Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reilly, Sutton Continue Minnesota-to-PSU Parade

Continuing a mission to bring the top players from the top high school programs in Minnesota to Penn State, Josh Brandwene and his staff have landed rising seniors Caitlin Reilly from Benilde-St. Margaret's and Bella Sutton from Mounds View.

Reilly announced her pledge on Twitter...


...while Sutton's was shared through a congratulatory tweet from now-fellow PSU recruit Christi Vetter.


Caitlin Reilly

Forward
Benilde-St. Margaret's (MN) HS
5'5" // Chanhassen, MN
DOB 9/4/1995

MNgirlshockeyhub.com BSM page



Season
Team
Lge.GPGAPts.PIM
2009-10
Breck High School
MN-HS
30
12
13
25
14
2010-11
Benilde-St. Margaret's HS
MN-HS
27
18
27
45
12
2011-12
Benilde-St. Margaret's HS
MN-HS
28
19
12
31
10
2012-13
Benilde-St. Margaret's HS
MN-HS
28
28
33
61
20

Reilly exploded in her junior year at BSM, with her 57 regular-season points tying her for 17th in the state. She, along with linemates Kelly Pannek (eighth in state scoring) and Brittany Wheeler (16th), was a matchup headache for coaches across Minnesota.

As one might expect with that kind of firepower, the Red Knights didn't play in a ton of competitive hockey games during a North Suburban League title-winning 25-3-0 campaign. One of the rare exceptions: Minnetonka.

While few have done much to slow down the Tonka truck recently, BSM has come as close to dethroning the three-time defending champs as anyone. In 2012-2013, the Skippers and Knights passed the state's top ranking back and forth, with BSM taking charge after a 3-0 win on December 18, 2012 that saw a late Reilly insurance goal. Minnetonka - led by PSU freshmen Amy Petersen and Laura Bowman, of course - got payback ten days later by handing the Red Knights a 2-1 defeat. Although Reilly scored early in the third period of the Section 6AA championship game to give her team a 2-0 lead, Minnetonka stormed back with three late goals in a 4:02 span to steal the rubber match on the way to state title number three.

It was the third straight time that the Skippers ended Benilde's season in the sectional final on the way to a state title. Suffice it to say that Reilly and her teammates aren't upset about the fact that much of their nemesis' core is now safely in college.

In 2012-2013 matches that weren't as tightly contested, Reilly put up a pair of five-point outings (at St. Louis Park on December 15, 2012, at Spring Lake Park on January 5th) as well as a six-point game on January 15th against Chisago Lakes.

Despite playing for the powerful Red Knights for the past three years, she came closest to a state title as an eighth grader on a Breck High School squad that advanced to the Minnesota small-school championship game before falling to Warroad. Reilly was sixth on the team in scoring.

Reilly, among many other honors, attended the USA Hockey Select 17, Select 16 and Select 15 Player Development Camps and was an all-state honorable mention last year. Her family has a decided Big Ten flavor to it: she is the sister of Minnesota men's players Connor, Ryan and Mike Reilly (a trio that, incidentally, teamed up with PSU's Curtis Loik on the 2011-2012 RBC Cup-winning Penticton Vees) as well as of Shannon, who played for the Ohio State women from 2007-2011. Father Mike is a former player at Colorado College and Minnesota who was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1977.



Bella Sutton carries through center in a 2012 Minnesota AA quarterfinal match against Edina

Bella Sutton

Defender
Mounds View (MN) HS
Height unknown // Mounds View, MN
DOB 1996

MNgirlshockeyhub.com Mounds View page



Season
Team
Lge.GPGAPts.PIM
2009-10
Mounds View High School
MN-HS
16
1
6
7
0
2010-11
Mounds View High School
MN-HS
25
5
15
20
10
2011-12
Mounds View High School
MN-HS
30
12
23
35
18
2012-13
Mounds View High School
MN-HS
28
14
23
37
18

Sutton, like Reilly, comes highly decorated. She was on the all-state team and also attended the USA Hockey Select U18 and Select 16 Player Development Camps. Her point total last season, despite playing defense, placed her among the top 100 scorers in Minnesota, joining Nittany Lions Petersen and Bowman, as well as commits Vetter and Reilly (freshman Sarah Nielsen missed 100th place by two points).

She also has the unfortunate similarity of an outstanding junior season (her Mounds View Mustangs went 24-2-2 overall) cut off in the sectional championship game, in Sutton's case through an upset at the hands of rival Irondale.

Before that though, Mounds View plowed just about everyone, with Sutton's elite-level offense from the back end playing a huge role. She had an early season stretch of seven consecutive multi-point games (and 10 in 11), then later put up a goal and three assists in a January 22nd win at Cretin-Derham Hall. But don't sell her leadership as a junior captain short either. The Mustangs started the campaign on an 11-game winning streak, but it was snapped with an unexpected tie against White Bear Lake on December 22, 2012. Sutton had no trouble setting things right:
"We did not come ready to play," [she said afterwards]. "It was the first day of winter break, and I don't think we came in with the right mentality. We didn't bring our heart and character."
Enough said. Mounds View went on another 11-game streak from there.

Sutton's leadership on the ice has been especially important, as her team went through three coaching staffs over her sophomore and junior seasons. Often, that kind of turnover can spell disaster, but she deserves a share of the credit for the fact that it didn't. And about that offense (she's number 10 in white)...



Mounds View made it one step further in 2011-2012 - to the state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul - but lost to Edina in the quarterfinals with Nielsen potting the winner. Sutton had a career-high five points (on a goal and four assists) in a blowout of East Ridge on December 20, 2011.

The state tournament berth, the school's first since 1999, came off of a pair of less successful seasons: 11-15-0 in 2010-2011 and 13-10-2 in 2009-2010, when Sutton was in eighth grade.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

HARBORcenter Lands Canisius


Canisius College and HARBORcenter, Terry and Kim Pegula's $172 million twin rink, retail, hotel and restaurant complex in downtown Buffalo, have finally made it official after roughly nine months of negotiations: the Golden Griffins are moving in upon the project's completion, scheduled for September 2014.

The canned quotes from Canisius president John J. Hurley, athletic director Bill Maher and head coach Dave Smith are nearly identical (as those things tend to be), so let's stick with Smith as the guy closest to hockey.
“This is an exciting day for our hockey program. Partnering with the Buffalo Sabres in a world-class hockey facility further illustrates the commitment to Division I college hockey by Canisius. This top-notch arena will expose fans to a high level of hockey at a number of levels. It will be a tremendous resource with which to recruit, train and develop hockey players. I look forward to the day when a Western New York hockey player competes for the Buffalo Sabres after developing at the HARBORcenter.”
For the school, the agreement is a major boon, as it presently has what could be considered among the worst rink arrangements in Division I. Since 1999, the Griffs have played in Buffalo State's Ice Arena, an 1,800-seat venue on the campus of the DIII school. It's a nice enough place, but hardly ideal for any program with big-time ambition. Overall, Smith's team has seen limited success since moving to DI in 1998 with a 202-256-68 record in 16 seasons. However, Canisius won the Atlantic Hockey tournament last season to advance to the NCAA Tournament and is also looking to position itself as a leader in Buffalo's robust hockey community, with this move being a major step in that strategy.

