Monday, October 31, 2011

Three Stars: October 24-30

3. Ice arena, chiller plant clear borough review
(Centre Daily Times)

Your latest Pegula Ice Arena mundane planning details: bike racks, walkways to the field hockey venue, more trees in front (but not too many, because that defeats the purpose of having a giant glass wall there).

2. Lady Icer Elizabeth Denis works toward graduate degree
(Daily Collegian)

The bar has officially been set for the Collegian's hockey coverage this year with this piece. Meet Elizabeth Denis and her unique backstory, which of course includes experience playing at Brown - but also work on a Ph.D. in geosciences (and PSU has the third-ranked geoscience program in the country, who knew?).

1. Icers' Olczyk finds a home at Penn State
(Pennsylvania Puck)

I never wore Penn State gear as an undergrad, except to football and hockey games - one of my favorite items was a Cleveland State lid. Tommy Olczyk would not be pleased.

Best of the Rest

Ice Lions Sweep Their Weekend Road Trip

This video, with T.J. Laessig and Mac Winchester, recaps the Ice Lions' three wins at Monmouth, Rider and St. Joseph's two weekends ago, with highlights. They kept it rolling by flattening Indiana (PA) 13-2 on Saturday night and have pumped their record up to 9-2-0. With the first D2 ranking coming out this week, they'll undoubtedly be near the top of the Southeast Region.

The Ice Lions are the only PSU hockey team playing a home game on Friday, at 7:05 p.m. against Virginia Tech, and they'll have live music at the game (State College band The Insomniacs). Also, you can just stick around at the Ice Pavilion after the Icers-Fredonia game Saturday to see the back end of the series with the Hokies. No excuses.

Draft site Pittsburgh becomes hockey hotbed
(USA Today)

Yes, the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was officially announced for Pittsburgh. I'm not sure why everyone freaked out about it, considering it was more or less in "the Winter Classic is going to be in Philly, we're just waiting for an announcement" stage for a couple months, ever since they moved the Furries convention. So instead of a standard news article, here's one about the growth of hockey in Pittsburgh.

Hopefully, we'll see the first PSU draft pick ever in Pittsburgh. That would be pretty cool. Step it up, Mark Yanis.


Captioned "there's no such thing as a game face" by Cara Mendelson (right), this is now my official picture for any time she or Tess Weaver (left) does something in a game. Which should be quite frequently, because neither of them suck at this hockey thing. Weaver (@twea36) is also on Twitter, by the way, joining Mendelson as one of the team's most prolific tweeters.

Puck Rock: Guy Gadowsky
(Pennsylvania Puck)

Coach seems almost apologetic about his taste in music, but he shouldn't be. I'm closer to his players' ages than to his, and I'm declaring him winner in a head-to-head Puck Rock showdown with Justin Kirchhevel.

(Without a Peer)

Why give a ton of links to UAH posts when Without a Peer has already done the dirty work (including mine, yay!) and chipped in their own? There has been a boatload of great stuff coming from all over college hockey, but this has to rank among the best. Man, I wish I could write like them.

What killed NCAA Div. I hockey at Alabama-Huntsville?
(Puck Daddy)

The most famous of hockey blogs takes its own run at UAH and ends up with this quote from booster Nathan Bowen:

"The indignant administration, the financial burdens, the lack of a conference home and a lack of rabid enthusiasm from fans and students … all of it contributed to the end of UAH's Div. I program." - Shop

Can't think of the proper way to mourn? I have one idea.

CHL vs. NCAA: The Public Pursuit of an American Top Prospect
(The United States of Hockey)

Here's some fascinating insight concerning the battle between North Dakota and the OHL Windsor Spitfires over Jordan Schmaltz, a likely 2012 first-rounder in the NHL Entry Draft, who is now playing with PSU commit Matt Skoff in Sioux City of the USHL. The Spits have taken to the papers in pursuit of the Wisconsin-native defenseman, basically laying out the laundry list of CHL arguments ("we're better at preparing NHL players, you won't get a degree anyway, blah, blah, blah....").

Although I generally have very little regard for the CHL, it wouldn't trouble me too much if they won this one. I don't like North Dakota.

Big programs at Michigan State, Ohio State in big transitions

A solid look at the unique tribulations of two of our soon-to-be conference rivals.

Lindenwood women's hockey team is suffering growing pains

Speaking of transitions, I've been keeping some fraction of one of my eyes on how the Lindenwood women are doing in their first season of DI. The logic there, obviously, is that it might provide some sort of road map for what to expect from our women's team, or even our men's team. Let's hope not. The Lady Lions now stand (sit?) at 0-10-0 on the year, have only been within five goals once, and are coming off of a weekend sweep by CHA power Mercyhurst by a combined 21-1 score.

What's the biggest challenge in the move to DI, head coach Vince O'Mara?

"The biggest challenge that we're facing is not that we have 14 freshmen but that we have no one who has been there, done that...seeing the kids not have an upperclassman they can lean on or say to them, 'This is what it takes' makes you realize how important experience is."
Delany: No Big Ten expansion talk with Notre Dame, others
(Chicago Tribune)

Right after saying that the Big Ten hasn't had "active" discussions with Notre Dame since the 1990s, the Big Ten's bureaucrat-in-chief seemed to hint that he would have relaxed the Big Ten's no-affiliate-members rule for Irish hockey.

"I had a discussion with (Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick) on hockey probably about three months ago, and I had another discussion with Jack on football and basketball scheduling issues that our conference was looking at. But on the issue of expansion -- no. And have not, for years, really."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

M: Penn State 4 at Rhode Island 2

The top-ranked and 7-0-0 Icers completed a gritty sweep over Rhode Island with a 4-2 win on Saturday. Although Bryce Johnson, Michael Longo, Jake Friedman and Taylor Holstom scored and twelve Penn Staters in all registered a point, the true star of the game was PSU's penalty kill. The Rams were 0-for-7 on the power play, including an empty 5:41 stretch late in the third period, 1:38 of which was a two-man URI advantage. Penn State needed every ounce of that effort to overcome notorious Icers killer David Macalino's pair of goals.

