Sunday, June 30, 2013

Canucks Scoop Up Williamson

Following Eamon McAdam's selection by the New York Islanders in the third round of Sunday's NHL Entry Draft, Penn State didn't have to wait long for a second-ever draft pick by a player affiliated with the university. Incoming freshman defenseman Mike Williamson was tabbed late in the sixth round, with the 175th overall pick, by the Vancouver Canucks.

Along with McAdam, the 70th player to leave the board, Williamson, junior forward Max Gardiner (2010 3rd round, 74th overall, by the St. Louis Blues) and junior defenseman Patrick Koudys (2011 5th round, 147th overall by the Washington Capitals) now represent the Penn State draft contingent. Both Gardiner and Koudys were selected while committed to other schools, Minnesota and RPI, respectively

Williamson is a product of the AJHL's Spruce Grove Saints, one of that junior circuit's best programs, where he played with PSU sophomore David Glen, as well as fellow incoming freshman Dylan Richard. Although NHL Central Scouting Services listed him as the 183rd-best North American skater in their final rankings (71st among defensemen), he was lightly regarded by pundits, so his being drafted can be considered something of a surprise.

While Williamson was picked in the territory of a low-risk end-of-draft slot, he does have the opportunity to elevate his stock significantly within the Canucks prospect system. The window of opportunity may be closing on the veteran team at the NHL level, and furthermore, their pool of young guns is considered one of the weakest in the league - it was recently rated 29th of 30 by The Hockey News. In other words and in a salary cap era, Vancouver will probably be looking within to fill key roles in their organization, and Williamson has a great opportunity to become a part of that.

The Leduc, AB native is expected to immediately become a key piece of the Nittany Lions' blueline. He offers a tremendously well-rounded blend of size, intelligence, quickness and a bomb of a point shot - enough, obviously, for an NHL team to seek his rights. Williamson suffered an injury-plagued season with the Saints, but still managed to help the club to an AJHL North Division regular season championship in 2012-13 with a goal and ten assists in 23 games.

Islanders Draft McAdam 70th Overall

The New York Islanders have made freshman goaltender Eamon McAdam their 3rd round pick, 70th overall, at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, held Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. He was the 6th goalie to come off of the board, roughly in line with advance expectations, although his overall draft position was about one full round earlier than most anticipated.

McAdam becomes the first Penn Stater taken in the draft while affiliated with the young NCAA program. On the Nittany Lions roster, he joins junior forward Max Gardiner (2010 3rd round, 74th overall, by the St. Louis Blues) and junior defenseman Patrick Koudys (2011 5th round, 147th overall by the Washington Capitals) in having his rights owned by an NHL team. Both Gardiner and Koudys were scooped up while committed to their previous schools - Minnesota and RPI, respectively - before later transferring to PSU.

In the Islanders, McAdam joins a franchise whose struggles since their early 1980s dynasty are well documented. The team has qualified for the playoffs just five times since 1994, and has not won a single playoff round in those appearances. Furthermore, financial struggles at the outdated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY have prompted a move to the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, NY by the 2015-16 season.

That said, the team itself is on the rise, as the Isles have assembled a very strong prospect pool. One weak spot, however, is in goal. The team presently has zero goalies under contract at the NHL level, so it would seem that AHLers Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson (rated the organization's 9th and 10th best prospects according to The Hockey News) may be in line for a promotion. The Islanders also own the rights to 2009 second-rounder Mikko Koskinen, who is playing in Finland. Cody Rosen, a 2010 seventh-round pick who just completed a four-year career at Clarkson, is also listed on the Isles' prospect roster, although according to Lighthouse Hockey, he has been let go by the club.

Just 36 slots after choosing McAdam, New York scooped up another goalie with the 106th overall pick in the fourth round: Minnesota State-Mankato sophomore Stephon Williams, who paired up with McAdam in the crease of the 2011-2012 Waterloo Black Hawks. And just prior to the draft beginning, the Islanders signed former Boston College goalie Parker Milner as a free agent. Suffice it to say that the team is hoping that their goalie of the future emerges from within.

The NHL Entry Draft is the culmination of what, in most respects, has been a pretty incredible year for McAdam, starting with the Junior Club World Cup last August when he led the Waterloo Black Hawks to a silver medal while winning the tournament's top goalie award. He also participated in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Top Prospects Game in September before winning gold with Team USA at the World Junior A Challenge in November. McAdam burst into the mainstream, SportsCenter included, with his MVP performance at the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January that included one of the saves of the year at any level of hockey. In his regular gig, with the Black Hawks, he went 17-9-3 with a 3.45 goals against average and a 0.896 save percentage to help the team to a playoff appearance.

At Penn State, McAdam is expected to step in and immediately compete for time with returning goalies Matt Skoff and P.J. Musico. Skoff closed 2012-2013 as the number one guy in the Nittany Lions' crease, winding up with a 9-8-0 record, a 2.48 goals against average and a 0.921 save percentage. The Perkasie, PA native and Team Comcast product's CHL rights are owned by the London Knights, who drafted him in the fourth round of the OHL draft in 2010.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

First PIA Seat Selection Assigned

More than 3,000 season tickets for the inaugural men's hockey season at Pegula Ice Arena will be scooped up between Tuesday, July 16th and Wednesday, July 24th, according to an email communication from Penn State Athletic Ticketing Services assigning selection dates and times to those making the first deposit deadline, May 24th. A second deposit group for stragglers, limited to 450 tickets, will grab remaining seats after the first group has had their choice.

Here's the text of the email:

Thank you for your interest in supporting Penn State Hockey through your season ticket interest and/or your generous Nittany Lion Club donations. Along with us, you have been anxiously awaiting the opening of our new and state-of-the-art facility; the Pegula Ice Arena.

Renewing and relocating seats in the Pegula Ice Arena will become an annual online event and your selection date and time for the inaugural season is indicated above. All of the selection assignments have been ordered according to the standards determined in advance by Penn State and as published on our website and via direct communication in mid-May. We are also sending a hard copy of this assignment via the US Mail.

We are very pleased to offer the cutting-edge digital technology of the Virtual Venue™ to our hockey fans. You can expect life-like seat views, location information, amenities, and pricing so you can choose with confidence. We also believe that this unique look into our newest venue will help familiarize you with all seating areas.

For our customers who need wheelchair seating, please phone 1-800-NITTANY for assistance with securing appropriate accommodations. Please remember that we will not be able to provide this assistance before your scheduled selection date/time.

We are here to help you with your seat selection questions! There are some details below and a Penn State representative will be happy to assist, if needed! Feel free to phone a representative at 1-800-NITTANY between 8 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

These are the "standards determined in advance" mentioned in the second paragraph - and tons of credit is due the people who came up with them, as those going back with the Icers and renewing for the first NCAA season clearly have an advantage:
  1. Current NLC members who were also Penn State 2012-13 hockey season ticket holders
  2. Current NLC members with 500 or more priority points
  3. Penn State 2012-13 Hockey Season Ticket holders who are not current NLC members
  4. Penn State Hockey team alumni
  5. Current NLC members with fewer than 500 priority points
  6. Non-NLC members, not a previous season ticket holder with a deposit
The selection process will be conducted through a Virtual Venue, essentially a digital representation of the arena and its seats, as mentioned in the email. While the ability to make a purchase has been disabled until July 16th, the rest of its features are online so that users can familiarize themselves with the technology before their d-day and time. If all else fails, purchases after the selection time are allowed by calling 1-800-NITTANY. All seats must be paid in full at the time of selection.

