"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 31, 2013

Commit Cycle: January 31 (Women)

Laura Bowman

Forward
Minnetonka (MN) High School
5'7" // Minnetonka, MN
Class of 2013
DOB 11/8/1994




Date
Opponent
ScoreGAPts.PIM 
1/8
vs. Edina
W 1-0
1
0
1
0
1/12
vs. Eden Prairie
W 3-1
1
0
1
0
1/19
vs. Hopkins
L 1-3
0
0
0
0
1/22
at Wayzata
L 2-3
1
0
1
0
1/24
at Centennial
W 8-0
2
1
3
0
1/26
at Edina
W 4-0
1
1
2
0
1/29
at Eden Prairie
W 3-0
3
0
3
2
1/30
vs. Breck
W 4-1
0
1
1
0

On Thursday, Bowman was announced as one of ten semifinalists for the Minnesota Ms. Hockey award, given to the top player in the state... as should be evident from the stats, Bowman had an absolutely ridiculous three weeks in an extended Commit Cycle period... the easy highlight was her hat trick - all of the offense - in the win over Eden Prairie on Tuesday that clinched the Lake Conference title for the Skippers... she also scored the overtime winner in the 1-0 triumph over Edina on January 8th... Minnetonka, which is now 19-4-0 overall, closes out its regular season this weekend.



Hannah Ehresmann

Goaltender
Minnetonka (MN) High School
Height unknown // Minnetonka, MN
Class of 2014
DOB unknown




Date
Opponent
ScoreSAGASv%GAA 
1/8
vs. Edina
W 1-0
26
0
1.000
0.00
1/12
vs. Eden Prairie
W 3-1
--
-
---
---
1/19
vs. Hopkins
L 1-3
8
3
0.625
3.00
1/22
at Wayzata
L 2-3
--
-
---
---
1/24
at Centennial
W 8-0
6
0
1.000
0.00
1/26
at Edina
W 4-0
--
-
---
---
1/29
at Eden Prairie
W 3-0
13
0
1.000
0.00
1/30
vs. Breck
W 4-1
--
-
---
---

Other than an uncharacteristically rough outing against Hopkins that saw Minnetonka lose despite heavy shooting dominance - Ehresmann's first loss of the season - she didn't give up a single goal over the three weeks... highlighting the three shutouts were the 57 minute, 11 second OT blanking of Edina, which allowed Bowman's goal to be sufficient, as well as the big-game performance on the road in the league-clincher at Eden Prairie... Ehresmann's 0.936 save percentage and 0.99 goals against average rank eighth and third in Minnesota, respectively.



Remi Martin

Defender
Colorado Tigers 19U/Foothills Flyers MM AA
5'6" // Littleton, CO
Class of 2014
DOB 7/15/1996




Martin was one of two PSU recruits play in the Northwood Academy Tournament in Lake Placid, NY from January 18-20, and her Tigers went 1-1-1 in their three games... Colorado tied John Abbott College 1-1 and lost to 2-1 to the hosts on the 18th, before bouncing back to beat Reston 5-1 the next day... the Tigers also played a game in the Women's Association of Colorado Hockey College/U19 division, a league in which they compete with college club and other U19 teams: Martin had four goals in a 16-1 blasting of Denver on January 13th... the next major events for the team will be that league's playoffs (February 23-24), along with the U19 district tournament (February 16-18).



Sarah Nielsen

Forward
Edina (MN) High School
5'6" // Edina, MN
Class of 2013
DOB 12/2/1994




Date
Opponent
ScoreGAPts.PIM 
1/8
at Minnetonka
L 0-1
0
0
0
0
1/12
at Wayzata
W 4-1
1
0
1
2
1/15
at Hopkins
T 4-4
0
1
1
2
1/18
at Eden Prairie
L 1-2
0
0
0
0
1/22
vs. Champlin Park
W 3-2
0
1
1
2
1/26
vs. Minnetonka
L 0-4
0
0
0
0
1/29
vs. Wayzata
W 4-2
2
2
4
2

Nielsen had a hand in each goal her team scored in the win over Wayzata on Tuesday and now has 31 points in 24 games... Edina, 13-7-4 overall, has continued to play well generally, although Mt. Minnetonka has continued to be a hill too steep to climb... the Hornets will close the regular season Saturday against Hill-Murray, then likely begin the Section 2AA tournament on February 8th as the second-ranked team to Eden Prairie.



