Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Commit Cycle: August 30

Welcome to TYT's newest weekly feature. If it wasn't obvious from the name, I'll use this space to track PSU commits as they progress through their junior seasons. Exhibition games have already started across some of Canadian Junior A, so let's get to it with a guy who spent much of the weekend in beast mode.

Jonathan Milley

Right Wing
Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL)
6'4", 215 pounds
Ottawa, ON
Class of 2012
DOB 5/8/1991

Date Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

8/26 vs. North Bay (ex)      W 5-2  0   2   2   2 [box score]
8/28 vs. Kanata (ex)         W 11-4 2   3   5   4 [box score]

Unlike the AJHL (see below), the CCHL scored some points with me by making themselves easy to track...speaking of scoring points, the national champs did a little bit of that in two dominating wins this week...in Friday evening's tilt, Milley assisted on Pembroke's second and fourth goals...he also took a first-period slashing penalty, which was successfully killed off...on Sunday, Milley's second-period power play tally was the game-winner, although that's sort of a technicality in what was already a blowout at that point...in all, he and linemates Ben Dalpe and Brandon Gagne combined for four goals and 13 points...the L-Kings were particularly punishing with the man advantage, clicking on five of nine chances.

Next up, Reed Linaker and David Glen. The two (and their respective teams) participated in a pre-season tournament among the AJHL's North Division teams over the weekend, won by the Drayton Valley Thunder.

Reed Linaker

St. Albert Steel (AJHL)
5'9", 165 pounds
Edmonton, AB
Class of 2012
DOB 11/4/1991

Date Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

8/26 vs. Sherwood Park (ex)  L 4-9  -   -   -   - [box score]
8/27 vs. Spruce Grove (ex)   L 2-8  -   -   -   - [box score]
8/27 vs. Drayton Valley (ex) L 1-2  -   -   -   - [box score]
8/28 at Spruce Grove (ex)    L 1-4  -   -   -   - [box score]

Unfortunately, the AJHL site hasn't published stats or box scores for any of the exhibition games, a statement that can obviously be applied to David Glen as well...we do know that Linaker picked up five, ten and a game in a late match fight Friday with Sherwood Park's Stefan Bazar, which was described (by a biased source) as Linaker "beating him down"...he also scored in that game to cut the Steel's deficit to 3-6 22 seconds into the 3rd period, and added a first assist in the second Saturday game to give St. Albert an early 1-0 lead.

David Glen

Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
6'0", 175 pounds
Fort Saskatchewan, AB
Class of 2012
DOB 2/14/1991

Date Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

8/26 vs. Drayton Valley (ex) L 4-5  -   -   -   - [box score]
8/27 vs. St. Albert (ex)     W 8-2  -   -   -   - [box score]
8/27 at Sherwood Park (ex)   L 3-5  -   -   -   - [box score]
8/28 vs. St. Albert (ex)     W 4-1  -   -   -   - [box score]

Glen wasn't mentioned in a single one of the updates I saw, although I wouldn't consider that definitive - obviously, this is the exhibition season and he's not necessarily going to be dressed for every game to begin with...my most consistent source for updates from this tournament was the St. Albert Steel's Twitter account, which isn't going to go out of its way to mention opposition players...the Sunday win over the Steel was enough to give the Saints third place in the tournament, although this weekend wasn't particularly good for either team, with St. Albert going winless and Spruce Grove beating only them.

Related stories:
Training camp a process for coaches, players (Spruce Grove Examiner)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Three Stars: August 22-28

3. Cerutti injured during first Icers practice
(The Daily Collegian)

It's pretty exciting to have updates on the Icers again, as opposed to the standard summer fare of recruiting and conference realignment. Well, unless it's someone tweaking their MCL.

Cerutti's situation is complicated by the fact that he's probably a week away from taking the ice and two more away from contract - and tryouts are this week. What, exactly, does that mean? While Guy Gadowsky has said that everyone's starting from zero with him, I don't believe for a second that the plug will be pulled on the leading returning goal scorer because of an injury.

2. Goalie Excited for New Journey
(Lions 247)

If you rely on Twitter for your news, you probably missed this one, since it came out right in the middle of last Tuesday's earthquake. Which is a shame, because this one deserved more spotlight based on P.J. Musico's commitment story alone.
“I got a call around 10:00 Pacific time [from Guy Gadowsky], so it was pretty late over on the east coast,” said Musico.

After speaking with the Penn State head man over the past few weeks, Gadowsky cut right to the chase on that particular night, leading to this exchange between the two.

“So do you want to do this?” asked Gadowsky.


“Do you want to play for Penn State?”


The netminder continued to speak with Gadowsky for a bit longer, and when they finished the call Musico was a bit taken aback.

“When I got off the phone I just looked at one of my friends and said to him, ‘I think I just committed.’” Musico joked. “Its almost like I blacked out because I was so excited.”
1. Penn State Icers Hockey Season Ticket Application
(Penn State Hockey)

Get to it.

Best of the Rest

Former Cobber Named Assistant Hockey Coach at Penn State

Josh Hand's alma mater tosses out some recognition...wait, "Cobbers?"

Source: Winter Classic announcement delayed

...which is sort of a problem when you're trying to take advantage of the situation by playing Neumann University at Citizens Bank Park. Figure it out, guys.

The Dunk is wooing collegiate tourneys
(Providence Journal)

The Dunkin Donuts Center, home to the AHL's Providence Bruins (but not the Providence College pucksters) is bidding for the 2014 season-opening Ice Breaker tournament, and...
[Rhode Island Convention Center chairman Jim] Bennett said that if the Ice Breaker is awarded to The Dunk, other schools under consideration besides host PC will be Boston University, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Penn State and Michigan, where Bennett’s son, Mac, will be a sophomore defenseman this season.
Bennett went on to add that BU would definitely join PC as a participant, and as mentioned, he has a connection with Michigan. Notre Dame and Wisconsin wouldn't be in their third season as an NCAA program. So yeah, PSU might be a longshot for one of the last two spots, but here's hoping. I've said before that I think we'd be well-served by maintaining a strong eastern presence, and this is one way to do it.

Penn State coaches make headlines
(The Daily Collegian)

In a summer review of PSU's coaching changes, Josh Brandwene got a few words.
Brandwene, a former Penn State Icer, was announced as the first head coach of the Penn State women’s ice hockey team on June 1. With strong ties to Penn State, Brandwene is ready to get to work building the program.

“This is just so the right fit for me in every way,” Brandwene said in June. “I’m thrilled to be here, I’m looking forward to the challenge."
Maine lands another recruit
(Maine Hockey Journal)

One thing that's kind of nice about college hockey recruiting: unless you're ridiculously plugged in, you generally don't know about the ones you lose until after the fact. This would be one example of that. Canadian center (or centre to him) B.J. Salerno is Maine-bound in 2013 or 2014, spurning Penn State, along with North Dakota and Bowling Green.

Mike Sisti picked up a new neighbor behind the bench this week.

MacKenzie resigns at NU
(Niagara Gazette)

Collins hired as new Mercyhurst women’s assistant

A pair of coaching moves in College Hockey America this week - former Canadian National Team member Delaney Collins joins Mike Sisti's staff, while Chris MacKenzie has resigned at Niagara, leaving Josh Sciba to serve as interim coach. The extra spot on the Lakers' coaching staff was created when former assistant Paul Colontino left in June to become the head coach at Robert Morris, yet another CHA team.