Only the On The Glass ($700), Club Seating ($500/$900), Center Ice ($400), Attack Zone ($300) and End Zone ($240) sections (green, orange, gray, red and blue, respectively, on the seating chart leading the post) are available through this selection. Those seeking opera boxes, loges and suites (pink, lime green and purple) are directed to call 1-800-NITTANY. The 1,000 student tickets (yellow), of course, will go on sale in September and will not require a deposit.

PSU has set up an FAQ page to help people through the process as well.

Other information - specifically single game and partial plan availability, as well as ticketing for the women's team - is still to come.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Yanis Receiving Late-Round Consideration?

It's sometimes overlooked given all of the attention heaped on Eamon McAdam (guilty), but it is important to remember that there are other Penn Staters hoping to hear their name called during the NHL Entry Draft on Sunday. And D.J. Powers from Hockey's Future has good news regarding one of them:

That tweet was following up on a piece Powers wrote calling Yanis the fifth best NCAA player (meaning those who have played college games and have generally already been passed over once by the NHL, not those merely committed to/about to start at a college, as is the case with McAdam) available in the draft. Here's that excerpt:

5. Mark Yanis, D
Freshman, Penn State University
Ht./Wt: 6’3”/207 lbs. Shoots: right
DOB: 5/26/94
CSS final ranking: N/A

Mark Yanis is a player that could potentially be a “hidden gem” in this year’s draft. While he doesn’t appear in Central Scouting’s final rankings and despite his limited number of games played, NHL teams have kept a close eye on the young rearguard all season long. The Grosse Pointe Woods, MI native has appeared in 15 games this season, posting nine points (four goals, five assists). His four goals were tied for the most among Penn State defensemen. Yanis got off to a strong start with the Nittany Lions before an ankle injury on Nov. 3rd sidelined him for 12 games. He returned to the lineup on Jan. 11th and simply picked up from where he left off. One of Yanis’ most memorable games came back on Oct. 27th versus Sacred Heart. In that game, he posted a goal and an assist to help guide the Nittany Lions to a 6-3 victory.

Yanis is a defenseman with size (6’3”/207 lbs.) that possesses excellent offensive ability and plays with grit and a competitive edge. What has scouts excited about Yanis is what he can do, particularly from a physicality standpoint, once he fills out his large frame. During his USHL days with Muskegon, Yanis established himself as a physical presence on the blueline and he has shown glimpses of that with Penn State this season.

Yanis possesses outstanding puck skills. He moves really well with the puck and makes great outlet passes. He uses his size and long reach advantageously at both ends of the ice. Yanis is a very good skater and is quite mobile, although he does need to develop a quicker step and improve his agility. There have been no noticeable residual effects of his injury since returning to the Nittany Lions lineup. Yanis can often be found jumping into plays. He sees the ice well and has the ability to quarterback power-plays, too. One of Yanis’ best assets is his shot. He possesses a heavy shot that is likely to become more powerful as he adds strength to his large frame.

Not much to add here, that pretty much nailed him. Yanis' offensive prowess was a pleasant surprise for Penn State last season after what he showed in Muskegon, and hopefully NHL teams now view him as well rounded enough to draft. His injury was obviously a tough blow given the already-limited number of games played by NCAA teams and the importance of Yanis improving his stock for his second run through the draft.

Powers' assessment joins one from Future Considerations' NHL draft guide, which called Yanis the 164th best player available, 59th among defensemen. FC added that "Yanis is a big, physical blueliner who uses his size to his advantage. He’s shown some flashes of offensive ability and moves well, but could improve his feet. By doing so, he can shore up some coverage lapses in his own end."

Future Considerations is one of five pre-draft rankings TYT surveyed earlier this month running deep enough to include all seven rounds. Two others in that category have included freshman defenseman Mike Williamson (NHL Central Scouting Services' 183rd-best North American skater) and 2014 defense commit Bo Pellah (the 198th best player available according to So while none of the three are likely to have a better-than-even-money shot individually with Yanis, Williamson and Pellah each only appearing in one of the five, on a collective level, it's important to not dismiss the idea of seeing two Penn Staters drafted.

That said, if any of the three go on Sunday, the safest bet is on Yanis. Why? Because draft guides don't do the picking, NHL teams do. And reportedly, six of them are at least thinking about the rock-solid defenseman.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Boston College, UMass-Lowell Highlight Men's Slate

Lethal John Gaudreau and Boston College visit Pegula Ice Arena on January 25, 2014.

The Penn State NCAA men's program has announced its full schedule for 2013-2014, the season notable for PSU's entry into both the Big Ten and Pegula Ice Arena.

Fri. Oct. 11
8:00 p.m.
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Oct. 18
Air Force
Cadet Ice Arena // Colorado Springs, CO
Sat. Oct. 19
Air Force
Cadet Ice Arena // Colorado Springs, CO
Fri. Oct. 25
7:00 p.m.
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Oct. 26
5:00 p.m.
Wells Fargo Center // Philadelphia, PA
Fri. Nov. 1
7:05 p.m.
Robert Morris 
84 Lumber Arena // Neville Twp., PA 
Fri. Nov. 8
7:00 p.m.
Sacred Heart
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Thu. Nov. 14
7:00 p.m.
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Nov. 15
7:00 p.m.
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Nov. 30
7:00 p.m.
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sun. Dec. 1
7:00 p.m.
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Dec. 6
at Wisconsin*
Kohl Center // Madison, WI
Sat. Dec. 7
at Wisconsin*
Kohl Center // Madison, WI
Fri. Dec. 27
Three Rivers Classic
Consol Energy Center // Pittsburgh, PA
Sat. Dec. 28
Three Rivers Classic
Consol Energy Center // Pittsburgh, PA
Sun. Jan. 12
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Mon. Jan. 13
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Jan. 17
at Michigan State*
Munn Ice Arena // East Lansing, MI
Sat. Jan. 18
at Michigan State*
Munn Ice Arena // East Lansing, MI
Sat. Jan. 25
7:00 p.m.
Boston College
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Jan. 31
at Ohio State*
Value City Arena // Columbus, OH
Sat. Feb. 1
at Ohio State*
Value City Arena // Columbus, OH
Fri. Feb. 7
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Feb. 8
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Feb. 14
Michigan State*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Feb. 15
Michigan State*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Feb. 21
at Michigan*
Yost Ice Arena // Ann Arbor, MI
Sat. Feb. 22
at Michigan*
Yost Ice Arena // Ann Arbor, MI
Fri. Feb. 28
at Minnesota*
Mariucci Arena // Minneapolis, MN
Sat. Mar. 1
at Minnesota*
Mariucci Arena // Minneapolis, MN
Fri. Mar. 7
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Mar. 8
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Mar. 14
Ohio State*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Mar. 15
Ohio State*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA

The Big Ten Tournament will take place March 20th through 22nd at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. On the opening day of the playoffs, the bottom four teams in the final league standings will pair off as third vs. sixth and fourth vs. fifth for a single-elimination first round. The two winners will then meet the top two seeds for the semifinals on the second day of the tournament, followed by the championship game Saturday night.