Daniela Paniccia

Goaltender
Oakville Hornets AA/Appleby College
5'3" // Oakville, ON
Class of 2015
DOB 1997




Date
Opponent
ScoreSAGASv%GAA 
1/8
vs. Burlington Barracudas
T 2-2
--
-
---
---
1/12
vs. Mississauga Chiefs
T 0-0
14
0
1.000
0.00
1/13
vs. Willowdale Red Wings
T 3-3
--
-
---
---
1/16
vs. Guelph Thunder
L 1-2
19
2
0.895
2.00
1/19
vs. Willowdale Red Wings
W 6-2
1
0
1.000
0.00
1/23
vs. Brampton Canadettes
L 3-5
35
5
0.857
5.00
1/27
vs. Etobicoke Dolphins
W 3-2
--
2
---
2.00
1/30
vs. Oakville Hornets AA2
W 7-2
12
2
0.833
2.00

The Hornets had mixed results over the last three weeks, but recovered to win three of the last four to improve to 10-4-8 in the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League's Central Division... next up for Oakville is the division playoffs in February, hopefully leading to the LLFHL's overall championship weekend March 22-24... Appleby College joined Martin (and Kelly Seward, as we'll see in a bit) at the Northwood Invitational January 18-20 and went 1-2-0 in three games, although Paniccia did not make that trip... in the CISAA, Appleby is 7-2-0, good for first place... within the last three weeks, Appleby is 3-1-0 in CISAA games, allowing 11 total goals.



Amy Petersen

Forward
Minnetonka (MN) High School
5'4" // Minnetonka, MN
Class of 2013
DOB 10/2/1994




Date
Opponent
ScoreGAPts.PIM 
1/8
vs. Edina
W 1-0
0
0
0
0
1/12
vs. Eden Prairie
W 3-1
0
0
0
0
1/19
vs. Hopkins
L 1-3
0
0
0
0
1/22
at Wayzata
L 2-3
0
1
1
0
1/24
at Centennial
W 8-0
2
2
4
0
1/26
at Edina
W 4-0
0
3
3
0
1/29
at Eden Prairie
W 3-0
0
1
0
0
1/30
vs. Breck
W 2-1
2
0
2
0

Petersen took a backseat to her two teammates this time around, but it is notable that she managed to break out of one of the biggest slumps of her career (yes, three games without a point counts, which says a lot) by exploding for nine points in the last four... after the Skippers close their regular season this weekend, they'll begin the Section 6AA tournament on February 9th, likely as the second seed behind Benilde-St. Margaret's.



Kelly Seward

Defender
Nichols School/Buffalo Bisons 19U
5'9" // Williamsville, NY
Class of 2013
DOB 6/7/1995




Nichols had a highly successful three weeks, going 9-1-0 overall... included in that mark was a 2-1-0 trip to the Northwood Invitational, beating OHA Gold 4-3 and the New Jersey Colonials 8-2 before a shutout loss to Emily Laurenzi's alma mater, NSA, closed things out... a more successful turn at a North American Prep Hockey Association followed from January 25-27, as Nichols clubbed Rice (4-0), RNS (4-1), Northwood (6-3) and Stanstead (4-0) to take the title... Nichols competes in the CISAA with Paniccia's Appleby College and is 5-1-1 in those games to trail the leaders by three points... Seward's Buffalo Bisons have been out of action since destroying the field at the Connecticut Polar Bears' Christmas Tournament and remain 28-10-1 overall.



Christi Vetter

Forward
Lakeville North (MN) HS/MN Jr. Whitecaps 19U
5'11" // Lakeville, MN
Class of 2014
DOB 9/7/1995




Date
Opponent
ScoreGAPts.PIM 
1/10
vs. Eagan
W 5-3
1
2
3
2
1/12
at Prior Lake
W 8-0
3
2
5
2
1/17
vs. Bloomington Kennedy
W 8-0
2
1
3
0
1/19
vs. Burnsville
W 3-1
0
1
1
0
1/24
vs. Eastview
W 5-1
2
0
2
0
1/26
at Apple Valley
W 8-0
1
1
2
2

There's not much to say after that list - Vetter has blowtorched all comers of late, as she now has a nine-game point streak with 23 points in that span to join Bowman and Petersen among the top 67 scorers in the state... that success has translated to the team as well, as Lakeville North has won nine in a row to climb to 17-5-1... the hot streaks of both team and player has the Panthers in good position to win the South Suburban league - they're a point up on both Eagan and Lakeville South with two games to play and with Section 1AA as the likely top seed for the tournament beginning on February 6th.

Club Sandwich: January 31st

Blueliner Tara Soukup pumped home the eventual winner in a key victory over West Chester.

Women



It's only a mild exaggeration to suggest that No. 4 Penn State, now 6-2-1, earned a bid to the ACHA National Tournament in Ashburn, VA from March 7th through 10th with a 2-1 win at second-ranked West Chester on Saturday. And it's no exaggeration at all to suggest that if invited, PSU will be among the title contenders - in four games against the nation's top two teams (California (PA) being the other), the team now has a 1-2-1 record.

Stealing from myself via PSUWIHC.com to decribe the signature win, because I can:


Tara Soukup's second-period goal powered PSU to a 2-0 lead and would hold up as the game-winner. Freshman sensation Devon Fisk assisted Soukup and also scored the game's opening goal earlier in the period, with help from Mandy Mortach and Ashton Schaffer. Fisk now has 12 goals and 16 points in just nine games.

