Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Ryan Behnken, according to his Twitter account, is returning to Penn State to coach the Ice Lions.
Behnken previously coached the team in 2010-2011, a season that showed glimpses of bigger things to come for the program, and won the MACHA's coach of the year award. PSU also made a dent nationally, by finishing seventh in ACHA Division 2's Southeast Region, then winning a thrilling 2-1 decision over Virginia Tech at the regional tournament. However, the 15-8-5 season ended one game shy of a nationals bid with a loss to perennial power Maryland-Baltimore County at regionals.
He then departed, working with both UMBC and the prestigious Jr. Flyers program in 2011-2012. Last year, he was the head coach of Millersville University's ACHA D2 team and guided the Marauders to a 14-9-5 mark. Meanwhile, Josh Hand (2011-2012) and Matt Morrow (2012-2013) each spent a season leading the Ice Lions, with both of their runs ending in the group stage of the ACHA National Tournament. Hand, of course, stayed at PSU as a volunteer assistant with the NCAA Division I team, while Morrow accepted a full-time assistant coach job with the Idaho Jr. Steelheads. Although many of the familiar one-time ACHA D1 Icers have moved on, a strong core remains - Chris Lewis, Taylor Vincent, Franky Reluzco, Chris Dinsmore and Brandon Russo are expected back - as the Ice Lions look to take a couple more steps in the approaching season and win a first national championship.
They will try to do so against a revamped MACHA that includes UMBC, Rider, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Rowan, St. Joseph's, Liberty, Delaware and Temple. Penn State will also participate in Navy's storied Crab Pot Invitational in February, and hopefully in the 2014 ACHA National Tournament, March 21-25 in Marlborough, MA.