PSU is back at the Ice Pavilion Saturday, November 5th at 7:00 p.m. against NCAA Division III SUNY-Fredonia.

W: Penn State 7 vs. California (PA) 0

In the buildup to their game against the California University (PA) Vulcans Friday night at the Ice Pavilion, here's what some of the Lady Icers' personnel had to say.
"All I am focused on is us and us becoming the best hockey team we can be" - Head Coach Josh Brandwene

"As long as you keep improving, that is all that matters. You may beat the team or you may lose." - junior forward Katharine Gausseres

“We are more worried about how we can play as a team rather than who our opponent is." - freshman forward Tess Weaver
The team's mantra of only being concerned with itself seemed appropriate following a game where PSU might as well have been the only team on the ice - a 7-0 romp over the Vulcans in a successful return home and to ACHA competition.

The Lady Icers (3-3-0) took advantage of a return home and a return to ACHA competition by pounding the California University Vulcans 7-0 at the Ice Pavilion Friday night.

Indisputably, the star of this tilt was senior forward Sara Chroman, who had a hand in the first five goals of the game. Her salvo began on PSU's only power play opportunity of the game and continued through a pair of early second period tallies. Unsatisfied with the natural hat trick, she set up Kate Christoffersen late in the middle frame, then polished off her evening with a fourth goal early in the third. Brandwene was clearly pleased.

I'm no soon-to-be-DI hockey coach, but I do know that constant motion is a good thing in a hockey game.

Cara Mendelson and Elizabeth Denis (who also had two assists and a tremendous write-up in the Collegian this week) rounded out the scoring, while Madison Smiddy added a pair of assists. Denise Rohlik, Chelly Deiling, Allie Rothman, Katie Murphy and Weaver added solo helpers.

In contrast to last weekend, Katie Vaughan had a light workload, saving all 13 she faced before being lifted in the third to get Mary Tonetti some work.

Penn State will now plow back into NCAA Division III ECAC West competition with two games at Chatham November 4th and 5th. They'll have a nice measuring stick for that game ahead of time, as California will attempt to bounce back from the Friday's drubbing quickly with games against the Cougars Saturday and Sunday. The Lady Icers and Vulcans can then compare notes on Chatham if they so choose when they meet up again on November 11th.

Friday, October 28, 2011

M: Penn State 6 at Rhode Island 2

Chris Cerutti made his triumphant return to the lineup with a power play goal - and some prime minutes on the top scoring line after an apparent injury to Tommy Olczyk - in a solid Icers victory at the Brad Boss Ice Arena. Before leaving the game, Olczyk scored twice to bring his team-leading goals total to eight, and Eric Steinour (one goal), Kurt Collins (one goal, one assist) and George Saad (two assists) continued to provide fantastic play at both ends. Tim Carr got the win in his first start of the season.

The same two teams will get back after it tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. As usual, Steve Penstone will have the call on UStream and 3WZ.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Badger Mushroom Spartan

The Daily Collegian is reporting that some scheduling details that Joe Battista all but confirmed in a radio interview last week are now official: Penn State has agreed to play Wisconsin and Michigan State next year. Dates and locations were not disclosed, although it's a pretty safe bet that the Wisconsin games are at the Kohl Center, considering the Wisconsin media first reported this series last November. The Michigan State series, likewise, will probably be at Munn Ice Arena, although I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for neutral site games at some facility in Pennsylvania larger than the Ice Pavilion.

There's more.

The Icers will face 20 or 22 NCAA Division I opponents, and as of now Battista said Penn State has too many tentative verbal commitments. However, director of hockey operations Bill Downey said they are now under 34 games, the maximum number allowed by the NCAA during the regular season.
This is another thing Battista mentioned in that radio interview, which is now also confirmed: PSU will not play a full Division I schedule next year, and in fact has to back out of some verbal agreements to get down to an acceptable number of DI games. I thought/hoped we were past the "halfway" approach, but apparently not. Battista made it clear that this isn't an Alabama-Huntsville situation where we're struggling to fill out a schedule, it's a choice. I'll spare the full rant for when the non-DI games are announced if it's still appropriate, but suffice it to say that I'm not a fan of the approach.

Remember that mention of playing in the Robert Morris showcase last week? Here's another Battista quote.

“I'm being told [Ohio State] is one of the teams that's going to be [at the Robert Morris Hockey Showcase]. We're not supposed to release [anything] until we have a signed contract."
Just to rehash the other known quantities on next year's schedule: PSU will play RIT at Blue Cross Arena on October 20th and four games with the U.S. National Team Development Program. UConn, Holy Cross, Army, Air Force, Princeton and Cornell are others with which we've had discussion.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Commit Cycle: October 25


Kenny Brooks

Tri-City Storm (USHL)
6'2", 195 pounds
Las Vegas, NV
Class of 2012
DOB 12/11/1991

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

10/21 vs. Indiana             L 2-6  0   1   1   4 [box score]
10/22 at Sioux City           W 7-3  0   3   3   2 [box score]

Brooks had a good outing on Friday night against one of the best teams in the league...his first assist at 11:13 of the third period brought the Storm within 3-2, and he was one of only two players on the team with a plus rating in the four-goal defeat...Tri-City flipped that deficit against Sioux City, and Brooks was integral...his three assists all came in the second period as the Storm expanded a 2-0 lead to 6-0, chasing PSU commit Matt Skoff from the game in the process...Brooks was also a +3 in that game.

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

10/21 vs. Drumheller          W 5-2  0   1   1   0 [box score]
10/22 vs. Brooks              W 4-3  0   0   0   2 [box score]

Against Drumheller, Glen had first assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal 5:36 into the second period...his elbowing penalty in the second period of the Brooks game was just his fourth minor of the season.

