Wednesday, January 19, 2011

All Your Offense Are Belong to USA Hockey

Tim O'Brien, Eric Steinour, Scott Balboni. Please tell me that you didn't need this caption.

With some inspiration from today's Collegian article on the subject, I thought it might be a decent time to take a quick look ahead as the Icers prepare for the absolutely critical next six games without Tim O'Brien, Eric Steinour and coach Scott Balboni, who jet off to Turkey for the World University Games in a few short days. First off, the PSU perspective, courtesy of a snipy-snip from the aforementioned article.
[Assistant coach Josh Hand, who will assume head coaching duties] said in terms of his day-to-day routine, changes will be minimal, and he believes it will be a smooth transition. While there is a seven-hour time difference between Turkey and State College, he said both coaches will remain in constant contact.

“For the most part [Balboni and I] are on the same page with everything,” Hand said.

“The decisions won’t change because, for the most part, we will still be in touch to talk about any potential decisions.”

While the coaching change should be smooth, replacing two of their top players should prove to be a more difficult proposition.

“It’s going to be a big loss, and it will create a big hole in the lineup,” [captain Marek] Polidor said.

“But you know what, we have the guys that can step up, and it gives them an opportunity to contribute to the team.”
True enough. Let's not forget that we have a lot of guys who played pretty well a couple months ago when we were absolutely gashed with injuries, then were sort of pushed to the background when the injuries healed. Yeah you, Michael Longo. No need for panic mode just yet, until we see what happens.

Also, let's not whine too much, it's not like PSU's the only team down some personnel. What about our opponents during WUG - who will they be missing?

West Chester (January 21st/22nd) - Nobody
Delaware (January 28th/29th) -  Nobody

Oh, okay, never mind, whine away.*

* Note that this is not at all meant to disparage the tremendous honor given to O'Brien, Steinour and Balboni. I'm just looking at it purely in terms of the Icers' fortunes, and in light of the fact that we have less of a safety net than at any other time during WUG since ever.

Without having seen the tryout camp in August or even knowing who was there, it's tough for me to say how the No. 3 (for the moment) team in D1 got completely snubbed. Not that it bothers UD's Dave Lombardi or anything, as he had this to say after Team USA's exhibition loss to Saint Michael's College on December 28th.
Looks like WUG team USA could have used some @UDHockey players like @josh24weiner to bury and kills some penalties
Team USA's loss I guess. Unfortunately, the Icers' loss too. But hey, a Dearborn program that hasn't mattered in half a decade is well represented on the team, so we're good.

Penn State's luck shifts a little bit when it comes to Rhode Island, the alumni weekend (February 4th/5th) opponent. Rams on Team USA include forwards Kyle Krannich and Devin Sheehan, both of whom were on the 2009 WUG team that finished seventh in Harbin, China. Krannich in particular is a pretty big blow to URI - he's the Rams' third-leading scorer, wins two-thirds of his draws, and is a +20 this year. Oh, and he's their captain too. He may even book their hotels, I'm not sure.

Rhode Island suffers two more significant absences with defensemen Dan Lassik (who also did this in 2009) and Alan Dionne. In tandem, the pair might have been the best players on Team USA during those exhibition games last month, and they'll be counted on to generate a lot of offense from the back end in Turkey - offense they won't be generating at the Ice Pavilion in a couple weeks. So - finally - we hit someone who might be up against it more, and with a chance to maybe avenge a couple losses against a quality team in the eyes of the coaches, who hopefully won't notice what I just said.

All in all, not the best setup ever for the Icers, especially over the next two weekends, and especially without the luxury of not having to worry about a nationals invite, but into the great unknown we go regardless.

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