Thursday, May 31, 2012

Inaugural NCAA Women's Roster Announced

Jess Desorcie (left) and Taylor Gross are two of the six members of last year's Lady Icers who will be making the jump to this year's NCAA team. Photo:

Head coach Josh Brandwene has announced Penn State's 25-player 2012-2013 roster, PSU's first at the NCAA Division I level.

Defenders (7)       Yr Hometown            Previous Team
Paige Jahnke        Fr Oakdale, MN         Roseville HS
Taylor McGee        Fr Pearl River, NY     Taft School
Jordin Pardoski     Fr Rochester Hills, MI Honeybaked
Lindsay Reihl       Sr Cheshire, CT        CT Polar Bears
Madison Smiddy      So Grand Rapids, MI    Honeybaked
Stephanie Walkom    Fr Moon Township, PA   Pgh. Penguins Elite
Sarah Wilkie        Fr Ashby, MA           Williston N'hampton

Forwards (15)       Yr Hometown            Previous Team
Jeanette Bateman    Fr Greeley, CO         Colorado Select
Micayla Catanzariti Fr R. Santa Mrgta, CA  Gilmour Academy
Kate Christoffersen Sr Trumbull, CT        CT Polar Bears
Jess Desorcie       So Westford, VT        Connecticut College
Taylor Gross        Jr Colo. Springs, CO   Univ. of Connecticut
Hannah Hoenshell    Fr Plano, TX           Alliance Bulldogs
Jill Holdcroft      Fr PA Furnace, PA      Pgh. Penguins Elite
Darby Kern          Fr Venetia, PA         Pgh. Penguins Elite
Emily Laurenzi      Fr Townsend, DE        Nat'l Sports Academy
Kendra Rasmussen    Fr Sartell, MN         Sartell/Sauk Rpds. HS
Birdie Shaw         Fr Troy, MI            Honeybaked
Tess Weaver         So Windber, PA         Pgh. Penguins Elite
Jenna Welch         Jr Austin, TX          Univ. of Connecticut
Shannon Yoxheimer   Fr Jackson, MI         NAHA - White
Katie Zinn          Fr Coquitlam, BC       Gilmour Academy

Goaltenders (3)     Yr Hometown            Previous Team
Brooke Meyer        Fr Naperville, IL      Chicago Huskies
Nicole Paniccia     Jr Oakville, ON        Univ. of Connecticut
Celine Whitlinger   Fr Garden Grove, CA    Gilmour Academy

Because freshmen make up the vast majority of the team (17 of 25), let's start there. Here are some previous TYT posts with more information on several of them:

Laurenzi: Laurenzi Becomes First 2012 Recruit // A Conversation with Emily Laurenzi

Wilkie: "Exactly What I Was Looking For"

Holdcroft/Kern: Brandwene Snags Two More

Whitlinger/Catanzariti/Zinn: Gilmour Girls

Bateman: Brandwene Brings In Bateman

Rasmussen: Rasmussen Delivers Horsepower, Brainpower

Of that massive freshman class, Laurenzi, Holdcroft, Whitlinger, Catanzariti, Zinn, Bateman, Hoenshell, Jahnke, McGee, Pardoski, Shaw, Wilkie and Yoxheimer signed their National Letters of Intent during the early signing period back in November, so they've been on everyone's radar for a while. Walkom, Kern and Rasmussen either committed after the early period or are recruited walk-ons (Kern definitely is the latter), but the three of them were already known as well.

Goalie Meyer is the remaining freshman. She played with the boys on the 2012 USA Hockey nationals participant Chicago Huskies, but also on Neuqua Valley High School in Illinois with her brother.

One obvious highlight beyond the newcomers, of course, are the six players who were Lady Icers last year. Weaver, Gross and Desorcie were offensive dynamos after being united during the second half of the season and finished as the team's top three scorers. Smiddy, Reihl and Christoffersen were equally effective in their different roles. Additionally, Reihl and Christoffersen will hold a special place in team history as the only "club originals" who made the jump to NCAA hockey, since the other four members of last year's team on this year's roster came to PSU with full knowledge of the coming transition. An added dimension to Christoffersen's story is that her career was "ended" by concussions in early 2011. Now she's playing NCAA hockey. That's pretty special.

The small number of club players, of course, means that 16 players from last year's team still in school will not make the jump. They are forwards Abbey Dufoe, Kirsten Evans, Katharine Gausseres, Denise Rohlik, Sydney Sherman, Carly Szyszko, defenders Lisa Frank, Paige Harrington, Julie Horn, Cara Mendelson, Katie Murphy, Allie Rothman, Ashton Schaffer and goalies Katie Vaughan, Sarah Eisenhut and Mary Tonetti. Of that group, Vaughan comes as the biggest surprise. She was named the Lady Icers' MVP last season and was often spectacular in net, keeping PSU in games where they may have otherwise been blown out. Regardless, here's hoping that this group forms the core of what should be a good ACHA women's program this season.

Nicole Paniccia will team up with Gross and Jenna Welch at a second DI program.

Gross, who was named the team's captain by Brandwene Wednesday night after transferring from Connecticut in the middle of 2011-2012, will be teammates with incoming transfers Welch and Paniccia for a second time. Paniccia, an Ontario-native goalie, played in 24 games for the Huskies in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 and has a career 2.51 goals against average, to go with a .924 save percentage. Welch, a forward from Austin, TX, has seven career points in 67 games over those same seasons. The trio were at their best on November 27, 2010 in a blowout of Sacred Heart, when Gross had a hat trick plus an assist and Welch added another assist to give Paniccia and her 21-save shutout more than enough offense. On January 9, 2011, Paniccia stopped 26 of 28 and Welch and Gross each had two points in a 6-2 win over Robert Morris. Paniccia has also shut out both Vermont and Union before. Basically, the three UConn transfers, who will all be juniors this year, do good work against teams on Penn State's schedule this year, which is nice.

Despite playing for a brutal team last year - UConn was seventh place of eight Hockey East teams - Paniccia was fourth in the league in GAA, with a 2.00 in conference games. Her .942 save percentage ranked third.
"Nicole and Jenna are terrific additions to our program, and I appreciate their enthusiasm and excitement for being a part of the Penn State community," said Brandwene. "The skill level and Division I experience they possess are tremendous assets to our young team, and I am looking forward to working with them."
In case you're wondering (I certainly did as a relative novice in the women's game and looked it up), women's hockey transfers are able to get exemptions from the NCAA's year-in-residence (before playing for a new school) rule unlike their male counterparts or those who play other high-profile sports like football and basketball, courtesy of NCAA Bylaw In addition to Welch and Paniccia, that rule also benefits Gross, since she's still less than a year removed from UConn as well.

This Nittany Lions roster will make its debut on October 5th and 6th at Vermont before playing its first home games on the 13th and 14th against CHA foe Syracuse. Click here for the full schedule.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gross Named First NCAA Women's Captain


Taylor Gross, who helped energize the Lady Icers to an 8-5-1 second-half record and the ECWHL regular season championship last year, has been named the first captain in the history of Penn State's NCAA program.

Head coach Josh Brandwene informed the team of his decision during a conference call Wednesday night, then shared it with the world via Twitter:

Gross, of course, is in a rather unique position among known members of the women's team in that she has already played NCAA Division I hockey, and done so quite well. As a freshman at Connecticut in 2010-2011, her 12 goals and 11 assists led the Huskies in scoring. Honors as a result of that tremendous debut included UConn's rookie of the year award, as well as recognition as Hockey East's rookie of the week on February 7, 2011. She left the team last November amidst a wave of transfers, eventually winding up at Penn State.

