Monday, August 12, 2013

Three Stars: August 5-11

3. 2013-14 USHL Protected List
(Western College Hockey Blog)

WCHB's Chris Dilks has put together the 30-player rosters and 18-player affiliate lists for each USHL franchise, which is kind of a big deal since the teams don't really go out of their way to keep everyone informed, particularly with respect to the affiliate list.

The primary takeaway from a Penn State perspective: it's verification that A.J. Greer is on the affiliate list of the Des Moines Buccaneers and not the roster. That's not shocking - anything else would have been, in fact - but since the Bucs never actually put out a formal announcement following their tryout camp and ahead of the required July 10th cutdown...

Elsewhere, Chase Berger (Tri-City), Kevin Kerr (Tri-City) and Alec Marsh (Cedar Rapids) are where they're supposed to be. Put that together with Greer's return to Kimball Union Academy, toss in BCHLers Bo Pellah (Alberni Valley) and James Robinson (Langley), and we're as certain as can be reasonably possible at this point of where all of the Nittany Lions' recruits will be playing this season.

2. Jim Delany praises Penn State
(ESPN, via the Associated Press)

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany stopped by Penn State football's preseason practice Thursday afternoon, where the involved parties went through the usual song and dance of such appearances. PSU gave Delany a football jersey, Delany gave the media the league's highly-manufactured party line concerning the scandal and the sanctions, the media gave the public some filler copy masquerading as actual news...

...except for the part where someone asked Delany about Big Ten hockey.
Delany said he expected to announce a "robust" league media package soon for hockey.

"I think our championship will grow, and I think you'll see that growth pretty immediately," Delany said. "I'm very bullish on hockey."
Well, okay, that's filler copy masquerading as actual news too, it just happens to be about hockey instead of football. Still... "robust?" I can get with that. Hopefully that word and "soon" both turn out to be accurate.

1. 2013 Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff Promo

Know why this year's Philly Faceoff promo is better than last year's version? Because it involves footage from an NCAA hockey game that Penn State won. This year's PSU-UVM repeat, of course, will be played on October 26th at the Wells Fargo Center and tickets are on sale now.

Best of the Rest

Neil Laessig will try to beat his father, Lehigh coach Tom Laessig, on November 15th and 16th

Lehigh Announces Schedule for 2013-2014 season

Two more Ice Lions games are out of the bag: November 15th and 16th at ACHA Division 1 Lehigh. The obvious storyline there is that Mountain Hawks coach Tom Laessig is the father of PSU forward Neil, as well as alumnus T.J., who graduated in 2012.

The series brings the total number of known Ice Lions contests to ten, plus postseason. For a full list (other than these, obviously) check out the third star from a couple weeks ago.

Penn State Berks is also on Lehigh's schedule as an ECHA rival, with games in Bethlehem on October 5th and in Wyomissing on November 8th.

Walkom named Senior VP and Director of Officiating

Noted Penn State hockey dad Stephen Walkom is the NHL's new Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating, replacing the retiring Terry Gregson. He was also the NHL's old Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating, as he held the job from 2005-2009 before returning to the ice as a referee. Walkom has been with the NHL in one capacity or the other since 1990 and has worn the orange stripe for 965 regular season games, along with 139 in the playoffs, the latter number including the Stanley Cup finals in 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2011.
"We are fortunate to have someone with Stephen's on- and off-ice experience ready to step in to this position," NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "From 2005 to 2009, Stephen provided tremendous direction and guidance to our team of officials as the League implemented several rule changes that brought more flow and speed to our game. That management experience, combined with the fact that he has been back on the ice as a referee for the last four years, will be of tremendous benefit to the League and the game."
“The New G-Man” to Open Thursday
(Onward State)

The new era of the G-Man is underway sans the Icers-related ownership group, leaving the Shandygaff uncontested as State College's hockey player bar.

Princeton's Jack Berger: Solid guy

PU's Berger setting example
(The Princeton Packet)

Here's a nice in-depth feature on Princeton senior captain Jack Berger, a pre-med economics major who more or less is the epitome of "student-athlete." Berger was recruited to PU by Guy Gadowsky and played for him as a freshman in 2010-2011, before Gadowsky left for PSU. Additionally, younger brother Chase (who receives a quick mention in the article and another one above in the third star) is a Nittany Lions commit for 2015.

Bazin earns contract extension at Massachusetts-Lowell through ’17-18 campaign

After Norm Bazin led perennially-average UMass-Lowell (a 2013-2014 PSU opponent) to both Hockey East championships and the Frozen Four in his second season last year, why wouldn't you extend him?

