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.

1 comment:

  1. You're right. The only thing that will get worse with Sandusky is that once the trial starts, it's going to be in the news a bit more this summer than it is right now. But that's nothing compared to what it was like in November.

    The specifics, if anything, are getting - not better - but maybe less bad from the university's perspective. This is to be expected, since in the beginning, we only heard from the prosecution. The defense, in both cases, hasn't had much chance to challenge their narrative. It still looks pretty bad for Sandusky, mind.

    Of course, that doesn't matter for most people. Most people decided they knew everything they needed to about this based on some bs they heard on Nancy Grace or whatever. Nothing is going to make this any better in their minds, but nothing is going to make it any worse in their view because it's already as bad as it could be.

    I suppose it's possible that there's some big bombshell that hasn't yet dropped. But a lot of commenter are acting like that's a given when it's not at all. It's also possible that tomorrow we could learn that the moon is made of cheese and that Nicholas Cage is, in fact, a time traveler. But I'm not going to plan on that.

    A lot of people think that because this is about child abuse that the usual rules of evidence and basic rationality and logic should no longer apply.