Friday, June 29, 2012

Breakout Past: Early Lady Icers Gallery

Until now, I've never done a Breakout Past on the women's team, and there's a very simple reason for that: the information just isn't out there. Believe me, I'd absolutely love to do something like construct a list of every game played by the Lady Icers, but I just don't think it's possible. The ACHA has gone through about five different sites and is only good in bits and pieces. The Collegian's coverage is hit and miss. La Vie is also spotty, not just on the wins and losses, but on whether they even include the team in a given year. I'm not aware of any other sources out there.

I don't have any Lady Icers memorabilia either. If Alicia Lepore or Andrea Lavelle - or anyone else, I just picked out two giants of team history - wants to send me an autographed old glove or something, I could probably make that work. Actually, let's do this: open invitation to any Lady Icers alumnae for an interview that will appear in a future Breakout Past. Email me if interested (click on my name at the bottom of the right-hand column if you don't know my email). Boom, done.

Also email me if you happen to be the guy in charge of Lady Icers recordkeeping. Or if you have anything at all that could help me in any way. I think that about covers it.

Anyway, back on track. While those yearbooks are brutal for accurate, detailed information, they are actually helpful in another way - the pictures. With that in mind, here are most of the yearbook photos from the first five years of the Lady Icers' existence. While I included the specific years in the captions (which are otherwise as they appear in the yearbooks), it's important to know that there's a year delay in coverage due to, I assume, printing deadlines. So the 1998 La Vie actually covers the inaugural 1996-1997 season. The 2002 incarnation seems to cover 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 at the same time without even realizing it.

As usual, click to enlarge, although due to the wildly varying quality of the photos, some enlarge more than others. This concludes the longest explanation ever for a set of fully-captioned pictures. Enjoy.

1998: Ready and waiting, ice hockey goalie Kathy Beckford prepares to defend her net during an early morning practice. The Lady Icers celebrated their first year of competition. The team boasted a winning record of 4-2-1, playing such teams as Michigan and Boston University.

2000: Skating after the puck at practice, forward Lauren Shaw readies herself to play. The team practiced skating and stickhandling to improve its overall skills.

2000: Before an early morning practice, forward Michele Mahno dresses in her protective gear. In addition to practice time on the ice, the team ran and conditioned together in addition to holding weekly meetings.

2000: Singing the national anthem before a home game, the team lines up on the blue line to salute the flag. The newly renovated ice rink provided an area for the team to practice and compete.

2002: Senior wing Michelle Zulkowski tries to put one through the five hole. The Lady Icers skated to their 10th win of the season during this match against the University of Buffalo.

2002: Goalie Jen McDevitt celebrates after her teammate scores a goal. The team continued on their path of excellence, reaching goals that exceeded their expectations.

2002: Penn State's Lady Icers congratulate each other after a win. Although they did not go undefeated for a second year, the team still came out on top of their league.

2002: 2001-2002 Penn State Lady Icers Hockey Team. Alphabetical order: Coach Billie Willits, Lisa Baronio, Kate Connolly, Steph Feyock, Jess Gursky, Becky Holmes, Courtney Izette, Katie King, Andrea Lavelle, Jenna Lichenwalmer, Jen McDevitt, Alexandra McVicker, Kristen Patricelli, Erica Petrosky, Kristen Reed, Faryn Shapiro, Lauren Shaw, Kate Specchio, Michelle Zulkowsky.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

PIA Construction: June 27, 2012

Sixth in a series tracking Pegula Ice Arena construction every few weeks (February 7, 2012 / March 27, 2012 / April 10, 2012 / May 20, 2012 / June 15, 2012).

This mini-installment of PIA Construction is brought to you by Ben Jones, the Penn State blogger who straight up grinded out a name for himself amidst a horrible situation and went legit. Not that he needs my plug (10,777 Twitter followers...seriously guy?), but be sure to catch his stuff on His work here is a major assist, since I wasn't planning on visiting State College again until July 20th (just in case you're dying to know when the next of these will drop).

Here's the image from Mortenson's web cam as of Wednesday afternoon:

Jones' work adds what have been the three go-to views of the site, at least for the time being.

Just so I can say I contributed something to the post, I slid renderings with the finished product in below the photos. They're generally slightly different angles, but use your imagination - that's what these posts are all about anyway. As always with this series, all pictures are clickable to enlarge.