Remaining CCHA teams will move to WCHA
(College Hockey News)

The "leftover" CCHA and WCHA schools met for a second time this week, and in short order the remaining CCHA schools (other than Notre Dame, which is a "remaining CCHA school" in name only) were invited to join the WCHA. Alaska, Lake Superior State and Ferris State have already accepted, while Bowling Green and Western Michigan are keeping their options open for the time being.

I'll save the full editorial for some other time, but I think it's now pretty fair to call the conference shakeup a horrible development if you're a small school, in spite of all the tired rhetoric from those external to the problem (particularly in the Big Ten and NCHC). Their drumbeat of "there will be more NCAA bids for small schools" kind of blew up on them with this news, so now they're latching on to things like "the Upper Peninsula schools are back together." Please. Anyone familiar with college football and basketball can see what's coming. Hockey's been (mostly) immune to it without big television money, but with the entry of Big Ten Network, NBC Sports, etc. class stratification is coming. This season, there will be 45 programs that can call themselves "major conference." In 2013, that number will be between 35 and 37. And the gaps within that 35-37 will be larger as well.

Bottom line, here's what we're looking at in 2013-2014 right now.

Big Ten: Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin.
NCHC: Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, Miami.
WCHA: Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, Northern Michigan, St. Cloud State.
Free Agents: Alabama-Huntsville, Bowling Green, Notre Dame, Western Michigan.
Atlantic Hockey, ECAC, Hockey East: Status quo. Try harder if you need me to list all of them.

Notre Dame will choose between the NCHC and Hockey East at some point hopefully soon. BG's and WMU's directions depend largely on the Irish. UAH...well, let's not talk about that.

Quick bonus link. In an interview, Bowling Green AD Greg Christopher and coach Chris Bergeron had some pointed comments related to how this whole situation played out.

"My reaction today is, 'It is what it is.' College hockey is a small world, and I think it has been fractured. College hockey has prided itself on its personal relationships, and I think they have been affected. Make no mistake about this: At a time where adding a team might add to college hockey, adding a team [Penn State] has fractured us to the core. It is a tight-knit group, and I think there has been some damage done to that."
"I think history will tell us if there has been any damage. Some people [in the sport] have been great and have been above-board, and other have been a little disingenuous, and that's as far as I will go with that."
NCHC headquarters to be housed in Colorado Springs

Stunningly, it's not in Grand Forks, ND.

"I Like Pegula" Tee

Sabres fans are crazy, in a good way. Has there ever been a t-shirt honoring a sports franchise owner (strictly in an ownership role...Mario Lemieux the player doesn't count)? Well, Buffalo can give you about 100 of them, including this one, which also conveniently matches PSU's color scheme.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Breakout Past: 2003-2004 Motivational Video

Since I spent an obscene amount of time last week making YouTube videos, I figured using one as the centerpiece of Breakout Past twice in a row wouldn't harm anything. This installment is a team motivational video leading up to the 2004 ACHA National Tournament and included on the 2003-2004 Icers highlight video.

Most of you probably know by now that I'm pretty big on the whole old-new connection thing. This doesn't disappoint in that department, as it includes a senior-year Bill Downey and a Big Ten Tournament championship (Illinois, Indiana and ACHA Ohio State were the other participants in that Thanksgiving weekend showcase). Actually, it collides the two items in one fantastic clip of captain Downey holding the Big Ten trophy, something that has a chance of happening again someday (please?).

Some other things to look for: the final turn for Glenn Zuck who, with then-junior Kevin Jaeger, formed one of the best tandems to ever lace up for the blue and white. They combined for 189 points that year, which is sort of okay for a 38-game schedule. The senior class, one of the most successful in Icers history both individually and as a team, was rounded out by goalie Brian Gratz, defensemen Eric Harbaugh and Curtiss Patrick and forwards Brendan Roache, Pat Schaeffer, Joe Sheridan, Jack Weber and Greg Windsor.

Actually, Sheridan provides yet another link to the present, as he's been involved in the process to get Penn State and Neumann in on the Winter Classic through his role as an assistant general manager at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.

Time to shut up and show you the video. As with last week, I'm limited by TYT's layout, so here's the YouTube page.

As we know (and as might be obvious from that), Penn State obliterated its regular-season schedule, dropping only a pair of games at Ohio to kick off the spring semester. However as we also know, the Drive 4 Five didn't reach its intended destination.

At nationals, the Icers blew through Towson, host Iowa State and Minot State by a combined 29-3 count to reach the final before Ohio won a third straight game against the Icers to get revenge for the 2003 championship game. This despite PSU holding a two-goal lead after the first period of the title tilt, then coming back from two down to pull level at four with under five minutes left in regulation. But Bobcat forward Tony Arkeilpane quickly answered that last rally when his shot with 2:56 left went first off of Justin DePretis, then behind Scott Blackman to freeze PSU's string of Murdoch Cups at four consecutive and seven total - a number that still holds up today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School

School's back in full force, and so is the Collegian (which can apparently be a mixed bag, as we've seen). And the Icers aren't wasting any time either.
After receiving about three emails throughout the summer from [Guy] Gadowsky, the team will meet with their coach for the first time this semester [Monday] to discuss the new coaching aspects and systems they would like to install.
That initial meeting was followed by what's been described as both an "up-tempo" and an "icebreaker" practice Tuesday. Mark Horgas watched it and had the following observations via Twitter.

As mentioned by Horgas and confirmed by official reports, 34 skaters and four goalies took part. A quick tally of Icers with remaining eligibility plus known recruits comes out to 37 and four, lending some possible credibility to the rumors that a couple of Icers have withdrawn from consideration for this year's team - because, really, as competitive as tryouts are expected to be, who's going to skip even an optional session?

Further reaction from Gadowsky and Daleys Paul and Josh was scooped up by Steve Penstone, over on View From the Booth. That, and a quick survey of Icers on Twitter shows none of the colorfulness or complaining exhibited by the football team when their practices started (remember, "icebreaker"), but give new defenseman Steve Edgeworth credit for tweet of the day.
First day of pracy in the books. Felt like Lidstrom out there minus the gap control, skating ability, and hockey sense. #PennStateHockey
Meanwhile, on the women's side of things, the team held a "captain's practice" Tuesday. But more importantly to the big picture, College Hockey America took a site visit at PSU as part of the application process. Niagara AD Ed McLaughlin was part of the CHA contingent and gave us some Twitter updates.
Arrived in State College PA 4 site visit w/ #PennState Women's hockey. Mtg w/staff and #CHA commish #BobDeGregorio tmrw.

Gr8 day of mtgs w/ #PennState folks, including AD #TimCurley and President #GrahamSpanier. They r getting ready for Div. I hockey.

We felt the #earthquake while mtg w/new Women's hockey coaches about #PegulaArena. I guess #Mr.Pegula really can make the earth move.
Unless that earthquake was a sign of the apocalypse, I feel confident expecting official CHA approval in short order.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Three Stars: August 15-21

3. Brewpub plans put on ice - for now
(Centre Daily Times)
The four [College Township Planning Commission] members present approved and sent to Township Council the development plan for Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena.

The arena is planned near the intersection of University Drive and Curtin Road, across from the Bryce Jordan Center. The site also is partially in State College.

McCormick Taylor, the State College engineering firm that conducted the traffic study, addressed concerns, saying that added traffic “will be small compared to the existing traffic.” The firm indicated other campus lots will accommodate parking.
As boring as that all sounds, it's one of those things you won't notice unless it's brutally executed and you're stuck in a line back to Burger King on University Ave. trying to get to a game. So here's to that never, ever happening.