Luke Juha

Vernon Vipers (BCHL)
5'11", 180 pounds
Mississauga, ON
Class of 2012
DOB 3/9/1993

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

10/21 vs. Penticton           L 2-6  0   0   0   0 [box score]
10/22 at Trail                W 6-3  0   0   0   0 [box score]
10/23 vs. Prince George       W 4-3  0   0   0   0 [box score]

Despite Juha's empty stat lines this week, VipersDieHardFan Blog had some glowing words for his performance against Penticton: "Luke Juha was Vernon's best d-man. Coughed up the puck once but overall was very steady for the Vipers. Really reads and sees the ice-play, very smooth skating d-man who likes to carry the puck."

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

10/21 vs. Olds                L 1-6  -   -   -   - [box score]
10/23 vs. Brooks              L 3-7  -   -   -   - [box score]

Linaker (knee) missed his second straight weekend of games, and the Steel continued their free fall - they now carry a record of 2-13-2.

Related stories:
Steel cold as ice (St. Albert Gazette)

Curtis Loik

Penticton Vees (BCHL)
6'1", 205 pounds
North Vancouver, BC
Class of 2012
DOB 4/23/1993

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

10/19 at Trail                L 3-4  0   0   0   4 [box score]
10/21 at Vernon               W 6-2  1   0   1   0 [box score]
10/22 vs. Cowichan Valley     W 2-1  0   0   0   0 [box score]
10/23 vs. Surrey              W 6-3  0   1   1   0 [box score]

Bookend tripping penalties against Trail (one 5:34 into the game, the other 1:38 from the end) didn't cost the Vees a power play goal, although the second short-circuited a comeback attempt as Penticton had made it a one-goal game with 3:30 remaining...the Vees bounced back by beating a strong Vernon team for the second week in a row...Loik's slapper from the top of the left-wing circle proved the game-winner as it gave Penticton an unassailable 3-0 lead with 49 seconds left in the first period...his assist against Surrey was on the first goal of the game, with 2:29 left in the opening period.

Related stories:
Vees seize first place (

Eamon McAdam

Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
6'2", 180 pounds
Perkasie, PA
Class of 2013
DOB 9/24/1994

Date  Opponent               Score SA GA  Sv% GAA

10/21 vs. Green Bay          L 3-6 12  0 1.00 0.00 [box score]
10/22 vs. Omaha              W 4-2 25  2 .920 2.00 [box score]

McAdam finally saw his first action of the season against Green Bay, starting the third period in relief of Jay Williams after the Miami commit was punctured for four goals on 17 shots...the Perkasie native held off the Green Bay for 18:55 - allowing Waterloo to pull within one with 16:30 left - before the Gamblers added two empty-netters to provide the final margin...he followed that up by both starting and finishing the next day against Omaha, and doing so successfully, which hopefully leads to a few more chances.

Jonathan Milley

Right Wing
Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL)
6'4", 220 pounds
Ottawa, ON
Class of 2012
DOB 5/8/1991

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

10/20 at Cornwall             L 1-5  -   -   -   - [box score]
10/21 vs. Ottawa              L 1-2  -   -   -   - [box score]
10/23 vs. Kemptville          W 4-3  -   -   -   - [box score]

As Pembroke continues to be stuck in neutral thanks to injuries not only to Milley but to Brandon Gagne and others as well, GM/Coach Sheldon Keefe has been openly wondering whether to transition from a "championship run" year to a "developmental" year...given that it's still very early in the season, that one screams "motivational tactic."

Matt Skoff

Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
6'0", 186 pounds
McKees Rocks, PA
Class of 2012
DOB 7/23/1991

Date  Opponent               Score SA GA  Sv% GAA

10/20 at Fargo               W 6-4 34  4 .882 4.02 [box score]
10/22 vs. Tri-City           L 3-7 17  4 .765 10.4 [box score]

After a fantastic start to the season, Skoff seems to be backsliding, as he's now Musketeers coach Brett Larson, on Skoff: "When he plays his game, he's one of the best goalies in the league"...evidently, Skoff hasn't been playing his game of late, as he's now been pulled twice in his last four starts...the second of the two came 2:57 into the second period of the loss to Tri-City, just after Brad Schierhorn scored to make the score masked what could be considered a solid start (in light of the opponent) two days prior in the win over Fargo.

Connor Varley

Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
6'0", 190 pounds
Lansdale, PA
Class of 2013
DOB 6/3/1992

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

10/22 at Team USA             L 2-7  0   1   1   0 [box score]

Varley managed to avoid being a minus player in a 7-2 loss...his assist came on a second-period Mac Olson goal that briefly brought the Buccaneers back into the game at 5-2 with over half of the game to go.

Thomas Welsh

Salisbury School (Prep)
6'0", 195 pounds
Toronto, ON
Class of 2013
DOB 2/1/1995

Salisbury School's schedule has not yet been released, but it will begin sometime in the vicinity of the beginning of December.

Mark Yanis

Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
6'2", 195 pounds
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
Class of 2012
DOB 5/26/1994

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

10/22 vs. Dubuque             L 0-4  0   0   0   2 [box score]
10/23 at Chicago              L 4-7  0   0   0   2 [box score]

Despite what looks like a rough start to his season (admittedly, going on little besides box scores and game recaps), NHL Central Scouting has given Yanis a B rating on their October 13th "Players To Watch Tracker"...a B rating translates as "a candidate for potential mid-round consideration in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

Related stories:
Muskegon Lumberjack players getting noticed throughout the hockey world (


Jill Holdcroft

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 19U
5'1", 121 pounds
Pennsylvania Furnace, PA
Class of 2012
DOB 1/29/1994

Darby Kern

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 19U
5'11", 145 pounds
Venetia, PA
Class of 2012
DOB 8/28/1994

Holdcroft, Kern, and the rest of the Pens Elite are next in action at the Tier One Elite Showcase weekend, October 28-30 in Chicago.

Emily Laurenzi

National Sports Academy (Prep)
5'5", 125 pounds
Townsend, DE
Class of 2012
DOB 1993

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

10/21  vs. Ont. Hockey Acad.  W 8-1  -   -   -   0 [box score]
10/22  vs. Assabet Vly U16    T 0-0  0   0   0   0 [box score]
10/22  vs. NAHA White         L 1-6  -   -   -   0 [box score]

In a 1-1-1 showing at the Assabet Tournament in Concord, MA over the weekend, Laurenzi scored twice and added an assist.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lonesome Day

The Hockey Capital of the South has been sacked and pillaged. Its famous blue, grey and white flag has been taken down, and a green one flies in its place.

