Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Game Time

Big Ten announcement? Yesterday's news.

Daily Collegian hockey writer/rock star Tony Barton wasted no time getting some additional juice from Joe Battista right on the heels of the arrival of what one USCHO message board poster refers to as the Big Ten Death Star. First, a little bit of background/reminder, because it sets up what follows.
The [Big Ten] proposal has teams the teams playing a 20-game conference schedule, two home and two away against each Big Ten opponent. The remaining 14 games will be scheduled out of conference against other D-I teams, including those from the current WCHA and CCHA.

Penn State will play as an independent for its first season in the NCAA in 2012 before joining the conference in 2013.
Now, the fun part:
Battista said he has already begun negotiations with several teams throughout D-I hockey to fill not only the 14 non-conference games in 2013 but the entire 2012 independent season. Those schools include University of Connecticut, Holy Cross, Army, Air Force, RIT, Alabama-Huntsville, Princeton, Cornell. He said he has also touched base with Michigan State and Wisconsin to play Penn State during the 2012 season.
The Wisconsin side is calling it a tentative agreement, so let's go with that.

I absolutely love seeing UAH on that list. Scheduling them should help win back some goodwill nationally, because if you don't travel beyond PSU circles or in case you just haven't noticed, we (with an assist from Wisconsin) are ruining college hockey (the post before that puts it much more succinctly). So a series with college hockey's cause celebre, hopefully at the VBC, certainly won't hurt our rep. I guess it doesn't hurt that they're the only other team in the country with nothing to do come the 2012-2013 conference season.

As a personal note, I hope a trip to Ithaca in the works - Cornell very narrowly lost the derby for both my undergraduate talents and my significantly less formidable law school talents. Plus there's the matter of that 0-1-0 series history.

Me, in a parallel dimension.

Okay, let's move on.
“We had to establish a lot of home and home deals where we play away games with these teams in 2012 and then they come to State College in 2013 for the Pegula Arena’s inaugural season,” Battista said.
I understand the need to hit the road, but the nostalgic/sentimental sap in me wishes there was a way to send the Ice Pavilion out with a full slate of home games.
Penn State will also be playing the U.S. National development team the first few years including what Battista said will be a four game slate in the Nittany Lions first season.
“The reason for that is scheduling non-conference games in the second semester is difficult,” Battista said. “Most teams have a full schedule of league matchups that we have had to work around as an independent. On top of that, they are a great source of potential recruiting for [Penn State].”
Editorial interjection: Alabama-Huntsville again says hi.

UAH is sad when nobody schedules them during the second half of the season.

But I wholeheartedly agree with Battista here - establishing a solid relationship with the NTDP early on is a savvy move for future recruiting.
Battista said Penn State will also look into scheduling agreements with the already established CCHA and WCHA to fill the remaining games.
“There are a lot of options out there,” Battista said. “It’s our first time going through this so we are trying to be flexible. We’ll make sure the scheduling is mutually beneficial.”
That's good - it's a transitional schedule in some respects, but there's no reason we can't slide a few of the rainmaking programs in there besides Bucky and Sparty. If nothing else, it's a measuring stick.

Quite a bit to digest, no? And guess what - it's not over yet. Per Mr. Barton, we're getting some news on the coaching search and recruiting tomorrow.

Hope you're all enjoying the ride as much as I am - how often do you get to follow the building of a major program from scratch at your alma mater? Catch your breath, see you in 24 hours.

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