Monday, May 30, 2011

Three Stars: May 23-29

Leaverton in his USHL days.

3. Olczyk Honored With USHL Curt Hammer Award

Check out what the newest Penn State hockey player just won:
The Curt Hammer Award has been presented annually since the 1988-89 season in honor of the late Curt Hammer, and recognizes the USHL player who distinguishes himself both on and off the ice by demonstrating outstanding performance skills, pride, and determination. 
And just how did he earn that? Well, in addition to his on-ice performance and leadership...
Olczyk has played a significant role in the team's signature fund raising event, "Face Off for Charity."  The annual dinner event involves Musketeers players serving as waiters and competing for the highest amount of tips.  This season marked the second time that Olczyk has collected the largest amount of tips among the Musketeers as he set a new record with $1,200 earned for charity.  During the event, he also addressed the large crowd by reading an account from one of the children at the Boys and Girls Home and Family Services, the benefactor of "Face Off for Charity."

Olczyk quickly became a fan favorite during his USHL career.  One of the charitable items auctioned by the team each season is "30 Minutes of Ice Time with a Musketeer."  The winner of the auction in each of the past three seasons has chosen Olczyk, and he has graciously and eagerly spent the 30 minutes of ice time teaching skills to a young hockey player one-one-one.

The Musketeers captain has also made more school appearances in the Sioux City area than any other player.  At the appearances, Olczyk has read to young students, spoken to entire classrooms, and provided encouragement to children in the community.  The Musketeers organization has leaned on him to be an important voice for the club, recognizing his ability to effectively speak to people.  That has been frequently on display during countless interviews with television, radio, and newspaper outlets that Olczyk has conducted during both hockey and community events.
Sounds like our kind of guy.

2. @UWChuckSchwartz

According to Mr. Schwartz, probably the most plugged-into-recruiting guy I've encountered to date:
I've heard that Penn State has been talking with Sioux City (USHL) defenseman David Donnellan who is a transfer from Western Mich.
Don't know how serious it is but I know that Guy has talked with him. Can almost guarantee he would accept an offer if it was made.
Great with me. In case you have horrendous short-term memory and/or glossed over the team name in the first tweet, yes, Donnellan was Tommy Olczyk's teammate last season with the Musketeers. The quick history of the 6'0", 185 pounder from Eau Claire, WI: he played for three USHL teams in two seasons, spending all of 2009-2010 with the Youngstown Phantoms and putting up 23 points in 59 games. He committed to Western Michigan for this past season, but left the team over the holiday break after playing just five games at WMU, unhappy about his lack of ice time. He had four assists in his 29 games with Sioux City.

1. Gophers doing well in classroom
(Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Buried in this article about Minny's APR score, we get this nice bit of info:
In the WCHA, junior defenseman Doug Leaverton of Colorado College is transferring. Leaverton is 6-4, 210 but played little late in the season at CC. He plans to transfer to another college team and is considering Ohio State or Penn State.

If he goes to one of those schools, he would have to sit out the 2011-12 season as a transfer and then be able to play one season as a fifth-year senior.
I have to dispute the article's assertion about the whole fifth-year senior thing, because everything I've seen (including CC's site) indicates that the Painesville, OH native was a sophomore, and only in his second year in the program - he was with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the USHL through 2008-2009, then spent 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 in Colorado Springs.

I'll monitor both Leaverton and Donnellan and report accordingly - getting a couple of DI-ready d-men at what still has to be considered an early stage would be fantastic.

Best of the Rest

Icers Update: Memorial Weekend Edition
(Black Shoe Diaries)

I put this one at the top of the "rest" deliberately, because I could have just copy/pasted it in lieu of jamming 14 links down your throat.

Coach Balboni's Letter to Icers Players, Staff and Fans

Balboni gets a ton of credit from me for handling a brutally tough situation with all the class in the world. Once you start to cycle through the possibilities of how this thing could have played out, it's not hard to see how a PR disaster was one possible outcome, had Balboni chosen to make things difficult.

In a sense, how you handle Balboni is how you're handling hockey's past at Penn State, and a poor handling of hockey's past has the potential to alienate the many who helped the program to where it is today.

Chip Off the Ol(czyk) Block
(View From the Booth)

I always link VFtB as a matter of course, but I really had to in this case, just because I want to squeeze as many Olczyk mentions as possible into this post. My post on his commitment is the second-most-viewed ever on TYT, and I fully expect this one to hit the top ten based on my efforts here.

Adam Burish is laughing at how Barry Alvarez pushed for Big Ten hockey harder than anyone, but now wants to rip off the conference tournament format and location from the conference Wisconsin's leaving.

Wisconsin Hockey Hates Money, Hockey

Originally, I was going to link Andy Baggot for like the eighth week in a row as we inch towards establishing a Big Ten playoff format, but I found this to be a much more entertaining read on it - and I don't even agree with them.

If you need a more serious read on the possibilities, here's a decent one from the Detroit News.

Pegula, Salzburg Share 'Characteristics for Success' with Penn Staters

Joe Battista is engaging as always in comparing commencement speeches at different Penn State campuses, enough so to get on here when he's not talking about hockey. I once read Good To Great for a book report at work (sounds cheesy I know, but it turned out to be a great idea) solely because JoeBa was holding it in a poster at the rink once upon a time, and it didn't disappoint.