Despite playing only half of the year as a Lady Icer, the now-junior forward finished second on the team in scoring last season with 27 points while forming a highly potent line with Jess Desorcie, a fellow midseason transfer, and Tess Weaver. This line charged to the fore on numerous occasions, including in a 3-2 win over eventual ACHA national champion Northeastern on January 21st when Gross scored shorthanded and assisted on the winner during a third-period two-on-one with Weaver. One week prior to that, Gross assisted both of her linemates - including Weaver in overtime - as the Lady Icers pulled off a historic upset of NCAA Division I Sacred Heart.

While the Colorado Springs, CO native and former Colorado Select player is the first NCAA women's captain at Penn State, in the interest of preserving PSU's ACHA legacy, she takes over the C from departed senior Sara Chroman.

A DI Diary

As some of you may know, I've spent most of the last couple weeks grinding through the all-time schedule and results for the men's program(s). Today, I'm happy to report that the hard part of the project is complete and that I believe I've put together the most complete historical score record of Penn State hockey in existence:

M Results/Season: 1909-present

I won't bore you with my methodology (it's on the page I just linked if you really, really need it), but I will share something that I believe is of general interest - PSU's all time record against current NCAA Division I programs.

The varsity team of the 1940s, as most of you probably already know, played three different teams presently competing at the DI level a total of four times. The fact that they were all road games should be about the least surprising thing ever to anyone familiar with that team.

2/5/1944 @ Cornell, L 1-8
2/26/1944 @ Army, L 3-18
1/18/1947 @ Colgate, L 0-14
2/12/1947 @ Army, L 3-12

The Icers also played Army twice, once in West Point, once in a tournament at Kent State (Army's records omit the first of these two as an exhibition):

11/21/1980 @ Army, L 4-6
3/6/1982 vs. Army (at Kent, OH), L 3-10

The Black Knights, of course, appear on the coming season's schedule, October 26th to be precise.

Alabama-Huntsville claims the first three club national titles ever, in 1982, 1983 and 1984. The Chargers beat PSU in the championship tournament en route to the first two, then three times in the regular season leading to the third.

Another team on this year's schedule is Alabama-Huntsville. The Chargers, much like Penn State, transitioned to NCAA status from a highly-successful club program. While the two have not met since UAH's permanent move to DI, from Huntsville's 1979 formation until their elevation to Division II in 1985, PSU-UAH games were season-defining tilts.

3/12/1982 vs. Alabama-Huntsville (at Boulder, CO), L 3-4
3/5/1983 vs. Alabama-Huntsville (at Huntsville, AL), L 3-4
11/18/1983 @ Alabama-Huntsville, L 3-6
11/19/1983 @ Alabama-Huntsville, L 3-4 (OT)
12/9/1983 vs. Alabama-Huntsville (at Johnstown, PA), L 3-9
12/10/1983 vs. Alabama-Huntsville (at Johnstown, PA), W 5-4
11/16/1984 @ Alabama-Huntsville, L 3-6
11/17/1984 @ Alabama-Huntsville, L 2-4

The first two games on that list took place at the U.S. National Collegiate Club Hockey Championships, and UAH went on to take the title in both 1982 and 1983. The Chargers also claim a 1984 title. Penn State does as well, a reality made possible by the existence of two separate national championship tournaments in 1984 (and 1985 as well). UAH and PSU did meet four times during the 1983-1984 regular season, with three of four meetings going to the boys in (lighter) blue. I'm not giving up our stake in 1984 though, don't worry.

Huntsville went on to become quite successful in DII, taking the 1996 and 1998 national championships. After the first of those, they handed the Icers their worst-ever loss (tied with a 15-0 defeat by Princeton's freshman team in their second year of existence).

10/25/1996 @ Alabama-Huntsville, L 0-15
10/26/1996 @ Alabama-Huntsville, L 1-3

Joe Battista's ninth game as Icers coach was against Holy Cross, a PSU opponent on December 7th and 8th this year.

11/21/1987 @ Holy Cross, L 1-7

One final team on the Nittany Lions' inaugural NCAA schedule is Robert Morris. During RMU's formative years, the Icers earned a split in two games. The win is PSU's only one against a current DI team that came while that team was competing in DI.

10/8/2005 @ Robert Morris, W 3-2
10/8/2006 @ Robert Morris, L 0-6

Legendary Notre Dame coach Lefty Smith - who now has his name on the rink at the new Compton Family Ice Arena - coached against PSU four times.

Notre Dame dropped from NCAA Division I to the non-varsity ranks for a single season, 1983-1984, before bumping back up for 1984-1985. The Irish played PSU twice in each of those years.

2/10/1984 vs. Notre Dame (at Johnstown, PA), T 4-4
2/11/1984 vs. Notre Dame (at Johnstown, PA), L 1-6
11/2/1984 @ Notre Dame, L 2-8
11/3/1984 @ Notre Dame, L 3-10

Northern Arizona was a DI program from 1981 until 1986. It's a little suspect that they would play in the club national championship during that time (the source of the one PSU-NAU meeting), but hey, they were a year away from having 17-year NHL vet Greg Adams on their roster, so whatever. Kent State was a frequent Icers opponent both before and after their DI run from 1986 through 1994, but the teams only met twice during KSU's varsity era. Findlay and Wayne State round out the collection of now-defunct DI-ers (of note: PSU split a pair of games with Findlay during their time in DII immediately before moving up).

3/14/1982 vs. Northern Arizona (at Boulder, CO), W 5-4 (OT)
2/13/1987 @ Kent State, L 2-9
2/14/1987 @ Kent State, L 2-8
11/26/1999 @ Findlay, L 2-6
11/27/1999 vs. Wayne State (at Findlay, OH), W 5-2

Finally, a one-off game with no obvious segue.

10/17/1993 @ Massachusetts, L 2-7

In all (and excluding the UAH games along with the first two Notre Dame games), the Icers were 3-10-0 against DI teams, with a goals for-goals against of 34-85, or 2.6-6.5 per game. Certainly not pretty, but then again, not terrible either, all things considered. I should point out that I've excluded Villanova from that record (and indeed this entire post until now). For what it's worth, the Icers were 6-1-1 with a 49-18 GF-GA against the Wildcats from 1982 through 1998, the span VU was listed as an NCAA Division I program. I think Nova was about as DI as I am a Pulitzer Prize candidate though.

Mercyhurst and Canisius are now Atlantic Hockey rivals, but in another day and another division, they often opposed the Icers.

Before I exit this post, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that some of PSU's most extensive history with current DI programs actually comes via Atlantic Hockey's Canisius and Mercyhurst. The Lakers were DIII from 1987 through 1992, then DII from 1992 through 2000, before finally hitting DI. The Golden Griffins were a DIII program from 1980 until 1998, then jumped straight to DI at that point.

