Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breakout Past: Princeton Connections

Since Head Coach Candidate is officially dead and buried, I wanted to replace it with a series that involved diving into the Daily Collegian archives for old articles. Then I thought, hey, both that idea and Payday Memorabilia are pretty much the same thing - find something from a while ago and tell a story about it. Accordingly, I'm combining the two ideas under one umbrella: "Breakout Past." It might be memorabilia. It might be an article. But it will be every Thursday and it will be awesome. This first edition has the added bonus of dropping both memorabilia and article to get things started.

It seems unlikely that Penn State and Princeton would have any shared hockey history beyond the fact that one just stole the other's coach. After all, prior to that, Princeton was working on a century-plus of NCAA hockey history, and while PSU had a short-lived varsity program, most of its history was of the non-varsity variety.

However, on an unusually tolerable January day in Pittsburgh, the two schools shared the same sheet of ice at the same event, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette College Hockey Showcase.

I don't even remember half of what happened last season, let alone 2003, so let's hit up the Collegian for some details on the Icers' dismantling of Washington & Jefferson in the nightcap. Unfortunately, it gets an abbreviated treatment since it happened over winter break.
Penn State jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period. However, the Presidents came back early in the second period and challenged the No. 1 team in the ACHA for the entire 20 minutes. Following the second intermission and an inspired speech from Penn State coach Joe Battista, the Icers pulled away from the over-matched Washington and Jefferson squad for a 7-1 win.

"I probably chewed them out more at the end of the second than I have all year," Battista said. "They were playing for the crowd. In the third period we went back to playing team hockey."
Penn State went on to win its seventh - and final, unless it happens next year - ACHA national championship by defeating Ohio on their home ice.

That crowd Battista referenced, an announced 5,430 in Mellon Arena's 16,940 seats, saw an NCAA game served as the warm-up act, with Ohio State pulling away in the third to down Princeton 4-1. It was a happy homecoming of sorts for future NHLer R.J. Umberger and others on the OSU roster:
Ohio State has four Pittsburgh natives on its roster and two of them, juniors R.J. Umberger and Mike Betz, played large parts in the Buckeyes’ victory. Umberger scored the game’s first goal and added an assist in the third period on Scott May’s insurance goal for a two-point night. Betz made 19 saves, including three key stops during a third-period power play by the Tigers.
Future NHLer Rod Pelley also sniped, and future NHLer Dave Steckel chipped in a empty-net helper.

In a (very) tiny footnote to history, the OSU-Princeton game - the first NCAA Division I hockey game played in the City of Pittsburgh - was supposed to be the late game, but it was moved up to accommodate Buckeye fans who wanted to watch their football team play Miami for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl that night.

Ohio State would go on to finish 25-13-5 and make the NCAA tournament. Princeton, on the other hand, would win just one game the rest of the season en route to 3-26-2. When 5-24-2 constituted "improvement" for the Tigers in 2003-2004, in came none other than Guy Gadowsky to save the day. Little did any Icers fans in the crowd that day know that by watching Princeton lose, they were witnessing a microscopic piece of the chain reaction that would lead to Gadowsky eventually coaching at Penn State. Things have a funny way of being connected in ways you can't even fathom while they're happening sometimes.

Actually, Penn State and Princeton - the Tigers' JV, anyway - crossed paths one other time. On February 3, 1940, and despite PSU's 4-0 loss, Penn State Hockey Hall of Famer Larry Lightbody wowed the crowd at legendary Hobey Baker Memorial Rink with his goaltending.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Change at Arizona

Leo Golembiewski's coaching days are over at Arizona. All I needed to know about him: his official bio always contained the line "considered a protege of Scotty Bowman." Usually, you have to work with someone to be their protege. I like Mike Babcock, maybe I'll call myself a protege of his and use that on my coaching resume.

While everyone involved with Penn State hockey has been looking to the future over the last couple of days thanks to the hiring of new coach Guy Gadowsky, another story with ties to Penn State hockey's past has been developing all the way across the country.

That story: the complete reorganization of Arizona's ACHA program.

While officially this story goes back as far as a year or so, in my mind it had been building for much longer than that, as the once-proud Icecats program regressed from one of the ACHA's elites to a de facto Division 2 team that plays Arizona State sometimes. That's a pretty far drop for the program that beat Penn State for the 1985 national championship and remained a consistent contender throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

The Icecats don't even qualify for the ACHA national tournament anymore, as their only appearance in the last eight years was in 2006. They've been lapped by archrival ASU, not to mention an entire new wave of top ACHA teams like Davenport, Lindenwood, Adrian, Oklahoma and Oakland.

While I'm not on the inside of that program my perception from over in the eastern time zone is that the Arizona Icecats became more about the ego of one man - program founder Leo Golembiewski - than about excellence on the ice. Arizona had no official affiliation with the university, not even as a student organization - it was run through Golembiewski's privately-held company called Icecat Hockey LLC. Which says to me that from day one, Golembiewski was more interested in building his own little fiefdom than he was in serving the student-athlete. And I don't seem to be alone in that sentiment, as according to the Arizona Daily Star, five student-athletes finally had enough of the situation:
Brian Slugocki, Arizona Wildcats club hockey president, said five players went to the UA about two months ago with three requests: They wanted a new coach, to be able to stay at the [Tucson Civic Center] and to be more involved with the university.

He said Golembiewski "deserves all the credit in the world" for establishing the Icecats in 1979 and winning 634 games. Still, the entire team supported a change.

"To get a new coach? Yes, it was unanimous," Slugocki said, adding players were "frustrated" by scheduling and results.
I alluded to the scheduling, which directly fuels the results. Remember when UofA would swing by Hockey Valley for a weeknight game on the way to playing two or three others on the east coast that weekend? Notice how Oklahoma, Central Oklahoma and Arizona State are able to build highly-competitive programs despite geographic isolation? The common thread in those three situations is university support, which Arizona will now enjoy as well. Per the Arizona Daily Wildcat...
Now that it's official, Golembiewski's 32-year reign as head coach is over, and Arizona Wildcat Ice Hockey has a new look. The Wildcats will sport new uniforms that can include the Arizona's block "A." The Wildcats will also have more funding to schedule road trips and bring in more competitive teams.

Slugocki said they have a chance to "go to nationals every year now."

The team still has to go out and find corporate sponsors, but [forward Brady] Lefferts said funding "won't be an issue." Slugocki also added that he's "95 percent sure" the convention center will still be permitted to sell beer at games.
They'll have the support of the university, and will be identified as a university team, which will undoubtedly help recruiting. They'll use an allocation/fees/sponsorships setup that will allow success, much like it's allowed the Icers success. The schedule will be upgraded, a vital piece to regaining bids to nationals. And they've removed a guy who, as good as he may have been at one time, had become an albatross on the program.

That albatross, as you might expect, is not going away quietly:
Golembiewski, who owns the Icecats trademark, did not return a message.