Oh and that brewpub in a barn in Lemont? Tabled until the Happy Valley Brewing Company figures out a way to fit 84 parking spaces on the site. Booooooo....

2. New season for Steel
(St. Albert Gazette)

If you couldn't tell by now, this is the time of year when people write "team x is excited for the season" articles. We hit the teams of Eamon McAdam and former commit Jessi Hilton last week, and just below, we have one on David Glen's Spruce Grove Saints. Now, here's the obligatory piece on Reed Linaker and his mates. Linaker, as you might expect of a guy who averaged 1.53 points per game last season when healthy, is mentioned as a key player. Brother Cole is expected to come in and make an impact as well.

1. Saints begin looking for third title in a row as 2011-12 training camp kicks off
(Spruce Grove Examiner)
Up front, the Big Three this year are going to play a vital role in providing leadership and mentorship to the first-year guys. The trio, David Glen, Nicholas Bourgeois and Tim Nolte know they're going to be the go-to guys, at least early on.

"They'll play a huge role," [head coach Jason McKee said]. "Tim and David have been around a while - we got Nicholas part way through last year - and they'll be relied on for a leadership role. We're excited to have them back and they'll be a huge part of continuing the culture here and passing it on to the new guys."
Speaking of leadership, Glen was announced as captain of the Saints this past week. The team is clearly aware that Penn State is a member of the Leaders Division, so naturally, it would be wise to name a PSU commit captain. That's what that means, right?

Best of the Rest

Icers 2011-12 Schedule/Results

The Icers have added a Blue-White Game, on September 30th at 6:00 p.m.

Joe Paterno Feuding With Penn State Hockey (1979)

You may not realize it from all the time I spend on TYT, but I'm also a huge Penn State football fan. In fact, starting in late July every year through the start of the season, I make a point of plowing through every one of the football DVDs and, yes, VHSs I've accumulated over the years. Some highlight videos, some full-length games, all sweet blue and white goodness. Anyway, as part of this ritual, I stumbled on this exchange between JoePa, legendary broadcaster Fran Fisher and wide receiver Kip Vernaglia during the 1979 episode of Joe Paterno's TV Quarterbacks discussing the Syracuse game that season.

As background for those who don't read Breakout Past, the football team took over the original Ice Pavilion in 1978 and converted it into an indoor practice facility, forcing hockey into home games in Mechanicsburg and outdoor practices. It turned out that Vernaglia wasn't too happy with the new fieldhouse, particularly the amount of padding under the turf. It's also pretty obvious from Paterno's exasperated "don't get me involved" that he was sick of hearing it from the hockey team and didn't want to add fuel to the fire by joining in on the complaints or by agreeing with Fisher's (joking...I think) suggestion to do some fundraising for extra padding. That would be akin to whining to a homeless guy that your garage door doesn't work, then asking him to buy you a new opener.


Here's an encouraging tweet from Pembroke Lumber Kings president/GM/coach Sheldon Keefe.
Great 2 see 5yr vet Jon Milley pushing the pace in skating test. 2nd best set completing 3 laps in 38seconds. J. Pelock led the way at 37s.
I'm already developing my favorites among PSU commits' junior teams this year, and the defending national champs are definitely very high on the list.

BTN still not available to all Penn State fans

Please allow me to be self-indulgent for a moment and remind you all that many unfortunate people out there still don't get Big Ten Network. I'm one of them. If you're a fellow Armstrong subscriber, or even if you're not, jump on the Armstrong Cable Must Carry BTN Facebook group (after calling them to express your displeasure). It's linked on the right side of TYT because I run it and can do things like that. I can also give out free BTN stuff for not that much work on your part, since I have a box full of it in my guest bedroom. Just saying.

Oh, and hockey mention.
Curley pointed out that not only has the BTN benefited Penn State's football and basketball programs, but the so-called "minor" or "Olympic" sports and particularly women's sports have received far more media exposure than they would have without the network. Penn State's fledgling ice hockey program also will get a boost from the BTN, Curley added.
One thing I've never understood: basketball's an Olympic sport, is it not? In fact, I believe every sport anyone's ever heard of besides (American) football is, so what exactly is the point of that designation?

PU-Cornell Men’s Hockey Rivalry Getting New Twist As Veteran Big Red Assistant Garrow Joins Princeton
(Town Topics)

After Helping Niagara Build Solid Foundation, Gardner Excited to Join PU Men’s Hockey Staff
(Town Topics)

Princeton has filled out its coaching staff to replace the one now at PSU. And no, talking about it hasn't gotten old yet.

UNO Hockey Taps Renfrew as New Assistant

Most people assume that Ohio State will be the first program in Penn State's way during the inevitable climb to the top of the Big Ten. I'm not so sure that's the case. Observe Michigan State, a historically great program, but one that's been on a steady downward trajectory since winning the 2007 national championship. That hastened the retirement of Rick Comley, and the still-a-head-scratcher Tom Anastos hire followed. Now, well-regarded associate head coach Brian Renfrew has departed for what's at best (from MSU's standpoint) a lateral move pretty late in the offseason. At worst, it's a move up from a sinking program to a rising one.

Sure, it's possible that Anastos wants his own staff, and that Renfrew was told as much. Then again, Anastos was hired nearly five months ago.

Incidentally, Renfrew is connected to Guy Gadowsky through a stint assisting at Alaska in 2000-2001.

Since transferring from hell, Tyler Pilmore has clicked with center/fellow minion of the Prince of Darkness Michael Schultz.

Bobcats gear up for championship run
(The Post)

It's kind of cute that OU thinks they have a "championship run" in them. Go back to the kiddie table guys, grown-ups are trying to settle something.

Seven-Bedroom Home on Norwood Sells for $1.1 Million

In case you need to borrow $365,000, I have one idea where you can go. Oh, it doesn't work like that? Regardless, congratulations to the Brandwenes on unloading their house in Connecticut.
$365,000. 68 Lemay Street. Joshua A. Brandwene and Leona M. Brandwene to Peter A. Junggren Jr., deed filed on Aug. 8, 2011.
If it's me though, I hold on to it at all costs. You have any idea what the return of the Whalers will do for property values in the state?

Committee Approves Tournament Criteria Change
(College Hockey News)

On its face, I think this change - related to the record against common opponents component of the Pairwise (which is the objective tool used for NCAA tournament selection in hockey) - is a positive one. But I'll save final judgment until an RPI grad explains it to me. Or until PSU loses a comparison it would have won under the old system. Then it's on. RABBLE RABBLE!

1989 And Still Waiting

Speaking of RPI, heads up on a new blog covering their conference. I'm an ECAC guy at heart and would call it my favorite conference if I wasn't bound by some unwritten rule of fanhood to plug the Big Ten, despite feeling ambiguous at best about five of its six teams. Meanwhile, if you asked me to list my ten favorite non-PSU NCAA programs, at least half of them would be in the ECAC (Cornell, RPI, Union, Brown, Princeton in case you care...I suppose UNO, Providence, Alaska, RIT and UAH would be the other half, although I could be forgetting someone).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Breakout Past: Penn State vs. Ohio, 3/15/2009

First, a confession: I have a bias against non-championship seasons. No matter how great the moment, it's always poisoned in my head with "yeah, but."