Start times for the Big Ten games, as well as the television schedule, will be released at a later date.

Obligatory Guy Gadowsky press release quote:
"We've put together a challenging non-conference schedule with several marquee games. Together with a competitive Big Ten slate and trips to both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, our fans will have the opportunity to watch some outstanding hockey whether at Pegula Ice Arena or on the road. It will be an exciting season as we enter our first year in the Big Ten Conference in a brand-new facility."
Mostly due to the late release date of PSU's schedule relative to others and the previous unveiling of the entire Big Ten schedule, no fewer than 29 of the 34 games had already been 100 percent locked in prior to this announcement. In order to avoid repeating myself while still conveying pertinent information, here are a bunch of old posts covering those contests from the time they were discovered.

2013-14 Big Ten Schedule Released
Army Will Open Pegula Ice Arena
RIT Rematch Set For October 25
Philly Phollow-Up
RMU Away Match Set for November 1st
PSU to Host Sacred Heart in November
Union Series Confirmed, Schedule Shaping Up
BC, BG Sign On For 2013 Pittsburgh Invitational

So really, the news here is mostly about five games. And one of those stands out above the rest.

With no disrespect meant to other historical giants, there's an ebb and flow to greatness, a rise and fall (in a purely relative sense) in stature among the elite. And right now, at this moment in history, the "best program in the nation" argument begins and ends with the Boston College Eagles. BC, of course, is led by Jerry York, who became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA hockey history last season. York started out at Clarkson and won a national championship (in 1984) at Bowling Green, but his legend really exploded after returning to his alma mater in 1994. Witness...

Reminder: I'm talking about this program because they're visiting Pegula Ice Arena on January 25, 2014, roughly seven months from now. Pardon my French, but holy crap. Guess we'll know where we stand, eh?

Last season was a bit of an off year for the Eagles since they didn't win a Hockey East championship of some kind (only the fifth time that's happened since 1997-1998) and didn't win an NCAA Tournament game after qualifying for the 14th time in the last 16 years. Rough go.

In terms of personnel, BC loses some key pieces from last season - workhorse goalie/Pittsburgh native Parker Milner, Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney up front - but as usual, there's plenty of talent to spare. Electrifying junior Johnny Gaudreau is among those expected to return. Gaudreau was Team USA's leading goal scorer (7) in its gold medal run at the 2013 World Junior Championships and was named a tournament all-star. The 5'6" Carney's Point, NJ native's collegiate exploits include status as a Hobey Baker Award hat trick finalist as well as first-team All-American selection last season (thanks largely to his being the national leader in points per game), and Hockey East and Beanpot MVP honors in 2011-2012. Basically, the 2011 Calgary Flames draft pick is quite good.

UMass-Lowell goalie Connor Hellebuyck, a force of nature in the biggest of games

UMass-Lowell is a compelling measuring stick as well, and it has to be said that for all of Boston College's recent success, the River Hawks actually had a better team last year. Behind a stifling defense backed by freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (1.37 goals against average, 0.952 save percentage), Lowell was 28-11-2 overall. Although UML won the Hockey East regular season title with a 16-9-2 record, they still were able to kick things up another gear in the postseason - first by taking the league tournament (and ending the career of legendary Boston University coach Jack Parker with a championship game shutout), then by knocking off Wisconsin and New Hampshire in the NCAA Tournament to reach the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh. Eventual national champ Yale needed overtime to take down the former Division II power by a 3-2 score. Other than 16-goal scorer Riley Wetmore, a senior last year, and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, who signed with the Buffalo Sabres following the loss to Yale, UML returns every key player.

Air Force returns to the schedule for the away half of a scheduling agreement initiated last season. I suppose it's quite telling that the Falcons have become a bit of an afterthought after being the easy highlight of the 2012-2013 home slate, but here we are... although AFA head coach Frank Serratore is not amused.

The Falcons, despite a winning 17-13-7 record, suffered a bit of a down year for a program that had qualified for five of the previous six NCAA Tournaments. Outstanding goalie Jason Torf will return from the team that split a series at the Ice Pavilion last November, so their more immediate concern will be ducking hits to the nation's sixth-best offense from the losses of Kyle De Laurell, Stephen Carew and John Kruse.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ehresmann to Attend Select U18 Camp

Goalie commit Hannah Ehresmann, scheduled for a 2014 entry, has been named at at-large selection to the USA Hockey Select U18 Player Development Camp. The event runs from July 10th through 18th in St. Cloud, MN and is a showcase for the best American players in the age group.

As with all USA Hockey national camps, Select U18s are heavily scouted and a good showing can help open up future national team opportunities.

Ehresmann is a rising senior at Minnetonka High School in Minnesota where, of course, she teamed up with PSU freshmen Laura Bowman and Amy Petersen for the last two seasons, both ending in state titles for the Skippers. While she generally backed up Let's Play Hockey Senior Goalie of the Year Sydney Rossman on those teams, Ehresmann was outstanding when called on - she had an 11-1-0 record with a 0.91 goals against average and a 0.939 save percentage in 2012-2013, following up 7-2-0, 1.21 and 0.928 in 2011-2012. Rossman is headed to Quinnipiac in the fall, so Ehresmann is expected to do the heavy lifting for Minnetonka in their attempt to add to their already unprecedented three-peat in the coming season.

Last summer, the rapidly rising prospect participated in the Select 16 Player Development Camp. While splitting each game down the middle with Gold Team goalie partner Sara Merker, she stopped 19 of 20 across her first two appearances before surrendering four goals on 13 shots in her final game to wind up with a 3.33 goals against average. She's also been an Upper Midwest High School Elite League selection and even played a part in getting hockey declared the official state sport of Minnesota as a sixth grader back in 2008.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kerr Earns Select 17s Nod

Kevin Kerr, a defense commit scheduled for 2014 or 2015 entry, has been picked for the prestigious USA Hockey Select 17 Player Development Camp. The camp begins on Thursday, June 27th, and runs through July 3rd in Williamsville, NY.

Kerr earned his way in by successfully navigating a tryout festival in his home Atlantic District last month, an event that helps fill a predetermined allotment of players districts are allowed to advance to the national camp (the Atlantic District number for defensemen was five). Previously, Kerr attended both Select 15s and Select 16s while a member of those respective age groups.

Select 17s, as you might have guessed, are a heavily-scouted event, so playing well would give Kerr a shot in the arm for next year's NHL Entry Draft. It would also give him a strong argument for consideration by future USA Hockey teams, including the National Team Development Program, which may have a few slots open on their Under-18 team. Space is pretty limited there though, as the vast majority of the U18 squad is filled by players moving up from the Under-17 team (Kerr got a tryout for that team last year but didn't make it).

It's been a pretty good several days for the Bensalem, PA native. Last Wednesday through Friday, the seventh overall selection in the 2012 USHL Futures Draft was at the Tri-City Storm's tryout camp in Las Vegas. The Storm hasn't made an official roster announcement yet, but Kerr let it slip on Twitter that he will be one of the 25 players invited back in the fall after playing five games for the team last season over a couple of call-ups. Primarily, he was with the Team Comcast 18Us and Holy Ghost Prep in 2012-2013, with the former winning the Atlantic District title and advancing to the quarterfinals of the USA Hockey national championships.