His attorney, Marian Abram of Karp & Weiss, said Golembiewski was "disappointed by the news."

She hinted at legal action, a decision Golembiewski could make in the next month or two.

"He's considering his options but doesn't believe the story is going to end here," Abram said.
Classy as always.

TYT extends its best to Arizona Wildcats hockey during this time of transition. While Penn State won't be around to see the end result, UofA was once a reason to believe that college hockey could work in the desert and on the west coast. Here's hoping it becomes one again.

...but most importantly, what becomes of former honorary captain Sgt. Slaughter?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Photos From Gadowsky Press Conference

All photos by and courtesy of Jay Horgas

Athletic Director Tim Curley presented new coach Guy Gadowsky with a jersey.

Curley (left), Gadowsky (center), Joe Battista (right).

Gadowsky's wife, sister-in-law and three kids join him and Curley on stage.

Jennifer and I really hope we can get our hands on these shirts somehow.

Mark Horgas (left) and Battista (right) pose with the sick hockey logo developed a little while ago.

Gadowsky Introduced as First Men's Coach

Fight On State Gadowsky interview (aka the only hockey coverage they'll ever have)

Guy Gadowsky, the man who will lead Penn State's push into the world of men's NCAA hockey, was formally introduced today via press conference.

Following a flattering introduction from Athletic Director Tim Curley, he began his segment of the event by discussing PSU's stellar reputation for academics. "Penn State does things right," he said. "When you hear about Penn State on ESPNEWS or in the news, it's about great things, it's not about bad things." Then later: "We're going to have perfect graduation rates, that's the goal," as well as "Penn State doesn't do things 99 percent."

So coach, why come to Penn State? "After meeting [Joe Battista] for five minutes, you just want to jump on board and come here," Gadowsky told the assembled audience, which included many members of the Icers.

While making numerous references to the spirit at Penn State that also helped draw him into the job, Gadowsky demonstrated an awareness of the large task at hand, as well as the confidence needed to get there eventually, saying that while the other programs in the Big Ten have a "head start," Penn State will join them eventually.

"They don't have our spirit," he said. "So, I think we're going to catch up sooner than people think. Hey, there's going to be some tough times. But you know what? I know we're going to have a lot of fun times during those times.

"And when we finally get this thing rolling, I think we're going to look back at those years when we've only been a few years in, and we're getting possibly shellacked by one of the Big Ten schools that have had championships and a lot of success, and they're going to enjoy that time because I think they know that payback's going to be coming."

At the same time, Gadowsky said, "I don't look at it actually like we're building from scratch at all, we have a great tradition here. So I think we're well ahead of the game."

Many of the questions focused on recruiting to a "non-hockey state," which has always been cited by outsiders as a major issue facing the fledgling program. But Penn State's newest coach talked up PSU's draw to recruits by saying that Canadian student-athletes are "going to love it here, they're just going to eat it up." He also cited the fact that the Mid-Atlantic Region and Pennsylvania are underrated for producing hockey players by saying "There's great hockey can do a tremendous job here - and just wait until the rink comes."

Also in attendance at the press conference: Gadowsky's wife Melissa, the couple's two sons Mac and Magnus, as well as daughter Mia. Melissa's sister Kelsey McDonald is a Penn State sophomore.

Three Stars, April 18-24

Blogs that seem to know what they're doing have posts on a daily or weekly basis where they run down pertinent information from elsewhere on the internet.

Normally, I'll just tweet links that I don't deem worthy of a full-on post. But at the same time, I realize that somewhere less than 100 percent of you are going to sign up for Twitter just to follow me (as much as I recommend doing so). Plus, there are a lot of times where I have more than 140 characters I want to say about something.

So that's where this post comes in. There isn't enough stuff out there (especially right now) to justify a daily post, but every Monday I'll gather together the best of the week that was and stick it under an umbrella with a cheesebag hockey-themed title. My three favorites are the three stars, and the best of the rest is self-explanatory. The first star dictates the picture (or video in this case) at the top of the post.

Sound good? Too bad, not your blog.

3. Men's hockey program nabs Gadowski, former Princeton coach, to lead new team
(The Daily Collegian)

Guymania hasn't yet moved beyond the "take a few snippets from the press release and get something up in a timely fashion" stage of the news cycle (guilty), although I expect that to change after today's press conference. This article from Greg Garcia, however, is an exception to what I just said. Read it and be excited, we hired a great coach.

Also, turns out Gadowsky was at that Flyers-Sabres game with Joe Battista and Terry Pegula - the one that caused me to rethink the whole "offer Friday, announce today" thing. Huh.

2. Women's ice hockey deals with concussion issue
Concussion program costly for Penn State
(The Daily Collegian)

These two outstanding articles from Christine Newby follow up the news of concussions ending defender Kate Christoffersen's career. The first looks at the steps the Lady Icers are taking to combat the issue, as well as some exploration of the causes behind women's hockey having the highest rate of concussions of any college sport, ahead of football and men's hockey. The second reviews Penn State's concussion program and why it isn't fully utilized by the team (hint: it starts with "m" and ends with "oney").

Christoffersen's fateful concussion was just one of three sustained by the team on consecutive weekends in February.

1. Penn State Icers 2010-11 Highlights

Steve Penstone does his usual stellar work in putting together 4:44 of Motley Crue-fueled goodness. He even managed to get quality clips from the games where he had to broadcast rink-side (at Robert Morris, ACHA National Tournament).

Best of the Rest

NCAA an option for Canadian juniors 
(Edmonton Journal)

Paul Kelly and College Hockey, Inc. are taking to the streets (or the hotel/conference center meeting rooms, whatever) to spread the gospel of the college route vs. the major junior route up north.

Be afraid... be very afraid...
(College Hockey News)

Dan Myers is a noted anti-Big Ten/anti-change of any kind guy, so a lot of this piece isn't all that surprising. What is: the rumors (calling them "rumors" is probably generous at this point) about the non-Big Ten western powers forming their own conference, meaning there may be bigger scapegoats than Penn State when it comes to "ruining college hockey."

I'm still not sure what people mean when they say college hockey will be "ruined," anyway. Those who say that Division I will whittle itself down to 15-20 teams are being ridiculous, and I personally don't think another mid-major conference or two would be such an awful thing. Some people claim to be advocates for the little guy, while at the same time endorsing a status quo that sees Minnesota State get stomped by North Dakota, Wisconsin, Denver and the like a few times every year. In a smaller conference of peers, they have a real shot at an autobid (and more autobids for mid-majors means fewer at-large bids for the big boys). When are they going to the NCAA tournament next out of the WCHA? And it might even help their budgets as they step out of attempting an arms race with schools with infinitely (not literally, it just seems that way) more resources.

Reason to Cheer
(Inside College Hockey)

I considered removing this after we didn't hire Scott Sandelin, but decided against it, because this 2004 article is pretty great reading on the guy who came in second. Turns out his Penn State alumna wife is also a breast cancer survivor.