Dr. Malcolm Portera, interim president of the University of Alabama-Huntsville and chancellor of the University of Alabama system, today announced the end of UAH's run as an NCAA hockey school in a cold statement that stands in stark contrast to the passion of those who fought for the program's survival.
I want to share with you a decision that has been made following months of careful study. As a result of a financial analysis of our athletic program, and numerous conversations I have had with athletic directors, university presidents and commissioners of Division I ice hockey programs, it has become obvious that, for the best interest of this university, our athletic department and the ice hockey program, we move the team from the Division I level back to its original classification as a club sport at the end of the 2011-2012 season.

In this economic environment universities must examine the value of every dollar we spend, and we must view every option to use those funds for the betterment of the entire campus. The cost savings from this move will allow the university to enhance the operating budgets of the other 15 sports on campus, provide more student aid to a greater number of student-athletes, and, at the same time, enable us to increase our investment in high-demand academic programs to better position UAHuntsville for future growth.

I met with the players and coaches this morning to pledge the university’s full assistance to the student-athletes participating in our ice hockey program. We will continue to honor the scholarship commitment made to these students, and if a student-athlete chooses to transfer to another program, we will provide help in making that relocation as seamless as possible. Coaches will remain on our staff through May 31, 2012, and the university will assist them in their endeavors to seek future employment.

Charger ice hockey will very much remain a part of the culture of this university and the community. However, the opportunity to save the hockey program is much improved by reverting to a club team status. We appreciate the understanding of the campus, the university’s athletic supporters and the community, and we look forward to a robust hockey presence in the years to come.
Just like that, a three-year fight ends with finishing a funeral procession of a season, helping the scholarship players and full-time coaches out of town and likely ACHA membership. It's an unthinkable situation that I wouldn't wish on the players, coaches and fans of any program, who have to be feeling the exact opposite of how I felt on September 17th, 2010.

A while back, I went into some of the shared history between Penn State and UAH - the 1984 club national championship that both schools claim. That situation was just one small part of a great rivalry between two of non-varsity college hockey's best programs from UAH's formation in 1979 through its elevation to varsity status in 1985 - a period that saw Huntsville win the 1982 and 1983 club championships as well as that disputed one in 1984. As an NCAA Division II member, the Chargers were also highly successful, winning the 1996 and 1998 NCAA championships - the only NCAA titles by any UAH team. PSU's last meetings with the Chargers were in October, 1996 and resulted in 15-0 and 3-1 wins for the then-defending DII champs.

Arguably, the beginning of the end came when the NCAA dropped Division II for hockey following the 1998-1999 season, forcing teams to move up to Division I or down to Division III. UAH, along with now-fellow defunct programs Findlay and Wayne State and others, moved up and formed College Hockey America. Unfortunately, thanks in part to the wide geographic spread of CHA and the tenuous finances of members playing at a higher-than-planned level, the conference was on shaky ground almost from the beginning. The Chargers continued to do what they did best, win, including CHA regular season championships in 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 to go with conference tournament titles and NCAA tournament berths in 2007 and 2010.

That surprising 2010 tournament win was significant because it was the CHA's death knell following years of attrition that left the conference with just four members - UAH, Robert Morris, Niagara and Bemidji State - and no NCAA tournament autobid. The latter three schools all found other conferences, but Huntsville, thanks to a rejected application to the CCHA in 2009, was left to twist in the wind last season and this season as an independent.

As a result of that untenable situation, the slow decay that began on the ice around 2006 (both CHA tournament titles came in spite of a losing regular season record) bottomed out with a combined 4-33-3 mark since the start of last season. Attendance dropped to 1,278 per game last season, down about 700 fans per game from five years prior. The program struggled to fill out a full schedule and get opponents to travel to Huntsville, particularly during the second half of the season when most schools are locked in conference play (UAH has 31 intercollegiate games scheduled this year, just 12 of which are at home). Recruits looked elsewhere, as did head coach Danton Cole, who left for a position with the U.S. National Team Development Program after the 2009-2010 season. Perhaps the cruelest insult of all was that in spite of the massive conference shakeup over this past summer, UAH was never even seriously rumored to join one of the reformulated leagues.

Jared Ross wore the C as a player and now leads efforts off the ice.

In July, Charger legend Jared Ross (the first Alabama born and trained player to play in the NHL, an important part of UAH's hockey legacy) sent a dire-sounding email to program boosters.
To say that UAH Hockey is at a time of desperation is an understatement. For those of you that have not yet heard the news, the existence of the program is greatly threatened. To break it down fairly short, the University of Alabama Systems is currently dealing with major budget cuts on the Huntsville campus and are very seriously looking at the possibility of completely demolishing Charger Hockey.
From there, things moved pretty rapidly towards today's news. With the help of Ross and others funds were raised (as of six weeks ago, $200,000 per year). Petitions were created. Community and student support were obtained. All of which was ultimately futile in the eyes of the school's shortsighted interim president, who doesn't even have to hang around past the end of the month to feel the ramifications of his decision.

In an ironic twist of the knife, UAH will serve as the host school for this year's Frozen Four, held in Tampa, FL. That will be long after the Chargers' final varsity game, scheduled for February 25th against the USNTDP (the final game against an NCAA opponent is two weeks prior at Miami, their final home game of that variety is December 31st against Mercyhurst).

Some will (and in fact, already have) undoubtedly and unfortunately push some of the blame for this situation at Penn State, citing the CCHA's rejection (which was rumored to be in part to hold the spot in the league for PSU, a program that didn't exist yet) and...well, I'm not really sure what else they have on us. It's pretty flawed logic to act as if this was a simple trade of one program for another or as if UAH wasn't on thin ice prior to Penn State's entry.