11/14/1981 @ Canisius, L 4-8
1/16/1982 vs. Canisius, W 6-4
1/29/1983 vs. Canisius (at Annapolis, MD), W 7-4
2/22/1985 @ Canisius, L 6-12
11/7/1986 vs. Canisius (at Allegany, NY), L 3-5
11/4/1988 vs. Canisius (at Geneseo, NY), L 2-6
10/26/1991 @ Canisius, L 4-5
2/19/1995 @ Canisius, L 1-8

1/31/1988 vs. Mercyhurst (at Geneseo, NY), W 6-3
11/5/1988 vs. Mercyhurst, L 2-6
12/18/1988 vs. Mercyhurst, L 3-5
1/14/1989 vs. Mercyhurst, L 2-9
1/6/1995 @ Mercyhurst, L 4-5
1/7/1996 @ Mercyhurst, L 4-13

Monday, May 28, 2012

Three Stars: May 21-27

3. Black Hawks lose 5-2 in Clark Cup final

2013 goalie Eamon McAdam, the last Penn State recruit to still be playing, now isn't thanks to his team's loss to Green Bay in the decisive game five of the USHL's Clark Cup finals (I suppose he'd be done either way, but whatever).

To be honest, I'm kind of glad the Black Hawks lost. Their winning would have put me in the awkward spot of having to write a post about McAdam winning a championship - awkward because he's Waterloo's backup and recorded zero minutes in the playoffs. Since his teammates lost, he just gets this. During the regular season, McAdam was 11-7-0 with a 3.50 goals against average and a 0.882 save percentage, helping Waterloo to third place in the Western Conference.

The pride of Perkasie, PA is the top returning goalie on what should be a strong team again next year, as starter Stephon Williams is headed to Minnesota State for the coming season.

2. Breaking Down Penn State's Inaugural D1 Hockey Schedule
(Black Shoe Diaries)

Penn State hockey releases inaugural Div. 1 schedule; Nittany Lions to play in Philly 
(Broad Street Hockey)

Unfortunately, there's not a ton out there on the schedule announcement offering more than a reshuffling of PSU's release, but I'll give BSD - whose entry was written by friend of TYT Nate Wells - and BSH shouts (like they need them from me) for these posts, which at least offer opinions like...
While the on-campus home games leave something to be desired - there are only six against D1 teams - Penn State's inaugural season had both challenges and winnable games alike. Playing 8 of the 12 Atlantic Hockey teams (arguably the weakest college hockey conference) will be a good barometer for the Lions early in the year while series against Big Ten foes Michigan State and Wisconsin will give motivation when they are conference rivals next year.
It shouldn't really be looked at as a negative: It's their first season in Division 1, they're going to be bad, and power schools don't want to play weak teams. It's just the way it is. But if you had any hopes of Penn State making some sort of miraculous at-large bid to the national tournament in their first season, this schedule isn't going to get them there.
There are things to like, there are things to not like. Sounds like life.

1. John Lynch Foundation: Jeanette Bateman

Two weeks ago, a picture of incoming women's player Jeanette Bateman receiving $10,000 in scholarship money from the John Lynch Foundation was buried somewhere in the middle of "Best of the Rest." Turn that picture into a 2:00 video of Bateman basically introducing herself? Yeah, I'll bump that up a few.

Best of the Rest

Inspiring words from Joe Battista

Can someone please tell me which phone records these ridiculous vertical videos?

Anyway, here's a brief clip of the Hockey Czar from the PSU Alumni Leadership Conference two weekends ago.

Penn State will be a new rival for Buckeyes
(Columbus Wired)

Since the days of Villanova, Niagara College, Michigan-Dearborn, Ohio and Delaware are gone (or soon to be gone in OU's case), Penn State needs a new archrival. That one team you hate over all others, and they hate you on the same level. The one where you say "I'd gladly go 4-30, as long as the four come against them" (even if that's not entirely true) and do silly things like refuse to speak or type that team's name. And unlike in football, I think it has a shot of happening for NCAA men's hockey.

In football, Penn State is the other woman in a rivalry love triangle involving Ohio State and Michigan. There have been and will be years where PSU-OSU means more than OSU-Michigan. That affair from 2005-2009 - which took place while Michigan was on an extended business trip to Irrelevantistan - was quite fun. But at the end of the day, even after promising to end things, the Buckeyes will always end up back with their wife, leaving PSU to the domain of angry texting and futile attempts to break them up.

The good news? Michigan's married to Michigan State in hockey. Anything you see saying otherwise comes from people who don't follow the sport closely and assume Michigan pairs off with Ohio State for everything. While it's hard to just declare a rival and have it be so (these things need time to develop), there are reasons to be encouraged.

INCH 10 For 13: The Teams
(Inside College Hockey)

At least one outlet says that Penn State's playing two top 10 teams next year. Just don't click the link to their picks from last season at the bottom of the page.

Ice Hockey Announces Class Of 2016

Syracuse has joined Mercyhurst and Lindenwood among the womens' CHA rivals in announcing their incoming recruiting class. So half down, half (Penn State, Robert Morris and RIT) to go.

Sorry ladies, your monopoly on the ACHA cheerleading scene is over.

2012-13 Ice Hockey Cheerleading Squad Announced

Speaking of Lindenwood, it sounds as if Iowa State will no longer have the only hockey cheerleaders in the ACHA. LU does a good job sharing resources between their hockey programs, so I have to assume that they'll swing between the ACHA men and the NCAA DI/CHA women.

Speaker lineup for 2nd annual Coaches Conference includes three Stanley Cup champions
(The Coaches Site)

In case you wanted to know where Guy Gadowsky will be on July 20th and 21st, he has a speaking gig in Joe Sakic's hometown.

2011-12 Girls Hockey Season - Our Seniors

A rundown of the NSA senior girls hockey players, which includes Emily Laurenzi, of course.
Four-year player Emily Laurenzi has become one of the most influential players on the team. Laurenzi has, “hard work and commitment on the ice [that] easily sets her apart from other players” and “you will never find her taking a shift off .” After four years Laurenzi has accumulated seventy-eight goals, two hundred and three assists, and played two hundred and ninety games. Her hard work earned her a place on Penn State’s brand new Division One girls program, becoming the first recruit in the history of their program. Laurenzi is “excited for something new since she has been [at NSA] for a while, but will miss it.” 
I assume it was a coach and not Laurenzi saying that her hard work and commitment sets her apart, but it's never mentioned. I should be nice though - Laurenzi co-wrote the entire piece.

UPDATE: Laurenzi tells me that the quoted words not from her are from NSA coach Kelli Vossler. So there you go!

Monday's roundup: Livonia Ladywood wins Catholic A-B softball title
(Detroit News)

Jordin Pardoski, another incoming women's recruit, doesn't suck at lacrosse either.
Rochester 11, Farmington 8: Jessica Leininger had four goals and Katie Krako and Jordin Pardoski each had two goals and one assist for Rochester (13-3, 6-0 OAA White). Lauren Anderson had three goals for Farmington (4-10, 4-2).
PIAA basketball finals leaving Penn State, returning to Hershey; Giant Center to keep wrestling

Read more here:
(Centre Daily Times)

Just to review, Wisconsin moved their hockey series with PSU to a Sunday and Monday (February 24th and 25th) to avoid conflict with their state high school wrestling tournament. They're also relocating their March 8-9 home series with St. Cloud State to Madison's Alliant Energy Center - the Badgers' home ice from 1967-1998 - to clear the Kohl Center for their state high school basketball tournament. Penn State, meanwhile, blew their gig hosting PA's high school basketball tournament because someone can't read the instructions on a request for proposals.