First, the main entrance area:

The "overview" from behind the Shields Building shows that the steel work has now expanded to include most of the end opposite where the student section will be:

Finally, the "exterior," from near the main construction entrance off of University Ave.:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Daley Transferring to DIII Stevens Point

Photo: Mark Selders/Penn State Athletics

Sources close to former Icers forward Josh Daley have informed TYT that he has elected to transfer to Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point for the 2012-2013 season.

Daley, a Pittsburgh native, arrived at Penn State last season after a successful Canadian Junior A career that included 23 goals with the SJHL's Battlefords North Stars in 2009-2010 and 31 more in a 2010-2011 season split between the MJHL's Dauphin Kings and Waywayseecappo Wolverines. With a highlight reel like this, he was definitely one of the more anticipated recruits for 2011:

He started off well enough, with a pair of goals in PSU's season-opening destruction of Lebanon Valley College. Then...not a whole lot. He played in 10 games after that, none of which were at the ACHA National Tournament, scoring two more times and adding two assists. Even within those 11 total games, he was largely used as a fourth-liner or a spare forward. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, he was left off of the list of Icers making the jump to the DI team in April. I suppose it could be said that of the 11 who will be on the Nittany Lions this fall, only four (Matt Madrazo, Jake Friedman, Mike McDonagh and Pete Sweetland) were not Guy Gadowsky recruits or rising seniors, so perhaps the odds were against Daley from day one.

His new school, Stevens Point, was once the dominant program in DIII, winning four national championships in five seasons from 1988-1993 and adding runner-up finishes in 1992 and 1998. While the Pointers haven't come close to those heights in recent seasons, second year coach Chris Brooks put a stop to UWSP's first streak of consecutive losing seasons since the mid-1980s in 2011-2012. He'll look to 19 returning players (including forward Kyle Heck, who scored 23 percent of the team's goals last year) - and one notable new one - to continue to rebuild the program.

Daley joins goaltender Tim Carr in departing from PSU to a Division III program. Carr joined Western New England in the middle of last season and put up team-leading goals against (2.49) and save percentage (0.928) numbers over his seven games. Forwards Tim Acker, Dan Meiselman, Dominic Morrone and Forrest Dell as well as defensemen Ryan Seibolt, Steve Edgeworth and Brandon Russo remain among the 2011-2012 Icers with unknown plans for next year.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Four Ice Lions Receive ACHA Honors

Clockwise from top left: Chirs Lewis, Jim
Recupero, Tom Badali, Mac Winchester
Ice Lions forward Chris Lewis was named a second-team All-American by the ACHA's Division 2 coaches. Joining him in postseason honors were All-Southeast Region team members Jim Recupero (second team), Tom Badali (second team) and Mac Winchester (third team). Lewis, as one might expect given his national honor, was on the region's first team as well.

Please accept my sincerest apologies if this is all old news. I just learned of it today, and only because it was tweeted by Arizona State's account. Thanks as always for the timely and effective distribution of information, ACHA.

Lewis, the former Boston Bulldog, stepped in as a freshman and led PSU in numerous categories, including goals (35), points (59), power play goals (9), shorthanded goals (2) and penalty minutes (50). Recupero, Lewis' linemate and the senior captain, was second on the team in scoring, a count that included a dramatic overtime winner against DePaul at the ACHA Showcase. He also had a fantastic run with the ACHA D2 Selects in Europe in late December and early January. Badali, a senior goalie, won his first 20 decisions of the season and didn't lose until PSU's season ended in a loss to Grand Valley State at nationals. He put up unreal numbers in other areas as well, including a 0.943 save percentage and a 1.45 goals against average. Winchester, a former Icer, was a standout defenseman who also chipped in five goals.

Collectively, of course, the Ice Lions had a ridiculous season. The team finished 31-3-0, including a 25-game winning streak that lasted from October 21st until March 17th. Penn State was both the regular season and playoff MACHA champions, and of course appeared at the ACHA National Tournament in March.

The quartet of Ice Lions join eight Icers previously receiving D1 postseason honors, including Tommy Olczyk who was the ACHA D1 rookie of the year, and three Lady Icers who were Academic All-Americans.