Hopefully most remember that it was Penn State which triggered the reshuffling of the conference landscape from its previously locked-in state, giving UAH one last chance to find a possibly program-saving conference home. Or that PSU has always joined with the rest of college hockey in its support of UAH. The Icers even attempted to play the Chargers this season at their home Von Braun Center, a plan that was short-circuited by the arena's being booked on the weekend of February 17th and 18th.

Our brothers in college hockey have TYT's best wishes as they continue the fight, should they choose to do so, and wherever it may lead. I'll be demonstrating my support on this horrible occasion by donning the game-worn jersey of former Chargers defenseman Brennan Barker (2006-2010).

Not in my closet: a game-worn UAH softball jersey. Just saying.

Three Stars: October 17-23

3. Icers Recap: This Could Be Interesting...
(Black Shoe Diaries)

IcersGuy gets back on the horse with his first update of the season. And he totally propped me up during the live blog for Friday's OU game, so you owe him a click.

2. Puck Rock: Justin Kirchhevel
(Pennsylvania Puck)

Perhaps the most important thing we learned this week is that Justin Kirchhevel has awful taste in music. The "East Coast's" taste in music, meanwhile, remains solid.

1. History Will Be Made-PSU Ice Lions

I quite like this. Welcome to legend status Ice Lions, you win first star this week.

(For the brutally out of touch, it's Jim Recupero's overtime goal against DePaul at the ACHA Showcase on October 7th.)

PSU had a highly successful weekend in New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, beating Monmouth 7-0, Rider 5-2 and St. Joseph's 11-0, and climbing to 8-2-0 overall, 4-0-0 in the MACHA. Towards the end of the St. Joseph's game, the IYM Sports Radio play-by-play announcer said that he couldn't wait to see the Ice Lions in action against some of the top teams in ACHA Division 2's Southeast Region. With Maryland-Baltimore County, Temple, Rowan, Virginia Tech and Temple still to come, they'll get plenty of chances at that. But first, Indiana (PA) comes calling at the Ice Pavilion on Saturday at 10:15 p.m.

Best of the Rest


Quick tip of the hat to the official women's hockey Twitter account and whoever is behind it (along with those of several players and coaches) for showing how it's done over the weekend in documenting the team's trip to Potsdam. Now if we could just get the men's account to let us know about radio appearances more than five minutes ahead of time, we'll be in pretty decent shape.

Battista returns to Icers bench
(Daily Collegian)

During the games against Illinois, I openly wondered whether any Illini fans were stunned when Battista's name was announced as an assistant. If Craig McCarthy was announced as an OU assistant this past weekend, I'd be like "whoa, WTF." Same if I was at an Arizona game and Leo Golembiewski was announced (that's one's slightly less likely).

Jack of All Trades
(College Hockey News)

Want to learn about the type of guy our coaching staff pulled in at Princeton? Meet Jack Berger, a sophomore on Princeton's team - and a possible future NHLer or orthopedic surgeon.

Incidentally brother Chase, mentioned as being better at his age than Jack, is a late 1994 birth year defenseman playing midget major for the St. Louis Amateur Blues. He's also on the affiliate list for the USHL's Tri-City Storm, which drafted him this year. Just in case our APR needs a bump.

NCAA conference realignment spurs coach carousel

Guy Gadowsky is "erudite and successful." Just thought you'd like to know.

Compton Family Ice Arena-NDCFIA

Notre Dame finally opened their sparkling new facility Friday night with a 5-2 win over RPI. Obviously, I dropped one of my favorite pictures of the CFIA here, but hit the arena's Facebook page for plenty more. And remember, we're next.

UAH student government votes to keep hockey at Division I level

The UAH students have spoken. Of course, they hardly get final say. Dr. Malcolm Portera, chancellor of the University of Alabama system, has that right. And speaking of...

Future of Alabama-Huntsville hockey program to be announced Monday morning
Best of luck to our brothers in hockey down south.

Recruiting Trail: Top Classes
(Inside College Hockey)

Michigan (No. 7), Minnesota (No. 9) and Ohio State (No. 14) represent the Big Ten in this list of the top 15 freshman classes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

W: Penn State 2-1 at SUNY-Potsdam (NCAA DIII) 4-3

Outscored, but not outclassed.

That's the impression I had after following the Lady Icers' (2-3-0) games against NCAA Division III SUNY-Potsdam this weekend, despite the two defeats.

Friday night's game started with a whole lot of Katie Vaughan. She kept PSU in the game despite an early Bears barrage and long enough for Katharine Gausseres to scoop up a loose puck at center, swoop in on a breakaway, and score for a surprising 1-0 Lady Icers lead.

It took a deflection and a rebound of Breanna Roy point shots for Potsdam to finally solve Vaughan, who finished with 44 saves on 47 shots. Jessica Silveira scored the first of those goals (the deflection one) 4:46 into the second, while leading scorer Annmarie Lewis gave finally the Bears the lead for good 2:01 into the third, on Potsdam's 32nd shot of the game. Some penalty trouble for Tess Weaver and Sara Chroman seven minutes later gave the Bears a 5-on-3, which was cashed in for a two-goal lead with 10:20 left.

Just when it looked as if the Lady Icers were ready to fade out of the game, Weaver - who had five of PSU's 22 shots - redeemed the situation with her own power play goal off a rebound of Madison Smiddy's shot to give Penn State life with 5:05 left. However, the Lady Icers only managed a Smiddy drive on goal from that point on, and a Bears empty-netter with 11 seconds remaining effectively ended the affair.

Vaughan gave PSU a chance to win both games.

On Saturday, it was Potsdam striking first, on Izzy Fayerman's deflection goal 8:21 into the game. Just 1:25 later, Roy went off on a checking penalty, and Weaver made the Bears pay with a blast from the slot, coming off of Chroman's pass. The game remained level until Potsdam got the goal and the lead back on Silveira's third goal of the weekend, which happened with freshman defender Paige Harrington in the box for hooking.