Not that I really care. If anything, I disagree with Wisconsin's position and feel that UW should come first at UW facilities. Priority on booking dates is a big reason why it's beneficial to have your own facility in the first place. Remember the uproar when Penn State basketball was forced to practice in the IM Building due to a Bon Jovi concert at the Jordan Center? Well, I like Bon Jovi better than I like high school basketball, put it that way. I just found the contrast amusing, that's all. Carry on. Somewhere else, I'm done with this post.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New-Time Hockey

Earlier this month, the Tier II Junior A NAHL's Alaska Avalanche were acquired by Johnstown, PA interests and relocated to the city of Slap Shot fame and the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, which was vacated by the ECHL's Johnstown Chiefs in 2010. Since then, the organization has more or less done everything right, starting with a nickname of obvious origin: Tomahawks. Their logo, which looks like the love child of the Chicago Blackhawks' and Univeristy of North Dakota's insignia (former, in UND's case), is also quite sharp.

The red, white and blue color scheme, in a classy touch, is designed to honor the same veterans who are also honored by the name of the team's home arena.

The Tomahawks have hired a coach, Jason Spence, whose ten-season professional career was spent mostly with the Chiefs. In 2009, he moved behind the bench as an assistant coach, following the team when it relocated to Greenville, SC. After a brutal 2009-2010 season in Johnstown, the Greenville Road Warriors have gone 87-47-10 in their two seasons of existence. Spence, from what I've read on him, is well liked locally. At the very least Rick Boyd, a former Chiefs teammate and now his boss as GM, is a fan.
"Jason was the hardest-working player on the ice and a wonderful team ambassador off the ice. The fans loved him and he connected with this community so well that he relocated to Johnstown, married a local woman and made huge sacrifices to pursue his love of coaching and mentoring young players," Boyd said. "I know our young men will be thrilled to have Jason as their coach."
The Tomahawks will inherit the bulk of their roster from Alaska, which went 35-19-6 last season before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs.

Not Penn State news? Au contraire, mes amis. See, just yesterday, we learned that...
Hall of Fame Steelers linebacker Jack Ham has invested in the ownership group of the Johnstown Tomahawks, the new NAHL Tier II Junior A hockey team, according to a radio interview given by majority owner James Bouchard and confirmed by team President Richard Bouchard.

James Bouchard said during a radio interview that Ham and former Buffalo Bills star linebacker Shane Conlan have invested in the ownership group.
Both Ham (who was at PSU from 1968-1970) and Conlan (1982-1986) are, of course, integral parts of Penn State's Linebacker U legacy and are generally considered among the top five LBs ever at the school. Combined, the pair were on three perfect teams. Conlan was on the 1982 and 1986 national champions, although he redshirted in 1982. Today, Ham is an analyst on the radio broadcasts of Penn State football games.

Even beyond that, there's reason to be excited from a hockey perspective. It's a natural opportunity for a recruiting pipeline in Penn State's backyard. For both the coaching staff and for us garden-variety obsessed fans, it's an opportunity to see PSU recruits - either potential or actual - in person, either as Tomahawks or as their opponents. Before now, the nearest NAHL franchise to State College was in Jamestown, NY. The nearest outpost of the Tier I USHL is in Youngstown, OH. Both leagues, the top two junior leagues in the U.S., are based mostly in the central parts of the country.

Bryce Johnson, Justin Kirchhevel, P.J. Musico, Jake Friedman, Joe Lordo and George Saad are members of Penn State's 2012-2013 roster who have spent time in the NAHL. In 2011-2012, the then-five Big Ten programs rostered 15 players who had an NAHL franchise listed under "last team," headed by Ohio State's five (this, of course, doesn't include those who played in the NAHL before advancing to the USHL or elsewhere).

Hopefully someday soon, "Johnstown Tomahawks" will be spotted under that "last team" column on a Penn State roster. But even if that doesn't happen, these are certainly exciting developments for that growing hockey state - yeah, I'm daring to use that label -of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24th TYT Status Check

We're officially into the heart of the offseason. For the men, the roster's out, the schedule's out, all that's left is four and a half months of waiting. For the women, there's still the matter of identifying those last few roster spots and the new assistant coach, but those are really the only major pieces of news expected anytime soon.

With that in mind, and since it's been a while since I've done a post like this, I figured I might as well share some of my plans for the immediate and slightly less immediate future.

The most pressing matter is determining how in the world I'm going to cover the coming season. I'm going to attend as many games as my time and budget allow (my preliminary plan has me going to 15 men's games and 10 women's games). If I'm not there, I'll be live-blogging whenever I can and recapping in case of conflicts (either with my time or between the men's and women's teams) or unavailable streams. The basic overarching reality to my plans: I'm one guy living in an apartment in Medina, OH. I attend grad school full time - which is nice in some ways, as I probably have more time to commit to TYT than I should - but it also means that I'm far from a wealthy individual. Essentially, I'm saying that I can promise you my best effort, this is a once-in-a-lifetime season, after all, but I can't promise that I'll be everywhere and do everything.

Anyway, once I have that all figured out, I'm going to share those plans with you as soon as possible, because I'd really enjoy your feedback. I've tried to plan attendance for most of the big games (on the men's side, for example, AIC, RIT, Air Force, Union, the Pittsburgh Invitational, Vermont, Michigan State and Alabama-Huntsville are all on my preliminary list), but obviously "big game" is subjective. For example, if you think I should sacrifice one of those - probably two, due to distance/cost - to go to Wisconsin, I'd like to hear about it.

Throughout the summer, I'll continue with Three Stars every Monday and Breakout Past every Thursday (conditional on my availability, as Breakout Past posts are usually pretty involved and I have an absolutely brutal class schedule, particularly for the second half of the summer). So two posts per week should be the baseline, although I somehow managed 61 total through last June, July and August. I'll drop a PIA Construction on you whenever I'm able to be in State College. And of course, I'll keep posting news as it happens, hopefully with your understanding that the bar for "news" is significantly lower in July than in January.

Last summer, I spent a lot of time working on historical aspects of the Icers program, and that's something I hope to be able to do this year as well. I've started working on my page devoted to past schedules and results again. Ideally, it will eventually include every game in the history of the Icers and the 1930s-1940s informal-turned-varsity team (it already has the latter), along with the coach, captain(s) and major accomplishments for each season, as well as many team pictures as I can find. I'm sure it will ultimately fall somewhere south of that standard, but hey, I'll give it a shot. But bear with me, because that page will look like a mess most of the time. It's a work in progress, and will probably remain so indefinitely.

Finally - and I don't say this enough - I sincerely want to thank each of you for your contributions to this blog, even if you just read it occasionally and have never even once interacted with me. When I started this thing, I really just expected to be talking to myself once or twice a week. It's become so much more than that, and that's mostly because of all of you.

Early on, before I had much of a readership, I actually said things like "I don’t aim to be purely a news source for Penn State hockey," and "I can pretty much promise that I won’t be the one to break the story." Really, I just planned on watching the games, saying "why does our power play suck?" somewhere around the following Tuesday, posting a picture of a hockey puck on Thursday, then repeating. Somewhere around 95 percent of what I do now was not part of my original plan. And to be frank, it's pretty hard to do all of this. It's ridiculously time-consuming and often expensive. It sounds terribly cheesy to say it, but you guys help motivate me to keep doing it. This is still fun to me (most of the time, I'll certainly admit to moments where I curse my responsibilities) and as long as I'm still having fun and still feel like I have something to offer to the Penn State hockey community, I'm going to keep at it.

I hope all of you have a fantastic summer! Don't hesitate to get/stay in touch, through Twitter, Facebook, or my personal email, which you can find by clicking my name in the right-hand column.