NCAA Division I 2009-2010 Academic Progress Rate

Guy Gadowsky's former program was one of just four schools (Boston University, Brown and St. Lawrence being the others) with a perfect 1000 APR in the most recent data.

Some see the search for Ed DeChellis' replacement as a referendum on where men's basketball ends up residing within the hierarchy of Penn State's sports teams.

A PSU hoop fan's dream
(Centre Daily Times)

In case you missed it (I'm not sure how that's possible), PSU basketball coach Ed DeChellis stunningly resigned to take the same job at Navy. While speculation (with an occasional dose of actual news) is running rampant concerning his reasons for the move and potential replacements, more to the point of why we're here...
It's a tough time for an opening, but at Penn State it's a critical time.

Why? Because it's soon going to be Hockeytown around here, and anyone who doesn't think that doesn't realize the appeal of hockey in Pennsylvania.

Thanks to an $88 million gift, Penn State will have a great new arena and a growing team.

The fans will come, and they'll pack the place. Just wait and see.

And what will happen over at the Jordan Center? Well there will be more empty seats for Nittany Lions hoops if the program is not delivering.

The new coach has to act fast right from the start to build the team and build interest in the program. Otherwise, the fans will be lost to hockey.
And it's not like that was the only time that thought ended up somewhere on the internet. I don't think it's quite as simple as people say, to be honest - the chatter surrounding the basketball search (see Lebo, Jeff and Brown, Larry) compared to the relative lack of the same for hockey tells me that the two sports aren't yet that close in terms of popularity. And while NCAA hockey and the coming facility both have the Penn State community worked into a frothy lather, that's temporary if not backed up by winning. I do have complete faith that this program will win, but if it takes a few years (not at all unreasonable), what happens then? See you in 2017 for the answer, I suppose.

PA native Daley to play at PSU
(Lions 247)

The latest in the series of write-ups on our 2011 recruiting class on Lions 247. Maybe it's the sick highlight video, but I'm particularly excited about this one.

About the monkey........
(Fredonia State Hockey)

Fredonia head coach Jeff Meredith recently took up the blogging thing, and I'm entertained by their apparently porn-addicted monkey. The DIII Blue Devils come to the Ice Pavilion on November 5th, so keep tabs on this blog for some unique insight on their program.

Raw Numbers: Hockey's Growth in the United States - 1990-2010
(The United States of Hockey)

Chris Peters knows USA Hockey as well as anyone on the planet, so his blog comes with my personal recommendation. This post looks at the growth in the number of USA Hockey memberships since 1990 on a state-by-state basis. Here's what he had to say about Pennsylvania:
It’s been no secret that Pennsylvania is a growing hockey state. As of 2009-10, Pennsylvania ranked fifth in the nation in membership, bumping the traditionally strong Illinois to sixth. The Penguins and Flyers had some of the premier teams of the 1990s, with Pittsburgh winning two Stanley Cups at the beginning of the decade. Those Stanley Cup wins did not fuel growth as rapidly as some other locations, however the sport has been on a gradual rise since then. Having two very popular NHL teams in one state certainly doesn’t hurt. Interest in hockey is at an all-time high and it’s continuing to expand.
Number 5? I'll take that. Notably, PA's 27,549 memberships are slightly over half of Minnesota's 53,450. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State, Bemidji State and Minnesota State as major college programs in the state. Pennsylvania has...Penn State. I think we'll be fine.

Strange Days
(College Hockey News)

Here's Adam Wodon's nut paragraph in an excellent piece about the ripple effects of Big Ten hockey. This has the potential to make the college football realignment dud of last season (all Swedish, no Finnish in hockey terms) look like the time I moved my bedroom television to my mancave.
The wheels are already in motion for many other schools, as the residual effect of the Big Ten decision begins to take shape. While nothing is public yet, and nothing is set in stone yet, things could start happening sooner than you think. That's because a) no one wants to be left holding the bag when the chips start falling; and b) conferences have agreements where any team that wants to move, must give a certain amount of advance notice, typically around a year and a half.


  1. That MGoBlog post about the B1G playoff format is hilarious. Although, since we're all getting a new conference this might be a good time to update our team stereoypes or at least add something fresh. Michigan State has an awful arena, Ohio State only has 13 fans... They're all stale insults. "Penn State won't win anything for awhile" is even getting old already.

  2. What's Wisconsin's? I'm new here. They've been occasionally cool (like the hook-up I got above) but generally obnoxious, topping even Michigan. I feel the need to insult them in the same way my grandpappy did in days of yore.

    Of course, if you want to go ahead and update that one, that could work. Barry Alvarez looks like he smells bad, but that doesn't really work because the Wisconsin hockey people hate him too.

  3. We've dubbed Wisconsin "Supreme Weasels West" since the irritating part of their fanbase is pretty much identical to Michigan's, now Supreme Weasels East. The God's-gift-to-college-hockey attitude doesn't extend to all of their fans, but the ones that have it are righteously annoying.

    There isn't a lot of interconference trash talk so I'm as new to the WCHA insults as you are. Looks like we need to find some Minnesota fans...