Beaver Stadium may not get NHL Winter Classic in 2012

At least we're smashing the pipe dream early this year.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Penn State Hires Gadowsky

Penn State has confirmed the hiring of now-former Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky as the first-ever coach for PSU's men's NCAA team. My understanding at this time is that a press conference will take place at 3:00 p.m. Monday in the Bryce Jordan Center's Founder's Room.

Gadowsky comes to Penn State after successful NCAA coaching runs at both Princeton and Alaska, as well as a bevy of experience elsewhere prior to that.

More details to come as they emerge obviously, but for now, here is my Head Coach Candidate post on Gadowsky, and here is the full release:
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; April 24, 2011 - Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley has announced the hiring of Guy Gadowsky, formerly of Princeton University, as the first head coach of the men's ice hockey program. The 2008 Inside College Hockey National Coach of the Year, Gadowsky brings 15 years of head coaching experience to lead the Nittany Lions into NCAA Division I competition starting in 2012-13.
Gadowsky has spent the past seven years leading Princeton's resurgence, which includes NCAA Championship berths in 2008 and '09 and the 2008 ECAC Hockey Championship. A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, he was head coach at Alaska-Fairbanks for five years prior to taking the reins of the Princeton program and has earned league coach of the year honors at each of his three head coaching posts.
"Guy is the perfect choice for Penn State," said Penn State President Graham Spanier. "He has been immensely successful, is a great motivator, knows how to build programs, and has strong academic values."
"Pursuing success with honor. Building tradition. Achieving excellence. As we launch our hockey program at the Division I level, these are the on and off-ice expectations, and Guy Gadowsky has successfully accomplished these goals and more throughout his career. We welcome Guy and his family to Hockey Valley," said Curley.
"I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Penn State hockey during this transitional period and into Division I," Gadowsky said. "I am truly honored to join Penn State and the spirit, pride, passion, class and professionalism found within its students, staff and alumni. I am humbled by the tremendous gift by the Pegula family and the commitment by Penn State. This is a very exciting time for college hockey and Penn State and our family is thrilled to be joining the Penn State family."

In September 2010, the University announced an $88 million gift from Terrence M. and Kim Pegula, the largest private gift in Penn State's history, which was intended to fund a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose ice arena as well as help to establish an NCAA Division I men's hockey program.
In conjunction with the gift, Penn State will establish an NCAA women's hockey program.
"I am very impressed with Guy, his pursuit of the challenge at hand and plans for Penn State hockey, stated Terry Pegula.
"We are thrilled to have successfully courted a coach from such a strong academic institution with the passion, energy and the perfect demeanor for Penn State," commented Joe Battista, Associate Director of Athletics for Ice Arena and Hockey Development. "Guy has outstanding recruiting connections across North America and with USA Hockey and Hockey Canada and has built or revived programs in college and professional hockey."
Appointed to the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee through 2013, Gadowsky took over a Princeton program that had won a combined eight games in the two seasons prior to his arrival for the 2004-05 campaign. During his initial five seasons, the Tigers improved their win total each year, topped by a program record 22 victories in 2008-09.
Gadowsky led Princeton to two of its three all-time NCAA Championship berths in the 110 years of the program, in 2008 and 2009.
As a collegiate head coach, Gadowsky has helped develop nine players who have played in the National Hockey League, including three of his former Princeton players who have played in the NHL this season: Mike Moore (San Jose), Darroll Powe (Philadelphia) and Kevin Westgarth (Los Angeles). A 2011 Princeton senior, AHCA second-team All-American Taylor Fedun, signed with the Edmonton Oilers, after the Tigers' season was completed.
Among some of Gadowsky's accomplishments as Princeton's head coach:
- In 2007-08, the Tigers won their first outright Ivy League title and the ECAC Hockey Championship to earn their first NCAA Championship berth in 10 years. Gadowsky was selected Inside College Hockey National Coach of the Year, ECAC Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) National Coach of the Year;
- In 2008-09, Princeton earned its second consecutive NCAA berth after finishing third in the ECAC standings and tournament, winning a school record 22 games;
- Princeton has had seven All-Americans all-time, four of whom were coached by Gadowsky. The Tigers' Lee Jubinville (2008) and Zane Kalemba (2009) were ACHA All-Americans, as well as Princeton's first ECAC Players of the Year. They also were Princeton's initial finalists for the 2009 Hobey Baker Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate hockey player. Baker was a Princeton graduate;
- A total of 65 Princeton hockey student-athletes were named ECAC All-Academic Team members during the past six years;
- Led 2011 seniors to a program record 72 victories over the past four seasons;
- Posted a 105-109-15 record during his seven years with the Tigers and has the highest winning percentage among all Princeton head coaches since 1934. In seven years, Gadowsky ranks fourth in victories all-time for a program that began in 1900-01.
Gadowsky re-built the Alaska-Fairbanks program from 1999-2000 through 2003-04. Taking over a program that lost at least 20 games in each of its five seasons as CCHA members, by Gadowsky's third season the Nanooks were 22-12-3 and ranked No. 11 nationally at the end of the 2001-02 campaign. He was a finalist for AHCA National Coach of the Year honors and was the CCHA Coach of the Year in 2002. Alaska-Fairbanks won 15 and 16 games, respectively, the next two years and hosted the first round CCHA playoffs twice for the first time in program history under Gadowsky's direction.
One of 10 members of the NCAA's Regional Advisory Committee, Gadowsky was head coach and Director of Hockey Operations for the WCHL's Fresno Falcons for three years. He led Fresno to the WCHL playoffs all three years, was named WCHL Coach of the Year in 1987 and was the franchise's winningest coach when he left for Alaska-Fairbanks.
Gadowsky played at Colorado College from 1986-89, earning a degree in economics. As a senior, he was the team captain and was selected winner of the team's Rodman Award, presented for Outstanding Leadership and Sportsmanship. Gadowsky was a three-time WCHA All-Academic Team member.
Gadowsky played professionally for seven years upon graduation, including stops with Richmond (ECHL), San Diego (IHL) and St. John's and Prince Edward Island of the American Hockey League. He also played with the Canadian National Team for a portion of the 1993-94 season and played professionally in Sweden, Holland and Austria.
In 1995-96, Gadowsky joined Fresno and was selected the WCHL's Most Valuable Player and a first-team All-Star. He scored 52 goals and had 29 assists in 51 games as a player/coach, retiring as a player to become the Falcons' full-time head coach in 1996-97.
The Penn State men's and women's ice hockey teams are slated to begin competition in the 2012-13 season as NCAA Division I independents. The directors of athletics of the six Big Ten Conference institutions that sponsor men's ice hockey will recommend to the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors in June the establishment of men's ice hockey as a conference sport with the 2013-14 season.
Conference affiliation for the Penn State women's ice hockey program is to be determined.
Pegula Ice Arena is slated to open in late 2013 and will be built on the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive, directly west of the Bryce Jordan Center. The new 200,000-square-foot, multi-purpose ice arena will be the only major rink within an 80-mile radius and will be on par with the best collegiate facilities in the country. It will include two ice sheets and other features that will allow it to be used for a broad range of campus and community activities, from commencement ceremonies to kinesiology classes to public skating sessions and camps for youth.