PSU played at Canisius' current home against Buffalo State on October 19th of last year

While it's true that HARBORcenter isn't their rink either, it seems clear that Canisius, who will be the primary tenant for the complex's main 1,800-seat sheet, is receiving first-class treatment.
The Griffs, Buffalo’s only Division I hockey program, will have their own 1,300-square foot state-of-the-art locker room in addition to separate athletic training areas and access to the building’s Center of Excellence, a high-performance training facility which is designed specifically for development in the sport of hockey.

The 700,000-square foot structure will be connected to First Niagara Center by a pedestrian bridge that will span Perry Street. HARBORcenter will also feature a hockey-themed sports bar and restaurant, a full-service Marriott hotel, an 850-space parking structure and additional retail space.
As mentioned in the quote, a Marriott is included as part of the project, and two weeks ago, the contract to run it was awarded to State College-based Shaner Hotels. In other recent news, John Koelmel was named the facility's president, with former Fredonia State player Nik Fattey serving as its director of hockey (similar to the role Ryan Patrick has with Pegula Ice Arena). Fattey is expected to have a busy job - upon completion, HARBORcenter, with the Sabres' nearby First Niagara Center if needed, will likely draw numerous tournaments and showcases, both small and large. Photos of HARBORcenter's construction progress are consistently added to its official Tumblr.

A rendering of the 1,800-seat main rink at HARBORcenter

This news isn't of great direct impact to Penn State - should the Nittany Lions play in Buffalo at some point, it's hard to believe that First Niagara Center wouldn't be the site - but it can still be filed under "interesting to know." Officially, the Pegulas have now funded two separate DI venues. Only 57 to go, I suppose.

Fifteen Lions Receive CHA Academic Accolades

Tess Weaver is now a member of the all-academic team in two different conferences

College Hockey America announced on Monday that 15 members of the 2012-2013 Nittany Lions women's team have been named to the CHA All-Academic Team, an honor given to student-athletes who record a grade point average of 3.0 or better during all in-season academic periods.

The Penn Staters recognized include forwards Kate Christoffersen, Hannah Hoenshell, Jill Holdcroft, Darby Kern, Emily Laurenzi, Kendra Rasmussen, Tess Weaver, Jenna Welch and Katie Zinn, defenders Jeanette Bateman, Paige Jahnke, Lindsay Reihl, Stephanie Walkom and Sarah Wilkie, along with goaltender Brooke Meyer. All except the graduated Christoffersen and Zinn, who transferred to the University of British Columbia after the season, are returning to the team in 2013-2014. Most of PSU's winners will be part of a massive sophomore class, with Zinn, Christoffersen, graduate student Reihl, senior Welch and junior Weaver the exceptions.

Christoffersen and Reihl were both picked as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars on July 10th, an award requiring a 3.7 GPA for the previous academic year. They also joined Weaver in winning Academic All-Big Ten selection in May, giving the trio the rare distinction of honors from two different conferences. Jess Desorcie, Taylor Gross and Cara Mendelson also won the latter Big Ten award which, like the CHA, requires a 3.0 GPA - but unlike the CHA measures cumulatively while also blocking freshmen from eligibility. Eighteen players of the 27 on last year's roster have now won some sort of award for their academic performance.

In all, 77 CHA players received that league's distinction, with Robert Morris' 21 leading the way. Additionally, 11 of the 77 were named co-winners of the Student-Athlete of the Year award for carrying a perfect 4.0: Kendra Broad (Lindenwood), Celeste Brown (RIT), Gina Buquet (Mercyhurst), Lauren Jones (Mercyhurst), Katelyn Scott (Robert Morris), Alison Wickenheiser (Lindenwood), Amy Stober (Lindenwood), Chelsea Witwicke (Lindenwood), Ali Binnington (RIT), Julia DiTondo (Mercyhurst) and Nicole Hensley (Lindenwood).

Here's the full release from CHA, including a list of all 77 winners:


Monday, July 29, 2013

Three Stars: July 22-28


3. Southeast Schedules and What They Mean for 2013-14
(Twisted Thoughts)

While the ACHA Division 2 Ice Lions have yet to release a 2013-2014 schedule, several opponents - MACHA rivals Delaware, Virginia Tech and Liberty most recently - have. Here's what we now know of PSU's upcoming slate as a result:

October 26, 2013 - vs. Delaware
November 2, 2013 - at Delaware
December 8, 2013 - vs. Maryland-Baltimore County
January 10, 2014 - at Liberty
January 11, 2014 - at Virginia Tech
February 1, 2014 - at Maryland-Baltimore County
February 7-8, 2014 - at Navy Crab Pot (D1 Navy, D1 Towson, Maryland)
February 14-16, 2014 - at MACHA Playoffs
February 23-24, 2014 - at Southeast Regionals
March 21-25, 2014 - at ACHA National Tournament (Marlborough, MA)

The second-year Women's Ice Hockey Club, which is joining the new College Hockey East women's league with California (PA), West Chester and Delaware for 2013-2014, also has a few games out there, thanks to the schedule releases of both the Blue Hens and Michigan State.

October 19, 2013 - vs. Michigan State
October 20, 2013 - vs. Michigan State
November 16, 2013 - at Delaware
November 17, 2013 - at Delaware
December 7, 2013 - vs. Delaware
December 8, 2013 - vs. Delaware
February 21-22, 2014 - at CHE Playoffs (York, PA)
March 13-16, 2014 - at ACHA National Tournament (Newark, DE)

Notably, the December 8th Delaware game will be played at Galactic Ice in Altoona. Guess PIA isn't solving everyone's ice time issues after all.

2. The debate: players discuss CHL vs. NCAA
(The Daily Collegian)

Tackling something like a CHL vs. NCAA article is a tough task, because it's been done so often that it's difficult to find a fresh angle to bring to the table. But Matt Nestor has pulled it off by writing for a general Penn State audience that might not be familiar with The Choice while also bringing in quotes from guys like Luke Juha and Guy Gadowsky, both Canadians who played or are playing NCAA hockey.

Juha is a particularly insightful source as a guy who was once considered a potential late-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Electing for college over major junior probably hurt his stock in the short term, and he went undrafted. But Juha seems to believe that he'll ultimately be a better player because of college hockey, with a better shot of making it as a pro. And I believe that he's right.

1. Head Coach Morris to step down
(ohiobobcatshockey.com)

Andrew Largeman, Zach Braff's character in the movie Garden State, memorably said:
"You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone... You'll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it's gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start."
That's how I'm starting to feel about ACHA Division 1. Maybe the process is a bit more gradual and less traumatic than it was for Largeman, but it's there nevertheless, because the simple fact is that after you remove yourself from a place, it still continues to evolve without you.

The ACHA will look a lot less like it did when we left without legendary Ohio coach Dan Morris, who is stepping down after 12 seasons, 344 wins and the 2004 national championship. Given that he also played for the Bobcats between 1993 and 1997 (winning three more national championships during those years) and then was an assistant coach under Craig McCarthy between graduation and taking over as the head guy, it's a no-brainer to call Morris one of the most important figures in the history of one of the ACHA's most important programs. Of course, he was also the Icers' archnemesis for all but the final one of those years on the wrong side of the greatest rivalry in ACHA history - including the 2004 title game win over PSU that ended Joe Battista's dynasty of four straight and five in six years.