Three Stars: June 17-23

3. Detroit plans for new downtown arena

Plans are moving forward for a new arena in Detroit that would replace Joe Louis Arena as the home of the NHL's Red Wings. Olympia Development (a company owned by Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch), the city's Downtown Development Authority and Wayne County announced a memorandum of understanding last Thursday, essentially a non-binding document indicating that all parties are interested in heading down the road together. Previous reports indicated that construction could begin by the end of the year (I assume everything would have to click perfectly for that to happen), with the project taking roughly two years to complete.

So what's this have to do with Penn State? Easy. The Big Ten has committed to holding its tournament in Detroit in 2015 and 2017, and at the moment, it seems conceivable that by the time 2017 rolls around, Joe Louis Arena - redundant if a new building goes up - will be rubble. A sparkling new facility could also influence the awarding of the Big Ten championships beyond 2017.

2. Eamon McAdam
(The Hockey News)

By the time, the next Three Stars hits, Eamon McAdam's rights will (probably/hopefully) be the property of an NHL team, through this coming Sunday's NHL Entry Draft. So as you might expect, he got a fair deal of exposure this week, including the nice profile by THN's Ryan Kennedy leading this entry. McAdam also penned his final blog post for The Pipeline Show while also appearing on the show on Saturday.

In addition to all of the usual hockey firsts for PSU's program, McAdam has also crushed out a couple unique to this day and age: 1. First NCAA-era Penn State player with a Wikipedia entry, and 2. First Penn State player, to the best of my knowledge, with a parody Twitter account (language advisory on that one).

1. @TaylorCVincent

Ice Lion Taylor Vincent and his teammates toured Pegula Ice Arena last week... so obviously, we'll pop a photo in.

Best of the Rest


From new Icers and Ice Lions alumnus Mike Broccolo:
My mom just informed me that one of her student's name was seven
The Seinfeld episode where George Costanza shared his preferred baby name (after New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle's jersey number) originally aired on February 1, 1996. Therefore, "Seven" is more or less in play for anyone 17 years old or younger. So there you go.

Junior A gems: NHL Draft prospects from OJHL, AJHL, BCHL, and beyond
(Hockey Now)

While McAdam is the only Penn Stater more likely than not to be scooped up by the NHL on Sunday, guys like Mark Yanis, Mike Williamson and 2014 commit Bo Pellah have a chance at getting a late-round look. Here, Williamson gets a mention (literally just that) in an article listing Canadian Junior A products with draftability.

Ten members of the class of 2017 will join RIT women's hockey for 2013-14 season

CHA rival RIT unveiled a large and mostly Canadian freshman class, then made a routine announcement super awks by retweeting this on their official team account:

As much as I complain about Penn State's ultra-buttoned up approach to things, it could be worse I guess.

Local hockey player’s University future up in the air

Reed Linaker has continued to make the media rounds to share his unfortunate story. This latest news report (including video) comes from Dean Millard, who doubles as a co-host of The Pipeline Show.

National Champion Hockey Coach Interviews for UAH Job

George Gwozdecky still in limbo
(Wisconsin State Journal)

Over a couple days last week, college hockey circles exploded with the news that two-time national championship coach George Gwozdecky (let go by Denver after this past season) interviewed for the vacant job at Alabama-Huntsville. Then they exploded again with the news that he withdrew from consideration.

Opinion nobody asked for: Gwozdecky has had a legendary career. However, I believe that much like athletes, coaching careers have a rise, peak and decline, and I also believe that Gwozdecky is more of a name than a great coach at this point. Still very good, of course, just not to the level of his reputation. Now, UAH could do worse than "a name" given what they've been through - and maybe the credibility coming from that name would have been a huge boost - but hopefully Gwoz passing on the job allows the Chargers to get a guy who ultimately becomes a name through his accomplishments in Alabama.


Former Ohio forward Tyler Pilmore, who just ended his outstanding career as a Bobcat in March, has signed with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye for 2013-2014. In 2012-2013 and following the conclusion of the ACHA season, Pilmore played eight games with the Walleye and the Wheeling Nailers.

While a Penn Stater will do even better than the ECHL soon enough, I have to admit that I'm a bit jealous, as (to the best of my memory, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) the last surviving Icers playing in professional hockey were Curtiss Patrick (who kicked around the minor leagues from 2004-2009) and Justin Depretis (2006-2009).

The work of former ACHA assistant Spiros Anastas helped Tomas Tatar and the Griffins to a title

Grand Rapids Griffins win the Calder Cup thanks to late goal by Brennan Evans

I'm obviously a sucker for a good ACHA-to-the-show story, especially one with ties to Pennsylvania, and Grand Rapids winning the AHL title last week offered one in the form of Griffins assistant coach Spiros Anastas. Anastas, a Toronto native, played for Lebanon Valley College from 2006 through 2010, when the Dutchmen were an NCAA Division III program. He stepped directly from the ice to the bench in the middle of his senior season when LVC head coach Ted Russell abruptly resigned. Anastas stayed on as an assistant in 2010-2011, the program's successful (21-4-2) ACHA Division 1 debut following a 3-95-2 stretch over the last four DIII seasons (yikes). He then left to become a volunteer video coach at Western Michigan in 2011-2012 before moving on to the Griffins under head coach Jeff Blashill (who also hired him at WMU), where he's responsible for advance scouting and statistical analysis.

Anastas actually didn't go directly from Western Michigan to Grand Rapids, by the way. From August 23, 2012 until October 29, 2012, he was the general manager of the BCHL's Alberni Valley Bulldogs. On October 31, 2012, the Bulldogs acquired Bo Pellah from the Langley Rivermen. Either Anastas is a big fan of Pellah who started negotiations before taking the Griffins job, or he was standing in the way of the trade being finalized. Your call.

Matt Thomas named head hockey coach

After one of the messiest coaching searches in college hockey history (fourth entry from the bottom), Alaska-Anchorage finally got their guy in Matt Thomas, who will join the Seawolves program after a long run as an ECHL coach. He also played for RIT back in the 1990s (when the Tigers were an NCAA Division III program) and served as an assistant at Maine from 2000-2002. I'm still not sure why anyone would want the UAA job, but regardless, best of luck to him.

In other Anchorage news, charges will not be pursued against the guy Thomas replaced, Dave Shyiak, over an alleged stick-swinging incident at a practice in 2011. So other than any blowups to come from discarded former athletic director Steve Cobb, it seems as if things might finally be getting back to semi-normal at Alaska's second-best hockey program.

Former Maine coach Tim Whitehead to be new hockey coach at Kimball Union Academy
(Western College Hockey Blog)

Fired Maine coach Tim Whitehead, who spent 12 years in Orono (and therefore one with Thomas), will coach PSU commit A.J. Greer's prep school team. Nice pull for the KUA Wildcats.

#AskTCR Mailbag: The Hockey Pipe Dream
(The Champaign Room)

Illinois: still not about to add NCAA hockey, if you needed that.


It won't be at Penn State, but the Big Ten could see at least one outdoor game this season:
The U of M is in talks with Intersport on hosting an outdoor hockey game vs. Ohio State at TCF Bank Stadium on @HockeyDayMN 2014.
Let me guess: both teams will receive $2 million for their participation (yes, I'm still upset about being burned by that).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Eamon McAdam on The Pipeline Show

Here's a transcript of freshman goaltender Eamon McAdam's extensive interview on The Pipeline Show with host Guy Flaming on Saturday afternoon. Archived audio of his appearance is available here.