Gadowsky and his wife, Melissa, have two sons, Mac and Magnus, and a daughter, Mia.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holding Pattern

Well, that was certainly an interesting 24 hours for me to say the least. I checked my phone every 12 seconds looking for an update. I became famous in Duluth. And College Hockey News earned first priority on linking stuff here in perpetuity by asking me for my opinion about stuff.

It short, I felt like an actual media person. And it was pretty cool, I won't lie. The net result was that my post about Scott Sandelin is already my fourth most viewed ever, even though it just went up early yesterday morning.

The unfortunate part is that those who are being introduced to me because of that might have the wrong impression of who I am and what I'm trying to do here. So in that spirit, let's take a step back and review.

Here's what we know about the men's coaching search. This is the common-knowledge stuff:

Here's what I believe about the men's coaching search. This is all unconfirmed and based on what I've heard around the rumor mill, from people I trust:
  • The third interview was Princeton's Guy Gadowsky.
  • The original plan - prior to the interviews - was to make an offer yesterday, then an announcement Monday.
  • Sandelin was the preferred choice going into the interviews and still is the preferred choice coming out.

Here's what threw a wrench into the second bullet point in that last group, at least in my opinion:
  • Joe Battista was at the Sabres-Flyers game last night with Terry Pegula. Obviously the possibilities for topics of conversation between the two are pretty much infinite, so there's really no point in guessing about that, but spending your evening doing that doesn't strike me as the action of someone who is working out the final stages of a coaching agreement.
  • Then again, Battista's a human dynamo and can fit a week's worth of activity into a day. 
  • But realistically, I'm less confident in an announcement Monday than I was 24 hours ago. That puts us back to the original timetable on that: either early next week or possibly just after the American Hockey Coaches Association convention, during the week of May 2nd. 

Hopefully that helps clarify my position on maybe the hottest discussion topic in all of college hockey right now.

UPDATE 2:20 P.M.: College Hockey News has confirmed that the announcement will not be made until after the AHCA convention.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Head Coach Candidate: Scott Sandelin

Fourteenth in a series taking uninformed, uneducated guesses at the candidates to become the first head coach of Penn State's NCAA men's team. Previously: Icers coach Scott Balboni, Denver coach George Gwozdecky, Pittsburgh Penguins assistant Tony Granato, Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley, Wisconsin women's coach Mark Johnson, Nebraska-Omaha hockey czar and former coach Mike Kemp, Ottawa Senators assistant Greg Carvel, Minnesota coach Don Lucia, Miami assistant Brent Brekke, Notre Dame assistant Paul Pooley, Cornell assistant Casey Jones, Boston College assistant Mike Cavanaugh, Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky.

Right off the top, I want to thank Penn State hockey booster and former coach Mark Horgas for his assistance in piecing things together, both for this post and with the coaching search generally. Anything I say in this post that sounds like good information and doesn't have a link probably goes back to him in one way or another. The guy is a tremendous asset to Penn State and Pennsylvania hockey, and knows everyone involved in both. If you're not following him on Twitter (@MarkHorgas), you're missing out.

This post is probably going to look slightly different than others in the series, for the simple reason that this isn't me guessing a name (or seeing one printed in some random place), it's me taking an ironclad known candidate, one widely believed to be the leader for the job, and exploring the situation a little. I'll do a quicker-than-normal rundown of the biographical stuff (or at least I'll try, I know brevity is not my strong suit), then get into the fun stuff that's probably the real reason you want to read posts like this one. So without further ado, here's the playing career:

Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM
1982-83  U. of North Dakota     WCHA   30    1    6    7   10
1983-84  U. of North Dakota     WCHA   41    4   23   27   24
1984-85  U. of North Dakota     WCHA   38    4   17   21   30
1985-86  U. of North Dakota     WCHA   40    7   31   38   38

1985-86  Sherbrooke Canadiens   AHL     6    0    2    2    2
1986-87  Sherbrooke Canadiens   AHL    74    7   22   29   35 
1986-87  Montreal Canadiens     NHL     1    0    0    0    0 
1987-88  Sherbrooke Canadiens   AHL    58    8   14   22   35
1987-88  Montreal Canadiens     NHL     8    0    1    1    2
1988-89  Sherbrooke Canadiens   AHL    12    0    9    9    8
1988-89  Hershey Bears          AHL    39    6    9   15   38
1989-90  Hershey Bears          AHL    70    4   27   31   38
1990-91  Hershey Bears          AHL    39    3   10   13   21
1990-91  Philadelphia Flyers    NHL    15    0    3    3    0
1991-92  Kalamazoo Wings        IHL    49    3   18   21   32
1991-92  Minnesota North Stars  NHL     1    0    0    0    0

His senior year at North Dakota was nothing short of a massive awards haul: Hobey Baker finalist, first-team All-WCHA, second-team All-American, team MVP and captain. Unfortunately for Sandelin, North Dakota won national championships the year before he showed up and the year after he left, but not during his time in Grand Forks. He did make one trip to the Frozen Four, but then this happened (Sandelin is No. 5 for UND):

A pretty substantial professional playing career followed for the defenseman from Hibbing, MN, spent entirely in the NHL and AAA-level minor leagues. That three-season run with Hershey towards the end of his career is particularly significant, because...
Sandelin's wife, Wendy, is from the Central Pennsylvania area and a [1988] Penn State [nursing] graduate. The two met while he was playing with Hershey, then the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers.
After a chronic back injury forced the end of his playing career, Sandelin served as GM and coach of the Fargo-Moorhead Express of the American Hockey Association in 1992-1993, a league that didn't even survive long enough to declare its first champion. But at least the Express were in first place at the time, so give Sandelin credit for winning while probably worrying whether he'd be paid. The next season he coached juniors, also in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

From there, six years (1994-2000) were spent assisting Dean Blais (now Nebraska-Omaha's coach) at North Dakota, where he'd make up for the missing out on the NCAA championship thing. Twice. What's pretty impressive about that run is that in its entire storied hockey history, the Sioux have only suffered three consecutive losing seasons twice. Blais and Sandelin arrived in town following the latter of those stretches, and by year three, 1996-1997, they were national champions. And in Sandelin's last four seasons there, they won either the MacNaughton Cup (WCHA regular season title), the Broadmoor Trophy (WCHA tournament championship) or both each season, as well as another national title in 2000.

Not surprisingly, Minnesota-Duluth, which had fallen off significantly since the time of Brett Hull, took a shot on the guy who had played a huge role in most areas of the Sioux program, and head coach of the Bulldogs has been Sandelin's job title for the last 11 years of his life. Those seasons divide pretty neatly into three stages.

