Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Gross Injustice

Abby Miller is suddenly free on March 10th.
Amidst the excitement of the Icers qualifying for their record 20th consecutive ACHA national championship tournament, all is not right in the world of Penn State hockey. 

The Lady Icers finished 9th in the final Women's Division 1 poll released today, one solitary point behind No. 8 Michigan and therefore one solitary point out of ACHA national tournament contention. That, in and of itself, is not the issue - after all, someone has to be the first team out.

Back on January 28th, the date of the last poll, things were a little different, with PSU fairly secure in the top eight:

7. Penn State 113 points, 8-7-1 record
8. Massachusetts, 102, 4-8-3
9. Liberty, 90, 6-3-3
10. Michigan, 87, 8-10-0

Vital pieces Rossi (top) and Vaughan.
So what happened between January 28th and February 17th? Well, for one thing, the World University Games happened. The Lady Icers sent as much personnel over to Turkey as anyone - four players and a head coach. And not just any four players either, as both goaltenders, Heather Rossi and Katie Vaughan, were included in that group. And thanks in large part to the efforts of those two, forward Denise Rohlik, defender Lindsay Reihl and coach Mo Stroemel, the first-ever women's WUG team finished fourth. A pretty decent endorsement for the level of hockey played in the ACHA if you ask me, something for which every coach, player and fan in Women's D1 should be thankful.

Meanwhile back home, the Lady Icers predictably struggled while a series of non-goalies took turns between the pipes. First, it was leading scorer Carly Szyszko helping PSU to a 5-1 win over California (PA). However after that, No. 2 Robert Morris (IL) and then-No. 3 Michigan State came calling, and the results weren't pretty. As those games progressed, Szyszko gave way to Julie Horn, who then gave way to Lindsey Shuler.

Once the WUG contingent returned, the team bounced back into form, earning a road win and tie against always-tough Liberty. The tie was particularly tough to swallow though:
Allie Rothman called Liberty’s game-tying goal with one second left in the third period of Saturday night’s game a “really unfortunate goal.”

“I don’t know what happened, but there was no one on that girl,” the freshman defender said about the goal scorer.

Head coach Mo Stroemel said Liberty pulled its goalie in an attempt to tie the Lady Icers and the Flames fired a shot from the side that was deflected into the net.

“We let down right at the end, and we didn’t attack the shooter, and we gave her a shot,” Stroemel said.
Was that one second the difference between being in and being out? Maybe. But it shouldn't have been. Szyszko after the Robert Morris games:
“Everyone knows our situation...when Heather and Katie are gone, it’s big.”
Evidently everyone doesn't know. Just another reason I can't wait to be rid of the ACHA's garbage after next year. Giving the men's team a tougher road to the national championship (in my opinion) for some unstated and probably nonsensical/arbitrary reason is one thing. Kicking the women, a proven top-eight team when they have a goalie, out of the tournament altogether essentially for sending too many players to WUG to represent their country (and help the ACHA look good) is simply obtuse.

Update: The Collegian got some team reaction to the snub, mostly from Rossi and fellow senior Amanda Yost.

No comments:

Post a Comment