Three Stars: June 18-24

3. New York Islanders Business Directory

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a press release on this, but...

Matt Bertani, who served as an Icers assistant from 2005-2008, is the new video coach for the New York Islanders. Quite an impressive career track, to say the least. He left PSU to assist with the Islanders' AHL team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, where he remained until now (surviving a head coaching change in the process, which shows a good deal of organizational faith). He's a dyed-in-the-wool ACHA guy, as he played with Mercyhurst's club team and he also developed some pretty diverse experience as a youth hockey coach prior to coming to PSU.

Actually, it's a meteoric rise and a great comeback story - you may recall that Bertani was nearly killed in a men's league game last year while suffering a broken neck in a collision. Congratulations Matt!

2. Gadowsky adds a pair of forwards

Meet Alec Marsh and Chase Berger - at the moment, PSU's entire 2015 recruiting class.

1. Jerry Sandusky guilty on 45 of 48 counts
(The Daily Collegian)

I hope that this isn't taken as minimizing the trauma of those who came into physical contact with Jerry Sandusky and who then stood as his accusers, but we were all his victims. The justice system has done what it could with him - he'll likely spend the rest of his life as the worst type of person one can be in prison - and for that I'm glad. I just wish it could give us back what we've lost in transit to this point.

This story will likely fade from the national media's consciousness now, although the appeals, the civil suits, the Freeh report that already smells like a sham designed to pin this all on "football culture" (whatever that means), the hopeful unmasking of all in Penn State administration who kept what I suspect was a "well-known secret" at the highest levels of university governance...all of those things make this an awkward sort of semi-closure. They will keep picking at the scabs and delaying the already imperfect healing process. The good news? We are Penn State. Emphasis on "we," because Penn Staters, collectively, are what makes Penn State great. Keep excelling at whatever it is you do in life. Live the last verse of the alma mater. Do it while wearing a PSU shirt, if possible. Take the hits you'll undoubtedly receive for doing so, but keep moving forward.

We are Penn State, and we will eventually take our university back.

PS. I'm absolutely stunned that more people haven't pointed out that Sandusky is one of the jokers in the unlicensed Penn State Football Heroes playing card decks sold at PSU retail outlets for several years. The actual cards simply have footballs in the top left and bottom right corners, so I took some artistic license there.

Best of the Rest

Pride of Pegula Store

Dooooo itttttttt.... you know you're going to want to white something out at a hockey game at some point. Pictured: my likely first purchase.

Penn State back in play for Army hockey

The October 26th game at Army is one of my favorites this year. The Black Knights are one of just three currently-active Division I programs played by Penn State's original 1940-1947 varsity team, and the only one on this year's schedule (Cornell and Colgate are the others). I'm glad that fact hasn't gotten lost.
Penn State will play on Oct. 26 at Tate Rink, the first visit by the Nittany Lions to West Point since 1947. The school dropped varsity hockey after that season and has competed as a club program in recent years. Penn State will compete as a Division I independent this season and join the new Big Ten conference in 2013-14.
"Recent years?" Makes it sound as if the Icers started up in 2004. Oh well, nobody's perfect.

Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, NCAA Sanctions and the “Death Penalty”
(Victory Bell Rings)

Included because it brings up an interesting idea, forwarded mostly by people who hate Penn State: could the NCAA sanction PSU to the stone age? While anything is possible, I don't believe they will, because the simple fact is that none of what happened affected the on-field product in any way. When the NCAA speaks of "lack of institutional control," it's in the context of breaking NCAA rules, which are in place (generally) to ensure fairness in the realm of athletics (that's what the first "A" is for, after all). I question whether the NCAA has the jurisdiction to punish PSU for this. I also question why this story gets coverage from ESPN, but that's a different rant.
Even if the NCAA wants to bring penalties on Penn State athletics, where do they begin? As I said, this is not a football crime, regardless of how it has been portrayed. If a penalty comes, it has to be big. It has to be everybody from women’s basketball, to wrestling to baseball and fencing. A hockey team that doesn’t yet exist would be penalized. Will the NCAA punish hundreds of athletes because of the wrong-doings of an administration? Has there ever been an NCAA punishment that didn’t involve a single athlete committing a single infraction?
Yeah, basically.

Click to enlarge.