In each of the first four, Duluth's record improved, culminating with a 28-13-4 record in 2003-2004, which included a Spencer Penrose Award (coach of the year) for Sandelin, a Hobey Baker Award for right wing Junior Lessard and a Frozen Four run.

Next up were four consecutive losing seasons, the only major blemish on Sandelin's resume. Things got kind of rough up Duluth way, even to the point where firing Sandelin was considered a viable option (in the comments, not the original post), although it seems like he had supporters throughout as well.

Finally, there's a reload starting with 2008-2009 and a Broadmoor Trophy that year and including players like Jack Connolly, Mike Connolly and Justin Fontaine (who formed one of the best lines in college hockey) and Pittsburgh-native goalie Kenny Reiter. We all know how that second reload ended:

Two more things you need to know about Sandelin: 1. He was just named as one of Blais' Team USA assistants for the World Junior Championships this coming December and January, a tremendous honor for any college hockey coach, and 2. He's entering the final year of his contract with UM-D and is currently negotiating an extension.
Sandelin, 46, has one year remaining on a two-year UMD contract. He finished the 2010-11 season 26-10-6 in winning the Division I title April 9. He’s 192-200-52 in 11 seasons at UMD.

He talked about a UMD contract extension last Friday with athletic director Bob Nielson, and is to meet again Tuesday.

“We’ll continue to talk and see where that goes,” Sandelin said of discussions with Nielson.

“Our desire is for Scott to be our hockey coach for a long time,” said Nielson. “He’s done a great job and we are working toward a new contract, but I also know that successful coaches have opportunities to talk to other schools and explore other possibilities. I’ve never faulted a coach for doing that.”
What adds some intrigue is that Sandelin's interview at Penn State took place yesterday, two days after the meeting with the Duluth brass. Undoubtedly, Sandelin came to Happy Valley armed with what he was being offered at UM-D, and so far, there's no indication whatsoever that Joe Battista and company blinked.

So how does Penn State go from a tight budget to possibly hiring away a guy who just won a national championship and is leveraging competing offers against each other? Well, look no further than Penn State's wrestling program, Cael Sanderson and Ira Lubert for that answer.

Of course, when it comes to Penn State hockey and deep-pocketed boosters, Terry Pegula heads the list. And if Pegula likes the guy Battista wants to hire, I think it's obvious that he'll help pay the difference between the budget and the demand - not to mention any of the other accommodations that might be required to draw a guy like Sandelin away from the upper midwest for the first time in his coaching career. Even beyond the money, people from all around the hockey world have taken note of what's been going on in Buffalo since Pegula took the reins. The franchise has been reborn in its 40th year, and has almost instantly gone from also-ran to chic destination. People, even national championship-winning coaches, want to be associated with a guy who makes things like that happen. Some people even go so far as to name blogs after them.

One of the possible accommodations I alluded to? UM-D assistant Derek Plante is a former Sabre. The idea that he might be part of the Sandelin package probably didn't hurt when selling the plan to Pegula.

Is Scott Sandelin the Cael Sanderson of Penn State hockey? If he's ultimately the guy, I certainly hope so. While a national championship in year two might be asking a little much, getting there eventually is the goal. And Sandelin's been there already. Three times. 

If you squint, you can almost picture this being the Pegula Ice Arena - and quicker than some would have you believe.

Horgas believes that the hire will be made before the American Hockey Coaches Association convention, which begins on April 28th, better known at this point as "next Thursday." Based on the agenda, and the fact that meetings start early that day (with a couple things the evening before as well), Wednesday seems like a travel day to me. Not to say that a flight to Florida and a press conference can't be done in the same day, but it seems a little less likely.

In other words, I should probably acknowledge that this post possibly concludes this series. If Horgas is right, by next Wednesday we'll either have a head coach, or the noise about an announcement will render another post pointless.

If this in fact it, I hope that you've found these posts as informative as I have - researching them has provided me with a great opportunity to learn a lot, not just about some of the best coaches out there, but also about some of the programs that make up the great sport of college hockey. It's been a great run, and it's made me even more excited to be a part of the NCAA picture in 2012.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Something Missing

A couple weeks ago, the Icers released a tentative 2011-2012 schedule. One thing that I really like about it is that it brings a couple of frequent Icers opponents from the past - Illinois and West Virginia - back on our final ACHA DI slate. Toss in the customary games with Ohio, Delaware, West Chester and Rhode Island, as well a game in Hersheypark Arena (Penn State hockey and that venue go way back) and you have a pretty nice tour of where we've been just before we get where we're going.

Sure, I would've liked to see Michigan-Dearborn and Eastern Michigan on too, but unfortunately, neither of those programs is really worth our time right now.

However, as I've studied Icers history, one other omission has come to my attention. PSU has quite an extensive history with the City of Buffalo and western New York, thanks largely to the University at Buffalo, Erie College, Buffalo State College and the University of Rochester all being former conference rivals in the International Collegiate Hockey League, Penn State's conference from 1985-1992.  Occasional games against Canisius and St. Bonaventure were also part of the equation in those years.

The 1989 ICHL championship game against Buffalo still stands as one of the great games in Ice Pavilion history. More to the point I'm approaching, the trips to western New York were always gritty battles where the wins were hard-earned. Case in point: even during the Icers' dominating run to the 1991-1992 ICHL regular season title, PSU was only 3-4-0 when away from home against the schools mentioned in the last paragraph.

Kevin Carr and Buff State now play in NCAA Division III, but back in the day they played spoiler in the Icers' last ICHL game.

More recently, it's been Niagara (coached by Larry Brzeczkowski, who also played at Buffalo State during the ICHL years) who's taken up the title of Icers Queen City rival. 2011-2012 will mark the sixth consecutive season the Purple Eagles have been PSU's Friday-only opponent to close the fall semester. Prior to that in 2003, they stepped in for Eastern Michigan, a former every-December opponent, to give the Icers two desperately-needed games on short notice after the EMU hazing scandal hit.

However, every single game with the Purps has taken place at the Ice Pavilion. My proposal here is that we honor PSU's Buffalo tradition in the final ACHA season as well as Niagara's previous accommodation by finally giving them a return trip, on December 16th, 2011, instead of the tentatively scheduled game at Penn State. And while NU's Dwyer Arena is a great facility, I'm looking about 20 miles south of that: at HSBC Arena.

Sure, it's a major league arena, hosting primarily the Buffalo Sabres but also a multitude of other events, meaning we might have to be a little flexible with the exact date and time. Sure it might be expensive to rent it out. But hey, if you haven't heard, we have an $88 million in with a pretty important guy in the arena hierarchy - still another PSU-Buffalo connection. I think all concerned parties can find a way to make it work if need be.

From the Penn State perspective, it could help recruiting in a pretty fertile area - rumor has it that some okay hockey players come from western New York and southern Ontario. And don't we owe a regulation game in an NHL barn to the players still around from that maintenance gongshow in Mellon Arena?