For example, most hockey fans are undoubtedly familiar with Steve Yzerman's game seven, double OT bomb to knock out the Blues in 1996. Most probably consider it a defining play of Yzerman's career and worthy of every highlight reel documenting the Detroit Red Wings' storied history. Me? Kind of, but not really. I can't think of that goal without also thinking of the trucking the Wings received courtesy of Colorado in the next round. Unless the story ends with a Cup, either Stanley or Murdoch, the memory is at least a little bit sour.

So it's with a warning to disregard a shutout loss to Illinois in the semifinals two days later that we go back (but not too far back) to one of the great games in the storied Penn State-Ohio rivalry, a second-round matchup at the 2009 ACHA National Tournament. The Icers, one of the tournament favorites as a No. 2 seed, were coming off of a ho-hum 5-2 win over Duquesne. OU, on the other hand, was an uncharacteristically low No. 10 seed and upset Rhode Island 4-3 in the first round's only overtime game.

What followed was a tilt great enough for me to purchase a DVD within an hour after it ended despite being in attendance, then spend a ridiculous amount of time over the last two weeks pulling out each goal scored in the game and uploading it to YouTube (there are about 12 long stories in there). Apologies for the video quality - I promise that it's pretty much how it looks on the DVD. Also, I'm a little bit limited with respect to video size by TYT's layout, so by all means, go here to see it in its original glory.

Here's what the Collegian said about it:
[Frank] Berry, who sustained a knee injury against Drexel in mid-February, scored his third goal of the season in overtime of Sunday's 3-2 ACHA Division I national quarterfinal win. The goal propelled No. 2 Penn State past No. 10 Ohio and into the national semifinals, which will be held Tuesday in Gates Mills, Ohio.

"I took a draw and took off with it. I put my head down and skated as hard as I could to the net," Berry said. "It felt good. I was relieved -- I just wanted anyone to score so we could win the game."

Penn State goalie Nick Signet said the team knew Ohio was looking to atone for its performance in the season series.

"We knew going into it, it was gonna be tough because every time we play them it's tough," Signet said. "We knew they were coming out for revenge and wanted to beat us real bad."

The Icers (32-7-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Jaime Zimmel and Taylor Cera. However, Ohio tied the game at two late in the game to push the contest into overtime, setting up Berry's heroics.

"I thought we played a great, great hockey game and I didn't want us to lose in overtime after playing a great game all night long," Penn State coach Scott Balboni said. "Frank's a gritty player -- Jaime [Zimmel] made a nice feed to him and he buried it."

A major factor in the Icers' win over Ohio was the play of Signet, who notched his 55th career win. Balboni said Signet made several saves down the stretch to keep Penn State alive.

"I think Nick played phenomenal," Balboni said. "He made some key saves all night long. He probably had one of his best games all season today."
Signet earned the praises of his coach.

Of course, goal number three doesn't happen if not for goals one and two, so Ryan Paradis deserves a mention for his seeing-eye pass on the first goal (and sticking with the puck) that found Cera, which doesn't happen without the several keep-ins of defensemen Carey Bell and Steve Thurston during the sequence. Zimmel's blast for the second goal was a lot more straightforward, but Bell obviously played an important role - that of Bobby Orr - there as well.

One thing didn't occur to me until I was writing this - the Icers have won just one meaningful game at nationals since then. As mentioned, PSU lost to Illinois in the following game in 2009. The win was a tougher-than-the-score 7-3 decision over Canton the next year, but that was followed by the overtime stunner against Central Oklahoma. And of course last year, for the first time ever, the Icers lost the first game at nationals (before winning a consolation game). It's time to drop the puck and get to work on changing that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Club Hockey Association Forms

The National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey is now part of the college hockey scene, as of an announcement on its website yesterday.
A new men’s collegiate ice hockey association – under the working title of National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey has formally established in the United States, with play beginning in the fall of 2011. Initial schools will include the non-varsity teams at Brandeis University, Clarkson University, Dartmouth College, Hobart College, Middlesex Community College, Saint Lawrence University, Southern New Hampshire University, SUNY Canton, Union College, Wheeling Jesuit University, and Yale University.

The formation of the National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey has no membership dues or any fees to be a member and encourages members of existing associations to join the new association immediately. The association is open to 2 and 4 year schools throughout North America. The association will not hold a national tournament in the initial year but plans to hold at least one tournament next year with the possibility of the annual Fall Classic, Regional Tournaments, and National Tournaments in the future. All the members of the association will operate independently.

Members of the new association will not experience any changes in the initial year. The goal of the association is every game to be played under one rule book, follow a single manual for operations procedures, and playing for a national championship. The association formation is driven by the rising cost of being a member of another association.

The association operations will focus on cost-containment and shared communications efficiencies. The association will implement a comprehensive marketing and branding campaign leading up to the 2011 launch date.
It's important to note that "SUNY Canton" is not the same team that currently competes in ACHA Division 1. The NAIH's Union entry is the former ACHA Division 3 team, making the Dutchmen club the first ACHA-to-NAIH defection. The remaining NAIH members were not in the ACHA.

Speaking of competing, how about that shot across the bow of "another association," as related to membership dues (incidentally, ACHA dues for D1 are $1600 this season)? Other features of the NAIH, according to its Twitter account, may include eligibility for former major junior players, computer rankings and programs outside the United States. If they pull all of that off, it's not hard to see the appeal in that sort of a product, and their membership may quickly grow beyond 11 low-level organizations.

I suppose you could file this all under "no longer our problem," but it will still be an interesting development to follow. It's far, far too early to even guess as to how this all plays out, but it is worth mentioning that in two days of existence the NAIH already has a far better website than the ACHA and is about 20 times as savvy with social media. Besides, how many ACHA members are completely satisfied with the association?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Three Stars: August 8-14

3. Cru prepare to make roster
(Sherwood Park News)

Most junior teams are right on the cusp of camps and preseason (in fact, by the next Three Stars, Jonathan Milley's Pembroke Lumber Kings will have played an exhibition game), so before we move forward with tracking the progress of recruits who didn't play major junior, here's one more look back at Jessi Hilton - the recruit that wasn't - and his squad.
"We've got a strong goaltender in Pat Terriss and returning players like Jesse Koch and Jessi Hilton, so expectations are high," [head coach Tim Fragle said]. We want to have a good season this year and finish in that top-four position in the North Division to get home ice."

Hilton stepped up as the team's captain approximately halfway through the season, with the departure of former captain Josh Lee, who was traded to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

He'll have big stats to live up to this season, having earned 50 points in his 60 games played, managing 28 goals and 22 assists.
2. Linaker focused on winning
(St. Albert Gazette)

Okay, now we can get on to probably the most informative and comprehensive thing written about a PSU recruit to this point - and it's one of our best, Reed Linaker. He's poised to break almost every St. Albert Steel scoring record, provided he stays healthy, which has been an issue in the past. Here's the big Penn State quote from the article.
“It was pretty much talk to me and sell me it. They offered me a scholarship right way so it was kind of hard not to say no,” said Linaker, who will check out the Penn State campus for the first time in early September. “I had some serious talks with Wisconsin, but I figure going to Penn State would be a pretty cool experience. Obviously I can put my own stamp on the program and maybe be the face of the program with some hard work over the next few years. If I work hard, I have the opportunity to be a go-to guy there, so I love that.”
Oh, and there's this: Linaker has a well-regarded, hockey-playing younger brother, Cole. If PSU wants to get serious with the 1995 birth year, they'll have to keep him away from the WHL's Kelowna Rockets, who own his draft rights (6th round, 2010). But maybe the shot at playing a couple years with his brother turns the tide, who knows.