Thanks largely to Vaughn's 20 saves on 20 shots effort in the second period (part of her 52 of 54 for the game and her incredible 96 of 101 over the pair of games), the score remained 2-1 Potsdam early in the third. The Lady Icers took to the power play 2:48 in with plans of once again drawing even, but Caitlin Manahan's unassisted shorty gave the Bears a secure 3-1 lead, which they carried to the finish despite PSU being on the power play for the final 2:42 of the game.

The Lady Icers return both home and to the ACHA on Friday against California (PA) at 7:00 p.m. before going back on the road to a Division III team's rink - this time, Chatham, one of Potsdam's ECAC West rivals - on November 4th and 5th.

M: Penn State 5 vs. Ohio 3

The top-ranked Icers completed the sweep of Ohio behind an uneven but gritty effort that finally broke through OU's stellar defensive zone play in the third period. Bobcat Brett Agnew once again burned PSU on the power play in the first, and that goal held up until a wild final period that saw (among other things) a Kurt Collins hat trick which included two shorthanded goals, a penalty shot and a P.J. Musico attempt at a goal on an empty net.

Friday, October 21, 2011

M: Penn State 7 vs. Ohio 1

No. 1 Penn State improved to 4-0-0 with a dominating 7-1 win over Ohio. The Icers shredded the Bobcats' depleted defense for 55 shots and found secondary scoring from Eric Steinour, who had two goals. Jake Friedman made the Bobcats pay for 12 minor penalties with two goals of his own on the power play, and Matt Madrazo missed his second straight shutout by 2:04 behind a good defensive effort.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Anytime We Beat Them"

An unedited picture of OU standout Tyler Pilmore.

Ohio coach Dan Morris' answer to a question about his favorite Penn State-Ohio memory sounds strikingly similar to the answer I'd give to the same question. Not coincidentally, a disproportionate number of my favorite Icers memories involve wins over the southeastern Ohio sextet: the 2003 national championship game, the 2009 ACHA quarterfinals, and the October 10, 2009 regular season game. Even games that pre-date my hearing of the Icers by a decade, like the 1990 NIT upset, make the cut.

The worst ones? Much of the same. The 2004 national championship game win by OU that halted PSU's title string at four is definitely up there, and I don't know that I've ever felt worse about the Icers program than I did after the sweep in Athens to open the spring semester last season.

That's the mark of a true archrival, isn't it? The most important games of the year, regardless of the stakes, and the ability to hand out your highest highs and lowest lows. In a sense, the two programs define each other, with arguably more shared history - four national championship game meetings, just to scratch the surface - than any other pair of ACHA teams.

More memories will surely be made when Ohio visits the Ice Pavilion Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday at 3:30 p.m. A live stream, as always, will be available on the Icers UStream channel.

As strong as my distaste for OU is (one made even more personal by my residence in Ohio, and my enrollment at one of OU's conference rivals for other sports), I do have to give them credit in one important area. For as long as I can remember, and thanks in large part to the school's outstanding Scripps College of Communication, their media representation has been as strong as anyone in the ACHA. That's as true today as ever, and it allows me to present head coach Dan Morris discussing his injury-stricken team as well as this weekend's games.

Morris touched on OU's young players in the video, but they have some pretty decent vets as well returning from a team that made it to the ACHA semifinals last season. As usual, they bring a ton of firepower to town, led by senior captain Michael Schultz who posted team highs of 25 goals, 41 assists and 66 points last year, and has done more of the same so far this year with his 9 goals and 13 points. Supporting him: frequent linemate Tyler Pilmore, Zach Tisdale, Alex DiMassa as well Brett Agnew (the only underclassman of the group), who scored a hat trick's worth of PPGs in last year's Saturday game at the Ice Pavilion. Defensively, Jonathan Gulch and Zack Barbis are two of the best the ACHA has to offer, with Barbis often serving as the triggerman for the big guns up front and Gulch being a bit more well-rounded.

The Icers do get a bit of a reprieve with defenseman Jake Holzemer - another guy with some offensive and power play upside - likely out with a knee injury, and usual top forward line member Nick Rostek questionable with a high ankle sprain. Still, what's left over may very well be the biggest challenge the Icers face all season.

After capable goaltending from Alabama-Huntsville transfer Blake MacNicol last season, this season brings Fedor Dushkin, MacNicol's backup last season. It's been a little bit of a baptism by fire for the Ukranian sophomore, who really only saw action in Ohio's walkover games last season. This year, he has to stare down the A-list opponents, and he was at his finest in a 48-for-50 effort in a 4-2 win over Oklahoma at the ACHA Showcase on October 8th, OU's biggest win to date. But the very next day, Delaware got six of 25 by him in the Bobcats' only loss thus far.

To borrow from a recent PSU blogosphere meme, buckle up. The best rivalry. Possibly the two best teams. With all due respect to the drama surely to follow, we may be about to witness the games of the year.

Bear Down

Potsdam's Annmarie Lewis frequently has the puck in the vicinity of her stick.

Twenty days removed from their last game action, the 2-1-0 Lady Icers are back at it this weekend. Awaiting Josh Brandwene's charges is quite an interesting test, as the NCAA Division III SUNY-Potsdam Bears await Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. in Potsdam's Maxcy Ice Arena. Live stats may be available through Potsdam's website.

I say "interesting" because to be honest, I'm curious to see how the still-largely-unknown PSU team stacks up. We know what happens when PSU meets a DI team. We also know what happens against a mediocre ACHA D1 squad. But what about somewhere in between? Given that these are the first two of eight DIII games the Lady Icers will play this season, their score on this test might correlate pretty strongly with how the season as a whole turns out.

As little as we know about PSU, we may know even less about the Bears, which finished 10-13-2 last season, 6-11-1 and 7th place in the ECAC West behind fifth year coach Jay Green.

The reason for that is simple: the only game Potsdam has played this year was of the exhibition variety, defeating the Ontario Hockey Academy 1-0 on Tuesday behind Annmarie Lewis' power play goal and a combined 24-save shutout from Jen Conophy and Dawna Salvarinas. Lewis, a senior co-captain, was the Bears leading scorer last season with 11 goals and 15 assists. She's joined frequently joined in offensive exploits by Caitlin Manahan, also a senior co-captain, and sophomore Jessica Silveira. The team's strength, though, might be on the blueline, as senior Breanna Roy and sophomore Brittany Lucky lead a unit that allowed just 2.66 goals per game last season, despite a losing record.