Under Construction for the Pegula Ice Arena!
(I admit)

An updated PIA photo from a likely, yet not, source - a PSU Undergraduate Admissions blog.

Penn State Ice Pavilion Tickets

Every once in a while, I come across a little reminder of big-time status that blows my mind. This is one of those, even though there aren't any tickets up yet.

Western Pennsylvania nets notable status in hockey world
RMU hockey basks in ’Burgh spotlight
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

With the NHL Entry Draft in the Steel City Friday and Saturday, local media did not disappoint with the easily-predicted "yay Pittsburgh hockey!" articles. But hey, good PA hockey is good for Penn State. And Robert Morris. So yay, indeed.

Signs point to Federal league in Williamsport
(Shooting for the Show)

Closer to the other end of the commonwealth, it looks as if Williamsport might be getting a taste of our favorite sport.

Connecticut jumping to Hockey East, to 18 scholarships for 2014-15 season

The headline more or less says it all. Hockey East finally has their 12th team, and hopefully UConn will prove worthy of it because a successful big school in a big conference is good for college hockey. They're adding the full 18 scholarships (up from zero) and will play home conference games at the XL Center, formerly the Hartford Civic Center, also formerly the home of the Hartford Whalers. So yeah, I'm dropping some Pat Verbeek on you.

And just because I haven't done this in a while, here's how the conferences stack up, beginning in 2014. The only change from 2013 to 2014 will be the Huskies' arrival in Hockey East from Atlantic Hockey.

Big Ten (6): Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin.

NCHC (8): Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State, Western Michigan.

Hockey East (12): Boston College, Boston University, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Massachusetts-Lowell, Merrimack, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Notre Dame, Providence, Vermont.

ECAC (12): Brown, Clarkson, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Quinnipiac, RPI, St. Lawrence, Union, Yale.

WCHA (9): Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, Northern Michigan

Atlantic Hockey (11): Air Force, American International, Army, Bentley, Canisius, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst, Niagara, RIT, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart.

Still Screwed, But Hoping the WCHA Has Mercy (1): Alabama-Huntsville.

Don't bother memorizing it, I'm sure it will change before 2014 in some way.

Just Three Proposals for Prime Canalside Site
(Buffalo Rising)

Sounds like TPegs might finally be looking to shut Canisius up. Yeah, I thought their begging for a handout was a little gauche - and before you accuse me of hypocrisy, Pegula actually has a connection to Penn State and initiated the discussion with the school. So there. Anyway...
Sources said the Sabres are proposing a multi-rink facility, with a themed sports bar/restaurant to be developed by Delaware North Cos. for the block. The rinks would be used as a practice facility for the team as well as the home base for some of the area's collegiate hockey teams. It would also host amateur and youth tournaments.

According to Business First, the Sabres/Delaware North project also includes a hotel component, parking for 1,000 cars, and retail along both Main and Perry streets. There would be two rinks, one with spectator seating for a couple of hundred, the other with up to 1,500.
That's actually smaller than the rink of Division III Buffalo State, where the Griffs currently play. Then again, they drew 626 fans per game last year, fourth worst in DI, so I think they'll be okay.

Title IX at 40
(Philadelphia Inquirer)

Finally, happy birthday to Title IX - a landmark not only for female athletes, but for everyone who believes in equality.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Breakout Past: 1988 Camp Brochure

Since it's camp season, why not?

There's actually a deeper meaning here, though. As many of you know, Penn State hockey camps served as Terry Pegula's introduction to the Icers program. Here's a quote from Joe Battista when asked how he met Pegula.
His son Michael came down from Olean, N.Y., to Penn State hockey camps in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when he was 9-12 years old.
Michael Pegula is now 33 years old. In 1988 then, he was - you guessed it - nine. So really, you're looking at a small, yet huge, piece of how we got to where we are today.

Images courtesy of Derek Meluzio (as usual, click to enlarge). Be sure to check out Derek's fantastic Stack the Pads blog over at PennLive, now featuring Penn State content!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cause For Concern?