1. Meet Assistant Coach Keith Fisher
Meet Assistant Coach Matt Lindsay
Meet Director of Hockey Operations Bill Downey

GoPSUSports has come up with literally five men's hockey articles and one video since the aftermath of Guy Gadowsky's hiring. Three of the articles were announcements - the hirings of the three subjects of these videos, and the Scott Balboni resignation. Another was an admonishment concerning NCAA rules.

So it's nice to finally get some fresh content beyond what's absolutely necessary from the official site, even if it's just 9:28 spread over three interviews. Steve Penstone, incidentally, spent 5:45 with Downey alone, scooped the people who hand out the access by nearly two months, and asked questions that demonstrated knowledge of the subject (the best moment of the three videos was the completely serious "what brings you to Penn State" inquiry at the beginning of the Downey interview).

Why Fisher at the top? Why not?

Best of the Rest

O'Handley pleased after Black Hawks camp

One more recruit-related article, this one on 2013 goalie Eamon McAdam's team. Waterloo's USHL entry just completed an orientation camp, and reading between the lines, it doesn't sound like the goalies did too well. Here's head coach/general manager P.K. O'Handley to explain that one.
"As far as the goalies, I liken the goalie position at this time of the year to maybe a golfer who has had the winter off. Now all of a sudden you are thrown into a competitive environment and you're going to struggle from time to time.

"We're going to score because we have more skill. I wouldn't read too much into all the goals we allowed this week. I'm certainly not. We did not put in any form any kind of team defense. It was fairly wide-open out there.

"Plus, I don't think these guys were ready for [former Black Hawk and UMass Minuteman and current Worcester Shark] James Marcou [who participated in the camp] to be barrelling down on them."

Waterloo figures to carry veterans Jay Williams and Eamon McAdam as its top two goalies this year, but Petersen, the Waterloo native, also will factor in when he arrives back.
Big movements on campus
(Pennsylvania Puck)

A new site, Pennsylvania Puck (papuck.com), takes its shot at summarizing PSU's DI program to this point.

The site is launching in the fall, although it's obviously posting articles and it has a pretty active Twitter account (not to mention a pretty flexible definition of "launch"). Semantics aside, I'm intrigued. If it's done right, with a good deal of focus on minor, college and junior hockey, I think it could be a fantastic addition to the internet.

Indians ready for another winter of Snow Days

Fenway may host UMaine hockey
(Portland Press Herald)

Penn State and Neumann continue to work on the proposed game at Citizens Bank Park, but six other schools are set (or at least reportedly set) to play outdoor games at other baseball stadiums. Michigan-Ohio State at Cleveland's Progressive Field is finally official for January 15th. Eight days prior, a doubleheader of New Hampshire-Maine and Vermont-UMass is everything-but-official for Fenway Park.

Is Joe Paterno Influencing the Climate?
I could not run the same study on Joe Battista's hockey teams when he was coaching cause they never had any down years, show-off that he was.
Yeah, Joe Battista was kind of okay.


Tim Carr's mask continues to just crush it.

2011-2012 Women's Ice Hockey Tickets

Getting into the Lady Icers' season opener at Robert Morris on September 23rd will cost most people $7. If you're in the Pittsburgh area, or even if you're not, get to it.

DII Penn State Plucks DI Assistant to Fill Head Coach Slot(hockeyyall.com)

Because it's a quiet week, I'll pass around this Josh Hand piece one more time. By the way, the origin of the link is truly one of the best college hockey sites out there. It's specific to non-varsity hockey in the south, but since the Ice Lions are actually in the Southeast Region of ACHA D2...basically, it works out quite well for us.

Curtis Carr was once one of the ACHA's most dynamic players at Kent State. Now he's rapidly rising through the coaching ranks.

Carr joins coaching staff at Merrimack College

As a general rule, I only give coaching moves involving the Big Ten or CHA a mention here, but I'm definitely willing to make an exception when an ACHA guy quickly moves up the ladder. Carr was a former player (1999-2003) at Kent State, then moved into coaching with the Golden Flashes as an assistant (2003-2004) and head (2004-2006) coach.

Probably as much as any individual, Carr was responsible for KSU's rise from the waste left over from their failed NCAA program - the Icers beat them 65-5 over the first six meetings after the loss of varsity status in 1994, through the 1998-1999 season - into a respectable ACHA entry with two nationals appearances as a player and one more as a head coach.

Since leaving his alma mater, Carr had been with the Youngstown Phantoms for five seasons, rising from an assistant coach with personnel and development responsibilities to head coach and general manager during the 2010-2011 season. Notably, he helped the Phantoms move from their previous home in the Tier II NAHL to the Tier I USHL in 2009. Now he's an assistant with an on-the-rise Hockey East program that went 25-10-4 and made the NCAA tournament last season. Not a terrible career track.

N. Dakota ready to drop Fighting Sioux

I routinely take jabs at NoDak, but regardless of the circumstances or your opinion of them, you have to feel for the vast majority of Sioux fans who are obviously passionate and well-intentioned (basically, meaning that they like the nickname but aren't racists). I really don't know how I'd react if "Nittany Lions" was suddenly - or not so suddenly, since this has been going on for a couple years, after all - ripped from PSU.

That said, if the Sioux people were of one mind and approving of the nickname, this is never an issue. Miami somehow survived without "Redskins," and UND will be fine as well.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Laurenzi Becomes First 2012 Women's Recruit

If following men's hockey recruiting is hard, doing the same on the women's side is close to impossible - an ambiguous mash of luck and close attention. Therefore, it's with plenty of excitement and a healthy dose of surprise that I'm able to introduce the first known member of the women's recruiting class of 2012, Emily Laurenzi. Laurenzi popped on to the TYT radar thanks to a Facebook announcement from the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, NY, her current address.

Emily Laurenzi

National Sports Academy (Prep)
5'5", 125 pounds
Townsend, DE
DOB 1993

NSA girls' hockey page

Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM

2010-11  Nat'l Sports Academy   Prep   72   15   72   87   68

Last season, NSA, a prep school for winter sports athletes and nicknamed the Mountaineers, finished 12-13-2 and third in the Junior Women's Hockey League's Major Junior East Division. Laurenzi's contributions included her 20 points in JWHL league games (on three goals and 17 assists), good for second on the team behind Beth Hanrahan, who will be playing at Providence this fall. Her 87 points over the full NSA schedule were third behind Hanrahan and Brown-bound Brittany Moorehead.

The Mountaineers and Laurenzi both finished the JWHL season strong - she with ten points over the final six games of the season (including three assists in the finale against the Minnesota Thoroughbreds, the team with a 5-1-0 record in those games. That run carried over into the JWHL playoffs, where NSA upset Balmoral Hall and the Thoroughbreds to make the semifinals before falling to eventual champion North American Hockey Academy.

It was a second consecutive third-place division finish for the Mountaineers on the heels of 2009-2010's 13-10-3 JWHL mark.