After going up two with 5:31 remaining in the middle frame, Penn State would continue to keep a potent WCU team at bay for most of the rest of the game. Although Becky Dobson broke Katie Vaughan's shutout bid with 1:09 remaining, the junior goaltender still polished off her fifth win.




While a sweep would have been unreal, PSU had to settle for a split - still an outstanding weekend considering the opponent and the stakes.

Once again, from the PSUWIHC.com recap:


On Sunday, Carly Szyszko connected on a third-period goal from Mortach and Mary Kate Tonetti to pull Penn State within 2-1 with 15:32 remaining, and just 37 seconds after Amanda Vito had scored the Golden Rams' second goal. But the team would not find an equalizer, despite a 31-27 shooting advantage over the course of the game. A couple minutes after a late power play was foiled by a quick PSU penalty, head coach Pat Fung called Vaughan to the bench for an extra skater, but the only outcome to the gamble was a game-sealing empty-netter by WCU's Colleen Tweedy.

Defensively, the team turned in a stellar effort, limiting Dobson, the leading scorer in ACHA WD2, to just one meaningless goal and one assist over the two games. Coming into the weekend, Dobson had a staggering 55 points in 12 games, part of an offense that averaged 6.58 goals per game - but was held in check by Vaughan and PSU's blueliners. The WIHC also successfully killed all eight WCU power plays over the weekend, including a 1:50 stretch of 3-on-4 and 3-on-5 time during Sunday's game.


A new ACHA WD2 poll is expected out this week, and while Penn State doesn't have much room for upward mobility, a jump to the third spot and added distance above the national tournament cutoff are reasonable expectations.

Penn State's next games - the last ones before nationals bids are awarded - will be February 9th and 10th at Buffalo, an ACHA WD1 team.

Mike Broccolo was among many seniors starring in their last Ice Pavilion weekend.

Men



Seniors Ryan Demuth, Mac Winchester, Kevin Lowthert, Joe Zitarelli, Mike Broccolo and Tyler Starn received their official send-off with a Senior Night trashing of Monmouth that, as it turned out, was a showcase for many of those playing their final home weekend.

Fredrik Linge opened the scoring, from Austin Meehan, at the 6:16 mark of the first period, and the hosts never looked back. Chris Lewis - on the power play - and Linge expanded PSU's lead to 3-0 after 20 minutes, before Lewis added another and Joe Bonazelli also scored in the second.

The third period highlighted former Icers-turned-Ice Lions, as Broccolo, Zitarelli and Winchester scored to close things out. Broccolo also had a pair of assists in the game, while Zitarelli had one.

Demuth (nine saves) and Lowthert (seven) split a relatively painless shutout, in stark contrast to Monmouth goalie Stephen Bonora, who had 66 shots slung his way.



The Ice Lions became the first of the four University Park hockey teams to play its final game at the Ice Pavilion - and a decisive win over Southeast No. 5 Rowan not only closed the barn in style, but gave Southeast No. 2 PSU some ammo in its push to secure an autobid to the ACHA national championships.

The Profs stunned Penn State 43 seconds into the game with a goal by Alekos Polis, and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission when J.C. Caulfield scored on the power play with 11:40 left to answer Dylan Jones' tying goal.

Four unanswered goals - by Taylor Vincent, Peter Daley, Linge and Lewis - in the second period would give the Ice Lions the upper hand in the game, and Lewis would add an empty-netter with 19 seconds remaining in the game for the final margin. Ten different PSU skaters collected points, headed by Lewis' two goals, Brandon Russo's two assists, and Linge's one of each.

PSU will now take on a three-game weekend thanks to a makeup at Rider on Friday, a match initially cancelled by Hurricane Sandy in October. Previously-scheduled games at St. Joseph's and at UMBC are on Saturday and Sunday. Another Sandy makeup, a rematch at Monmouth on February 10th, will close out the regular season.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Penn State-Princeton Photo Gallery

Photos from Tuesday night's Penn State-Princeton women's game. All are by and courtesy of Steven Hass. Click for full size.

Taylor McGee (8) cleans off Nicole Paniccia's (37) doorstep

McGee

Paniccia stopped 27 pucks...

...and at least one player.

Senior defender Lindsay Reihl

Junior forward Taylor Gross was dangerous on several occasions

Freshman forward Micayla Catanzariti

Sophomore forward Jess Desorcie

Freshman sparkplug Jill Holdcroft

Freshman forward Hannah Hoenshell and her silky smooth mitts

Freshman forward Birdie Shaw

Freshman forward Kendra Rasmussen

Freshman defender Jordin Pardoski, one of Paniccia's trusted protectors

Paniccia

Desorcie

Gross (C) and Reihl (A) have a meeting for people who wear a letter

W: Penn State 0 vs. Princeton 3



I'm going to defer to the very brief GoPrincetonTigers.com recap for the fine details despite watching (and live blogging, below, if you want really fine details) the game, because the proper words are eluding me right now.