A couple quick takeaways:
  • McAdam - and I'm not sure you can get the full effect of this without listening - sounds like a guy who is clearly ready to get on with his post-Waterloo hockey career. While it seems as if he has a decent relationship with tandem-mate Cal Petersen ("professional," as he put it), it also seems like the roller coaster ride of 2012-2013 took an emotional toll.
  • Good news if you like Penn State and one of the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks or Florida Panthers: he felt as if his interviews with those teams went particularly well at the NHL Scouting Combine.
  • He presented very well and with extraordinary maturity. McAdam also flashed a sense of humor in spots, like when he said he "wished he could've [puked]" after taking the infamous Wingate bike test at the combine or in expressing his frustration over his childhood team, the Flyers, apparently taking a greater interest in Petersen than in him.
  • The hard reality of recruiting good players is that the CHL is always going to be a threat. But it was still disappointing to hear that McAdam talked about the London Knights, the team owning his rights up north, "a ton" with current London goalie Anthony Stolarz, particularly in light of tweets like this one saying that McAdam is "still very much in the picture" for the OHL club (the tweet, by the way, occurred pretty soon after the conversations with Stolarz would have happened). At the same time, it seems like he's not the least bit interested in competing with Stolarz, who will remain in London for 2013-2014 and notably bailed on Nebraska-Omaha in the middle of last season to head there. The tea leaves right now seem to say that Penn State is safe for this year, and we'll see where we stand after that.

Guy Flaming: You're in Philadelphia today, Eamon?

Eamon McAdam: I'm actually on my way to school right now.

GF: On the way to Penn State. Well, thanks for joining us and fitting us in. Welcome back to the show, I know we had you on way back in September, but it's been a while since we were able to catch up with you on the phone. We've been able to read your blogs all year, and we kind of joked about this earlier: what's been more stressful this season, leading up to the draft, waiting for the draft, or having a blog with us?

EM: <laughs> Definitely waiting for the draft. It's a lot of pressure, but good pressure. The blog is kind of a good way to look back on things, kind of let everybody know how I'm handling everything.

GF: Yeah I know, it's been a lot of fun for us too, getting a glimpse behind the curtain a little bit and seeing what life is like for you guys. For your season, and again, it goes all the way back to August with that first trip to Russia with the Black Hawks, and finally now as the draft is just a week away, are you ready for the draft to be over?

EM: Yeah, yeah... it's been a really long year, and it's something I've been looking forward to pretty much the entire time. It's going to be good when it's over and I can move on to the next thing and kind of put it behind me, put this whole year behind me. Not saying it's been a bad year, but it's been a long one, and I'm excited to start at Penn State and get going with all that.

GF: Well luckily for you, and a guy in this draft year probably doesn't get as many opportunities to play in showcase events as you have had this year - starting with the Junior Club World Cup, then you've got the All-American Top Prospects Game in Buffalo in September, the World Junior A Challenge you got to play in, and won gold at... was that Nova Scotia or PEI? Nova Scotia, I think, wasn't it?

EM: Yep, it was in Nova Scotia this year.

GF: So you got to play in that, then the USHL Top Prospects Game... so you've been in all the little marquee events along the way this year. And then the NHL combine as well. So really, if you're checking off the little milestones for a draft-eligible player, you've hit them all.

EM: I've definitely had my chance to showcase myself. There's tons of scouts even just at our USHL games, but I've had a lot of chances where there's definitely been a prime opportunity to prove myself, and all in all, I think I've shown pretty well in most of those events. So I'm looking forward to an exciting draft.

GF: A tough situation for you at times in Waterloo this year, because your netminding partner is also draft eligible in Cal Petersen, so you guys are both vying for time and you both wanted to play more than you actually did. How do you keep that relationship healthy though, where you're both competitive and you want to play, but you're not undermining each other?

EM: I think we had a really good working relationship all year. I think we were both really professional about it. We knew we were going to be playing for time on the ice, he's a great goalie, and I was pretty much in the same situation as the other guy. I think we just both used it to improve our game, every day at practice, being able to look down at the other end, and almost competing within yourself and saying 'I've got to stop more pucks than him every drill.' And I think it made both of us better all year. Moving up in the ranks, that's how it's going to be - two strong goalies no matter where you go, so you're going to have to fight for time. I think it was a good way to prepare, and for both of us to improve as well.

GF: Was it tough in the playoffs though? You're sharing time all year, and then he gets to start the first three games of the playoffs. Then he gets yanked, and you go in and start the next game. But was it tough to not rotate at least, the first couple games?

EM: Yeah... I would've liked to have had that switched around, with me the guy that went first, but I had been in the same situation the year before where I played a pretty solid number of games during the season, and then going into the playoffs we had a guy that we brought in, Stephon Williams, that was going to be our go-to playoff guy, and I kind of knew that towards the end of the year. I think I learned how to handle that situation a lot better for this year. I think I was really positive on the bench, upbeat and staying ready, being ready to go in if I needed to. That's playoff hockey, and you never really know what's going to happen. You've really got to be ready at all times.

GF: Tell me about the NHL combine and what that was like for you. What was more challenging, the sitting down and meeting all the GMs and going through the interview process, or was the physical testing harder?

EM: They were pretty equal toughness. Obviously one's more of a mental challenge and one's more of a physical thing. I think the thing everyone talks about is the bike testing, and your fatigue going into that bike testing is pretty high already. And then you go into the test, and you've got 100 people watching you, and you go as hard as you can on the bike, then you have 30 minutes to recover and you have to do it all over again. That was pretty challenging, but also the interviews... they were a cool experience. I think I took them more as a positive than as a negative, something I was worried about. I actually got to sit down and talk with Patrick Roy, a guy I loved to watch when I was growing up, so that was a pretty cool experience when I was in with Colorado.

GF: How many teams did you get to have a chat with?

EM: I sat down with 16 teams, and actually talked to another one on the phone just the other day that I hadn't talked to up to this point, so maybe I'll have another one or two before the actual draft.

GF: I know some players have had invites out to cities, to teams after the draft. I think Chicago had one, Montreal and Toronto both had little combines of their own, I know some players came out to Edmonton, a couple guys. Anything like that for you since the combine?

EM: No, no real contact like that. I know Cal [Petersen] and Ian [McCoshen] got invited to a couple of those, and they were telling me about them, just telling me that they were smaller versions of the combine with individual teams.

GF: Now I've been asking every player since the combine when we've had them on the show, when it comes to the bike test, the Wingate, did you throw up or not? And I know some guys laugh and say 'no, I toughed it out,' and some guys say 'I did,' so I have to ask you as well, did you puke?

EM: I wish I could've. I was right at that point, sitting there for 30 minutes right before it and right after it, and I just couldn't get it out. I felt pretty crappy, but no I didn't throw up.

GF: I guess the draft is pretty close to home. So I assume that you're going?

EM: Yep. It's only about an hour and 15 minutes, so definitely going over there, heading over.

GF: Leaving the combine, did you have a better feeling about any one particular team after having 16 interviews. You mentioned Patrick Roy and Colorado, I don't know if that was just because he was somebody you looked up to as a kid, but was there a team where the interview actually left you feeling hopeful at least?