In addition to the JWHL schedule, Laurenzi and her NSA teammates (obviously, considering the large discrepancy in the number of games) play in their share of tournaments and showcases. One such event is the Tier I U19 New York Girls State Ice Hockey Championships. After a second-place finish in 2009, the Mountaineers dominated their way to the 2010 title (outscoring opponents 40-4 and outshooting them 304-71). Laurenzi was fantastic in the subsequent USA Hockey National Championships, scoring six points in four games. NSA fell back to second place in this year's tournament, missing out on nationals.

Laurenzi comes with her share of honors, including a selection to the 2009 USA Hockey Select 16 Camp, and another one year later to the 2010 USA Hockey Select 17s. She was chosen by the JWHL coaches for the league's all-star game this past season, and was the East Division player of the week for February 11-13. Two years ago Laurenzi won the NSA's Community Service Award for the class of 2012, and she is also an honor student.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Breakout Past: A Plea For Hockey

One of my favorite things about reading The Daily Collegian has always been the slap-fights that perpetually take place in the opinion pages across several days, or even weeks, primarily using the letters to the editor. It's a little like reading most message boards, except everything - the vitriol, the ad hominem attacks, the occasionally baseless and always emotional arguments - plays out slowly. It's a perfect setup that aids one in avoiding a tap-out point that inevitably comes within five minutes on a message board, while still allowing one to follow each drama to its conclusion. And as soon as that Marcellus Shale beef plays itself out, the next one, perhaps regarding tuition or State Patty's Day, is right around the corner.

It warmed my heart to learn that this is not a recent phenomenon. It is, in fact, at least 100 years old. Witness the following item in the December 7, 1911 Penn State Collegian, which argues that hockey should be made a varsity sport.

I suppose it becomes slightly dated when it jumps to "we can't beat the big schools in football or baseball, maybe we'll have better luck elsewhere" pretty quickly, but all in all, sound points were made. Hockey's a great sport, a growing college needs an athletic program to match, and hockey brings the unique ability to raise revenue between games through charging others to skate. In fact, it doesn't sound all that much different from an argument one might have made in 2009: hockey's a great sport, a big university should include it in its athletic program, and it could be a revenue producer in part because of the large interest in renting a new facility for different purposes.

Regardless, here comes P. Edwin Thomas with the 1911 version of "you're an idiot" one week later.

So basically, we should get hockey at about the same time basketball, track and tennis go undefeated like football and pay for themselves like wrestling (which does so of course because it is "vastly interesting," as opposed to hockey, which apparently is not). Still, it too bears similarity to a 2009 argument against hockey, which might have gone along the lines of "let's make basketball not suck before we worry about hockey, and besides, how are you going to pay for all of this?"

Thomas, in the end, was right. There was no adequate place to play the game (he could have just stopped there), and it took until 1981 and the completion of the Ice Pavilion to finally have a stable facility. This exchange of letters represented the last gasp for the earliest push for hockey, highlighted by PSU's first two intercollegiate games in 1909 at Pittsburgh's Duquesne Gardens. Penn State's next intercollegiate game would also be at Duquesne Gardens, but not for another 28 years.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coming to America One

Amidst all of the recent discussion of men's college hockey television rights, one deal has been reached that will allow for unprecedented access to Penn State's women's program - including the ability to watch all home games and conference away games.

College Hockey America and America One have announced a three-year partnership to show every game of the league’s regular and post season on the revolutionary broadband broadcasting network. All College Hockey America home games will be seen starting with the 2011-12 regular season and throughout the playoffs.

“This is a great opportunity for College Hockey America and its members,” states Bob DeGregorio, Commissioner of College Hockey America. “We are excited to show fans, family, alumni and current students at our member institutions the game of women’s ice hockey. It is a great game and if fans, family and alumni cannot be in the arena, this gives them another avenue to be a part of their institutions program.”

“This the first regular season conference-wide broadcasting agreement for women’s ice hockey and America ONE is honored to be the broadcast solution,” said Preston Bornman. “With our ONE Vision Plus player, College Hockey America’s parents, fans and alumni can enjoy all the live and archived games online and in high-quality.”

Fans will be able to watch all College Hockey America home games on their home computer via the new ONE Vision Plus Video Player. This player provides fans the ability to switch from live game to live game, as well have video on demand access to archived games for one price. The pricing for the 2011-12 season is as follows. A day pass, which includes going back and watching games from the previous 24 hours is $8.00. A monthly pass is $30.00, while a full-season’s pass is $120.00. The purchase of a season pass gives the fan an opportunity to go back and watch every College Hockey America conference games and home non-conference games played from the start of the season.

Three years, of course, means two years where PSU is a likely CHA member. With no Big Ten women's hockey in the immediate future, Big Ten Network's involvement with the women's game will probably remain pretty minimal, underscoring the importance of this agreement. While pay-per-view webcasts aren't necessarily ideal, they're roughly infinity times better than the Lady Icers' present broadcast arrangement and should be tremendous for fans (not to mention TYT's coverage).

One other quick and unrelated CHA observation, although not one that qualifies as news just yet. Lindenwood has released its 2011-2012 schedule, and it contains ten CHA games - just two fewer than full conference members, and including the full allotment against conference members Robert Morris and Mercyhurst. Numerous scenarios to re-populate the current four-team league have been kicked around, including one where Ohio State moves from the WCHA to CHA with Lindenwood sliding into the empty WCHA slot. But the schedules indicate a slightly different story. Could the Lady Lions be trying out for CHA membership starting in 2013-2014 when full NCAA membership is anticipated following a two-season provisional period?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Can I get an upgrade?

The Icers announced late Monday night that the home-and-home series against Lebanon Valley College, scheduled for February 17th and 18th, 2012, has been cancelled. In its place are two new home games, one against Duquesne on the 17th and the other against Kent State a week later on the 24th (that following weekend had previously been tagged as "TBD" on the Icers website).

While the idea of a possible trip to Hersheypark Arena was exciting, it's probably just as well that the rapidly-becoming-unglued LVC program was jettisoned. Some background on the Dutchmen: they made the NCAA Division III tournament in 2001, but dropped to non-varsity status following back-to-back winless seasons from 2008-2010. In their first ACHA Division 1 season last year, LVC went 21-6-0 - although their schedule included a healthy dose of D2 schools and not a single team that played in the D1 national tournament last year. The Dutchmen are also working on their fourth coach in roughly a year and a half, a sure sign of turmoil within an organization. Don Parsons was hired last month, replacing Tony Horacek (who resigned in April), who himself replaced Brandon Herr, who filled in following the January 2010 resignation of Ted Russell.

So it's probably a fair statement that the two new opponents represent a slightly stiffer challenge. The Dukes and Golden Flashes have a combined eight appearances at the ACHA National Tournament since 2005, although neither made it to Delaware last season.

Still, it seems like there was an opportunity lost in this transaction, namely a shot at a pair of NCAA Division I games. While most programs are pretty well locked as far as dates and the game limit at this juncture (and certainly not willing to drastically shake things up to play what's still an ACHA program), there is one notable exception. Yep, I'm talking about Alabama-Huntsville, DI's only independent. Not only are the Chargers under 34 games, but they have the February 17th-18th weekend off. I'm willing to wager that cash-strapped UAH would turn down two home games at about the same time TYT turns down inclusion in Black Shoe Diaries' Success with Hyperlinking.

From a Penn State perspective, yes, it involves a lengthy road trip during a time of year when the plan wasn't to go any further than Hershey. But at the same time, it's a ready-made opportunity to beef up a schedule that's drawn heavy criticism (as unjustified as it may be) and to dip our toes into DI just before making it official. Giving a helping hand to college hockey's cause celebre would also win back some goodwill from those who blame PSU for evils in the world ranging from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference to the U.S.'s AA+ credit rating.