No Dan Morris, Illinois' Chad Cassel departed a year ago, Minot State apparently wins the Murdoch Cup now... it doesn't feel like home anymore. And to be honest, neither does NCAA Division I and the Big Ten just yet, but it will. We have to evolve too, after all.

Best of the Rest

Eddie Quagliata and Matt Welch model Illinois' new jerseys...who says there's no "I" in "team?"

Just a year in, head coach Fabbrini hires another assistant
(The Daily Illini)

Let's stick with the ACHA for a minute, because it was quite a week for IllinoisWatch.

First, last Monday, the school's student paper published a write-up on new Illini assistant coach Blake Sorensen, who seems to believe that the program would consider going DI, and claims that belief was part of the reason he took the job: "Maybe I’m thinking out of the box, but I’m thinking the U of I would be the next school having the aspiration of going to the next level. So I said, ‘Why not?’ It was a very easy decision." That's either your garden-variety pipe dream or he knows something, take your pick, but I don't remember Billy Downey saying anything like that when he was hired as an Icers assistant in 2008.

That, by itself, is interesting but hardly A Thing. However, mostly-spam Twitter account @USCollegeHockey fanned the flames three days later: "May we have BREAKING NEWS soon? We were 1st to report Penn St.'s ascent to D1. Is another top ACHA team making the jump? Details soon..." They didn't specify that they were referring to Illinois, which is a pretty effective technique in the world of rumor mongering (PS. Someone will die of heart disease today. Because I can see the future.)

For the record, I don't know if @USCollegeHockey was first on Penn State in August and September of 2010. And I don't care. You know who I credit as being first? The Harrisburg Patriot-News' David Jones, who noted Terry Pegula's windfall from the Royal Dutch Shell sale in May 2010 and connected it to the idea of Penn State hockey a few days later. Accuracy and fresh insight over unchecked speed, every time.

Anyway, "soon," evidently, was Saturday evening, when @USCollegeHockey jumped back in with "Remember that BREAKING NEWS we mentioned on Thursday?" and attached a screengrab of a Facebook status (since deleted).


From there, the predictable played out. People overreacted, some commented on how it would be a great idea (it would be), Let's Play Hockey patted themselves on the back over the Jimmy John's rumor they advanced a couple years ago, and real journalists like Matt Slovin and Chris Peters got to work, ultimately taking about 90 minutes to confirm that the Facebook post had to do with the sale of the team's new jerseys.

There's an important lesson, which should have been learned from Penn State, that also needs to be applied here. PSU's process took five years from the initial Battista-Pegula dinner. Along the way, people talk, toes are dipped in the various pools and feasibility studies are conducted. And any one of those occurrences, which repeat themselves many, many times throughout those five years, has the potential to become an "OMG IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN!!!" tweet. Just as a rumor doesn't mean something is imminent, the short-term dismissal of a rumor doesn't mean that the information wasn't a legitimate hint, just applied incorrectly or prematurely. Illinois probably has explored the idea of NCAA hockey, and they probably will have an NCAA program someday. There's been an awful lot of smoke, and it's increased in volume recently. But I'm fairly sure that when it does happen, @USCollegeHockey won't be the first to tell us.

Portland, ME's newly-renovated Cumberland County Civic Center will host the 2015 Ice Breaker

@Chris_MJH
(Twitter)

Last week, Notre Dame was awarded the 2014 Ice Breaker (a season-opening four-team tournament presented by College Hockey Inc.) while Maine grabbed the 2015 version. And almost immediately, the rumor mill fired up.
Hearing Michigan, Michigan St., Penn St & BC are possible teams to take part in '15 IceBreaker.
Just as a reminder, since this seems like an appropriate spot: way back in January 2012, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that the Nittany Lions had signed on for the 2014 Brice Alaska Goal Rush. The Goal Rush is another season-opening tournament, hosted by Alaska and always including their dumpster fire of a neighbor in Anchorage. This year's field - Denver and Western Michigan are the two "outside schools" - was announced on November 16, 2012, so we might hear confirmation on that one relatively soon.

150 Miles for a Cure...
(Bike MS)

Coming up on September 28th and 29th, women's assistant Casey McCullion will once again go on a bike ride to raise money to fight multiple sclerosis. Please consider supporting her and the cause if you're able. And yes, I'll remind you again.

Pro New York Sports Exclusive: Eamon McAdam
(Pro New York Sports)

Know what I like seeing in a player? This, from Eamon McAdam:
I want to help the team progress as fast as possible and by my second or third year I want to give the team here a chance to go for a National Championship. This may seem like a lofty goal but the age old expression of championships are won with goaltending is true in my eyes and if I put in enough work I am hopeful I can give the team a chance no matter who we’re playing.
Check Gadowsky's track record, especially with a Princeton program that had/has a lot less behind it than what's in place at Penn State. Kid ain't crazy.

New York Islanders 2013 draft review
(Hockey's Future)

Your second dose of Big Mac comes through a roundup of Garth Snow's 2013 draft picks. If you're like me and are now trying to follow the Isles a little bit, it's probably good to check things like this out once in a while.

Ohio State's dumping of Mark Osiecki has continued to prove costly

Magyar chooses Kitchener Rangers over Ohio State
(Western College Hockey Blog)

Ohio State's firing of coach Mark Osiecki back in April... yep, still an absolutely terrible decision. The latest evidence: Ohio native and Cleveland Barons product Nick Magyar, a Buckeye commit who played for Sioux City and the National Team Development Program in the USHL last season, has signed with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers and blowtorched his college eligibility. Magyar is just the latest in a growing line of Osiecki recruits to flee, including Nolan Valeau, Cliff Watson and Zach Stepan.

U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2013 Unveiled
(USA Hockey)

This year's U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class lacks the direct Penn State connection of the 2012 group featuring Eddie Olczyk, but it's still a robust collection headlined (for our purposes) by Ron Mason. Mason coached at Lake Superior State (1967-1973), Bowling Green (1974-1979) and Michigan State (1980-2002), won the 1986 national title with the Spartans, and was the winningest coach in college history (924 victories) until he was passed by Jerry York last season. He was also among the hockey giants surveyed for quotes distributed to the press on September 17, 2010, for whatever that's worth:
“I think it’s wonderful that Penn State will have Division I hockey. I’ve long thought that if Penn State ever decided to elevate its program that it would be a school that would challenge for championships. This is a good move for the school and for college hockey.”
Jake Gardiner, a Maple Leafs defenseman and Max's brother, is among the U.S. Olympic hopefuls

Men's National Team Orientation Camp Roster Set
(USA Hockey)

Arguably the biggest story in the hockey world last week was the release of Olympic team camp rosters by most of the countries expected to contend in Sochi, Russia next year. Team USA's version includes a pair of Penn State siblings in Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner and Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad, and yes, we're going to keep living vicariously through those guys until there are Nittany Lions in the show.