I will say that I don't think the loss was an unmitigated disaster by any stretch of the imagination, despite the Nittany Lions (7-17-1, 1-10-1 CHA) dropping a ninth straight game against Division I, and despite being the team's being held under two goals for the 16th time this season, including six shutouts. PSU played outstanding in-zone defense to limit the volume of rubber on Nicole Paniccia and, particularly in the first and last periods, was also effective on the counterpunch. Princeton (7-12-2, 2-10-2 ECAC) was the beneficiary of a fluky goal, Karen MacDonald's fluttering effort off of Corey Stearns' faceoff win that fooled Nicole Paniccia with 4:28 left in a tight-checking first period that only saw 11 shots between the two teams. The home team deserved to be 0-0 at the intermission, but wasn't.

The Lions probably should have scored on at least one of the two power plays - the first, beginning at 15:20 of the second period in a 2-0 game was particularly on point. I suppose it needs to be said that Penn State did not generate a single shot in the frame until then (which was quite a frustrating stretch at a key point in the match), but between Shannon Yoxheimer's usual eight on net and notable close calls from Taylor Gross, Jill Holdcroft and Micayla Catanzariti, there was enough offense for a goal or two. No, it's not all fluffy puppies (see: breakouts, one of which led to a turnover before Molly Contini's 3-0 goal), but it was a more competitive hockey game that a quick glance at the score would show.

Here's the recap from the winning side.


Three different skaters scored as the Princeton women's hockey team skated to a 3-0 win over Penn State on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Greenberg Ice Pavilion.

It was the first meeting between the two squads and Princeton's first game in 17 days, as final exams concluded this past Friday.

Freshman Kimberly Newell made 11 saves in the first two periods to earn the win. Sophomore Ashley Holt made her eighth appearance in goal, playing the third period and stopping eight shots as the Tigers outshot the Lions 30-19.

Freshman defender Karen MacDonald scored her first career goal, the game-winning goal at 15:32 of the first period with senior Corey Stearns picking up her first of two assists on the night.

Junior Sally Butler scored just 39 seconds into the second period with help from juniors Denna Laing and Olivia Mucha.

Freshman Molly Contini notched her fifth goal of the season with senior Kelly Cooke and Stearns assisting at 9:16 of the third period as the Tigers took advantage of a turnover.

Penn State netminder Nicole Paniccia made 27 saves as the team falls to 7-17-1 on the season.


All Saints Day


According to Chris Heisenberg's recruiting list, Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) defenseman Mike Williamson committed to Penn State on Monday.

Mike Williamson

Defenseman
Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
6'3", 210 pounds
Leduc, AB
DOB 9/5/1993

EliteProspects.com


Season
Team
Lge.GPGAPts.PIM
2009-10
Leduc Oil Kings Midget AAA
AMHL
31
7
3
10
72
2009-10
Drayton Valley Thunder
AJHL
4
0
0
0
0
2010-11
Leduc Oil Kings Midget AAA
AMHL
32
6
13
19
70
2010-11
Spruce Grove Saints
AJHL
1
0
0
0
0
2011-12
Spruce Grove Saints
AJHL
41
9
9
18
73
2012-13
Spruce Grove Saints
AJHL
12
1
5
6
12

Williamson then verified the news via Twitter:


The Alberta native, of course, continues a pipeline to the Saints organization that includes current freshman David Glen - a hard-working center who is tied for the PSU lead with 12 goals - and 2013 recruit Dylan Richard. Williamson, Glen and Richard all played together on the 2011-2012 edition of the Saints, which finished the regular season 46-6-8 but were upended by Fort McMurray in the league semifinals. Spruce Grove, one of Canadian Jr. A hockey's powerhouse franchises won the 2011 AJHL title with Glen and Richard, although Williamson only played one regular season game on that team.

On last year's Saints, captained by Glen, the PSU freshman was tops on the team in assists (29) and second in points (50). Richard was third on the team in scoring, with 19 goals among his 41 points. And Williamson, one of the younger players on the team, added healthy totals from the back end as a 17-year-old. He seems to have that uncoachable clutch factor in his favor too - four of his nine goals were game winners, and he stepped up his production in the playoffs, with four goals in 11 games.

This season, with Glen now at Penn State ahead of the other two, the Saints are 28-13-6, a record deflated somewhat from the team's usual pace by the fact that both Richard and Williamson have battled injuries. Williamson's - called an upper-body injury officially - has limited the blueliner to 12 games and none since October 27th, although he's expected back in the lineup soon.

Williamson is certainly stout defensively, as one might expect from a quick glance at his height and weight. But videos of offensive upside are more fun (start at 50 seconds in, unless you want to see Glen assist on a goal too).



Another one? Sure. Williamson's goal play starts at 2:25 below, and once again shows that he's not afraid to get low in the zone if it's there for the taking.



