Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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


  1. Was UMass D1 at that time? I recall seeing them play BU in 1996 and recall being told that was like their second year in D1.

  2. 1993-94 was their first year, they went 20-9-1 as an independent before joining Hockey East in 1994-95. If you subscribe to the "this doesn't really start until we're in the Big Ten" thinking, then apply it to UMass, it was their second year in 1995-96 I suppose.

    I didn't get into this idea in the post, but really, programs in transition are the only ones generally willing to give a club team a shot. UMass, RMU, Findlay, Wayne State, Notre Dame, Kent State and NAU (if they're for real, I'm still not convinced) were all within two years of being something other than an NCAA DI program. Army and Holy Cross are really the only exceptions.