The 48-man camp roster will eventually be cut to 25, so Saad and Gardiner certainly aren't home yet, although both are strong contenders for selection.

Glen Gulutzan happy to return 'home' with Canucks
(Vancouver Sun)

Glen Gulutzan, one of the more prominent members of the Guy Gadowsky coaching tree (Gadowsky coached Gulutzan with the WCHL's Fresno Falcons in 1996-1997 and 1998-1999), has joined John Tortorella's Vancouver Canucks staff. Gulutzan, last time we checked in on him, was being fired as head coach of the Dallas Stars after two seasons, so it's nice to see him land on his feet.


@BillRiga
@KeeferJ_
(Twitter)

The leading Twitterdrama last Tuesday: assistant coaches acting butthurt for really, really stupid reasons. First, there's the case of Quinnipiac's Bill Riga, subtweeting QU blog From the NIP to the Bank for having the audacity to predict the Bobcats' lineup for the coming season (forwards, defense/goalies).
Love people who have our line-up and freshmen predicted. I don't even know and I've seen them all play a lot. #smarterthani
Someone needs to look up the definitions of "prediction" and "know" and note the differences.

Jerry Keefe of Northeastern skipped snark and went straight to fury. His target? The Providence Journal's Mark Divver, whose horrific crime was tweeting that new Providence College commit Spenser Young, a defenseman at Phillips Exeter Academy, held an offer from Keefe's Huskies. Time to rumble.


Divver wisely bowed out at that point, but in Keefe's estimation, Twitter still wasn't safe - after all, there were people making innocuous "don't see that every day" comments about the Keefe-Divver exchange to straighten out.
@smclaughlin9 @MarkDivver don't like when people tweet false info to make a hockey program look bad. We all work to hard for that.
Yeah, you (may have) lost out on a highly-sought-after (heavy hitters Boston College, Yale and New Hampshire also whiffed on Young, according to Divver) recruit. Brutal. Your program looks absolutely horrible now. But no worries, you're well on the way back, because you don't spread rumors about the media.
@smclaughlin9 @MarkDivver I don't report false info on twitter about you guys and your jobs so don't do about hockey programs and our jobs
Also, don't tell Keefe he's in an argument...
@smclaughlin9 @MarkDivver it's not an argument it's a point I feel strongly about.
...or that he melted down.
@FearTheTriangle @TheBUHockeyBlog no meltdowns here!
I beg to differ. The best summation is brought to you by Boston University "blog/Twitter combo without the blog" BurntBoats.


Moving On
(From the NIP to the Bank)

Finally, best wishes in blogger retirement to Luke Devoe, who is stepping aside from his aforementioned work on Quinnipiac.

I don't feel a true kinship with too many bloggers out there (which isn't to say that I don't respect and enjoy their work or like them as human beings). The SB Nation guys have 800 different writers and 20 billion pageviews a month. Other blogs are run by professional journalists as a side project or as part of the coverage of their beat. TYT isn't any of those things, and I don't really identify much with their realities. Devoe was different. Much like him, I'm just a guy who loves hockey, loves his school, and enjoys the artificial level of closeness allowed by doing this. That's why I find his reasons for stopping heartbreaking.
I became blacklisted to a certain extent because, well, I was a little too opinionated during a rough stretch of play. I accepted this, altered my approach, and went on covering the team I love. Recently, a small but similar event occurred. While it would be easy to shrug it off and file it under the "can't make them all happy" category, I simply can't.

Back when things weren't exactly gravy and FTNTTB wasn't on the best of terms with the brass at the Q it was tough receiving sideways stares walking into a venue that I held, and still hold, so near and dear. It was even harder when those stares were coming from some people whose opinion mattered. The labor of love turned into a exhausting game of second guessing and self-censoring, even at times when I truly felt I was right. I just don't feel like doing it again. I concede.
Shame on you, Bill Riga and anyone else who may have contributed to his struggles.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

CDT Delivers PIA All-Access Look


Ordinarily, I frown on writing posts just to say "you should read this article." The style that's sort of evolved here dictates that things like that go in the next Three Stars entry, with separate posts reserved for items of immediate concern, stories where I can offer extra insight, longer opinion pieces and news complex enough to involve several sources and detailed explanation.

This is none of those things. But it's also one of those times where an exception is warranted.

The Centre Daily Times, including writer Gordon Brunskill and photographer Abby Drey, received an all-access tour of Pegula Ice Arena on Friday. Their reporting on the tour ran on Sunday and is, quite simply, the most comprehensive look the public has received of the 95-percent-complete facility to date. So yes, you should read this article. And look at the accompanying photo gallery (teaser above) and video.

I trust that you'll do those things, but in the name of disseminating the news presented beyond "wow, the arena looks unreal," Brunskill's work provided updates on three important areas.

Ticket Sales

According to Joe Battista, only about 225 season tickets remain. That figure includes roughly 30 club seats and a handful on the glass. Loges are sold out. A few hundred tickets are being held back for single-game sales, but assuming the 1,050-seat student section sells out with little issue when those tickets go on sale in September, it's fair to say that every men's game in 2013-2014 will be played to a full house or very close to it.

Notably, Battista said that the budget included an assumption of attendance at 75 percent capacity, so hey, windfall.

The Remaining Construction Schedule

All of this, obviously, is subject to tweaking, but nevertheless...

August 15th: The first layer of ice will be put down.
August 19th: Projected date of the first person on ice with skates.
September 6th: The official move-in date for NCAA personnel, with others following throughout the month. The men's and women's teams will be able to conduct (informal, of course, a new arena doesn't grant an exemption from NCAA rules) workouts immediately.
September 16th: Public tours of the arena will begin.
September 28th: A "soft opening" to test the plumbing, equipment and amenities.
October 11th: The PIA's first men's game, against Army. The building will be dedicated at 1:30 p.m. and gates will open at 6:00 p.m. for the 8:00 puck drop.
October 18th: The first women's game at the arena, with Union as the opponent.

What's Left?

Not too much, as one might expect with that whole "95 complete" thing. There are a few remaining tasks in the community rink, including installation of the 300 bleacher seats. Work also needs to be done on the PIA's restaurants, which will be open to the public daily and include a Subway, an Auntie Anne's and a coffee shop (that will be something other than a Tim Horton's, sorry everyone).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Penstone Will Not Return as PSU PxP (Updated)


Long-time Penn State hockey play-by-play broadcaster Steve Penstone is moving on after 11 seasons, as disclosed by his Twitter account and confirmed through sources.


Beginning with the 2002-2003 season, Penstone's voice became synonymous with Penn State hockey. Through changes in platforms, coaches and partners - Fight On State to GoPSUSports All Access, audio to video, Joe Battista to Guy Gadowsky, John Mulhern to Tim King - Penstone was always there to tell us when someone went top shelf and disturbed grandma's peanut butter, and his sense for the flow of a game was unmatched. His run included the 2003 ACHA National Championship, which involved a Penn State shutout of host and archrival Ohio in the championship game, as well as PSU's first NCAA season, a happening once written off as impossible.

