey Is for Everyone youth development program.
If you can stomach video of Gary Bettman, Lucas also got a mention on, where he can be seen posing with the Stanley Cup.

1. Awards Presented at Team Banquet
WIHC Named Most Improved Club Sport

The Women's Ice Hockey Club officially wrapped up their inaugural season on Saturday with an end-of-season banquet, which saw team MVP, Rookie of the Year and Player's Player awards given to goaltender Katie Vaughan, forward Devon Fisk and forward Carly Szyszko, respectively.

Two days before that, at the annual Club Sports Honors Reception, the WIHC was named most improved club sport of PSU's 78 programs.

Hey, just because it was already the most successful team debut in the history of Penn State hockey (and probably across all sports, although I don't know enough to make that statement definitively) doesn't mean it can't be enhanced further.

Best of the Rest

Left to right: Steve Rohlik (Ohio State), Mike Eaves (Wisconsin), Don Lucia (Minnesota), Red Berenson (Michigan), Guy Gadowsky (Penn State), Tom Anastos (Michigan State)


All six Big Ten coaches and the league championship trophy... nice. Steve Rohlik still looks like he's kind of stunned to be included, while Red Berenson may be about to beat the crap out of someone off camera.

Busy days ahead for Mike Eaves
(Wisconsin State Journal)

The previous entry's photo came from the Big Ten meetings held last week at the conference headquarters in Chicago, where all sorts of things like scheduling, awards and overtime rules (5-on-5 or 4-on-4?) were discussed. Notably...
A source said the league expects to stage all its series between Friday and Sunday next season. There had been talk of some games being played on Thursday and/or Monday in order to accommodate TV, but that no longer appears to be the case, at least for 2013-14.
That move - if it comes to pass - is welcome news for fans who like going to Penn State games but live in, say, Ohio and can't really make it in during the week. Although it does leave the door open for the dreaded Friday-Sunday "work around basketball Saturday and make Kyle get an extra night in a hotel room" series.

The reason I said "basketball" but not "football" in the previous paragraph? According to the message boards on Minnesota site Gopher Puck Live, loosely citing head coach Don Lucia, no Big Ten conference games will take place before New Year's Day. While the idea seems a little crazy since there are 20 Big Ten games and 11 weekends between January 1, 2014 and March 20, 2014 when the Big Ten Tournament starts, it's certainly possible in a six-team league that won't start its playoffs until later than is customary.

Abby Miller for NHL commissioner

NHL Realignment
(Off the Crossbar)

Lady Icers alumna Abby Miller brought her blog out of hiatus to drop an opinion of and couter-proposal to the NHL's upcoming realignment. I have to admit, her idea makes a ton of sense in spite of the fact that my favorite team gets completely hosed by it (a fact that even draws an apology from Miller, which I appreciate).

The Frozen Four in Pittsburgh? You betcha!

Joe Battista's weekly column largely serves its usual purpose as a high-energy commercial for Pennsylvania and/or Penn State hockey - eight exclamation points and seven question marks this time around, not including the title - but as also tends to happen, there was some news buried in it:
We will also be working with the Big Ten to discuss hosting the new Big Ten Hockey conference’s playoffs in future years at Consol Energy Center.
Any hosting to be done by Pittsburgh's NHL arena won't take place for a while, as the conference has already committed to a St. Paul, MN/Detroit rotation through 2017.

Battista's column was also, apparently, a hit piece on (State of) Minnesota hockey, simply because he made the factual statement that the 2013 gold-medal-winning U.S. World Junior Championship team included more Pittsburgh natives than Minnesotans. Here are a couple replies I got on Twitter, first after shooting out the link to the column, then after tweeting Battista's bio to show that he's not, in fact, a clown even if he's now hated in the Land of 10,000 lakes.

Someone's awfully sensitive about their state's declining market share in the hockey world. See, the problem for Minnesota Guy is that the more hockey grows, whether in the Sun Belt, Pennsylvania or anywhere else, the less his state matters in relative terms.

Requiem for a team
(The Daily Pennsylvanian)

Someone who doesn't think Battista is a clown? Allison Bart at UPenn's student newspaper, who quoted him extensively in an outstanding article detailing the hill the Quakers are to climb if NCAA hockey, abandoned in 1978, is to return to University City, Philadelphia.

Bart also wrote a companion piece offering further detail on the last days of Penn's varsity program, which was greatly appreciated by my history geek side.

ISU hockey coach named ACHA coach of the year

I suppose if you have to be knocked out of the ACHA National Tournament, you'd want it to be by the ACHA D2 coach of the year. For whatever little consolation that may offer, it's now true of the Ice Lions and Illinois State coach Brian Corley.

Not bad for being unsettled

Top 20 College Hockey Stories of the 2012-13: #11-15
(Western College Hockey Blog)

WCHB tabs Penn State's varsity entry as the number 12 college hockey story of the just-completed season with a write-up noting that blended with those wins over Wisconsin, Ohio State, Vermont and Michigan State were losses to DIII and ACHA programs Buffalo State, Arizona State and Neumann. Fair enough. Then again, maybe I'm falling into the DI snob trap - all that those "bad" losses proved to me is that there are tons of great hockey players and programs out there, and not all of them reside in NCAA DI. Speaking of the snob trap, the "establishment," in spite of everything, still continues to be somewhat dismissive of PSU's quick bounce to respectability (I mean, how dare a CLUB program be able to play REAL college hockey in its first year trying).
Overall, the Nittany Lions still have a long ways to go before their program is completely settled, but they showed that they should at least be competitive next year in the Big Ten. They'll likely end up losing more than they win next year, but it won't be much of a surprise if they see them win on any given night.
This year, Penn State had a winning record (3-2-0) against the Big Ten teams it played, including a win over Wisconsin during the Badgers' torrid close to the season. Going by the indicators typically utilized for amateur roster assessments, Penn State's talent level should be roughly on par with Ohio State and Michigan State next year. Penn State's coaching staff has more of a recent track record of success than either MSU and OSU. On those three things alone, I don't accept being labeled as some kind of scrappy, "tough to play against" upstart that might be able to win a game here or there against an unmotivated opponent in 2013-2014.

Am I predicting a conference championship, an NCAA tournament appearance or even a winning record? Of course not. I am, however, predicting that the Nittany Lions will have to pack white jerseys when heading to St. Paul at the end of the season because some less "settled" program will have finished lower in the standings.

Former players issue vote of no-confidence in UAA AD
(Anchorage Daily News)

Rough week for Alaska-Anchorage athletic director Steve Cobb, who received a vote of no confidence from the UAA hockey alumni last Tuesday, three days after the Alaska State Hockey Association similarly expressed its displeasure. The ASHA's complaints...
...cited the steady decline of UAA hockey and claimed repeated efforts to reach out to the university's athletic department and hockey coaches have been "systematically met with callous indifference."
The former players seem just as concerned... with their egos.
Things reached a tipping point, [alumni association president Mark] Filipenko said, when UAA went looking for a new hockey coach. Both resolutions criticize Cobb for not involving alumni or anyone from the hockey community in the search for a coach to replace Dave Shyiak, who was fired last month after going 80-177-33 in eight seasons.
Penn State, of course, has been the beneficiary of UAA's "steady decline" in the form of transfers Justin Kirchhevel and Eric Scheid.

Could be worse for Cobb, I guess:

Hockey East returns to Fenway Park in 2014 with Notre Dame-BC as the showcase game
(Western College Hockey Blog)

Everyone's sick of outdoor hockey... until it involves a team they care about.

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