The 2011 U.S. Men's National University Team will travel to Vermont from Dec. 27-29 to play games against NCAA opponents Castleton State College, Saint Michael's College and the University of Vermont.The highlight, of course, will be that trip to Gutterson Fieldhouse on the 29th. While the Catamounts have made the NCAA tournament each of the last two seasons, including a Frozen Four trip in 2008-09, I really believe the ACHA crew can hold their own. It being a third game in three nights won't really help matters, but win or lose, it will be an event mentioned in every "ACHA vs. NCAA" discussion held for the forseeable future.
The games are part of Team USA's preparations for the 2011 Winter World University Games, which will take place Jan. 27-Feb. 6, in Erzurum, Turkey.
The U.S. will face NCAA Division III Castleton State College on Dec. 27 in Rutland, Vt., before traveling to South Burlington, Vt., to face NCAA Division II Saint Michael's College on Dec. 28.
Team USA will play its final pre-tournament game against NCAA Division I University of Vermont on Dec. 29, in Burlington, Vt.
Penn State is represented on the WUG team by forwards Tim O'Brien and Eric Steinour, as well as coach Scott Balboni, who will serve as an assistant to Michigan-Dearborn's Dave Debol. Defensemen Dan Petrick and Kevin Miller are alternates, so keep your fingers crossed for a couple injuries on Team USA's blueline, if you're that kind of person.
Team USA posted a best-ever (since the ACHA started supplying the players in 2001) 7th place finish at the 2009 Games in Harbin, China. The highlight of the tournament for the Americans was undoubtedly a shootout win over Slovakia - with the winner coming from the stick of Penn Stater Lukas DeLorenzo.
Stay tuned to TYT for plenty more on the exploits of the WUG team - I'm a geek for international hockey, especially when there's a Penn State tie-in.