The former Toronto police officer and proud Canadian also provided Icers followers a mid-week inside look at the team through his popular View from the Booth blog usually including healthy doses of player and coach interviews. He often went the extra mile on his broadcasts, eschewing those old standbys of silence or music during intermissions for score updates, interviews and discussion. Thanks to both he and his wife Barb, the underappreciated "executive producer," Icers fans enjoyed an ability to follow the team superior to the offerings of any other ACHA program, and this blog written by an out-of-stater owes a debt to both of them, particularly during the first two pre-varsity seasons. An intermission interview back in 2011 at Ohio's Bird Arena gave TYT a nice bit of early exposure as well.

In a Pennsylvania Puck feature last year marking a decade of Penstone behind a blue and white mic, he said something that may have proven eerily prophetic:
For those such as Penstone who have been intimately involved with what he calls the “Icers family,” the arrival of D-I hockey summons mixed emotions.

"Because you lose that family atmosphere and all of a sudden it becomes a business,” Penstone said. “But, everybody’s wanted it, and now it’s here.

"The Icer family will still be here. It’ll just be a little different. Families always go through that type of change."
Broadcast details for the 2013-2014 season have not been released yet, but it's assumed that Big Ten Network will play a heavy role in showing Penn State games. Even when the Nittany Lions are not on television, most contests are expected to be carried on BTN's digital platform. It's unknown right now whether any shift in the nature of PSU's media arrangement led to Penstone's departure.

UPDATE 7/27, 3:30 P.M.: Penstone posted the following statement on Facebook late Friday night:


Dear Friends

It is with regret and sadness that I'm writing to let you know that I will not be returning to the Penn State hockey broadcast booth for the 2013-14 season.

Obviously, Barb and I are in shock right now, but we both know that the road ahead offers us new challenges and opportunities.

We would like to thank each and every one of you for your support, and most importantly your friendship, over the past eleven seasons. The bond that is the Icers family will never be broken.

No matter where the road ahead takes us, we will always look forward to seeing you and sharing a laugh at some point in the future.

We love you all.

Cheers

Steve

Friedman, Zimmel Win Silver at Maccabiah Games

PSU junior Jacob Friedman was one of Team USA's key players throughout the Maccabiah Games

In the open division hockey tournament at the 19th Maccabiah Games, held between July 20th and 26th, Nittany Lions junior forward Jacob Friedman and former Icers forward Jaime Zimmel won silver medals with the U.S. squad., following a 7-1 defeat to Canada in the final Friday morning.

The Maccabiah Games, often colloquially called the Jewish Olympics, brings more than 9,000 athletes from 78 countries to Israel to compete in 38 different sports over two weeks, making it the world's third-largest sporting event behind the Olympics and the World University Games. Each sport has tournaments for three separate divisions - juniors for 15-18 year olds, masters for those above a certain age (40 in hockey) and open for, essentially, everyone else. That last division, due to its inclusiveness, contained an eclectic mix of pucksters at the 2013 Maccabiah: former and current professionals, collegians and juniors were all involved.

The origin of the second-ever Maccabiah Games ice hockey competition is an interesting story in and of itself. While it was a demonstration sport in 1997, a tournament won by Canada over Team USA, hockey disappeared from the quadrennial event for the next three cycles.

That changed when six Jewish NHL owners (Anaheim's Henry Samueli, Tampa Bay's Jeffrey Vinik, Edmonton's Daryl Katz, Philadelphia's Ed Snider, Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum and Florida's Cliff Viner), along with commissioner Gary Bettman, threw their support behind installing hockey as a medal sport this year. As a result, Metula, Israel's Canada Center rink was renovated and notables from around the hockey world signed on to participate.

Not that things went perfectly from there. The U.S., Canada, Israel and France was the original open tournament field, but the French withdrew, forcing the organizing committee to permit a Ukraine team including non-Jewish athletes in as a replacement. Russia was reportedly in at one point, but pulled out as well.

Mike Keenan, Canada's coach and the source of much of the tournament's star power thanks largely to his 1994 Stanley Cup win with the New York Rangers, took a job in the KHL and had to quit - although his replacement, Guy Carbonneau, wasn't exactly a significant step down. On the U.S. side, defenseman Colby Cohen, who scored the national championship winning goal for Boston University in 2009 and was a black ace on the Boston Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup team, signed a contract in the Finnish Elite League and could not participate. The hosting Israeli team ran into budgetary issues that prevented them from importing many potential dual-citizenship players and paying insurance on professionals (categories that notably include Oren Eizenman, a former RPI star and the brother of Icers and ACHA Hall of Famer Alon).

Furthermore, just to ensure that hockey wasn't too much of a distraction from the real world, Canada Center - Israel's only full-size rink - is roughly three hours north of Jerusalem, but just a few hundred yards from the Lebanese border, necessitating a heavy presence of United Nations and Israeli security forces in the area.

It was against that simultaneously hopeful and issue-plagued backdrop that things proceeded, with each team playing the other three participants in a preliminary round that determined seeding for the semifinals.

The U.S. blasted shorthanded Israel 14-0 on the first day of the round robin, July 20th, and Friedman played a huge role in accelerating the score out of reach early. The Michigander scored three times in the first period (video: 1, 2, 3), generally by doing what he does best - carving out space in front of the net despite not being blessed with gargantuan size. Vermont Catamount Pete Massar set up the second and third goals by Friedman, while Zimmel assisted on the 2-0 goal, by Jacob Rosen. Ben Rosen, who just finished his career at Boston University, scored twice during the opening bombardment.

Icers alumnus Jaime Zimmel's three power play goals against Ukraine helped produce two tough wins

A much sterner test presented itself the next day in a Ukranian team highlighted by defenseman Alexei Zhitnik, who played 1,085 NHL games with the Kings, Sabres, Islanders, Flyers and Thrashers. However, Zimmel stepped to the fore to help Team USA improve to 2-0 in the round robin with a 5-3 win. He drew a first-period penalty that did not bear fruit, and the match remained goal-free after one period, thanks in part to a couple big saves by Air Force goalie Jason Torf. The 2009 PSU graduate then took over with a pair of power play tallies (1, 2). One opened the game's scoring within the first minute of the middle frame, while the other was a sufficient reply to Vitali Lakhmatov subsequently tying the score and gave the U.S. the lead for good.

Tuesday's showdown between the U.S. and Canada to close the preliminary round ended in a 6-1 decision for the maple leaf-bearing squad. The Americans did manage 43 shots, helped by a rash of Canadian penalties, but a stellar effort by former Clarkson goalie Cody Rosen kept the red, white and blue at bay. Adam Henrich, a 2002 second-round draft pick of the Lightning who bumped around the ECHL and AHL for six seasons before moving to Europe for the last three, had a hat trick for the victorious side.

Before topping the U.S., Canada thumped both Ukraine (7-1) and Israel (15-0), while Ukraine took care of Israel 12-3 on the final day of the round robin, so these were the final standings:

  Team W-L-T Pts. GF GA
1
Canada
3-0-0
6
28
2
2
United States
2-1-0
4
20
9
3
Ukraine
1-2-0
2
16
15
4
Israel
0-3-0
0
3
41

Top-seeded Canada earned the right to skate through Israel once again in Wednesday's semifinals (and they did, with 13-2 the score this time around), while Team USA needed to deal with a much tougher Ukraine to set up an all-North American gold medal game.