To be fair, I'm not privy to any of the talks that may have taken place, and I'm sure there's a roadblock I haven't considered.

In any case, the LVC for Duquesne and Kent State swap becomes the latest in a string of changes since the initial schedule was announced in early April. The Neumann game on November 4th was moved to January 4th, possibly so that it can be played on the Winter Classic ice at Citizens Bank Park. The first half of the Oklahoma trip, January 4th at Central Oklahoma and January 5th at Oklahoma, was cancelled to accommodate the Neumann game. More recently, the November 10th game at West Chester and December 16th home game against Niagara were wiped off the schedule with no replacement games likely.

Here's the full schedule, as it now stands.

7 vs. Washington & Jefferson, 7:00 p.m.
14 @ Illinois, 8:30 p.m.
15 @ Illinois, 8:30 p.m.
21 vs. Ohio, 7:00 p.m.
22 vs. Ohio, 3:30 p.m.
28 @ Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
29 @ Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.

5 vs. SUNY-Fredonia (NCAA DIII), 7:00 p.m.
6 vs. Pittsburgh, 1:00 p.m.
11 vs. West Chester, 7:00 p.m.
18 @ Delaware, 7:00 p.m.
19 vs. Delaware, 8:00 p.m.

2 vs. Rutgers, 7:00 p.m.
3 vs. Rutgers, 3:30 p.m.
9 @ Liberty, 7:30 p.m.
10 @ Liberty, 4:00 p.m.

4 @ Neumann (NCAA DIII), TBD
6 @ Central Oklahoma, 8:30 p.m.
7 @ Oklahoma, 5:00 p.m.
13 vs. Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
14 vs. Rhode Island, 3:30 p.m.
20 vs. West Virginia, 7:00 p.m.
21 vs. West Virginia, 3:30 p.m.
27 @ Ohio, 7:00 p.m.
28 @ Ohio, 7:00 p.m.

3 vs. Oklahoma, 7:00 p.m.
4 vs. Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m.
10 vs. Mercyhurst, 7:00 p.m.
11 vs. Mercyhurst, 3:30 p.m.
17 vs. Duquesne, 7:00 p.m.
24 vs. Kent State, 7:00 p.m.

3-7 @ ACHA National Tournament - Strongsville, OH

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Coach in Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

HockeyYall.com, which covers southern-based ACHA organizations, is reporting that assistant coach Josh Hand - whose position with the program had been in limbo for months - has been retained on Guy Gadowsky's staff as a goaltending coach. In addition, he will serve as the head coach of Penn State's ACHA Division 2 squad.

Hand joined Scott Balboni's Icers staff for the 2010-2011 season, where his broad responsibilities included recruiting, video analysis and practice development. He also took over head coaching duties while Balboni was in Turkey for the World University Games. The Reading-area native guided the Icers to a 4-1-1 record during that period, including a split at Delaware and a three-point home weekend against Rhode Island - a stretch that more or less ensured that PSU made the ACHA National Tournament for an unmatched 20th straight year. As the season wore on, it also appeared as if he superseded the head coach (who resigned May 27th) as the team's media spokesperson. A quick survey of Steve Penstone's blog shows seven 2011 in-season interviews with Hand, compared with zero for Balboni.

Hand played an integral role in recruiting a large portion of the 2011 class, no minor feat considering the uncertain identity of the coaching staff at the time most committed - including doubt whether Hand would even be a part of it. Those fears (yes "fears," I'm an unapologetic fan) are now passe, obviously.

His new responsibilities include coaching up returning goalies Matt Madrazo and Dan Ivanir (who combined for 13 wins and a 2.48 goals against average last season) as well as incoming recruits Tim Carr and P.J. Musico.

Penn State's D2 job had been open since early April, when Ryan Behnken departed for the head coach position with the Philadelphia Revolution's Tier III Jr. B Continental Hockey Association team after just one season. The Ice Lions were 15-8-5 last season and advanced to the finals of the regional tournament before falling to perennial D2 power UMBC. Behnken did predict big things for Hand upon leaving, even if he didn't know who his successor would be at the time. Presumably, he did know that the team will have as many as 26 returning players, plus the possibility of adding D1-caliber players who don't make the D1 team this season due to the unique circumstances in play right now.
“Next year’s team looks like it will be very strong. Whoever gets to coach the team will be really lucky.”
Hand explained a little about his strategy for the Ice Lions to HockeyYall.com.
While Hand said he will coach to his players’ abilities and experience, he favors an uptempo game. “I think we’ll be very good. We’ll push the guys and an uptempo style of hockey.

“I think I bring a lot of experience from playing and being part of the DI team here. My hope is for us to be back where we were . . . And any coach’s goal is to win a national championship.”

Hand, who will conduct a training camp after the DI [Icers] hold theirs, is still in the process of building his team’s schedule.
Before coming to the Icers, Hand lived a typically-nomadic hockey life, including playing stops with the Atlantic Junior Hockey League's prestigious Boston Bulldogs organization (whose alumni include Icers Eric Steinour and Creek Lewis) and as a four-year goalie at NCAA Division III Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Following graduation in 2008, he relocated to College Station, TX where he served as an assistant with Texas A&M's ACHA Division 2 program and as director of hockey at the Arctic Wolf Ice Center. Despite a brief history in a non-traditional area, the Aggies finished No. 10 in the West Region and made the regional playoffs for the first time ever in 2008-2009.

Ack to School

Westminster School (Simsbury, CT) head coach Tim Joncas has confirmed to TYT that forward Tim Acker will be joining Penn State hockey this fall.

Tim Acker

Westminster School (Prep)
6'0", 188 pounds
Apex, NC
DOB 3/7/1992

Westminster School boys' hockey page

Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM

2008-09  Westminster School     Prep   --    0    5    5   --
2009-10  Westminster School     Prep   --    4    5    9   --
2010-11  Westminster School     Prep   28    9   19   28   --

Last season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Westminster, as their top six scorers departed. However, Joncas retooled around a team-oriented defensive style, and as you can see Acker was one of a group of guys who stepped up his productivity in a big way. The result? Westminster actually improved their record to 22-6-2. That wasn't all.

In December, Westminster won the prestigious Flood-Marr championship, with Acker garnering all-tournament team honors thanks to a four-point weekend. A January slump (5-4-1 during the month) kept the Martlets from the open (overall) New England prep tournament. From the blog Westminster All The Way:
According to [freshman forward] Tristan [Rai] they were far from satisfied. They knew they had a team that could win the entire Elite 8, but did not get it done earlier in the season.
Westminster bounced back though, winning nine of its last ten regular season games. In March, Acker and his teammates finished the surge with the large-school prep championship in the Martin-Earl tourney. In the final against Governor's Academy, Acker contributed a goal and an assist - not to mention a touch of versatility according to Joncas.

"He is a big strong forward who can play either the middle or wing," he said. "He skates very well, using his size to his advantage and has a knack for scoring timely goals."

One other season highlight for Westminster was playing in an outdoor game at East Hartford's Rentschler Field in February as part of the inaugural Whalers Hockey Fest. The Martlets beat Choate Rosemary Hall 3-2 on February 12th, which I suppose makes Acker Penn State's Ty Conklin, should the Citizens Bank Park game take place (Conklin started in the first three NHL regular season outdoor games, the 2003 Heritage Classic as well as the 2008 and 2009 Winter Classics).