New Madison USHL franchise presents positives and negatives for Badgers
(Bucky's 5th Quarter)

Madison, WI - home to UDubs, of course - has been awarded a not-yet-named USHL franchise for the 2014-2015 season. Generally speaking, people struggle to put a finger on what, exactly, a nearby junior team means for the local college program, but B5Q's Andy Johnson got into the implications of the news as well as anyone. There's good (easier recruiting and scouting, exposure of players to the area) and bad (the cheaper USHL product freely serving alcohol might chip away at the Badgers' attendance) to it, but both are probably overstated in some corners.

UNO, which is located in the same market as the storied Omaha Lancers and is more in line with the USHL's footprint than any other DI program, was fourth in the nation in attendance last season and doesn't run college hockey. Michigan tends to do well with the Ann Arbor, MI-based National Team Development Program, but they'd be doing well with high-end prospects regardless of the NTDP's physical location. So who knows? The USHL certainly won't hurt Wisconsin's recruiting efforts and certainly won't help their attendance, but it's doubtful that any effect will be noticeable to the naked eye.

Penn State isn't barren in the junior program department, with the NAHL's Johnstown Chiefs nearby and the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms about a three-hour drive away (for as long as they can keep from being kicked out of Covelli Centre, anyway).

Comparisons to Gretzky? Valid in at least one respect.

The Crosby Effect
(The Hockey Writers)

Love him or hate him, it seems clear that Sidney Crosby's popularity has been fantastic for the growth of hockey - not just in western Pennsylvania, but nationally as well.

Decision made, Sheridan promoted

Replacing Dan Morris who replaced Craig McCarthy as coach of the Ohio Bobcats: Jonathon Sheridan, a 2011 graduate of Lawrence University who spent last season as Morris' assistant. Good luck bud, that's quite a bit to live up to.

U.S. National Under-18 Team Roster and Schedule for 2013-14 Revealed

2013-14 U.S. National Under-17 Team Roster and Schedule Announced
(USA Hockey)

USA Hockey unveiled the rosters and schedules for its two National Team Development Program squads last week. Penn State is uninvolved, although every other Big Ten team has at least one commit on the U18 team among the league's six total (Minnesota is the school with two). Additionally the U18s, as part of their usual array of exhibitions against college teams, will battle both Michigan and Michigan State this season.

The younger team includes recruits from both Michigan (2) and Wisconsin (1).

NCAA to 'exit' business of selling school-related items
(CBS Sports)

Former Duke basketball player and present lawyer/ESPN analyst Jay Bilas - who is all kinds of awesome, by the way - discovered that on (a site branded as the NCAA's official online store), typing active student-athletes' names into the site's search box pulled up jerseys of the appropriate school, sport and number. The NCAA, of course, is presently busy in court defending their membership's revenue streams the noble concept of amateurism by arguing that (for example) Texas A&M football jerseys with number 2 but no name on them aren't actually Johnny Manziel jerseys, even though Manziel wears number 2 for the Aggies' football team. Ouch.

Further egg was lobbed the association's way when others discovered that merchandise involving sanctioned individuals like Joe Paterno and Reggie Bush was also available on the site. The Paterno-related items included a DVD of PSU's 2006 Orange Bowl win and a t-shirt commemorating JoePa's 400th career victory, both of which were wiped out by the NCAA penalties last summer.

Anyway, Bilas tweeted his findings last Tuesday. The story blew up from there and two days later, the NCAA announced that it was pulling out of the school- and athlete-specific merchandise business. It remains to be seen how the whole mess impacts the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit (the NCAA, for what it's worth, claims it received no revenue from, but given that an entity contracted by the NCAA to run its store was using player names to move product, it certainly doesn't look good.

Armchair prediction: college sports will look a lot different in the future than it does right now.

The Colonials honored Chris Kushneriuk after winning the Three Rivers Classic last year

ECHL player returning to hockey after battle with cancer
(The Score)

Saving the best news for last: Former Robert Morris captain Chris Kushneriuk, who was diagnosed with cancer last summer, is officially a survivor. Kushneriuk, who played for RMU from 2008-2011 after transferring from the dying Wayne State program, was most recently with the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors. He issued this statement through the team:
After a tough 13 month battle which has included 4 cycles of chemotherapy, 2 bone marrow transplants, 3 operations and 3 months of oral chemotherapy, I have finished all of my treatments and received the amazing news in Indianapolis today from Dr. Einhorn that everything continues to look good and I am cleared to play hockey this season! Stage 4 cancer survivor!

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