As in the U.S.-Ukraine meeting on July 21st, the rematch saw a scoreless first period before a Ben Rosen blast dented Ukrainian twine midway through regulation. Steven Weinstein made it 2-0 for the Americans a couple minutes later on the power play, a score that held up into the second intermission. Five minutes in the third, Zimmel's greasy tally on the advantage helped open the floodgates, and two Jacob Rosen markers sandwiching one by Dalton Weinstein closed out the scoring in what turned out to be a surprisingly decisive 6-0 win.

One of the tournament's storylines was its paucity of close games (the USA-Ukraine matchup in the round robin was the only one closer than five goals through the semifinals), but shockingly, the Israelis managed to buck the trend in the bronze medal game, leading the Ukranians after two periods and hanging within one into the last ten minutes before falling 9-5.

Unfortunately, things reverted to form in the border-war final that went to the northern side by a 7-1 count Friday morning. Game details are still sketchy (and considering that the teams are about to travel back to North America, it's tough to say when they'll be filled in), but Canada potted two goals in each of the first two periods - with the opener on the power play - before closing out with a 3-1 third. The winning side notably included Michigan Wolverines Zach and Spencer Hyman, which will undoubtedly give Friedman a little extra juice in at least four games for Penn State this season.

U.S. head coach Billy Jaffe, himself a former Wolverine and a player in the 1997 Maccabiah Games hockey tournament, said afterwards that "the boys left it all out on the ice but Canada was simply better." Nevertheless, he remained upbeat about the experience:


Congratulations to Jacob Friedman, Jaime Zimmel and the rest of Team USA on your silver medals and on representing your country with great distinction.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

3RC Matchups, Times Confirmed


For the second straight season, and as verified by the websites of both Robert Morris and Bowling Green, Penn State will open the 2013 Three Rivers Classic at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center against RMU. The Nittany Lions and Colonials will play on Friday, December 27th at 7:35 p.m., a game preceded by Boston College versus Bowling Green at 4:35 p.m. Saturday, December 28th will see the losers of the two Friday contests square off for third place at 4:35 p.m., with the championship game at 7:35 p.m.

The return of the holiday tournament, its dates and participating teams were all confirmed a long time ago, of course. However, the scheduling specifics had, until recently, remained unknown.

That Penn State is guaranteed to play Robert Morris is rather unsurprising, as it is part of a continuing push to cultivate a rivalry between two of Pennsylvania's three NCAA Division I programs. To this point, RMU has the upper hand in the series, thanks to their 3-2 triumph at the Ice Pavilion on December 15th of last season, followed two weeks later by a 6-0 whitewashing at the inaugural Three Rivers Classic. There was, however, redemption for PSU on the second day of the showcase - a 5-4 victory over Ohio State in the third-place game, a signature moment of the blue and white's inaugural NCAA season.

In the championship game, the Colonials eked out a 1-0 win over perennial power Miami to take the title and RMU goalie Eric Levine completed an unreal weekend of back-to-back shutouts involving a total of 99 saves to render the tournament MVP award academic. Beyond Levine and his team, the Three Rivers Classic was also noted for its attendance, as 22,460 tickets were sold over the two days.

Two of the Nittany Lions' three opponents at the 2013 Classic appear elsewhere on the schedule as well. PSU will travel to RMU on Friday, November 1st, while Boston College is slated to visit Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday, January 25th.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Behnken to Coach Ice Lions (Again)

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Ryan Behnken, according to his Twitter account, is returning to Penn State to coach the Ice Lions.


Behnken previously coached the team in 2010-2011, a season that showed glimpses of bigger things to come for the program, and won the MACHA's coach of the year award. PSU also made a dent nationally, by finishing seventh in ACHA Division 2's Southeast Region, then winning a thrilling 2-1 decision over Virginia Tech at the regional tournament. However, the 15-8-5 season ended one game shy of a nationals bid with a loss to perennial power Maryland-Baltimore County at regionals.

He then departed, working with both UMBC and the prestigious Jr. Flyers program in 2011-2012. Last year, he was the head coach of Millersville University's ACHA D2 team and guided the Marauders to a 14-9-5 mark. Meanwhile, Josh Hand (2011-2012) and Matt Morrow (2012-2013) each spent a season leading the Ice Lions, with both of their runs ending in the group stage of the ACHA National Tournament. Hand, of course, stayed at PSU as a volunteer assistant with the NCAA Division I team, while Morrow accepted a full-time assistant coach job with the Idaho Jr. Steelheads. Although many of the familiar one-time ACHA D1 Icers have moved on, a strong core remains - Chris Lewis, Taylor Vincent, Franky Reluzco, Chris Dinsmore and Brandon Russo are expected back - as the Ice Lions look to take a couple more steps in the approaching season and win a first national championship.

They will try to do so against a revamped MACHA that includes UMBC, Rider, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Rowan, St. Joseph's, Liberty, Delaware and Temple. Penn State will also participate in Navy's storied Crab Pot Invitational in February, and hopefully in the 2014 ACHA National Tournament, March 21-25 in Marlborough, MA.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Three Stars: July 15-21


3. Record 68 PSU Student-Athletes Honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars 
(gopsusports.com)

Hockey players Tommy Olczyk, Lindsay Reihl and Kate Christoffersen were among the 68 Penn Staters named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars last week, an honor for student-athletes with a grade point average of 3.7 or higher. What makes it especially impressive is that none of the three have actually played in the Big Ten.

In all seriousness, people like them (and the many other outstanding students on both the men's and women's teams) are why I'm proud to blog about Penn State hockey. Also, #culture.

2. The Pipeline Show - Season #8 Clips
(The Pipeline Show)

Last Tuesday evening - July 16th, show number 56 if you're digging at the link - Penn State's own David Glen spent an hour in The Pipeline Show's studio, along with Adam Tambellini, a promising prospect who played in the BCHL last season, and host Guy Flaming. While nothing earth shattering happened, it was nice to get a little more in depth than is typically the case with a recorded one-segment interview. And as you may have expected, Glen showed well enough to demonstrate why he's probably the leading candidate to wear the C after Olczyk graduates. For that alone, it's worth a listen.

By the way, something kind of fantastic: at the beginning of the second segment, both Glen and Tambellini plugged their Twitter accounts, and Flaming followed up by asking the latter how much his follower count blew up after he was picked in the third round by the New York Rangers at the NHL Draft on June 30th. That prompted me to check both of their pages. Tambellini, who is headed to North Dakota, has just under 1,500 followers. Undrafted Glen, who plays at Penn State, is over 2,000.

So yeah, welcome to the big-time college hockey, Fighting Sioux Flickertails fans.