Breakout Past: The 'Club Sport Pacemaker'

The following article was taken from the November/December 1981 issue of The Penn Stater, PSU's alumni magazine.

The Icers - who went on to finish 24-8-0 - did a lot of growing up in the 1981-1982 season covered by the article. It was their first full season in the Ice Pavilion, following its January, 1981 opening. For the first time, PSU competed in a club hockey national championship tournament, finishing 3rd (2012-2013 opponent Alabama-Huntsville won that first-ever national championship). They also brought on Jon Shellington as coach. Shellington stayed until the end of the 1986-1987 season and left as PSU's most successful and longest-serving coach. Those distinctions, of course, were ripped away by successor Joe Battista, a senior defenseman on the 1981-1982 team.

Hockey: Penn State's Club Sport Pacemaker

By Dale Krach '81g

Take twenty athletes, charge them $150 to join the team, then make them pay another $100 to $300 for uniforms, equipment, transportation, lodging, meals and insurance, find them a coach who'll work for nothing, and you've got the makings of a champion.

Do not doubt it for one minute. Penn State's ice hockey team has proved time and again that success can be cultured from just such a formula.

And chances are, if you happened to ask them, they wouldn't have it any other way. What with varsity-team funding in jeopardy in these days of universal cutbacks, and varsity teams not permitted to go out and raise their own money, the hockey team is in good shape at the top of the heap among Penn State's club sports.

Top of the heap doesn't necessarily mean that hockey is better than any of the other 48 club sports, but it does have the most members (300 at last count) and it does raise thousands of dollars to pay 60 percent of its own way through every season; the other 40 percent comes, not from Athletic Department or College of Health and Physical Education budgets, but from Associated Student Activities which lends a helping dollar to student programs throughout the University.

With the money it raises, this mammoth club fields a 20-member varsity team which plays a 33-game schedule this year against such powerhouses as Kent State, Villanova, Canisius, Eastern Michigan, Upsala and Duke; a 20-member junior varsity squad with a 14-game schedule against teams throughout Pennsylvania; and a 180-member intramural division which functions independently from the College of HPER. Moreover, the varsity squad will compete in four invitational tournaments - at Navy, Eastern Michigan, Kent State and Colorado University - and the club will sponsor its own Nittany Lion Invitational in February.

It has taken Penn State hockey a decade to reach this level. Since its beginnings in 1970-71 the varsity team has compiled a 130-65-9 record, with four regular-season first-place finishes in the Mid-Atlantic College Hockey Conference (MACHC), back-to-back MACHC championships in 1978-79 and 1979-80, and a bunch of first- and second-team League All-Stars. Among this year's most promising returning lettermen are MVP Glenn DeStefano and Matt Glass, both juniors and tied for the club season scoring record at 34 each. Last season the team left the MACHC, a league it had outgrown, to expand its schedule and meet the challenges of a higher level of competition. Today 90 percent of its opponents are NCAA varsity-caliber teams.

Dedication may be the most overworked and underdeserved cliche in athletic jargon today. When applied to Penn State hockey it is neither; it is truth. After digging into the piggy bank just to play, who else would travel a hundred miles for tryouts, practices and "home" games? That was during the two seasons it took to complete Penn State's new Indoor Sports Complex, when Mechanicsburg, not University Park, was "home" for games on ice.

But last January when the new rink opened at the Indoor Sports Complex, a capacity (1,100) Nittany Lion crowd was on hand for its christening with a hockey victory over Upsala. That was one of five standing-room-only home games in a season that ended 24-6 with only one home loss (Philadelphia Junior Flyers). Crowd estimators say 12,000 fans watched the Lions last year with an average game attendance of 800. The increased level of competition, along with the team's growing reputation for strong and fundamentally sound hockey, is expected to ensure sellout crowds again this year.

And it will be another season of Penn State-style good, clean, hard hockey under new coach John Shellington, whose introductory greeting was, "I do not tolerate penalties." Shellington, former letterman at Clarkson College, a Division I hockey power, is a CPA in State College who agreed to coach the team for no more than a possibility of club budget leftovers (if there are any) at the end of the season. He was recruited by the club to succeed Clayton John, another unpaid volunteer from the ranks of downtown businessmen, who has moved to Phoenix, Arizona.

The season opener was scheduled for October 23 against the Philadelphia Junior Flyers all-stars to be followed by almost-weekly contests until mid-March. And the team is looking for blue and white fans both at home and away, so the schedule, from December on, follows:

4 Cortland State
5 Cortland State
11 at Drexel
12 at Delaware
13 at Upsala
26-29 Eastern Michigan Tournament

8 Delaware
9 Delaware
16 Canisius
17 Villanova
23-24 Navy Crabpot Tournament
29 Bowling Green
30 Bowling Green

5 Michigan-Dearborn
6 Michigan-Dearborn
13-14 Nittany Lion Invitational
19 Duke
20 Duke

4-8 Kent State Invitational
9-14 Colorado U. Tournament (Natl. Col. Club Champs.)

THE AUTHOR: Dale Krach is a West Virginia University psychology graduate who earned his master's degree in environmental sciences at Penn State and served on Alumni Council as president of the Graduate Student Association, 1979-80. He is now teaching and working toward his Ph.D. in health education. One of his favorite spare-time pursuits is serving as trainer and executive director of the Penn State Hockey Club, an unpaid volunteer job he's held for the past two years.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

RoughRiders Pick Marsh in USHL Draft

The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders selected 2015 forward commit Alec Marsh in the 15th round of the USHL Entry Draft Tuesday evening. The Bridgewater, NJ native went in the 217th slot, although due to to the league's draft format, he was actually the 112th player off the board.

Marsh is the second Penn State commit to be picked by the USHL this month, as 2014 defenseman Kevin Kerr was tabbed by the Tri-City Storm in the USHL Futures Draft on May 1st. This year, the Entry Draft is open to all players with birth years from 1992 through 1997, while the Futures Draft was reserved for the top 1996 birth years.

With the Tier III Junior B New Jersey Rockets last season, Marsh was half of a dynamic duo with linemate Ryan Hitchcock, a 2014 Yale commit who will join the U.S. National Team Development Program this season. Each cracked the century mark in points over all competitions, although it was Marsh who tied for the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League's scoring lead with 79 points in 35 games. The pair also helped the Rockets to the USA Hockey Tier III national championships this past season.
“He is a natural goal scorer,” said Rockets assistant coach, and strength and conditioning coordinator Tony Samms [of Marsh]. You don’t teach that skill. Combine that with the little bit of edge that he plays with on the ice and an amazing off-ice work ethic, and Alec really has some special moments ahead.”
If he ends up with the Riders - he's stated a desire to play in the USHL in the past - he'll be joining a team that could use some special moments. While Cedar Rapids went 27-21-12 to finish fifth in the USHL Eastern Conference last year, they were swept out of the playoffs by Youngstown in the first round. They're hoping that an 11-player draft class, headed by 16th overall pick Judd Peterson (a Minnesota high school product committed to St. Cloud State for 2013) will help change that.

The USHL, of course, is a major developmental league for college hockey. Twelve members of Penn State's 2012-2013 roster spent time in the league, including junior defenseman Nate Jensen with the RoughRiders in 2008-2009. Of the nine known Penn State commits for 2013 and beyond, three have played full seasons in the league, while three others (Marsh, Kerr and 2011 Storm Entry Draft pick Chase Berger) have been drafted by the league.