There are interesting roster implications with Williamson's addition. He joins Dave Thompson and Pat Koudys as defensemen entering next season, along with forwards Richard, Zach Saar, David Goodwin and Eric Scheid, as well as goaltender Eamon McAdam. And don't forget about roster ghost Reed Linaker. Departures will number five forwards (Michael Longo, Dom Morrone, Eric Steinour, George Saad and Bryce Johnson, who transferred to Oklahoma earlier this month) and two defensemen (Rich O'Brien and Brian Dolan).

The forwards seem to be an even swap, five in and five out. But three defensemen incoming against two leaving and one goalie in with nobody leaving may bring cuts into play, especially in a reality where Title IX and budget constraints limit roster size. It may also be worth mentioning that scholarship money is likely to get much tighter in a hurry with a large chunk of the former Icers on the roster graduating.

Regardless of the final composition of next year's roster, it's sure to include - as Glen has already demonstrated - three easy-to-like Alberta boys with a winning pedigree.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Three Stars: January 21-27

Laura Bowman (white) is part of a rapidly-growing Minnesota pipeline.

3. Weekend Recap: Spartans split with Penn State
(The Munn Minute)

I occasionally break my "no recap-ish stuff" rule for stuff from FoTYT IcersGuy and Mary Clarke, so I figured I could do it for The Munn Minute as well. Sometimes it's interesting to get an opposing perspective on your big moments, like Saturday's win at Michigan State.
Some people might call it the low point in the season, but I guess we'll have to see. You can't really sugarcoat this, MSU shouldn't lose to Penn State - even with the season the Spartans have been having this year. Heck, the Spartans won Friday without two of their three leading scorers. With that said, Penn State wasn't going to make it easy. They did beat Ohio State earlier in the year, and they rallied a couple of times this weekend to make MSU work for it. The Spartans had a 2-0 lead disappear on Friday as well as a 3-2 lead.
2. Trio Flourishing for Nittany Lions
(PSU ComMedia)

The latest in a series of outstanding Ross Insana features on the women's team - this one hits on the team's top line of Yox, Descoresie and... Gross. I need to come up with a nickname for her.

1. Lake Conference girls' hockey rivals to unite
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Because I missed Women's Commit Cycle last week (the latest of about 60 plans is to get it out this week, then stagger them going forward to spread out the agony of doing them), I didn't get to share this great piece on women's signees Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman and Sarah Nielsen. So I'm fixing that.
"Laura and I knew of each others' [college] options, but we came to our decision to go to Penn State on our own," Petersen said. "It was pretty cool when we told each other that we had decided to go there. We'll have the chance to make our own traditions and write our own history."
The independent decisions of Petersen and Bowman weren't lost on Nielsen.
"I had been thinking about Penn State and a few other schools, but when I heard that they committed there, I thought, 'This could be a really good thing,'" Nielsen said. "I respect them so much that I knew I wanted to be a part of it when I heard they were going there."
Best of the Rest



Bo Pellah Goal on Jan 16th 2013
(YouTube)

Speaking of Commit Cycle, this goal by 2014 defenseman Bo Pellah was mentioned in last week's men's post, but before we had the available video to go with it.

Club teams faring well against NCAA hockey this year
(Arizona Daily Wildcat)

The ACHA is a respectable 4-5-0 against the NCAA, according to this article. I'm not entirely sure that's accurate: Alabama-Huntsville beat Alabama twice, Vanderbilt once and Oklahoma twice, while PSU beat Arizona State once. So that's six NCAA-over-ACHA games right off the top of my head. Fair to include ACHA D3s in that calculation? Not really, but I didn't come up with the parameters. Regardless, ACHA hockey is good hockey, remember that kids.

Jack Ham on Tomahawks: ‘I’m glad to be involved’
(Johnstown Tribune-Democrat)

PSU football legend Jack Ham is a minority owner of the NAHL's first-year Johnstown Tomahawks (as is Shane Conlan, another product of Linebacker U). Here's a nice story on the former Pittsburgh Steeler's ties to the junior hockey team, which will honor him with a bobblehead on Thursday night.


@BattistaJoseph
(Twitter)

Joe Battista has had this Twitter account for a while, but he finally started using it this past weekend, in order, among other things, toss up a photo of himself with former Icers player and assistant coach Andrew Strasser in front of the Munn Ice Arena scoreboard.

VIDEO: Soldier Field Begins Transition to Hockey Rink
(Bucky's 5th Quarter)

Remember obsessing over a similar video taken at Citizens Bank Park about 13.5 months ago? Those were good times. The Miami-Notre Dame, Minnesota-Wisconsin doubleheader at Soldier Field will be played on February 17th.

LVC ice hockey survives the conditions, but fall to Delaware 6-2 in Outdoor Classic
(Stack the Pads)

Speaking of outdoor hockey, ACHA D1's Lebanon Valley College and Delaware took advantage of the ice installed at HersheyPark Stadium for an AHL game between Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last week.