1. Liquor Control Board Suspends G-Man’s Liquor License
(Onward State)

State College bar Gingerbread Man, generally known as G-Man and for its bro-tastic clientele, had its liquor license abruptly suspended at some point between July 13th and July 16th for reasons unknown. Shortly after the news spread, the following appeared on the establishment's Facebook page (assume a quote-long "[sic]"):
To all my G-man friends Thank you for all your continued support. The G-Man will be closed for the next few weeks. We will open again in early August and we will have NEW Menu, New Management, New Specials, and New ownership in process. We are very excited to bring back the old tradition of the G-man as a great restaurant, that happens to be a great bar! We are extremely excited about the future of the G-man so we hope you will be there to support us as we move forward. Thanks
Since 2009, G-Man has been owned by The Hat Trick Group, Inc., which includes former Icers coach Scott Balboni, current Women's Ice Hockey Club coach Pat Fung (who in the past has also coached the Ice Lions and Lady Icers, while assisting with the Icers) and former Icer Teague Willits-Kelley. However, it appears as if the era of hockey-based bar ownership in town may be coming to a close.

Best of the Rest


EA Sports re-ups on college football after NCAA snub
(USA Today)

There was a day, not all that long ago, when people persistently suggested that college hockey could or should or might be added to EA's popular NHL series of video games, which presently includes the major-junior CHL, as well as the AHL and professional leagues across Europe. That event now seems further away than ever with the NCAA buried in litigation over the use of player likenesses in EA games covering other sports, namely football and basketball - litigation that has prompted the NCAA to pull out of games subsequent to the just-released NCAA Football 14.

The involved parties will continue to find a way to produce a college football game, as the NCAA's withdrawal is largely symbolic (the rights to the various schools' names, logos, etc. are handled through the Collegiate Licensing Company, not the NCAA). However, the football games make money, while EA has killed both the NCAA March Madness/NCAA Basketball (1998-2010) and the MVP: NCAA Baseball (2006-2007) series that didn't. Given the questionable marginal value of adding college hockey to the NHL game and the current legal climate, it ain't happening anytime soon. It simply wouldn't be lucrative enough to negate the exposure, in my amateur judgment.

But hey, we'll always have Icers hall of famer Curtiss Patrick in NHL 09, right?

Trophy Michaels Pegula Ice Arena Tour 
(YouTube)

Here's a nice 2:41 chunk of a Pegula Ice Arena tour, shot primarily on the floor of the main arena, but also including some of the underneath stuff like the Zamboni area and the dry lockers.

NCHC Announces Inaugural CBS Sports Network Schedule
(NCHC)

The conference built to grab a massive television payday will have all of 18 games on CBS Sports Network, which is sort of like NBC Sports Network, Fox Sports 1 and ESPN, just without the viewers, sponsors, carriage or high-end programming. Well done, boys.

Of interest: on November 15th, CBS Sports will carry a doubleheader involving both Wisconsin (at Miami) and Michigan (at Nebraska-Omaha), if you're the sort of person who likes to scout future Penn State opponents. I'm guessing that if you read hockey blogs in July, you probably are.

WMU to build new hockey arena on campus
(Bronco Hockey Hot Stove)

NCHC school Western Michigan is rumored to be - there is no way I'm going with "reportedly" on this source - building a new arena. It is rumored to cost $16 million. Have fun with that, I guess.


Badgers receive 2013 WCHA Final Five playoff championship rings
(Bucky's 5th Quarter)

Due to declining ticket sales, Wisconsin sold sponsorship of its 2013 WCHA playoff championship rings to Chevrolet.

Lindenwood Adds Samantha Ullrich To Coaching Staff
Lindenwood Announces 2013-14 Recruiting Class
(lindenwoodlions.com)

It was a busy week for Lindenwood's media relations people. Penn State's CHA rival added an assistant coach on Thursday, former Robert Morris Colonial Samantha Ullrich, who most recently was on the staff of Team Pittsburgh's U19 AAA squad that won the 2010 USA Hockey national championship. Two days before introducing Ullrich, LU announced its eleven-player freshman class for the coming season. Like PSU, the Lions have gone in hard on Minnesota high school players, grabbing three this time around - including Nicole Rash, a teammate of Nittany Lions freshman Sarah Nielsen at Edina.

No NHL for now, but could UW hockey thrive in Seattle?
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Never forget where you came from, Penn State.

My thoughts on west coast NCAA hockey haven't really changed in the last couple years. It could be a big deal. A really big deal. As I say that I'm looking at Washington, the subject here, located in a major city that, by all accounts, loves hockey and includes what seems like a workable short-term arena solution (as we know, that's kind of important). And also at schools like Arizona and Arizona State, home to two of the ACHA's best-run and best-supported programs. Of course, there's also the rapidly-growing California hockey scene, touching on a bunch of other Pac-12 universities.

The biggest problem is that somebody has to be first, and that's not such an appealing position as a geographic outlier that runs the risk of getting Huntsvilled. Seriously, which conference takes an unproven startup program nowhere close to any existing program, and one that is more or less guaranteed to leave when its primary conference can get to six? The WCHA, which many think is already overextended based on its new place in the universe? The NCHC, which was formed when a few power schools ditched long-standing rivals that were perceived as bad for the bottom line? Once the ball gets rolling, there's no stopping it. But right now, it's hard to see who can push the thing forcefully enough.


HARBORcenter Reaches Agreement with Marriott, Shaner Hotels to Develop Hotel Facility
(Buffalo Sabres)

From the "it's not what you know, it's who you know" department: HARBORcenter, Terry Pegula's rink, hotel, retail and restaurant complex in downtown Buffalo, has contracted with Shaner Hotels to operate a Marriott at the facility. Shaner, for those who don't know, operates 36 hotels in 14 states (plus another in Italy) and is headquartered in State College. Oh yeah, and they sponsor Penn State hockey. It's not terribly difficult to put those dots together.

Canisius - which presently calls the campus rink of Division III Buffalo State "home" - has been in negotiations to play at HARBORcenter once it opens in 2015. Additionally, the twin rinks that will also be connected to the Sabres' First Niagara Center should be an appealing option for major tournaments.

Several Teens Reportedly Paddled With Hockey Sticks In Alleged Hazing Incident
(CBS Pittsburgh)

I don't really like the word "hazing," because people who engage in it don't really deserve a softened version of "being a douchebag who is guilty of assault." Whatever you want to call it, it's alleged to have happened with Upper St. Clair High School's hockey team. Suck less, guys.

How To Do A Bieber Fangirl Story: Ask About The Eagles’ QB Dilemma
(Deadspin)

The Women's Ice Hockey Club's Allie Rothman, in the course of her internship at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia this summer, edited a video featuring CSN's Sarah Baicker asking fans outside of a Justin Bieber concert last Wednesday about the Eagles' quarterback situation and about the Beebs-Blackhawks locker room story. It's about as fantastic as you'd expect, and as a result, it ended up on Deadspin. Rothman reacted by tweeting that "I don't know whether to be proud or horrified" of the notoriety. Proud, Alexandra. Definitely proud. Rule of thumb: if you're involved in something that ends up on Deadspin and it's not there because of you being an idiot in some way, soak in the viewership and enjoy.

Ice chips: Doerring leaves UVM; Frosh confirmed; Todd leaves Spartans; Fan forum fun
(Burlington Free Press)

In a move that affects two separate Nittany Lions opponents, junior defenseman Blake Doerring is transferring from Vermont to Ohio State. He only played four games last season due to injury (after 29 as a freshman), so it's tough to call this one paradigm shifting, although the Buckeyes will benefit from having a sturdy stay-at-home guy when he's eligible to play at OSU in 2014-2015.