Men's 2012-13 Schedule Released

Vermont forward Connor Brickley, a Florida Panthers draftee and World U20 Championships selection, will lead his team into Philadelphia to play the Nittany Lions January 19th.

Penn State has released its inaugural men's schedule, exactly one week after the women's schedule came out. Here it is, with analysis below.

October 2012

Fri. 12 vs. American International, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 13 vs. American International (at Wilkes-Barre, PA), 7:00 p.m.

Fri. 19 at Buffalo State (NCAA DIII), 7:00 p.m.
Sat. 20 at RIT, 7:05 p.m.

Fri. 26 at Army, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. 27 at Sacred Heart, 7:00 p.m.

Tue. 30 at Fredonia State (NCAA DIII), 7:00 p.m.

November 2012

Sat. 3 vs. Buffalo State (NCAA DIII), 7:30 p.m.

Fri. 9 vs. Air Force, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 10 vs. Air Force, 7:30 p.m.

Sat. 24 at Union, 7:00 p.m.
Sun. 25 at Union, 4:00 p.m.

Fri. 30 vs. Arizona State (ACHA), 7:30 p.m.

December 2012

Sat. 1 vs. Arizona State (ACHA), 7:30 p.m.

Fri. 7 at Holy Cross, 7:05 p.m.
Sat. 8 at Holy Cross, 7:05 p.m.

Sat. 15 vs. Robert Morris, 7:30 p.m.

Fri. 28 at Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational (RMU, Ohio State, Miami)
Sat. 29 at Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational (RMU, Ohio State, Miami)

January 2013

Fri. 4 at Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.
Sat. 5 at Connecticut, 7:05 p.m.

Fri. 11 vs. U.S. National Under-18 Team, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 12 vs. U.S. National Under-18 Team, 7:30 p.m.

Tue. 15 vs. Neumann (NCAA DIII), 7:30 p.m.

Sat. 19 vs. Vermont, 7:00 p.m. (at Philadelphia, PA)

Fri. 25 at Michigan State, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. 26 at Michigan State, 7:00 p.m.

February 2013

Fri. 1 vs. Ohio (ACHA), 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 2 vs. Ohio (ACHA), 7:30 p.m.

Fri. 8 vs. Alabama-Huntsville, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 9 vs. Alabama-Huntsville, 7:30 p.m.

Fri. 15 vs. Oklahoma (ACHA), 7:30 p.m.
Sat. 16 vs. Oklahoma (ACHA), 3:30 p.m.

Sun. 24 at Wisconsin, 8:00 p.m.
Mon. 25 at Wisconsin, 8:00 p.m.

The M 2012-2013 Schedule page has been updated for an easy reference once this post fades into the past and is hard to locate (seriously, that search box on the right side is complete crap).

First of all, here are posts addressing some of the "yeah, we already knew that" games when they became public knowledge. I won't spend any more time on those, because they've been turned into a fine hash by this point through repeated discussion.

Union Series Confirmed (May 18, 2012)
Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational Finalized (May 16, 2012)
Robert Morris Joins 2012-2013 Schedule (May 9, 2012)
ASU Site Confirms PSU Series (May 7, 2012)
Atlantic Hockey Announces Eight New PSU Games (May 4, 2012)
AIC: Mark Your Calendar (But Not on July's Picture) (January 18, 2012)
Fredonia: Date With the Devils (November 9, 2011)
Penn State to Meet RIT in 2012 (September 20, 2011)

Let's quickly move on to what's new. In that category, there's unquestionably nothing bigger than the game against Hockey East foe Vermont in Philadelphia. While UVM was a Frozen Four team in 2009, they've been in decline mode since then, bottoming out at 6-27-1 last year. To add to those difficulties, leading scorer Sebastian Stalberg went pro and star goalie Rob Madore (a Pittsburgh native - yep, that area is okay for goalies) ran out of eligibility. Still, it should be noted that one of those six wins was at Minnesota. The Gophers, of course, were in the Frozen Four last year.

Also, you may remember that the Catamounts brutalized the 2011 U.S. World University Games team 7-1 in a pre-tournament warmup back in December, 2010. Icers forward Eric Steinour, who will be joining the Nittany Lions this year, was on that team of ACHA all-stars. So as bad as UVM was last year, it's certainly one of those games that will tell us where we sit in year one. And much like last year's contest with Neumann in Philly, it's likely to be a destination game.

UAH coach Chris Luongo was a Wayne State assistant in 2008 when WSU dropped its men's program. So he almost went through his second program cancellation last year.

Alabama-Huntsville comes to the Ice Pavilion on February 8th and 9th. As an independent since the dissolution of College Hockey America's men's half in 2010 and as a geographic outlier, UAH has struggled mightily with scheduling, finances, recruiting and, as you might expect, on the ice as well. The Chargers nearly had their program discontinued last season, only to gain reprieve from a reversal. It's a good move by PSU administration to get Huntsville into town, particularly during the height of their scheduling issues (and ours, I suppose, for this year). The Icers and UAH shared many epic battles as two of the powers of non-varsity hockey from 1979-1985, so there's a historical angle to that one as well. And maybe the two schools can agree to stake their claims to the 1984 club national championship on the outcome.

Also new: the second opening-series game against AIC was moved to Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Buffalo State and Neumann join Fredonia as NCAA Division III teams on the schedule. PSU has an interesting history with both of those additions - Neumann from the outdoor game last year, of course, but also Buff State as an old rival from the ICHL, the Icers' conference from 1984-1992. The ACHA's Oklahoma Sooners were also (officially) added and have their own history with the Icers, of course. PSU and the Sooners tangled five times as ACHA rivals, with the last two meetings qualifying as legendary. On February 4th at the Ice Pavilion, the Icers rallied from a 3-0 hole in the last five minutes to win 4-3 in overtime. One month later, at the ACHA national tournament, the Icers won 6-3 thanks largely to the odd sight of a goalie in the penalty box.

Finally, dates were confirmed for the already-known series with Arizona State and Ohio, and the Wisconsin road series has officially been moved back to a Sunday-Monday pair, thanks to their valuing high school sports over college sports (thanks, guys). The original four games with the U.S. National Team Development Program have been scaled back to two to accommodate all of this.

Taken as a whole, I think that this is the type of schedule that will create widely diverging opinions. Here's mine.

I'm not pleased with the home schedule, which includes only six games against NCAA Division I opposition, three of which are against arguably the two worst programs in the country. In that regard, I think moving the second AIC game was a mistake. Maybe not financially, as it will probably draw more than 1,500 fans in Wilkes-Barre, but in terms of giving the University Park fans something to watch and building the local following. I really think an opportunity was missed to cross-promote the women's program as well. They're playing their first NCAA home games that same weekend, against Syracuse. Now though, fans (and bloggers) will have to choose between the two programs on the 13th, instead of enjoying a packed "welcome to the NCAA" weekend at the Ice Pavilion. Where's the synergy?

There is a little more synergy to be had elsewhere. The men host Air Force - probably the strongest home opponent of the season - on November 9th and 10th, while Robert Morris, the defending CHA tournament champs, come calling for the women on the 10th and 11th. That's without question the biggest home weekend of the year. Other cross-gender Ice Pavilion action can be found on November 2-3 (men vs. Buffalo State, women vs. Sacred Heart), February 1-2 (men vs. Ohio, women vs. Mercyhurst) and February 8-9 (men vs. UAH, women vs. Lindenwood).