EM: Yeah, I got a pretty good vibe from a bunch of teams, but a couple that stood out were Florida, Colorado and Chicago. They all stood out as really positive interviews and just kind of got a good vibe from them. I don't know how much that means in the long run, but I definitely felt good from my interviews with those teams.

GF: I'm trying to remember from when we talked to you earlier in the year, because you're from Pennsylvania, was Philly or Pittsburgh a team that you cheered for growing up?

EM: I was a die-hard Flyers fan growing up. My mom was a huge fan, so she got me into it early.

GF: Alright, well that's my team too. Did the Flyers have an interview with you?

EM: No, I actually didn't talk to Philadelphia. They talked to Cal <laughter>, so I'm kind of jealous about that.

GF: Maybe something will change and they'll give you a call before the draft still. What have you been doing since the combine? I know a lot of guys are just hitting the gym, hitting the gym, and you might be doing that too, but I also know you're enrolled in school now.

EM: Yeah, I really haven't had much downtime. I was skating a lot, getting ready for the World Junior tryout, and after I headed out to that, I got back and it was my first real week of downtime. I just got back on the ice three, four days ago and now I'm heading out to school. So I'll be hitting the gym there, skating... probably just kick around summer hockey, but mostly hitting the gym with our strength guy out at school.

GF: I'm going to ask you about Penn State in a second, but you mentioned the World Junior camp. You weren't one of the four goaltenders going to Lake Placid, but you were one of the six that were invited to the camp. What was that experience like for you? I'm sure you're disappointed not to go to Lake Placid, but you've still got another year of eligibility for the World Juniors, so there's next year to look forward to. But tell me about the experience of going to that camp.

EM: It was pretty cool. All the guys shooting on us were guys from Michigan, so I was kind of getting a taste of what I'll be experiencing this year, and kind of planting the seed in their head with me stopping them. I don't know, it was fun. And I met a couple good goalies and good guys that I'll probably keep in touch with along the road here. All in all, it was a pretty good experience I think.

GF: One of the other goalies at camp was Anthony Stolarz, who plays for the London Knights. The London Knights happen to own your CHL rights. You are going to Penn State, let's get that out of the way, but did you guys have a conversation about London at all? Because he didn't start this past season in the OHL and went up mid-season. Did you guys talk about London at all?

EM: Yeah, I talked to him about it a ton. He's actually from pretty close to where I'm from, so we were on the same flights on the way there and back. We grew up playing against each other, so we knew each other pretty well. We talked a lot, and he's loved his time there, and he's definitely staying for next year because they're hosting the [Memorial Cup], so... it almost puts that idea even further out of reach, about me going there. But yeah, I definitely talked to him about it, and it sounds like a pretty good place to play for him.

GF: Alright, but you're going to Penn State, you're going to play for Guy Gadowsky, and I know they've got a couple other goaltenders who, I think one will be a senior and one will be a junior [note: actually, a junior and a sophomore]. So there's going to be competition for starts there as well. How do you feel about the depth chart and playing time for you going into next season as a freshman?

EM: I think it's all about work. I think I'll be given a shot to be the guy if I'm working hard enough and I'm getting it done, and I feel like I can do that. I've just got to prepare for this season and really just work as soon as the season starts and prove to the coach that I can be his guy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Additional Women's Start Times Confirmed

Shannon Yoxheimer and the women's team now know when they'll play in NCAA year two

Penn State has adjusted the start times of ten 2013-2014 women's contests and now has set puck drops for every game on the slate.

From the initial announcement of the schedule, the changes are:
  • October 5th at Vermont - from 3:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • October 11th at Quinnipiac - from TBA to 7:00 p.m.
  • October 12th at Quinnipiac - from TBA to 4:00 p.m.
  • November 16th at RIT - from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • November 22nd at Lindenwood - from TBA to 8:00 p.m.
  • November 23rd at Lindenwood - from TBA to 3:00 p.m.
  • January 24th at Syracuse - from TBA to 7:00 p.m.
  • January 25th at Syracuse - from TBA to 2:00 p.m.
  • February 21st at Robert Morris - from TBA to 3:00 p.m.
  • February 22nd at Robert Morris - from TBA to 3:00 p.m.
Nothing terribly earth shattering there.

Unfortunately, as all of the tweaks are away games, there's not a ton of insight to be gained in terms of the dates for the one - we think - unsettled men's home match, that measuring-stick showdown with Boston College.

Of the women's home games that deviate from a "standard" Friday at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. setup (usually to Saturday and Sunday afternoon), all are completely explained by already-slotted men's games, except for the odd Thursday-Friday series against Robert Morris on October 31st and November 1st with the men on the road, at Robert Morris, on that Friday. Football, however, is at Beaver Stadium against Illinois on Saturday, November 2nd, so it could simply be a matter of keeping all of the nearby parking as available as possible. And regardless, BC is already spoken for that weekend.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

RMU Away Match Set for November 1st

Robert Morris' Cody Wydo scored twice against the Nittany Lions last season

The Nittany Lion men will visit Robert Morris' 84 Lumber Arena on Friday, November 1st at 7:05 p.m., a game made official by the Colonials' release of their 2013-2014 schedule on Wednesday evening and in reciprocation of a meeting at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion on December 15, 2012.

RMU was 20-14-4 (13-11-3 Atlantic Hockey) last season and is a program that continues to grow by a remarkable margin from year to year since their 2004 establishment. Reaching the 20-win plateau was a program first, and the Colonials' narrowly missing out on an NCAA Tournament at-large bid by finishing 17th in the PairWise Rankings was also the best result in team history.

Penn State played an unwilling role in both of those marks, thanks to a pair of Colonials wins over the Lions. In that Ice Pavilion game, RMU won 3-2 thanks to Tyler Hinds' third period goal, one of just six scored by the Academic All-American defenseman in his career. Two weeks later, the result was more decisive: a 6-0 bludgeoning on the opening day of the inaugural Three Rivers Classic at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Goalie Eric Levine made 48 stops in that game, then made 51 more the next day in a 1-0 win over Miami to take both the tournament title for his team and MVP honors for himself. For PSU, the Pittsburgh defeat, while softened somewhat by a consolation win over Ohio State, was one of the only blowout losses in NCAA year one. Call it long-awaited new program embarrassment payback for the Icers' 3-2 win over RMU back on October 8, 2005, early in the Colonials' second season.

The good news for the Nittany Lions is that Levine has graduated, as have Hinds, leading scorer Adam Brace, and 12-goal man Zach Hervato. The bad news is that Cody Wydo - who potted two in the Three Rivers Classic game among his team-high 21 for the season - is back, as is new captain Colin South, and they'll be complemented by a recruiting class including big blueliner Robert Mann and Dalton Izyk, who has been with the USHL's Indiana Ice for the past two seasons and should compete to fill Levine's sizable skates in the crease.

As with last season, the 2013-2014 stand-alone game will precede a possible matchup at the Three Rivers Classic. While the pairings for the December 27-28 tournament have not been announced (and probably won't be for a while), a repeat of PSU-RMU, with Bowling Green playing Boston College in the other first-day game, is a fairly safe bet.

Penn State's schedule now includes 29 fully-confirmed games against the 34-game NCAA limit. The final five games are expected to be a home series against UMass-Lowell, a single home game versus Boston College, and a series at Air Force. For the full list, see M Schedules/Results.