Penn State, of course, turned in a dominating effort in recording a pair of wins against Buffalo at the Ice Pavilion three weeks ago. While Katie Vaughn was her usual stellar self (saving 30 of 32 for the weekend), it was two newcomers who stole the show. Freshman Tess Weaver, a Pittsburgh Penguins Elite product, had the look of a breakout star with three goals and three assists, and Elizabeth Denis (a former Bear herself, although of the Brown variety) added three points of her own.

Following the pair with the Bears, the Lady Icers will make a brief stop back in ACHAland with an October 28th tilt against California (PA) at the Ice Pavilion. After that, they'll once again hit the road to face a DIII team, this time one of Potsdam's conference rivals, Chatham, in Pittsburgh on November 4th and 5th.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Radio Ga Ga

Joe Battista (right) patted Guy Gadowsky (center) on the back for his recruiting work so far. AD Tim Curley (left) stood within camera range and tried to take credit for it like usual.

Joe Battista spent the last ten minutes of the afternoon drive show on ESPN 970 AM in Pittsburgh on Tuesday talking about the progress of the hockey program with co-host Mike Prisuta. While a lot of it was dumbed down for people that don't follow this stuff on a daily basis, JoeBa did drop a few interesting nuggets on us. Join me after the transcript for some quick thoughts.

Mike Prisuta: Let me give you a little background on our next guest now, because this guy's worth a story or two. He has traveled the world in hockey capacities, and on one such trip last year, in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, I was attending the NCAA Frozen Four. And this gentlemen whom we're about to speak with was about town in his Penn State hockey attire - the golf shirts and the track jacket and everything else. But everywhere we went, people would ask 'boy, does Penn State have a hockey team?' and my man Joe Battista would say 'it does now!' Joe, welcome to the program.

Joe Battista: Thanks Mike, thanks Joe, good to be here.

MP: Joe, your official title is what, "associate AD in charge and the rink?"

JB: Pretty much, the Pegula Ice Arena and the men's and women's varsity hockey programs, yes sir.

MP: I know this is a labor of love for you, as well as a very important job, one that's going to grow the game at the collegiate level, but catch us up, if you could Joe, on the timeline, where are we as far as the construction of the rink, and Penn State is still playing a club schedule this year - is that correct - and when do you go DI, when does the Big Ten start?

JB: We are still playing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, ACHA club level division 1 this year, and just came back from Illinois where we had a sweep, won 11-0 and 5-2, a good set of road wins for our new coach, Guy Gadowsky, who came over from Princeton University. We hired him back in April and he's done a phenomenal job.

As far as the arena is concerned, we are still in our final stages of design. We will break ground in the new year. Before we can get the ice rink...the new location we have, we have to relocate a lacrosse field, which is currently being built right next door to our indoor track, that project's well underway and things look very good. So we're going to be open with the new Pegula Ice Arena in September of 2013, which means next year when we play our first official season as a varsity team since 1946 - because Mike, a lot of people don't know that Penn State did have varsity hockey here from 1940 to '46 - so...

"It's 1947, you whippersnapper!" - Ghost of Jim O'Hora

MP: Were you coaching it then, Joe?

JB: No, that was the other Joe Battista in those years...maybe Joe Paterno...

MP: I was going to say! [laughter]

JB: it's actually been a lot of fun. You know, the former players are very excited, we've had a club program here now since 1971, and the alums are all fired up about it. We've kept in touch with a great many of them, between Twitter and Facebook and all those other things somebody always has to show me how to work, we're really keeping everybody informed, and having a lot of fun with it.

We'll play in a resurrected varsity season, first one as an independent beginning next year. But we'll have 20-plus games against the likes of your Michigan State Spartans and the Wisconsin Badgers and we'll be playing in a tournament at Consol Energy Center with Robert Morris and some other teams, and we'll be playing down at Wells Fargo Center and the Giant Center. We'll be playing up at the Wilkes-Barre arena. You know, our job next year is to get the team and the program around the state and get everybody fired up about Penn State hockey.

MP: And then the first year of Big Ten play will be '13-'14, is that correct?

JB: Yes, it will. And you know with the Big Ten Network, we're going to reach close to 100 million homes, not only in the United States but in Canada and in terms of recruiting, that's a real big bonus for us. We're excited about it, and we're also excited, quite honestly, about Notre Dame joining Hockey East and bringing the NBC Sports network to the college hockey world, and it's just going to increase the exposure of the great game of college hockey to a lot of people that have never had the opportunity to really experience it.

As you know, it is a just exciting brand of hockey. The fans are passionate, they're rabid, anywhere you go in the country, you'll find traditions. Some of the rinks that are out there are some of the oldest college venues going, but you also have brand new facilities like the ones at Miami of Ohio, Notre Dame's is about to open up this week, and of course ours will be open in just two years.

MP: Talk about the rink a little bit. I know you guys are very excited about it, and Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres - his donation to Penn State was before he took over Buffalo, correct?

JB: Yes. You know, at that time, they didn't really have him on the radar screen. Actually, you know, a fellow Penn State alum and a Pittsburgh native Cliff Benson was really instrumental both in helping us to finish off the agreement here with their record gift to Penn State of $88 million for us to build this double sheet facility that's going to hold 6,000 people. It will have 14 suites, 600 club seats, 100 loge box seats, it's going to have - the student section Mike is going to be unbelievable, the steepest rate that we're allowed to have by code and it will be at the end of course that we're shooting twice. So we're not going to have the biggest arena in the Big Ten or in the country, but our objective is to make it the nicest and one of the most unhospitable places for the opponent to play in.

Yep, that student section on the far end is pretty steep.

MP: And how is Guy Gadowsky proceeding as far as incorporating scholarship players? Have you awarded any yet, or are any of those guys playing now - and what do you think the team will look like along those lines when you go DI in '12-'13?