Williamsport minor league hockey team folds
(PennLive)

Finally, one of the more intriguing stories in Pennsylvania hockey came to a premature end as the Williamsport Outlaws of the Federal Hockey League suspended operations about six weeks before the end of their first season in the Little League capital. The "intriguing" part stems from the fact that they attempted to play all of their home games outside at Bowman Field, which usually hosts baseball's Williamsport Crosscutters. As it turned out, they made it through all but one of those games, which were frontloaded relative to the season as a whole to account for the start of baseball season.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

M: Penn State 3 at Michigan State 2



Process and execution.

There's a school of thought - one I subscribe to - that says that goals are the byproduct of a well-performing hockey team. Generate shots and chances of a good enough quality, and the goals, which are really a result of luck and percentages to some degree, will come. No, more chances in a 60-minute hockey game doesn't always mean more goals and the win, but the better-executing team putting forward more effort will win most games, and a good chunk of them over the course of the season.

In other words, if you're playing well, and plan to continue doing so, don't sweat a 2-0 deficit 6:21 into a game.

That's exactly what Penn State (12-15-0 all games, 10-13-0 NCAA, 8-11-0 NCAA DI) faced Saturday night at Michigan State (7-16-3, 5-12-1 CCHA) after early bombs from R.J. Boyd and Matt Grassi made it past the glove of a shaky looking Matt Skoff. Panic? Why?

Skoff's a good goalie, and he proved it once again by settling down from there and finishing with 31 saves on 33 shots. And Penn State, the better team throughout most of the game, kept plugging, making the 2-0 lead look quite wobbly, even as the Spartans continued it into the third period.

Mark Yanis, back in his home state, took the first bite out of that lead just 32 seconds into the second period on a PSU power play, when he located the rebound of a Max Gardiner attempt in the slot and fired it past an out-of-position Jake Hildebrand. And unlike Friday, when MSU's game-winning goal was scored during a late major to Connor Varley, PSU's penalty kill passed its endurance test on Saturday, neutralizing 3:58 of Spartan advantage time in the latter stages of the period after calls of high sticking to Yanis and a questionable diving infraction tagged to Curtis Loik.

The seemingly inevitable breakthrough came in the third period. First, 3:13 in, Taylor Holstrom's centering feed out of the corner took a fortunate bounce off of a Michigan State skate to Casey Bailey in the slot, and the big Alaskan sniped to tie the game. Holstrom scored the winner with 4:01 left, as Bailey returned the favor by feeding the Mercyhurst transfer in the slot, where he beat Hildebrand on the backhand.

Penn State, which outshot the Spartans 50-33, is now 3-3-0 against major-conference teams - including 2-1-0 versus future Big Ten opponents - in a season where many (guilty) would have been happy with simply playing a competitive game against those types of teams. With just the season-closing series at Wisconsin remaining in both of those categories, it's now safe to call this inaugural NCAA season an unqualified success at the top end.

Next weekend, the Nittany Lions travel from the future to the past, with the likely last games ever against ACHA archrival Ohio. Friday's game will be played at Hershey's Giant Center at 7:00 p.m., while Saturday's rematch will be at the Ice Pavilion at 7:30 p.m.

Here's something resembling a live blog... I say "something resembling" because I was unable to watch the game broadcast to the widest television audience in PSU hockey history on Big Ten Network because I don't get the channel. So it's basically a collection of tweets and comments from people who did see it, with my occasional contributions where I had something to offer.


W: Penn State 1 at Syracuse 4



Former Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart once famously declared in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) that "I know it when I see it." Stewart, as many of you may know, was speaking about hardcore pornography, but he just as easily could have been referring to the progress of the 2012-2013 Nittany Lions women's hockey team.

That progress, much like pornography, sometimes evades clear definition. On Saturday afternoon against Syracuse (14-11-1, 8-3-1 CHA) and repeating a pattern seen earlier in the season, Penn State (7-16-1, 1-10-1 CHA) was outshot 55-15. Things like scoring chances and zone time aren't available, but I imagine the proportions would be similar. But that's rarely the whole story, and it certainly wasn't this time around.

Taylor Gross helps Celine Whitlinger defend the PSU net from Syracuse's Allie LaCombe.

The simple fact is this: but for a late empty-net goal by Julie Knerr of Syracuse, PSU outscored the Orange over the last 48:30 of the game. The 1-0 margin was thanks to Jill Holdcroft - Does she have a fan club? If so, I want in - the scrappy State High alumna. Holdcroft, in adding the icing to a fantastic weekend, took a feed from Shannon Yoxheimer after a nice play at the line, swooped in on SU goalie Jenesica Drinkwater, and scored on her own rebound after the initial shot was saved.

Syracuse, of course, won the game with three early goals. First Nicole Ferrara put back a Margot Scharfe rebound just as an early penalty expired, then Kallie Goodnough rippled twine off of a loose puck kicked back into the slot, and finally, Jacquie Greco made it 3-0 early on a power play one-timer. The Orange also built an early 9-0 shots lead during the scoring run.