The Ballad of Reed Linaker

Once upon a time, Reed Linaker was set to make Penn State hockey history. In early May, 2011, within three weeks of Guy Gadowsky's hiring as head coach, Linaker committed to PSU for this past season. The timing of the pledge made him the first player on board for 2012-2013 entry (the initial NCAA campaign, obviously) and as it pre-dated those of 2011-2012 Icers notables Tommy Olczyk, Justin Kirchhevel, Taylor Holstrom, Nate Jensen and Bryce Johnson, it was probably fair to call Linaker the first scholarship player in Nittany Lions history. Or even the first pure NCAA player, if you want to go that route.

Really though, he was more than first, he was a very exciting add. The Edmonton-native forward was nearly Wisconsin bound before the Badgers ran out of scholarships, and in a day before anyone knew Penn State would beat UW in year one, getting someone who received a hard look from a storied program was a big deal.

For his part, Linaker posted stellar numbers with the AJHL's St. Albert Steel: 193 points in 162 regular season games for the perennially below-average team, one that relocated after an abysmal 9-48-3 2011-2012 season. He was shipped off to contending Brooks in December of that year - then took a knee-on-knee collision in his second shift with the Bandits and was out until the AJHL finals, where he played in a pair of games to help the title-winning effort. He had previously torn his MCL in 2010-2011.

Brooks lost out to the BCHL's Penticton Vees in the Doyle Cup, which was formerly awarded to the winner of a series between the AJHL and BCHL champions, with the winner advancing to the RBC Cup national championship tournament (Penticton, featuring Curtis Loik, ultimately won the RBC Cup). With that, Linaker headed off to Penn State. For a while, anyway.

The signing of the 2010 World Junior A Challenge selection was announced by the school on November 21, 2011, at which time Gadowsky said that "Reed is a great playmaker and has the uncanny ability to see the ice and make plays that others do not see." As the 2012-2013 season approached and the team's roster was posted, Linaker was assigned number 26.

Our story takes a turn in early September 2012, when Linaker suddenly disappeared from that roster. Dom Morrone, who was not part of the initial group of Icers set to make the NCAA transition, was added around that time. I asked Gadowsky about Linaker's status following PSU's 3-2 upset of RIT on October 20th, and he said that "he has a medical injury, and that's why he's not playing."

I took that at face value, assumed he was still having issues with his knee, and that was pretty much it. The season proceeded and kept everyone busy while Linaker, who never played a game as a Nittany Lion (although he was often spotted at the rink in a suit with the scratches), was largely a forgotten man. By the time the 2013-2014 roster was posted this month, naturally without him on it, I actually had to be reminded of the whole situation.

The Pipeline Show, the Edmonton-based radio program that is required listening in the junior hockey world, didn't forget. Host Guy Flaming tracked down Linaker and had him on Tuesday night to discuss what happened at Penn State, as well as his future plans. The following is a transcript of his appearance, followed by the university's response. If you want to listen for yourself, because tone of voice and things like that matter, the archived show is available here.

Guy Flaming: How are you tonight Reed?

Reed Linaker: Good, how are you guys?

GF: Doing fantastic. We want to talk to you about what happened last year, and maybe more importantly what happens now. But let's go back and start from your AJHL days - I believe you ended it with the St. Albert Steel, oh no, you had a very brief cup of coffee with the Brooks Bandits, didn't you?

RL: Yeah, actually I was at St. Albert there for three and a half years, then got dealt to the Brooks Bandits at the deadline, and got injured in my first couple games there, but was able to come back for playoffs and enjoyed a league championship. Unfortunately we lost out in the Doyle Cup, but it was a great experience for myself.

GF: Right, that's what I recall now. Tell me when Penn State became clear to you that that was the program you wanted to be a part of when you got to the NCAA. What was it about Penn State that just seemed like the right fit?

RL: It just offers a two-for-one package, I find. It's a good academic school, great academics. For the most part, I thought I would have a good opportunity to play. Gadowsky seemed like a great coach, I liked the offensive tempo. So I mean, just the two-for-one package was a huge draw for myself.

GF: Okay, let's get to it: what happened last year? Because you look up the Penn State Nittany Lions' stat sheet, and you're not on it. And speaking with coach Guy Gadowsky before the season began, you were one of his key recruits out of the AJHL. So what happened?

RL: Long story short, I basically had heart problems as a younger child, was getting that all cleared up. Before training camp started, we needed physicals done. Went through my physical process, they wouldn't clear me until I had spoke with my Canadian doctor. After speaking with my Canadian doctor, they figured it would be best if I had one more simple procedure done before clearing me. So I didn't pass my physical right off the bat, came home, had the procedure done, came back just before the season had started with my full clearance. My medical bill of health was totally clear, I was completely healthy, came down, and when shown to the Penn State doctors, they basically said 'it's good that you're healthy, but we still can't clear you as an athlete here at Penn State.' They basically told me I would never, ever be cleared. So it's still kind of a foggy situation as to why I was never medically cleared, I don't know if I'm going to get a straight-up answer to that question.

GF: Alright well... heart issue. I'm sure there are several different varieties and different levels of seriousness. It's something you said you had since you were young, and you played junior hockey with it. How serious was this, I mean was it something you definitely needed to get corrected ASAP, can you give us some kind of background, explain it a little bit?

RL: Yeah, sure. Basically, my heart was a little faster than normal. For the most part, obviously at the beginning it was a serious matter, obviously being the heart, we were a little worried as to what was going on. But as we figured out what was going on, the last few years it was basically normal for me. I mean, I played junior hockey throughout it. Even in the recruiting process with Penn State, I told them about it, and it wasn't an issue for me. I know getting injured... going down with a fairly serious knee injury, that was my worry. Even going into my physical, I figured the knee would be the biggest issue. I didn't even go down thinking that my past history with my heart was even going to come into line. Apparently it did, and it definitely caught me by surprise when they weren't able to clear me.

GF: Where do you go from here? I know you're hoping to get back on to the ice, but there are some complications for that.

RL: Yeah, I mean, I'm kind of in a tight bind here, kind of just weighing options and looking at what's best. Obviously I want to go NCAA. I like the idea of playing hockey and getting an education paid for. As of now, just kind of keeping my options open. I could potentially maybe go towards [the University of Alberta] but basically just training as if I'm going to be playing next fall and just going from there, seeing what the future holds for me. Obviously in terms of NCAA programs, I'm kind of in a tight bind, not really able to transfer into another scholarship, that kind of puts me in a sticky situation. As of now, I have a few options out there, we're just going to see what's best for my future and come to a decision within the summer here.

GF: Well, like you said, you know you're not going to be playing for Penn State. According to you, they told you that they would not clear you. Do you know if your situation - you say you have a clean bill of health now from your medical team - can you go to another NCAA program, and do you know if they would clear you? I know there's the whole issue about having to redshirt, and I'm told that if you transfer to another Big Ten school there might not even be a scholarship option available. So there are lots of complications, but medically, could you go play for another NCAA team, or would that other program say the same thing that Penn State has?

RL: Medically I can definitely play. To be honest, I'm just as medically healthy as any individual playing hockey at the moment. Knees feel fine, my heart is fine, I've been told to not even come back and see my doctors, so I would be shocked if I went anywhere else and they told me otherwise. As of now, I'm as healthy as I've ever been, and I should be able to play.