The Catamounts also lost junior forward Mike Montagna to Division III Oswego this offseason. Montagna only played in 11 games for UVM last year, but one of them was the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff against PSU - he was a -2 with one shot on goal in the contest.


@ChristiVetter (1, 2)
(Twitter)

An easy call for best tweet(s) of the week: 2014 women's commit Christi Vetter, during the ESPYs last Wednesday evening. I sincerely feel bad for anyone who missed Vetter's Lakeville North fall 4-3 in six overtimes to Minnetonka in February's Minnesota AA state semifinal. Despite the loss, Vetter may have been the best player on the ice, as she willed the Panthers back from a 3-1 deficit with a pair of second-period goals to force (lots of) extra hockey. Of course, PSU freshmen Laura Bowman and Amy Petersen weren't exactly terrible either, with the former assisting the latter on the game-winner after each had an assist in regulation.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friedman, Zimmel Aim For Maccabiah Games Gold

PSU's Jacob Friedman faces off against Michigan State's Lee Reimer on January 26th

Nittany Lions junior Jacob Friedman and former Icer Jaime Zimmel are two of the 18 players who will compete for Team USA in the hockey tournament at the 19th Maccabiah Games, a quadrennial event for Jewish athletes. The 2013 version will take place in Israel from July 19th through 26th. In all, approximately 9,000 athletes from 76 countries will participate in what is the third-largest international sporting event in the world.

However, with fewer than 100 athletes and four countries - Canada, Israel, Ukraine and the U.S. - in the open division of the Maccabiah's first hockey competition since 1997, the format will be quite simple. Each team will play the other three during a round robin stage lasting from July 20th through the 23rd. After that, each squad will be seeded for purposes of placement in the July 24th semifinals, with 1st playing 4th and 2nd playing 3rd. The points system will be two for a win, one for a tie, zero for a loss, the IIHF rule book will be used, and all games will be played at the Canada Center in the town of Metula, Israel's only full-size ice rink.

Friedman, unofficially the first NCAA-era recruit in Penn State history in that he was the first commit following the the Pegula donation announcement, is coming off of his sophomore season. In thirteen 2012-2013 games, Friedman scored once and added an assist, with both points in a 4-0 win over Division III Fredonia State on December 11, 2012. As a freshman with the Icers, he had nine goals and 12 assists in 31 games, helping PSU to the number one ranking for most of the season and a berth in the ACHA national semifinals. In May, Friedman was honored as an Academic All-Big Ten selection.

This won't be Zimmel's first time competing in a red, white and blue jersey. In 2009, while still an Icer, he was a member of Team USA's World University Games entry that finished a best-ever seventh place (a mark later eclipsed by 2011's sixth-place team) in Harbin, China. Zimmel scored three times and added an assist in five tournament games, including two third-period points against Slovakia on February 22, 2009. After overtime became necessary largely thanks to the New Jersey native, the U.S. went on to a shootout win clinched by Icers teammate Lukas DeLorenzo. Zimmel played 122 games at Penn State from 2005 through 2009 and registered 93 points, including a 26-goal campaign in 2007-2008.

Besides Zimmel and Friedman, other current and former college players dot Team USA's roster, including Air Force goaltender Jason Torf, Vermont forward Pete Massar and Bentley defenseman Steve Weinstein. Former Boston University star and AHLer Colby Cohen, a Philadelphia-area native who scored the national championship-winning overtime goal against Miami in 2009 and Abington's Ben Pulley, who played for the EJHL's Philadelphia Revolution last season, represent the Keystone State on the roster. Former Michigan forward Billy Jaffe, who is now an NHL Network analyst, is the head coach.

Following the Maccabiah Games promises to recreate the struggle of doing so with the WUG (or any non-televised overseas happening, to be fair), but live scoring and results can be found on the event's website, its YouTube channel may include highlights, and photos will be posted to Maccabi USA site.

Here's the full schedule for the hockey tournament. Keep in mind that all times given are local and that Israel Daylight Time is seven hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. So for example, Team USA's opening game with the host country will be played at 2:30 p.m. in Pennsylvania but 9:30 p.m. in Israel.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dawes Named Women's Director of Ops

Penn State has a new director of operations for the women's team: Alex Dawes, who comes with an incredibly stout resume - from Vermont and NCAA Division III Utica - particularly for a guy who just graduated college in 2012.

Dawes replaces Mo Stroemel, who has accepted a position teaching one of his other passions, theater arts, at Penn State Altoona. Stroemel, it needs to be said, was integral in the NCAA transition of the women's team. In the three seasons since the fateful Pegula donation announcement he served as Lady Icers head coach in 2010-2011, Josh Brandwene's assistant in 2011-2012, and finally, in his hockey operations role last season. The long-time and underappreciated part of Penn State hockey's success will be heard from again, as he's set to reprise his 2011 role as coach of the U.S. Women's World University Games team in December.

Flipping back to Dawes, here's PSU's introductory press release:


Penn State women's hockey head coach Josh Brandwene announced on Wednesday that Alex Dawes, formerly of Utica College, will take over Director of Operations duties for the 2013-14 season. Dawes, a 2012 graduate of Utica, served as director of operations / student assistant coach of the Pioneer men's team since 2009 and will begin his stint with Penn State on July 29.

"I am very pleased to welcome Alex to the Penn State Hockey family," Brandwene said. "He is organized, articulate, and clearly understands the vital role that hockey operations plays in the success of our program. His passion for the game is evident - and his experience at two successful programs will enable him to step in and contribute immediately. I am excited to have Alex on our team."

"I'm very excited to become a part of the great athletics tradition at Penn State," said Dawes. "I am eager to get started and honored to have an opportunity to join this already great staff. This is a great time to be a member of the Penn State family and I'm thrilled to be here."

Dawes replaces Mo Stroemel, who accepted an offer from Penn State Altoona as an academic instructor in the theatre arts department.

"Mo's operations work in the first year of our program was outstanding, and I'm thankful for his service and dedication," Brandwene added. "Theater has been a life-long passion for Mo and we wish him well in this exciting new opportunity."

Dawes primarily oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Utica men's team and helped develop video breakdowns. Additionally, Dawes assisted in Utica's recruiting efforts and the team's expenditures. During his time at UC, the Pioneers improved every season, going 8-14-4 in 2009-10 to a 21-6-1 record last year en route the NCAA Division III Semifinals.

While at Utica, Dawes also played a part in the college's fundraising effort. Prior to Utica, Dawes spent his freshman year, 2008-09, at Vermont as a student video coordinator and director of hockey operations. That year, the Catamounts reached the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time since 1996 as he created all video breakdowns and was responsible for logistical and physical operations.

The second-year Nittany Lions will take to the ice on Oct. 4 at Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse for a two-game series. Following a two-game series at Quinnipiac, Penn State opens $90 million Pegula Ice Arena on Oct. 18-19 against Union. That series begins an eight-game home stand in the state-of-the-art building. The youth-laden Nittany Lions went 7-26-2 last season, but return 24 letterwinners, 98.6 percent of their scoring and the entire goaltending corps. Additionally, Penn State added four highly touted recruits to bolster the Nittany Lion effort.