I also happen to think it would be a responsible way to help the ACHA on the way out by boosting the visibility of one of the programs that does things right. NU is a first-rate organization, something not common enough in the ACHA, a fact that was recently reinforced by their university. It would be a thrill for the Purps' large number of WNY natives, not to mention convenient for Mike Broccolo's Rochester-area family.

Plus, I'm a little closer to Buffalo than I am to State College. Hey, who said my motives can't be at least slightly selfish? Independent of that, I still think it's a great idea.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Concussions End Christoffersen's Career

For quite a while now, I've been planning some kind of update post on women's hockey. Last we heard, about a month ago, the head coaching search for the NCAA team is moving along at roughly the same pace as on the men's side, which means we might have some news to report soon. But really, there just hasn't been anything out there, which puts me in the unfortunate position of not having any material, since I'm not exactly in the position of legitimate journalist capable of generating my own stuff at the moment.

This isn't the update I had in mind.

Thanks to Christine Newby in today's Daily Collegian, we've learned that Lady Icers sophomore defender Kate Christoffersen's career has been ended by her fourth concussion, suffered in a win against Liberty back on February 11th.

In this case, I'd be doing a disservice to a well-written article by copy/pasting it and interjecting a couple sentences of my own here and there, so please read Newby's article if you haven't already. It does a fantastic job painting a portrait of a hockey player whose dedication to the game and her team can't be measured, but who also paid a tremendous price for that dedication. It's a heartbreaking situation, but it's nice to see that she'll remain a part of the team:
As for the Lady Icers, coach Mo Stroemel said Christoffersen will still be on the roster next year, even though she can’t play.

“We’re not gonna cut her loose,” Stroemel said. “She’ll be a part of the team still. She will participate in team functions and things like that, and she’ll also help us in terms of helping us manage the team.”

The sophomore defender is looking forward to remaining on the roster.

“The team is everything to me,” Christoffersen said. “Even though I can’t play, I can still be a part of it.”
Christoffersen totaled nine points on three goals and six assists in 45 career games for Penn State. One of those points came in a different defeat of Liberty just over a year before her final game, where she played a vital role in Alicia Lepore's overtime winner. She was selected as an alternate to the inaugural women's World University Games team, which finished fourth in Erzurum, Turkey from January 27th through February 6th.

Meanwhile, the movers and shakers of the ACHA are set to meet in Naples, FL starting April 28th. Among other topics, they're discussing providing less protection to the face and head via the use of half-shields (on the men's side). Yeah, that makes sense.

Head Coach Candidate: Guy Gadowsky

Gadowski with former players Cam MacIntyre (center) and Zane Kalemba (right). Kalemba became just the second Hobey Baker Award nominee to come from Baker's school in 2009. Speaking of Baker, the rink named for him makes up the background.

Thirteenth in a series taking uninformed, uneducated guesses at the candidates to become the first head coach of Penn State's NCAA men's team. Previously: Icers coach Scott Balboni, Denver coach George Gwozdecky, Pittsburgh Penguins assistant Tony Granato, Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley, Wisconsin women's coach Mark Johnson, Nebraska-Omaha hockey czar and former coach Mike Kemp, Ottawa Senators assistant Greg Carvel, Minnesota coach Don Lucia, Miami assistant Brent Brekke, Notre Dame assistant Paul Pooley, Cornell assistant Casey Jones, Boston College assistant Mike Cavanaugh.

SPIN MOVE! Given what broke on Monday, you thought for sure it was going to be Scott Sandelin this week, didn't you? Well, it kind of is. Based on what I know, this series doesn't have much of a run left. Specifically, this whole thing could be over next week, or at the latest, the week of May 2nd, immediately following the American Hockey Coaches Association's annual convention, which runs from April 28th through May 1st.

With that in mind - not to mention my goal of actually hitting the guy who's ultimately hired without regard to the number of guesses I take at it - we'll cover Gadowsky today, Sandelin Friday, and probably two more next week. In the meantime, let's not forget that Sandelin isn't the only interview taking place, it's just the one that's leaked out so far.

For our purposes, the Edmonton native's story starts in Colorado Springs. He played 134 games in four years for the Colorado College Tigers, where he served as captain and wore my favorite number, 16 (bonus points already, and we've barely started). CC was generally awful in those years, but still, he managed to parlay that into five seasons of bouncing around the minor leagues, from the IHL to the ECHL to the AHL, and even to Germany. Let's stat it up:
Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM
1985-86  Colorado College       WCHA   38    5    7   12    6
1986-87  Colorado College       WCHA   40    9    7   16   32
1987-88  Colorado College       WCHA   25    3    8   11   10
1988-89  Colorado College       WCHA   31    3    4    7   16
1991-92  San Diego Gulls        IHL     9    1    4    5   13
1991-92  Richmond Renegades     ECHL   21   16   14   30   51
1992-93  St. John's Maple Leafs AHL     6    0    2    2    0  
1992-93  Richmond Renegades     ECHL   19   19   16   35    2
1993-94  Canadian National Team Intl    6    3    3    6    2
1993-94  Straubing EHC          GerOb   4    6    6   12    4
1994-95  PEI Senators           AHL    38    4    5    9   12 
1995-96  Fresno Falcons         WCHL   51   52   29   81   75 

Roller Hockey
   1994  San Jose Rhinos        RHI    13    8   10   18   19

Roller hockey? Freaking awesome. More bonus points.

What those stats don't say: Gadowsky had a pretty good idea where he wanted to end up in life, even while he was still making his living on the ice. He learned the ropes of the trade as an assistant playing coach both with Richmond in 1992-1993 and later with Fresno in 1995-1996.

That 1995-1996 season was pretty impressive for Gadowsky even beyond his stat line. He won the WCHL's MVP award as well and helped lead the Falcons to the finals in the inaugural season of the now-defunct league. So, at the very least, we know he can multi-task.

He decided to step aside as a player following that career year and get into coaching full time, this time as the Falcons' head coach, a position he held for three seasons, going 126-80-12. The team made the WCHL playoffs each season and Gadowsky won coach-of-the-year honors in 1996-1997 (a recurring theme, as you'll see).

It isn't often that I have a reason to talk about what coaches do in the offseason - recruiting, camps, etc. - but Gadowsky's a little bit of an exception, as he spent the summers of 1996-1999 coaching in Roller Hockey International - first with the Oklahoma Coyotes in 1996, then with his former team, the San Jose Rhinos, from 1997-1999. He collected an RHI coach-of-the-year award in 1997 as the Rhinos won the Western Conference title.

When I do these posts, I always like to see a diverse background with success in different types of settings. It's my belief that every coaching situation is unique (ours for obvious reasons), so the ability to adapt, to me, indicates a better chance of a guy turning out to be a quality hire. And a successful stint coaching RHI certainly qualifies as "diverse," particularly from a coaching standpoint.