GF: So are you talking to any schools, whether it's Big Ten or any of the other conferences south of the border, or do you look at CIS programs as an option?

RL: During the school year, I have to look at a couple of options. The NCAA has a couple sticky rules. Obviously the redshirt thing. Transferring, obviously you have to sit out a full year. The Big Ten schools... before committing to Penn State, I had serious conversations with a couple Big Ten schools. I'll obviously talk to them in the fall about the situation. The only problem being, as you mentioned earlier, when transferring to a Big Ten school, you're no longer allowed a scholarship. So I mean it comes with a steep price tag to go play at those schools. Coming from a family of six... the big thing for me playing junior hockey is I wanted a scholarship, I wanted school paid for. So if I'm potentially going to pay for school and play hockey, the U of A seems like the best program. A great hockey program, still great academics, and they compete for national championships year-round. It all depends what happens in the future, we'll see what happens this summer. I'm just down to play where I can develop best, playing hockey and to the highest level possible is the goal. If I can't fall back on that, at least I have my education and I can go in that direction as well.

GF: Is there any kind of appeal option? Can you talk to the NCAA - like the regulatory branch of the NCAA - and try to get a ruling on... a player gets hurt in the early part of the season, and they can kind of use that as a redshirt season and come back as a freshman. I'm thinking of a guy like Rocco Grimaldi at North Dakota was hurt very early on his freshman season, sat out the rest of the year, then came back and still retained his freshman status. I don't understand why that would be different for you if you're medically able to play, why you would have to sit out another year. It seems like red tape that you could maybe clear up through some appeal. Is that an option, is there any kind of appeal procedure for you?

RL: Through the NCAA, I'm not aware of any, I've looked into it, and we haven't found anything. There is an appeal process through Penn State, just the institution itself, through that appeal, what they can do is if they feel you've been wronged, they can offer me my full scholarship still. I could still go to school there for potentially four years and have it paid for. The only thing they can't do is they can't go against the doctors and say 'ok, we can clear him to play.' I could go to school there, but I would not be allowed to play hockey. As for the redshirt thing, if you're injured in any sort of competition, you're allowed to redshirt obviously. What their mindset was, I came on to campus with this injury knowing that I had the injury, so that's where things get a little fogged up where they think I came down with this injury, therefore all those redshirt rules are somewhat voided to a certain extent. I don't even have all the answers. It's a very frustrating process, obviously I got down there and within the first week wasn't cleared. I wasn't able to travel with the team, wasn't able to practice, wasn't even able to work out with the team. I basically just turned into a Penn State student. Wasn't allowed to skate at any time with the team, wasn't allowed to physically do anything.

GF: Well, it's a very unfortunate situation. I did reach out to Penn State and we're going to try to get their side of the whole story as well and see where it goes from here. I guess the Pro Hockey Life Question of the Night is what happens now for you? I mean, you're still exploring your options, but do you see yourself back on the ice? I mean, you have that opportunity to get school paid for, which is what you said you wanted, but you also want to play. Where do you draw the line, what's the deadline, where do you really have to make a final decision?

RL: My fallback option would be the U of A, still a very good hockey program. I want to play hockey though, so if that means semi-pro somewhere... regardless. If I have the opportunity to play and get my name out there, I'll definitely look into taking it. As of now, it's kind of tough having missed the last year. But we'll see what comes, and worst-case scenario, then yeah, I can attend the U of A and play hockey there and obviously compete for national championships with those guys. They tend to have a pretty strong squad year after year it seems.

PSU team physician Dr. Peter Seidenberg, who addressed the Linaker situation in a statement.
Photo: Joe Hermitt/The Patriot News

At the conclusion of the interview, Flaming read a statement from Penn State, issued through Dr. Peter Seidenberg. Seidenberg is the Penn State team physician with responsibility for men's hockey and several other sports. If the name rings a bell, it's probably because he was a central character in Sports Illustrated's lame attempt at stirring up controversy surrounding his replacement of Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli as the physician for PSU football in a story published last month.
"Penn State disagrees with Mr. Linaker's conclusion that he was cleared to play. Penn State cannot provide additional specific information due to HIPAA privacy protections. However, we must underscore that the university's determination was based on its student-athlete's safety and the physical standards required by Penn State's policies and procedures."
Analysis? For the most part, I don't have anything to offer in that department. It's an unfortunate situation. I can't blame Penn State for sticking by their doctors' determination - even Flaming mentioned that they're putting player safety first, and that's commendable. I also can't blame Linaker for disagreeing with that determination, wanting to play, and seeking a place that will allow him to do so while getting an education.

Regardless, best of luck to Reed Linaker moving forward. Here's hoping that we may yet see him play in Pegula Ice Arena, although on the opposite bench from where he was expected.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Zinn Lands at UBC

Former Nittany Lions women's forward Katie Zinn has landed on her feet after leaving Penn State, as she has transferred to the University of British Columbia, located just outside of Vancouver, for the coming year.

Zinn, of course, departed following a tough freshman season, one that saw her appear in just 12 games, scoring once with three assists. She missed PSU's final 13 games following a 2-1 loss at Union on January 12th on what was rumored to be a team suspension.

The Canadian will return to her native province; her hometown of Coquitlam, BC is roughly an hour east of campus. An added benefit to UBC is that the Thunderbirds' women's hockey program is on a rapid upward trajectory - after going 2-25-2 in 2011-2012, they were 27-13-5 last season. In the playoffs, UBC took their league, the Canada West Universities Athletic Association, for the first time with a thrilling best-of-three series win over the University of Calgary that included a 5-4 double-overtime game two win while the Thunderbirds were on the brink of elimination. UBC fell short in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships, giving Zinn and her new teammates a goal still on the table.

Here's the full release from the school.

UBC women's hockey head coach Graham Thomas has landed another exciting recruit.

Katie Zinn, a 5-foot-7 forward from Coquitlam, B.C., will be joining the Canada West champions as a transfer from Penn State University (NCAA Div. I).

"I'm excited to return home to Canada and play under coach Thomas," said Zinn. "I am very fortunate to be given this opportunity and am looking forward to being a part of the Thunderbird legacy."

"We are looking forward to Katie adding some skill and experience to our group," said Thomas. "If she comes to camp prepared and earns an opportunity, she has shown to be a point producer on her previous teams."

As a rookie last season, Zinn scored one goal and three assists in 12 games for Penn State. She also won half of her faceoffs during the year.

Prior to Penn State, Zinn spent one year at Gilmour Academy, a prep school in Gates Mills, Ohio, leading the Lancers in scoring with 23 points in 27 games.

Before going stateside, she played three years for the Pacific Steelers of the Junior Women's Hockey League. As one of the team captains in her senior year, Zinn had a team-high 23 points in 25 games.

"Our Canada West division is considered one of the best/most competitive leagues in the CIS," remarked Thomas. "We are looking forward to working with her and developing her into a consistent offensive threat. Katie is a very good all-around athlete and her work ethic and commitment to conditioning will help to keep pushing the program."

Zinn will be enrolled in the renowned Faculty of Science at UBC.

"She will have a few months to get her feet wet as she will red-shirt with our team and potentially could play in January 2014," said Thomas.