Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekend Observations: Towson

Collegian Friday recap, Collegian Saturday recap, Friday box score, Saturday box score

Old school opponent, old school stomping. There's your one-line recap for the two games.

I'm struggling, because I want to say something bad about Friday's game, if for no reason other than to be balanced. I guess if I have to pick something, it would be the early penalties. Taking two in the first 10 minutes of a game can be a nice way to get behind the 8-ball against a quality team, but in a mismatch of epic proportions like this one? Quite the opposite.

On the second penalty, a slow start sped up in a hurry. Dominic Morrone and Chris Cerutti were relentless on the forecheck. Morrone created a turnover that Cerutti pounced on and gave back to Morrone, who would've had a goal had he not tried to force an extra pass. No matter. Moments later, Towson's Brian Furlong tripped over the neutral zone chasing an errant pass, Morrone hustled to the loose puck, swooped in alone, and scored. Tim O'Brien got in on the shorthanded fun when Towson goalie Stephen Kelly's pass took a funny bounce off the boards and found his stick.

I always try and talk a little bit more about what I considered the key goals in the game, and for Friday, I'm going with the first two, unless someone can name a time a team has scored twice on the same PK and lost. I'm sure now that I said that, someone will tell me that Mike Richards did that at some point in a game the Flyers lost.

On Saturday, you can probably go right back to the beginning of the game. O'Brien in the first minute of the game off a turnover, Cerutti to Morrone on a phenomenal pass just two minutes later, then O'Brien with another goal off another Tigers turnover. We're just 7:56 into the game at this point, but we've clearly seen this movie before, and it doesn't end well for Towson.

Obviously there were a staggering 20 goals scored besides the ones I've already mentioned, and of those, it's worth congratulating Michael Longo on his first Icers goal Friday. And his second. He was in no mood to wait as long for that one as he did for his first, picking Brandon Stroup's pocket right off the draw and scoring nine seconds later (Steve Penstone talked to Longo afterwards here). Also good to see Nick Seravalli on the scoresheet as he continues to get back up to speed. Paul Daley had a hat trick Friday but doesn't get a mention until now - those things happen when there's enough credit to go around. Same goes for Dan Petrick and his hat trick Saturday, or Brian Dolan, who joined Longo in scoring his first Icers goal on Saturday.

Incidentally, rough go for Kelly, as Towson coach Mario Tremblay...errr...Ed Slusher left him in the game for all 25 Penn State goals. I genuinely feel bad for the kid, he deserved better, especially on Saturday when he played better than his stats.

Morrone and Cerutti were reunited on a line, with Kurt Collins on the other wing. I said before that I like the Morrone-Cerutti combo, so I'm hoping it sticks this time. Collins certainly wasn't out of place there either. Exhibits A, B and C in my argument might be goals 2, 7 and 9 on Saturday, all of which were beautiful passing plays involving at least two of them. It wasn't just the goals though, it was the way they carried the play between the goals as well.

I think going with that and Eric Steinour-O'Brien-Daley as your top two is really more like a 1A and 1B (or 1B and 1A, tough to tell), as opposed to the first line/fourth line/who knows what in the middle setup we've been seeing. I think you have to keep Mark Polidor and Chris Pronchik together, and Longo obviously worked well with them - Polidor created the turnover that led to Longo's first.

Yeah, more of these lines, please. Easy for me to say over a weekend in which pretty much everyone who dressed ended up with points I realize, but hey, it's not like I didn't already have pieces of this opinion before these games.

It's always kind of tough to evaluate what you saw in a 13-0 game (or a 12-3 one), and goaltending might be the best example of that. At some point during the third period Friday, Matt Madrazo made two nice saves in a row. I tweeted that he just faced his two toughest challenges of the night, and got this in reply. Yeah, that too. Back in my undergrad days, in a similar type of game, I remember someone from Section E asking Mark Scally if he wanted to borrow his Game Boy. Still ranks as one of the funniest things I've heard. I think Scally cracked up too.

I think the fair assessment is this: Madrazo was barely tested in the first two periods. He saw more action in the third (yes, beyond those two saves I just referenced) and played well. His aggressive style does take him out of position on second chances sometimes, and he needed a great save from Petrick to preserve the shutout on one of those - but all in all, a great game from the freshman. And a great weekend for Petrick - saving shutouts, bagging a hatty, playing up front late on Saturday. Not too shabby.

Teddy Hume, on the other hand, still looks off. He got the start Saturday, and while the stats say three goals in 25 shots, it goes beyond that for me. He still looks like his confidence is shot, playing a little tentatively and giving up juicy rebounds. The first goal was particularly brutal, as it deflected in off his blocker. He was even perforated for four goals by the peewees during the second intermission! Just kidding, he was letting them score. I think.

Possibly the most unfortunate thing in all of this - the motivation of the Icers' record-low No. 11 ranking had to be wasted on Towson. With next weekend off, another ranking will be in the books by the time Penn State takes on Delaware, and I have to think we'll move up a spot or two on the back of these games. However, Kevin Miller is one guy who understands the situation too well to need rankings for motivation, or so he said during the second intermission of Saturday's game (1:24:05 in):
"[We were] a little bit down, and we just had to come out here and work hard and get two wins before the break, kind of get our season back on track...we just want to get some confidence going, we come back after the Thanksgiving break, have a week of practice, and then we have Delaware here. It's going to be a big weekend for us because we dropped two to Rhode Island last weekend, so we gotta get some ESCHL wins here."
My thoughts exactly. No wonder you're a personal favorite of mine.

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