JB: Well, we've got a number of verbal commitments right now. The National Letter of Intent day is coming up at the beginning of November, and at that point we'll be able to actually get names out there, but we're doing great. We had a first class of recruits that came in this year that was not able to accept any scholarship money, they had to be full-pays for this year. But already, a number of them are making a big impact, including Eddie Olczyk's son Tommy Olczyk who's a freshman...

MP: No kidding.

JB: ...and just had a hat trick. Yep, Tommy O's here, and we were just in Chicago. Eddie arranged for the team to be able to go see the Blackhawks play the Winnipeg Jets on a Thursday evening prior to our weekend games with Illinois. Tommy's whole family was there and he had a hat trick and a couple of assists. He's playing with some teammates, Justin Kirchhevel and Taylor Holstrom that are transfers from Division I programs. We had four transfers, and we've got a great mix of kids - very, very impressed with Guy Gadowsky and his staff. And we've got one of our own, Penn State alum and a Pittsburgh native as well, Bill Downey, as our director of hockey operations. We're having a ball. It's a lot of fun being able to design the building, to build the schedule, and we've already signed - well, verbal commitments, from two Pennsylvania kids, including one young man from Pittsburgh. We're excited about the possibilities, and we had a young man who's been drafted, an NHL draft pick, we're pretty close on getting him all squared away as well.

MP: Sounds great, I gotta cut you off, we're about out of time. But I really appreciate your time, and wish you, as you know, all the luck in the world with this program. I can't wait for Big Ten hockey, and I will see you at the Pegula Ice Arena.

JB: You bet, thanks Mike.

First off, if you figure out the NHL draft pick Battista referenced, I'll send you $100 and name the "Current Commitments" page after you. Even if I'm not influential enough to pull that off, it's still nice to know that come November 9th, when the early signing period opens, we'll see some of these guys we've been following become officially official (and who knows, maybe we'll find out about one who slipped under the radar).

Other than that bit of intrigue, the scheduling details were the most compelling item in there. Battista has now confirmed series with Michigan State and Wisconsin. We'll play the Badgers at the Kohl Center, and the location of the MSU games is unknown (hopefully, they'll take place in one of the larger arenas around PA Battista mentioned). Toss in the known RIT game on October 20th, and the previously-confirmed four games with the USNTDP, and one can see the schedule start to shape up.

The MSU games could feature a goaltending matchup of former junior teammates Matt Skoff and Will Yanakeff.

PSU will also be in a tournament with Robert Morris at Consol Energy Center. RMU's annual showcase event usually takes place just before New Year's and is a single-day triple header with their men's, women's and ACHA teams (this year those teams, respectively, play Ohio State, Bemidji State and Pitt on December 30th). However, Battista's "some other teams" makes it sound like they're expanding it, possibly to a four-team/two-day tournament for men's teams. Connecticut, Holy Cross, Army, Air Force, Alabama-Huntsville (assuming they're still around), Princeton and Cornell have also been mentioned as possible 2012-2013 opponents.

Battista also said that PSU will play "20-plus" games against the likes of Wisconsin and Michigan State, which I'll take to mean Division I teams. There's a decent amount of space between that and the 34-game limit. So will the difference be...the NTDP (yes, in part)? DIII schools? CIS schools? ACHA schools? Other? Nothing? As usual, I can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top Cheddar?

Maybe I'm getting a little bit ahead of things since the new rankings don't come out until Friday - but at the same time, it's not really a huge reach. Here are the top four right now, including what they've done since October 7th, when they were last sorted in order of good-ness.

1. Lindenwood
L vs. Utah State (D2), 2-3 (ACHA D2 Showcase)
W vs. Penn State (D2), 7-5 (ACHA D2 Showcase)
L at No. 7 Arizona State, 1-4
W at No. 7 Arizona State 2-1

(Interestingly, Lindenwood's website still doesn't acknowledge that those D2 games took place. Don't worry, I'm here to remind you.)

2. Davenport
L vs. No. 8 Oklahoma, 3-4 (ACHA D1 Showcase)
L vs. No. 16 Illinois 2-4 (ACHA D1 Showcase)
W vs. No. 12 Minot State 3-0 (ACHA D1 Showcase)

3. Ohio
W vs. No. 17 Stony Brook, 5-0 (ACHA D1 Showcase)
W vs. No. 8 Oklahoma, 4-2 (ACHA D1 Showcase)
L vs. No.6 Delaware, 1-6 (ACHA D1 Showcase)
W vs. Pittsburgh 7-1

4. Penn State
W vs. Lebanon Valley, 12-1
W at No. 16 Illinois, 11-0
W at No. 16 Illinois, 5-2

Adrian is No. 5 and went 0-2-1 at the ACHA D1 Showcase. Delaware is No. 6 and dropped a game at the Showcase (although to a very good Arizona State team in overtime) and had to come from behind twice against an improving-but-still-lowly West Virginia. Those Sun Devils are No. 7 and do have a pair of pretty impressive wins against Delaware and Lindenwood, but at the same time they did drop the other game to the Lions, the ACHA coaches poll isn't exactly known for its wild swings, and moving from 7 to 1 or 2 would qualify as one.

I gave up on sincerely trying to figure out the poll a long time ago, but to me, it would seem that the only candidates for No. 1 come from the top four. Penn State is the only team in that group that hasn't lost - to be fair, against the weakest schedule of the lot. PSU also already had nine of the 39 first-place votes before even playing a game, and the Icers have only backed up the hype since that first ranking. Ohio could very well slide into No. 2 with both Lindenwood and Davenport losing two games, and to teams ranked lower than the one which victimized the Bobcats.

Curiously enough, the last time the Icers were ranked No. 1 was in the first in-season ranking of the 2007-2008 season, issued on October 5, 2007. PSU relinquished the spot to then-No. 2 Illinois in the next ranking thanks to the Illini's sweep of the Icers on the Big Pond. A reversal of fortune against the same team at the same rink might propel PSU back to the top spot.

A 1 vs. 2 battle at the Ice Pavilion this weekend? I can't think of a better way to end the home side of our greatest rivalry.