Joncas calls Acker a "quiet, confident kid" and says he was a mainstay on both the power play and penalty kill units. "We will miss Timmy a lot not just for his ability on the ice but also for the kind of person he is," he added.

Westminster has already produced one North Carolina native who's done okay at hockey - Ben Smith, now a Chicago Blackhawk, but in 2010 the most outstanding player of the Frozen Four with Boston College. In fact, BC defenseman Tommy Cross made it two former Martlet players on the champs of two years ago (Cross will also serve as the Eagles' captain this year). From last year's Westminster team, blueliner Jake Bolton is bound for Holy Cross in 2012, while goalie Patrick Spano is headed to Yale in 2013.

Three Stars: August 1-7

3. Hey Hockey Valley, Get Ready to 'Roar into the Future!'

Joe Battista gets his pump on with glowing words about Guy Gadowsky, Josh Brandwene, the four assistants on their respective staffs, Bill Downey, the new men's hockey SID and pretty much anyone else he could fit into a column of reasonable length. He's thrilled to get to the future, and why shouldn't he be with the people we have around both programs?

Clearly though, Battista's not an avid reader. If this blog leaves one lasting contribution to Penn State hockey, let it be the torpedoing of the 1946 myth.

One more thing: here's a challenge. Find someone saying something bad about Gadowsky on the internet. I bet you can't, and that says a lot in this day and age. My Google Alert (which sends Google hits to my email and has certainly helped with a post or two) reads "Guy Gadowsky," not "Guy Gadowsky + rad + bodacious" and I have yet to see anything.

My, how things have changed since the early 90s.

The closest thing has been a Twitter argument where the other side believed Mark Johnson would've been a better hire. And it's not like the other side said anything bad about Gadowsky, so...doesn't count.

2. Q&A: Men's hockey coach ready to start // Hockey gift endows goaltender, names coach's office // Former Icer Brandwene picked to lead women's ice hockey
(Nittany Lion Club Newsletter)

Admittedly, I didn't get around to reading the summer issue of the NLC Newsletter until this week, so it came as a little bit of a shock when I found three topical articles contained within. They probably don't include much you haven't read before (particularly the last two, on the John and Karen Davis donation and the Josh Brandwene hire, which borrow heavily from the original press releases), but hey, let me know if you find something that covers tons of new ground in August.

1. 2011 season preview: Looking at the CHA (Part 1 of 2)

Part 2 was promised "tomorrow," and "tomorrow" was last Wednesday, so you'll just have to survive on Part 1 for now. Anyway, get to know (half of) our future women's conference a year earlier than you need to. You'll thank me later. And actually, it may come in handy before the 2012-2013 season, since the Lady Icers open this season's ambitious schedule September 23rd at Robert Morris.

Best of the Rest

Well-rounded forward chooses PSU
(Lions 247)

Your money quote, from subject of the article Kenny Brooks:
“At first we’re all going to be young guys, so we all are going to have to work hard. But by the time I leave, I expect us to be competing with all of the top schools in the Big Ten and nationally as well. Hopefully we will be from the start, you can never really tell, and with the great coaching staff in place you never know what they can do.”
Winter Classic week full of possibilities
(Camden Courier-Post)

Fresh non-committal words concerning the in-negotiation outdoor game January 4th against NCAA Division III Neumann University, summarized nicely by:
Flyers president Peter Luukko, the driving force behind Philadelphia's bid for the Winter Classic, confirmed Tuesday night that games featuring the American Hockey League's Adirondack Phantoms and Penn State University men's hockey team are in the works.

"Those are both very good possibilities,' " Luukko said, adding, "There is a cost associated with keeping (the rink) up a couple days."
I'm equally excited for the idea of Holland Oates performing at the Winter Classic. As long as Peter Gabriel is there too (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia reference).

Compton Family Ice Arena

Notre Dame's page containing all things related to their in-progress facility. Including a live look at the construction. Not bad, guys.

Huskies add to coaching staff
(St. Cloud Times)

Another week, another unemployed former Head Coach Candidate finds work. This time, it's former Wayne State women's boss Jim Fetter, who rudely had his program cancelled out from under him in May.

CCHA, WCHA talk merger
(Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune)

Remember that thing everyone assumed wouldn't happen? Yeah, well it might.

Even with this news, it's still pretty easy to see the finish line:
  • Notre Dame will pick a conference - most likely the NCHC or Hockey East - by August 15th (reinforced in the article). Western Michigan will beg to be allowed to join, citing the Andy Murray hire and undoubtedly a Powerpoint presentation.
  • The CCHA and WCHA schools not locked into the Big Ten, the NCHC or wherever ND and WMU go will merge into one conference.
  • Or they won't. The WCHA, which has already poached Northern Michigan from the CCHA and is eyeing Alaska as well, would be good to go with at least six teams, possibly adding potential new program Minnesota State-Moorhead later, should MSUM get paid.
  • The CCHA would need to add the Four for 18 club (Mercyhurst, Canisius, Niagara, Robert Morris) from Atlantic Hockey to survive without a merger. Yeah, I just made that up. Fear me.
  • In non-merger scenario, AHA would still have eight teams and wouldn't need to do anything.
  • Alabama-Huntsville remains completely screwed.

Versus Nears Deal to Televise College Hockey
(College Hockey News)

Apparently, Western Michigan is the only entity waiting on Notre Dame.
The Versus package will not be a national deal, per se. It was not negotiated with College Hockey Inc. or the Hockey Commissioners Association. That is impossible given all of the deals conferences have separate Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) and teams have with other local channels.

But Versus is intending to reach agreement with all five current Division I leagues to air games on Friday or Saturday nights. Some of those deals have already been finalized. Versus is expected to make an announcement of its broadcast package once all of the deals have been completed.
Oh Pegula

Yes, someone really wrote a poem about Terry Pegula. I didn't make it very far before I got embarrassed for the guy (the author, not Pegula) and stopped.

Who's the loser in the middle not wearing a cartoon animal costume?

Rescheduling of 'Furry' convention in Pittsburgh points to Penguins hosting 2012 NHL Draft
(The Hockey News)

THN's Ryan Kennedy observed that the rescheduling of an event at Pittsburgh's convention center might mean that the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is coming to the Consol Energy Center. As exciting as the idea of the first Penn State draft pick possibly hearing his name called in Pennsylvania is, for now the more interesting story is what was moved.
The city required the use of its convention center, which had already been booked for June 21 to 24 by Anthrocon, an annual gathering of Furries.
Anthrocon...is for people who enjoy dressing up in mascot-style costumes, emulating animals.
Oh, okay. Well, at least Anthrocon was bumped up instead of back. So your teddy bear collection is presumably safe from overanxious plushophiles (not that far of a reach, people).

2011 Junior Evaluation Camp Central

I'm not going to go huge on the World Junior Championships until actual Penn Staters are involved. For now, the essential knowledge is that 28 current or committed college players are presently among the 44 total at the USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp as they attempt to make the USA U20 team for the 2012 WJC tournament - held December 26, 2011 through January 5, 2012. The Big Ten is represented by Jon Merrill (Michigan), Nick Bjugstad and Justin Holl (Minnesota) and Mike Mersch (Wisconsin). Also of note: PSU coaching finalist Scott Sandelin is an assistant on the WJC team. Follow along with the camp and related exhibition games (all of which runs through the 13th) at the link.