Air Force goalie Jason Torf will contribute to the best weekend of hockey all year at the Ice Pavilion.

With respect to the ACHA, I'm sure most of us wanted to blow town and never look back - I'll never forget where we came from, but yeah, guilty - and those games aren't necessarily going to get anyone's blood pumping. Those DIII games (including Fredonia, which lost to the Icers last season) don't translate to a whole lot of excitement either.

But the fact is that for this year, PSU was limited in several ways. Teams with NCAA tournament aspirations are dissuaded from scheduling the Nittany Lions because they won't get credit in the pairwise rankings (which determine NCAA at-large bids) for the games, since PSU is a new program. Beyond the PWR, there's a chance that major programs don't see Penn State as good enough (yet) to push them to the point of willingness to sacrifice a treasured schedule slot or two. The Ice Pavilion, generally speaking, is inadequate for hosting a major conference team, and PSU wanted to schedule a reasonable number of total home games, necessitating contests with lower-level opponents. During the spring semester, every program except PSU and Huntsville will be in the thick of their conference schedules, cutting down on available dates.

Considering all of that, and in the final analysis, Joe Battista, Bill Downey and company did a commendable job. Instead of focusing on what the schedule doesn't have, let's focus on what it does.
  • Six games against three different NCAA tournament teams, including Frozen Four participant Union. Two of those games, against Air Force (who arguably played eventual national champion Boston College tougher than anyone else), will be at the Ice Pavilion.
  • An NCAA tournament team will be visiting the Ice Pavilion. Yeah, I wanted to repeat that one.
  • A shot as the foil for RIT's homecoming weekend. The Tigers were in the Frozen Four themselves back in 2010.
  • Tradition-laden Wisconsin, while not an NCAA tournament team last season, is perennially one of the most talented teams in the country. Just to add a degree of difficulty to things, their home Kohl Center led the nation in attendance in 2011-2012 with 11,773 fans per game.
  • A holiday tournament in the sparkling Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. A possible fourth different NCAA tournament opponent will join the Lions there, in the form of national power Miami. Ohio State could join Michigan State and Wisconsin as future Big Ten rivals on the schedule, should PSU meet the Buckeyes there.
  • That first AIC game. So you've never heard of the opponent. So what? Penn State, as an NCAA Division I team, is playing another NCAA Division I team for the first time ever. That's all you need to know.
Really, the schedule contains a nice blend of teams that will give Penn State a chance of posting a relatively respectable record in the first year while still allowing measurement against some of the top programs in DI. It gives Penn Staters a good first taste of DI hockey without the anticipated bludgeonings (at worst, they'll be spread out). Oh yeah, and there's also that matter of two gigantic showcase-type events, one in each of Pennsylvania's two largest cities. So... up? Start saving my money for all the road tripping.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Three Stars: May 14-20

3. Big Ten Names Steve Piotrowski Incoming Coordinator of Men's Ice Hockey Officials

Here's the identity of one guy to get upset with when the calls don't go our way.

2. Bill O'Brien, Guy Gadowsky eye outdoor hockey game at Beaver Stadium
(The Daily Collegian)

In wrapping up the PSU Coaches Caravan from a hockey perspective, it's pretty safe to say that this is the most notable story to emerge. To be sure, we're still several years out from anything like this seriously being on the table, but it's an idea that has been gaining momentum.

At the Pegula Ice Arena groundbreaking ceremony, someone asked Joe Battista about the oft-suggested Penguins-Flyers Winter Classic at PSU. Battista's answer: "We want to be be in that game." It seems as if, for a couple of reasons, people are starting to realize that Gary Bettman's buy-in may not be needed to stage an outdoor hockey game in Beaver Stadium. And who knows - maybe a PSU game will serve as a catalyst to eventually landing the Winter Classic. That progression certainly worked out for Michigan better than I expected.

1. Penn State Hockey on the Coaches Caravan

There was a time not too long ago when I referred to most of what came out of the Coaches Caravan as "vapid, yet fluffy." But you know what? Sometimes, that's exactly what one needs.

Best of the Rest

RMU Hockey: Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational

Robert Morris coach and occasional TYT mancrush subject Derek Schooley shares his thoughts on December's Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational (which, of course, includes PSU, RMU, Ohio State and Miami at the Consol Energy Center), now officially the only holiday tournament that matters.

One minor observation: the Colonials play a home-and-home with the Buckeyes on December 7th and 8th, then of course visit PSU on the 15th. Given that, it seems obvious that the PCHI would pair RMU with Miami on the 28th to guarantee new opposition, which of course leaves the Nittany Lions with the Buckeyes. Bobby Mo opening with PSU or OSU opens the door to their only playing the two teams that they've already played that month. As hosts, I'm guessing that they're going to want to pile as much luster on this thing as is possible, and it seems like that would not necessarily be the way to do it.

Pieces falling into place for Gadowsky, Penn State

USCHO certainly has a strange way of dropping a lengthy and comprehensive story into your lap when you least expect it. Here's some George Saad quotage from the article:
“I was pretty much just going to get my education,” said forward George Saad of Wexford, Pa., who will be a senior in the fall. “Penn State was trying to go D-I for many years, and I didn’t know if it was going to happen. I came to play [club] hockey, and it worked out in the end.”

Playing for a Division I coach in Gadowsky this season was a positive experience for Saad, who skated for Mahoning Valley of the NAHL in the junior ranks.

“He’s an awesome coach,” said Saad, a civil engineering major who posted 34 goals and 66 points in 77 club outings with the Icers. “When he came in, everything went up to the next level. The expectations became higher, and we played a lot better.”
Gratz named new Bloomington coach
(Fort Wayne News-Sentinel)

Brian Gratz didn't play all that much as an Icers goalie from 1999-2004, appearing in 17 games total, although it needs to be said that he posted a sparkling 1.53 goals against average as a senior when getting more than a fleeting opportunity (he was also an Ice Lion from 2000-2003, where he was an ACHA Division 2 All-American in 2002-2003).

It's safe to say, though, that he's close to the top of the Icers' alumni list when it comes to forging a post-PSU career in hockey. Gratz bounced around the low minors from 2004-2007, then broke into coaching (included: a stop back with the Icers as a goaltending coach in 2009-2010) rising to become GM/head coach of the Central Hockey League's Dayton Gems from 2010-2012. His tenure there ended due to the team's folding, however he's landed on his feet with this newly-acquired position as head coach of the CHL's Bloomington Blaze.

PS. Here's some nice analysis on the CHL's franchise roulette, if you're interested.

Bailey Bram, a 2010 Patty Kaz finalist and a gold medal winner with Team Canada at the recent IIHF Women's World Championships, is among the seniors Mike Sisti will try to replace with a large recruiting class. Photo: Tim Brule/USCHO

Women's Hockey Adds A Dozen For Upcoming 2012-13 Campaign

The CHA's juggernaut is adding 12 players for this season, including three transfers from dead program Niagara.

RIT women’s coach McDonald takes plea deal

Memo to Coach Brandwene: if you ever play men's league with Scott McDonald, try to get on his team.

New Scoreboard & Sound System for Mariucci
(Gopher Puck Live)

There's something extraordinarily satisfying about knowing that your school's facility helped set off a mini-arms race within the Big Ten. First Yost Ice Arena, now this. Nice try, guys. As Section E would say to an opposing goalie at the beginning of the third period, "we're still here, and you still suck."