Penn State's mental toughness won from that point on, though. Celine Whitlinger, who ended with 51 saves, shut the door the rest of the way. The defense generally reduced the quality of the chances by SU's talented top two lines (although Whitlinger was certainly spectacular when that wasn't the case). And PSU's offense, while not very prolific, did develop some opportunities.

The entire situation reminded me of two games earlier this season:
  • On November 11th, Robert Morris jumped on PSU for three first-period goals at the Ice Pavilion. However, Nicole Paniccia shut things down from there, and Micayla Catanzariti's third-period goal provided a glimmer of hope in an eventual 4-1 loss.
  • On December 1st at Mercyhurst, an early Taylor Gross blueline takeaway led to a Jess Desorcie rebound goal and first blood against the juggernaut Lakers, a lead that PSU held through the midpoint of the opening period.
Do those things, or the fact that the Nittany Lions scored against Syracuse after being shut out in the first three games of the season series, look like much on the outside? No, not really. But for those paying close attention, they're the type of glimmers that show a young program in development. I'll spare the tired cliche about crawling before walking before running, but it's true. Take any winning team in sports, look back to before it was a winning team, and I guarantee you'll find a set of milestones and moments - sometimes isolated games within seasons, sometimes isolated plays within games - that indicated they were on the right track. I'm a skeptic by nature and don't always pick them up as they're happening, but I'm seeing them with Penn State women's hockey.

Here's the live blog for the latest step in the journey:


Friday, January 25, 2013

W: Penn State 0 at Syracuse 1



The progress, while not always evident in the won-lost record, is there.

Consider the first meeting between Penn State (7-15-1, 1-9-1 CHA) and Syracuse (13-11-1, 7-3-1 CHA) this season. In PSU's first-ever NCAA home game on October 13th, the Orange jumped out of the gate with 28 first-period shots en route to a 4-0 win. SU's top six forwards, including Shiann Darkangelo, Holly Carrie-Mattimoe and Nicole Ferrara, skated almost unfettered through the Penn State zone, and it was only due to a heroic goaltending effort by Nicole Paniccia that the score wasn't much, much worse.

No, the Nittany Lions still have not scored against Syracuse this season. And, considering the shooting and territorial discrepancies in the game Friday night, it's slightly disingenuous to suggest that PSU "nearly turned the upset" against the Orange, as the GoPSUSports.com recap said, even with the 1-0 score. But, given how this latest affair played out, it is accurate to say that they are closer to doing so than they were in October. Under Josh Brandwene's "get better every day" mantra, that's good enough for now.

Kendra Rasmussen takes a draw against SU's Margot Scharfe

The obvious standout in the game was once again Paniccia, who was her usual spectacular self with 45 saves. She was only beaten once, by Nicole Renault's first career goal at the 6:49 mark of the first period. Renault, on the play, took a pass from Melissa Piacentini just inside the blue line, carried down the middle, and veered to the right just in front of Paniccia before firing home.

Penn State certainly had chances of their own. Jill Holdcroft was once again feisty and disruptive, creating havoc deep in the Syracuse zone, while Shannon Yoxheimer - who had an outstanding third period - Micayla Catanzariti and Hannah Hoenshell also had notable close calls. With 44 seconds remaining in the game, Brandwene used his timeout to get Paniccia to the bench, and consecutive faceoff wins led to attempts on net by Yoxheimer and Jordin Pardoski, but the former was blocked and the latter missed, allowing the Orange to run out the clock.

Speaking of blocked shots, junior Jenna Welch was once again Paniccia's best friend, stepping in front of several SU attempts, notably in the third period.

While Saturday's rematch at 2:00 p.m. is the obvious target for redemption, it might also be appropriate to take a look ahead to the CHA playoffs during the first weekend in March. Although current second-place Syracuse is three points clear of Robert Morris, it's still entirely possible that Penn State will head back to Tennity Ice Pavilion for the 3-6 first round matchup. At the rate the Nittany Lions improved from October to January, is anyone betting against PSU for that hypothetical matchup with the Orange in five weeks?

Here's the live blog from a tough, yet encouraging, loss:


M: Penn State 3 at Michigan State 5



Once again, my sincerest apologies for cancelling the live blog for this game at the last second. Essentially, the story is that I wasn't 100 percent positive that it was going to be streamed via Michigan State's All-Access channel (video wasn't mentioned in MSU's pregame release). There was video as it turned out, but it didn't come on until literally about 10 seconds before puck drop - or five minutes after I decided to switch over to the women's game at Syracuse so as not to be caught empty handed on a full Friday night of hockey. I had to make a quick decision, and given my preference for the men's game this time around, hindsight says it was the wrong one. It happens.

I did manage to catch a good chunk of the men during the women's intermissions and following the conclusion of that game, including the final 10 minutes and the wild second period stretch that saw three goals scored in 1:34. So I don't think I'm completely blind when I say that the Nittany Lions (11-15-0 all games, 9-13-0 NCAA, 7-11-0 NCAA DI) played well enough to win, especially after a tenative first period. Had it not been for Connor Varley's checking from behind major on Anthony Hayes with 8:36 left in a tie game that led to Tanner Sorenson's game-winning one-timer, who knows what would have happened. The good news is that the typical college hockey weekend, and this is one of those, involves a rematch.