From here it gets a little more conventional, in the form of a nice run coaching the Alaska Nanooks of the CCHA from 1999-2004. While the overall record of 68-87-22 doesn't sound too impressive, let's get some context on that mark. Alaska wasn't exactly happy to see him go.
Gadowsky is credited with taking a program that had endured five consecutive losing seasons before his arrival in 1999 and turning it into a team that earned home ice for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs in two of the last three seasons.

Gadowsky has an overall 68-87-22 record at UAF and was 53-45-11 in the last three seasons.

"He's obviously leaving a big void. He's not only taught us players to become better players, but he's also taught us to become better people," said Corbin Schmidt of Anchorage, who will be a senior for the Nanooks.

Average attendance at the Carlson Center jumped from 2,962 per game the season before Gadowsky arrived to 4,055 last season.
Basically, he took a bad program and made them respectable. And he one-upped that accomplishment at Princeton, where he's been since 2004.

Darroll Powe played for Gadowsky at Princeton. Also, the article I, uh, borrowed this picture from was written by Nick Seravalli's brother, so check that out.

The Tigers were simply pathetic immediately before Gadowsky's arrival, winning a combined eight games over two seasons. He matched that total in year one, then bettered it each year from years two through five. The culmination of this progression was 21-14-0 in 2007-2008 and 22-12-1 in 2008-2009. That 2007-2008 season earned Princeton its first NCAA tournament bid since 1998 (via winning the ECAC tournament), scored Gadowsky ECAC coach-of-the-year honors as well as national honors from some corners.

That next year brought Princeton's best record since some guy named Lloyd Neidlinger coached the team to a 15-4-0 mark, which happened during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first term. Seriously. Another NCAA bid came from that, but the Tigers lost in the first round (coincidentally to Sandelin's Minnesota-Duluth) in pretty unbelievable fashion.

A predictable step back came in 2009-2010, but Gadowsky's crew was back on the winning side of the ledger this past season at 17-13-2, and with a fairly young team (16 freshmen and sophomores), they should be well-positioned to climb back towards the NCAA tournament in the next couple years.

While I've touched on academics in a lot of these pieces, Gadowski takes it to another level. Just from his Princeton bio, we get the following:
  • He was a three-time WCHA All-Academic Team member.
  • His degree was in economics, not exactly rocks for jocks.
  • While at Alaska, the Nanooks set team grade point average records.
That last bullet point inspired me to pull up some grad rate data, so let's add the following:
  • Took over an Alaska program that had a graduation rate of 47 percent just before he came to town and had it up to 66 percent in the 2000-2003 cohorts, which covers the bulk of his recruiting classes.  That change in culture, in addition to the team GPA records, helped lead to Alaska's first two hockey Academic All-Americans in 2009 and 2010.

Gadowsky will bash your skull in if you don't work hard in the classroom.

So he wins while emphasizing academics. Sounds like a Penn State kind of guy to me. Recently, there's been a decent amount of buzz around Gadowsky as it relates to the PSU opening. That's probably a good sign for him this far into the process, and I personally believe him to be one of the final-stage candidates. Here's a quote from the article I just linked:
Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky is a name that comes up a lot. He is on the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee, and so I saw him a lot at the Frozen Four. Without getting into specifics about himself, personally, which he wouldn't want to publicly divulge anyway, Gadowsky said that the Penn State opening is far more attractive to coaches than say Massachusetts-Lowell. This is no offense to Lowell, it's just that the prospect of starting your own program from scratch is appealing to coaches.
"I'm not saying I'm interested per se, but I could see why a lot of people are." Got it, coach. <winky face>

One theme that seems to be emerging during this process: the idea of the candidate list being divided into two groups, "Joe Battista guys" and "Terry Pegula guys." That's not at all to suggest that the two most important people in Penn State hockey are at odds with each other or that bad coaches are being involved in the process. It simply means that there are essentially two possible explanations for a guy having made it to this stage of the hiring process.

I'll get a little more into that distinction Friday with Sandelin (look at the assistant coaches he might bring with him, the NHL team(s) they played for and the amount of money it would take to pry Sandelin from a national championship program if you want a hint), but for now, suffice it to say that Gadowsky is a Battista guy. We've gone over the academics, always a big selling point with JoeBa. He's also worked Penn State hockey camps, not something that tends to happen if you don't get along with the people running a program.

Let's step out of this one with a Gadowsky endorsement from a guy whose opinion I respect, CBS Sports' Dave Starman:
HC gigs at PSU, Mich Tech, Providence and Lowell all were/are open....can someone tell me how Guy Gadowsky's name isn't #1/#2 on every list?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

History Page Updates

Thanks to the Collegian archives and a sudden, unexpected burst of free time, I've built a new page called "Results/Season, 1988-2001." Why 1988 and why 2001? On the front end, 1988-1989 is the first full season where the Collegian archives include articles designed to be viewed on the internet, and in line with that, I've linked game write-ups on that page whenever they were available.

I do intend to try to go all the way back to 1971 eventually, but the remaining period will require sifting through scanned copies of old papers, which is much more time consuming than what I've done to this point. It's not something that will happen quickly, if it's even possible, so I figured I'd share what I have so far right now.

As for 2001, well, you can get everything 2000-present on the official site, so I didn't consider it a pressing need, although I will plug the last decade in eventually.

Accordingly, I've also added to the "Results/Opponent" page, and it now goes back to 1990. I didn't include the 1988-1989 and 1989-1990 seasons because of some holes in my records. In most cases, I was at the mercy of the Collegian's publication schedule, which follows the university's academic schedule, which always puts into question finding out about the last games of the fall semester (finals week/winter break) and games in late February and early March (spring break). With every game except four, I was at least able to plug in a W, L or T, but these four all happened during the 1989-1990 season, in two win-tie weekends. With seven other games, I managed a result but not a score.

The Collegian archives are largely non-functioning during calendar years 1996 and 1997, so I had to rely on old Icers programs to fill in some data, which only gave the month during which the game took place, not the date. This affects 29 total games, mostly during the 1996-1997 and 1997-1998 seasons.

Still, the other 403 games all have a complete date and score, so enjoy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Ball Keeps Rolling

John Davis helped bring Penn State this banner. Will a goalie using his scholarship help bring another one?