Pretty big talk for a school that has two* more NCAA conference championship-winning seasons than Penn State after 41 years in the CCHA and 49 overall as an varsity program. Also, it's hard not to appreciate the irony of a Buckeye going with an "amateurs" beak at a college hockey program. Yes, we are amateurs, no argument here. Are your guys not or something?

Apparently, Mr. Schwepfinger is the director of the OSU Knucklebucks, which is his school's hockey student section. On a related note, I've heard a lot of hype about the creativity of NCAA hockey student sections but am officially underwhelmed so far as of now.

* One of those years was 1971-1972, the first year of the CCHA's existence, and ten years before the defections of Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame from the WCHA handed it major conference status. OSU's competition for that inaugural league crown? Three other teams: Bowling Green, Ohio (yes, that Ohio) and Saint Louis.

Penn State athletics emerge from last fall’s crisis with transformative leadership
(Steve On Crisis)

Okay, one more Coaches Caravan-related link. I liked this a lot, and it reads like the post I would've written about it, had I not decided to pour my guts out to you guys instead. There's only one sentence where I have an issue.
Penn State is in the seventh month of a crisis that’s far from ended. The child sex-abuse trial of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is coming and will tear off all the healing scabs this great university grew in the last few months since legendary coach Joe Paterno’s firing and death.
He's not alone in that opinion, but I respectfully disagree, as I feel like we have a reasonably decent grasp of what happened. I can't speak for you, but rehashing it all in great detail won't harm my healing process. Sandusky can't get any lower. He (allegedly) raped numerous young boys. The specifics are irrelevant to me. Tim Curley was a disposable suit/photo op robot to me, and I'd never even heard of Gary Schultz until this all happened. There's really nothing that can come out relative to those three that makes things any worse.

Sure, there's Paterno, who has always been the lightning rod in all of this. But whatever you think of how he handled things 10 years ago, it's tangental to proving Sandusky's guilt and not likely to be a significant part of his proceedings. It's not tangental to Curley and Schultz, but a) Will those cases even make it to trial, particularly with key witness Paterno now deceased? and b) I'm still 4-5 years from a law degree, but it seems to me that the state would want to paint Paterno as someone who fulfilled his obligation while Curley and Schultz neglected theirs.

If you think I'm wrong, get at me in the comments and tell me about the rest of the iceberg I'm supposedly missing.

Justin Kirchhevel and Oklahoma goalie Nick Holmes: probably still not Facebook friends.

Gadowsky is right man for Penn State
(Buffalo News)

We should probably close on a positive note after that one, eh?

I really want to tip my hat to Buffalo News columnist Bucky Gleason here. As a Buffalonian (is that the proper demonym for someone from Buffalo?), he had a really easy story handed to him by the PSU Coaches Caravan (yeah, okay, one more link) stop on Tuesday. Terry Pegula was there, as were both Gadowsky and Josh Brandwene. It would have been very, very easy to toss some standard hero worship Pegula's way, say everyone else is pretty swell too, insert some bland quotes from each, and call it a day. Instead, Gleason did actual research and built a cogent point around it, even "uncovering" the Justin Kirchhevel-Nick Holmes incident at ACHA nationals, and Gadowsky's subsequent benching of his leading scorer.
Gadowsky sent a clear message that he wouldn't tolerate inappropriate behavior. He was committed to Penn State's motto: Success with honor.

"We're building a foundation for doing things right," he said. "The words, 'Success with honor,' they're just words until you follow through with that. What happened, I felt, was an incident that I felt spoke [against] success with honor. We want to do things the right way. You can't just talk about it. This needed a response. It had to be done."
For the record, I completely agree. Gleason went on to essentially say that the only way for Penn State to heal its reputation is to simply do the right thing at all times - the Kirchhevel suspension being one example - and that Gadowsky is the type of person who can reach that high ideal.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

PIA Construction: May 20, 2012

Fourth in a series tracking Pegula Ice Arena construction every few weeks (February 7, 2012 / March 27, 2012 / April 10, 2012).

Since the advent of Mortenson's PIA construction camera in early April, I've decided to step my game up and make sure I add value to tracking the arena progress when doing these posts. So this one's going to be a little beefed up from previous endeavors. As always, every picture below can be enlarged by clicking on it.

For what it's worth, here's the view from that construction camera from roughly the time I was on campus Sunday afternoon:

That camera sits on top of Holuba Hall which, for those affiliated with other schools reading this, is the large beigeish/greyish building that looks like it could also be a hockey arena in the background of many of the photos below (it's actually the indoor practice facility for the football team). So, for those lacking in the deductive reasoning department, the construction camera presents a solid reverse angle on most of my pictures.

Unfortunately, most of the possible vantage points of the site are blocked off, sometimes by existing structures (Holuba and the infamous Lasch Building, for example) as well as the ubiquitous blue-clad chain-link fences in that area of campus. The best (really, only) place to get a good view with the naked eye (and not by reaching up and holding your phone over the fence line): the concrete benches near the rear entrance of the Shields Building. These next few pictures came from that view.

The location of the 300-seat community rink is easy to spot:

There's going to be some pretty great hockey played right about here:

Venturing a little bit further down Curtin Road reveals the main entrance, near the intersection of Curtin and University Drive.

Turning the corner to University and the construction vehicle entrance, the view is less than stellar. But hey, it's the other side of that wall that stands roughly at the front of the arena facing that street. That's the side with all the glass if you're disoriented by now. Let's take a second to acknowledge that there's a wall there, and that it's the best wall in the country.

Here's the other side of the construction entrance. By now, we're pretty far removed from most of the activity, but it can be seen in the background.

But yeah, that's pretty nice.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Olczyk Named ACHA's Top Rookie

From the moment people said "hey wait, that's Ed Olczyk's kid" through his goal and assist in a 12-second span against Oklahoma at nationals under bizarre circumstances that clinched the final win in Icers history, Tommy Olczyk was a revelation. The ACHA had already recognized this in the form of their all-rookie team earlier this month, but they have now decided that Olczyk needed to be declared the best of those rookies.

The following is the ACHA release in its entirety, via

The 2012 American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Men's Division 1 Rookie-of-the-Year Award goes to forward #14 Tommy Olczyk of Penn State University, as selected by the Head Coaches of ACHA Men's Division 1.

The other finalists for the Men's Division 1 Rookie-of-the-Year Award were:
  • #4 Dustin Hopfner, Defense, Oakland University
  • #16 Steve Brancheau, Forward, Lindenwood University
  • #23 Michael Jordan, Forward, Minot State University
Tommy, a freshman from Long Grove, IL, becomes the second Nittany Lions player in school history to be honored as the ACHA Men's Division 1 Rookie-of-the-Year, joining 2006 winner Lukas Delorenzo.

Olczyk made an immediate impact for Penn State. The freshman led all ACHA rookies in several statistical categories, including goals (24), assists (29), points (53) and game-winning markers (3), and his 24 tallies also ranked first on the team.

A tireless worker on the ice, the forward helped Penn State secure the No. 1 ranking in the nation for most of the year, as the Nittany Lions advanced to the ACHA National Tournament semifinals. Following the 2011-12 season, the team voted Olczyk its Rookie of the Year.

The ACHA All-Rookie Team member also made positive contributions in the classroom, as he earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average during his freshman academic year.

Olczyk joined Penn State following four seasons with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League. In his final season with Sioux City, he earned the league's Curt Hammer Award, presented to a player who distinguishes himself both on and off the ice by demonstrating outstanding performance skills, pride and determination.