I'm going to break from my usual victor-spoils rules and use Stefan Kubus' recap from MIHockeyNow.com instead of the one from MSUSpartans.com, just because I thought Kubus did an exceptional job in describing things. It's still MSU-centric, so I'm counting it.


A bounce-back game for Michigan State was just what the doctor ordered following their disappointing Tuesday night loss to the NTDP U-18 squad.

The Spartans defeated Penn State, 5-3, on goals by Mike Ferrantino (Plymouth), Kevin Walrod, Greg Wolfe (Canton) and a pair by Tanner Sorenson. Will Yanakeff (Jerome) made 27 saves in the win, as freshman Jake Hildebrand had the night off.

“Well, it’s nice to get a win; I thought the guys played real hard,” MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. “I thought Penn State competed real hard. It’s nice to see the puck go in the net a little bit… It was nice to get a positive result tonight.”

Ferrantino, a freshman forward, got things going in rather slick fashion for the Spartans. Following some great work along the boards in the Penn State zone by linemates Ryan Keller and Anthony Hayes, Ferrantino picked up a loose puck down low on the right side, made a move to the backhand, attacked the slot and put the puck past goaltender Matthew Skoff to make it 1-0 at the 12:42 mark.

“It seems like when we scored the first goal, we really got a boost from that, so it was really nice tonight to get the first one,” Ferrantino said of his goal. “It seemed to really energize us for the rest of the first period.”

Later, with 4:54 to go in the first frame, Penn State captain Tommy Olczyk – son of former NHL’er and current TV analyst Ed Olczyk – broke in on Yanakeff all alone only to get robbed.

The first period – a very strong one for the Green and White – ended with MSU up 1-0, holding a 12-7 shot advantage, as well.

The second period was a wild one for both sides, as five goals were scored, with three of them coming within three minutes of each other.

First, it was Michigan State, as sophomore defenseman RJ Boyd sprung Sorenson with a long stretch pass from blue line to blue line. Sorenson went in and fired a shot off the inside of the crossbar and down for a 2-0 lead 6:55 into the period.

“I was kind of cherry picking, slow to back check because they were all changing,” Sorenson said of his goal. “And then I cut through the middle and yelled, “Boyd,” and Boyd saw me, made a great play to me, and then I just kind of took off and had a breakaway. But no, that was a great play by Boyd.”

Just 1:30 after the Sorenson tally, Olczyk skated behind the MSU defense on the left side and, this time, he capitalized on his chance, pulling the Nittany Lions back within one on a shorthanded marker.

David Glen tucked home a rebound to tie the game at three in the second period.

The game calmed down for about six minutes until Taylor Holstrom broke in on Yanakeff off a pass from Max Gardiner and roofed a backhand past Skoff to make it a 2-2 game at the 14:38 mark.

Next in the parade, it was Walrod who scored a very similar goal to Olczyk’s, letting a far-side wrister go from the top of the right circle that beat Skoff over the blocker to regain the 3-2 lead for his Spartan squad.

And 14 seconds later, Penn State tied it up at three aside on a goal that freshman David Glen found in a crease scramble to tap in the gaping net.

That’s the way the game stood through 40 minutes, with MSU holding a slight, 23-20 shot advantage.

In the third, a huge Connor Varley hit on Hayes from behind resulted in an ejection and five-minute power play for the Spartans.

After some sharp puck movement in the Penn State zone, Walsh walked down the middle from the point, faked a shot and dished a short, nifty backhand pass to Sorenson who unleashed a snap shot from the inside top of the left circle to put MSU up 4-3 with five minutes to go in the game.

“We knew we had a long power play, so we had time to be calm and just work it,” Sorenson said of his second tally. “Wally made a good play to Walsh in the slot, then Walsh faked a shot and gave it to me. I knew I had to get it off quick because the goalie was down and it felt great.”

Wolfe capped things off with 15.9 seconds remaining in the game, depositing the puck into an empty net. Although it wasn’t quite the goal he had been looking to score lately, the MSU captain wasn’t complaining.

“For me, I guess it was more of a sense of relief,” Wolfe said of his empty-netter with a laugh. “Obviously, this year has been kind of up and down so everyone was just working it really hard. It was just a good team building; it just felt good all around. We’ve had so many disappointments lately, it was good to finally just break that streak and feel good for a change going into the locker room.”

The second game between the two schools is set for 6:05 p.m. Saturday evening again at Munn Ice Arena.

Notes: Attendance: 5,605… With David Bondra and Brent Darnell (upper-body) hurt, along with Matt Berry serving a DQ penalty, defenseman Nickolas Gatt saw time on forward for the first time ever in his playing career… In a nice touch, MSU dressed recently-retired defenseman Branden Carney as an honorary captain to sit on the bench with the team.