Penn State announced today that former Icers goalie John Davis along with his wife Karen and family have made a sizable donation to the hockey program.
The family's gift will endow a full position scholarship for a goaltender as well as the naming gift for the men's hockey head coach's office. The office will be named the "Joseph M. Battista Head Coach's Office" in honor of former Icer head coach and current Associate Athletic Director for Ice Hockey Operations Joe Battista.
Pretty cool, congratulations are obviously in order to all involved, as well a huge thank you to the Davises. Battista deserves much more than that named after him, so hopefully the person rich enough to get naming rights on one of the two ice sheets in the Pegula Ice Arena pulls a Davis-level solid. With all the credit appropriately given to Terry and Kim Pegula, let's not forget that they don't exist to us without Battista. For his part, Battista was very Battista-like about the honor.
"I was pretty emotional when John told me of his plans to name the coach's office after me," said Battista. "I tried to talk him out of it. I wanted the office to at least have his family name on it with mine, but he declined and said he wanted my name alone. I was speechless. I am incredibly honored by what John and Karen have decided to do by naming the men's head coach's office after me, and I thank them for their generous gift to the campaign."
Here's a little on John Davis' hockey career.
A member of the Icers from 1981-85, John Davis was the starting goaltender on the club team's 1984 national championship team. He was named Rookie of the Year his first year and also earned All-Star Goalie honors. His 42-19-2 career record made him Penn State's leader in that category when he graduated. He was inducted into the Icers Hall of Fame in 1996. Davis and Battista played together in 1981-82.
The Davis' ability to make donations large enough to get things named after them comes primarily from the gas industry - sound familiar? - so get ready for all kinds of awful wordplay from mediocre journalists ("Penn State turned up the heat in the second period," etc.).

Check out the story for more biographicals, as well as plenty of quotes from all the principals.

This donation, together with the Silvis donation, and of course the Pegula donation put a larger question in my head: has any college sports program ever made waves like this before even playing its first game? First off, the last major-conference (for non-hockey sports) school to start an NCAA hockey program was Ohio State in 1963. So the fact that a school of PSU's ilk is doing so is newsworthy in and of itself, since of course, most large universities in the northeast and midwest have sponsored the sport since the days of yore. Whatever "ilk" and "yore" even mean.

And of course, this major program is getting jump-started by roughly $100 million in private donation money. Three quarters of that will be used to build the best facility in the country, while the rest will do things like endow the Davis family goaltending scholarship, which of course helps ensure the program's financial viability past the start-up.

Finally, there is a piece of this affecting all of college hockey: namely, the Big Ten. There hasn't been a conference shakeup like the one coming in college hockey in almost 30 years, when a bunch of ECAC schools split off and formed Hockey East. And that, frankly, wasn't on the same level in terms of far-reaching implications.

Back in the formative period of TYT, a Wisconsin blogger called Penn State (in the comments) the "St. Cloud State of the Big Ten." That chirp was based largely on the Huskies explosive entry into Division I in 1987-1988 (and a perceived less-than-explosive couple of decades after that, although I think they've done pretty well for a new-ish DI). SCSU had Herb Brooks on board to help. And they eventually (in 1989-1990) had a sparkling new arena, courtesy of a state initiative to build Olympic training facilities around Minnesota. Probably unknown to that Wisconsin loyalist was the fact that former Icers coach Morris Kurtz was St. Cloud's athletic director during the transition.

Of course, the National Hockey Center, capacity 5,763, was built at a cost of $9.5 million - or about $16.5 million today, adjusted for inflation. This is a brave new world, indeed. Thanks again to the Pegulas, the Silvises and the Davises for helping to make it happen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Payday Memorabilia: 2/10/1940 Huntington Stars Program

Click for a readable size.

This edition of Payday Memorabilia brings one of the best items I'll ever feature on here - an original program from a game between Penn State and the semi-pro Huntington Stars at the Iceland Arena in West Virginia in 1940.

First, a little on the item itself. It's just a single sheet that measures about 6" x 9" folded, 12" x 9" unfolded and is in better shape than I'll be in when I'm 71. There are three sets of staple holes near the fold, but unfortunately whatever was stapled there at one time has been lost to history (the eBay seller I bought this from had several other Huntington Stars programs like this, all had the staple holes, none had the staples or what was attached to them). Other than that? Not much that isn't already apparent from the pictures. You have a front with the standard depiction of the venue and essential game details, a back with humorously dated ads ($4.25 skates?), and an inside that features the two teams' lineups, some additional biographical stuff about the Huntington players, the basic rules of hockey and some information about Iceland skating sessions.

Let's get a better look at the Penn State lineup:

In case you're wondering, John Dufford wasn't with the team until just after this game. They could have used him, as you'll see in a second.

Here's the Collegian's coverage of the weekend trip, which also included a game against a semi-pro team in Charleston the night before the Huntington tilt. The pre-gamer from the February 9, 1940 issue is on the left, while the only mention of the events of the games, from February 16th, is on the right. The attempt to quickly move on to the Duquesne game isn't really shocking, considering.

That Huntington Stars team wasn't half bad. As you can see on the program, Pete Donald and Dick Maley both went to Clarkson, where they teamed up on the 1937-1938 team that went 13-1-1, beating Cornell, Dartmouth, Yale and Princeton by a combined 28-5. Harry Wood, Jr. played three seasons at New Hampshire. George Tessier subsequently played in the IHL during the formative years of that league.

However, as it turns out, despite being 12 goals better than the pucksters on that day, the Stars, the Charleston team PSU played the previous day, and indeed even the Stars' home ice have a history just as temporary as our original varsity program.

[In] 1938, a year after West Virginia's first indoor ice rink opened up in Kanawha City, its second opens right down Rt. 60 in Huntington, a swanky little place at the corner of 7th Avenue and 1st Street called Iceland. The first hockey games were played that December, originally with a mix of Charleston and Huntington fellows, but rather quickly a rivalry formed between Huntington's Stars and Charleston's Ice Sports (later Comets). Beyond the Rt. 60 duels - which would grow to include high school squads as well - teams would come to town from Pittsburgh, Detroit, Toledo, Akron, New York, and even Ontario (a town called Petrolia, to be precise), and Huntington proved to be quite competitive.

With incoming teams came incoming attention, as Huntington and Charleston entered discussions with team owners about forming a new league. This league, the Tri-State Hockey League, would officially start in fall 1940; unfortunately, while they were slated to have six teams take the ice in 1941 - Pittsburgh and Johnstown would be stragglers - only Huntington, Charleston, and Akron were ready for the start of play. A team from Toledo was to begin play in early 1941, but these plans were dashed just a week before they were to enter league play.

Despite good crowds at Stars games, the management at Iceland ran into money troubles, and in February 1941 the rink announced it was closing up; under new management, it would be converted into a multi-purpose venue, and the rechristened Arena Gardens would become the home for Marshall basketball in the years afterward. With Charleston's primary foe vanquished permanently, Ice Sports decided to pull the plug on the Comets, who could only draw a crowd when Huntington came to town anyway! With that, the league ended rather inauspiciously.

Arena Gardens would host Marshall College basketball until a fire consumed the building in April 1945.

One of the things that really fascinates me about history is the way things can just come and go, leaving no trace whatsoever except in the memories of those who witnessed it and the occasional scrap of paper. And not just trivialities in a lot of cases. On the Penn State side of things, we had a brand-new hockey program that would retroactively be named varsity. The future was ahead of it. Iceland was the second indoor ice rink in West Virginia, and there was a probably a big to-do when it opened. I'm sure the Huntington and Charleston outfits had big plans for their organizations and league. Within a decade, all of those things were wiped off of the face of the Earth. And if not for this program and the Collegian archives, this game may as well have never happened.