Since Penn State's elevation to NCAA Division I hockey, there have been numerous reasons to be excited. The shiny, new arena sought by the school for about 100 years - call the Ice Pavilion a temporary fix in that regard, as even it was scaled back from original DI-ready plans - is slowly emerging from a dirt pit on University Drive. The two coaching staffs have begun building programs worthy of that arena. Penn State hockey now gets semi-regular shoutouts on NHL telecasts and free publicity in news articles almost any time Terry Pegula is mentioned in his capacity as owner of the Buffalo Sabres. Other than a handful of people bitter about conference realignment and such things (mostly North Dakota fans), the response from the hockey community has been overwhelmingly positive.

I'm a little concerned, though. And not about any of that.

Men's hockey ticket packages for 2012-2013 went on sale last Tuesday morning. Shortly after, presumably, the initial burst, the team tweeted that fewer than 200 packages remained. By Monday morning, nearly a week later, the number was down to fewer than 70.

It should be pointed out that we're talking about the Greenberg Ice Pavilion, which has a listed capacity of 1,350. Take out full season ticket renewals, take out student seats (which will probably number about 300), take out whatever tickets will be set aside for single game sales and it's fair to wonder just how many seats were reserved for the not-yet-sold-out packages in the first place.

But regardless of that, we do know this: roughly 130 packages in six days during the first week they were available. Where's the interest?

There are a couple of reasonable objections to my query:
  1. The packages are less than flexible. They're essentially groups of five games chosen for balance, but with no commonality like "all Fridays" to them.
  2. The home schedule is...not that good.
Just to address those:
  1. One of the packages includes the October 12th game against American International, the first game in PSU's NCAA history. The other two include games against Air Force, an NCAA Tournament team last season. All three include two games against NCAA Division I teams.
  2. The packages cost $55, including a processing charge. That's not a horrible deal, even if only considering that price as being for the two DI games. If you can't or don't want to attend one of the games, it's not like you're getting hosed.
  3. This is PSU's first NCAA season. We've waited forever for this moment in time. It's history in the making. Suck it up.
Even if a buyer doesn't want to go to any of the games, they're getting priority on tickets at Pegula Ice Arena in 2013-2014. That alone is probably worth $55, considering the $100 minimum donation to the Nittany Lion Club required for football ticket privileges.

Yep, it's worth repeating: there's a 6,000-seat arena that needs filling after the coming season. And right now, it doesn't seem as if the interest is there to move a very limited number of places in line for that venue in short order. That's concerning.

If the ticket issue was isolated, I probably don't write this post. But...

In my observation and to this point, there has been minimal engagement among Penn Staters outside of the already-defined hockey circles. Fight On State, the only one of the major-network PSU sites with a dedicated hockey message board, has seen a total of 19 posts since the Icers' loss to Oakland at the ACHA tournament. Sure, it's the offseason I guess, but consider all that has gone on since then:
  • The entire NCAA hockey tournament. Granted, there was not direct PSU involvement, but that's something that draws the attention of dedicated college hockey fans regardless of team affiliation.
  • The commitments of forwards Alec Marsh and Chase Berger for 2015.
  • The announcement of 11 Icers who will play on the coming season's NCAA team.
  • The signing and subsequent (official) announcement of two incoming players, one of whom is an NHL draft pick (!) transferring from Minnesota.
  • The announcement of the sites and dates for the first four Big Ten tournaments.
  • The Pegula Ice Arena groundbreaking ceremony and the continued progress of the construction.
  • The reveal of next year's schedule.
  • The Penn State Coaches Caravan, which produced a glut of media coverage - including the idea of an outdoor game at Beaver Stadium - and included both Guy Gadowsky and Josh Brandwene.
Those are major, discussion-generating topics. The subject matter is there, but the fans are not.

A Fight On State issue, you say? Okay, let's slide over to Lions 247, the major site that (by far) offers the most hockey coverage, thanks to the work of Andrew Dzurita. That site doesn't separate boards by sport, so it's fair to assume that a hockey discussion thread draws the eyeballs of those there to discuss football. When the news of Penn State's participation in the Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational broke, Dzurita started a thread. It drew three responses from two individuals. Meanwhile, a thread on Euro 2012 was up to 97 as of late Monday night (not a criticism of the event, I'm a fan, but it has nothing to do with Penn State, and there are better places than a PSU message board to discuss it).

Taking things offline, it doesn't seem as if the NCAA program resulted in a spike of interest in the Icers. While the Ice Pavilion saw some large and raucous crowds this past season, it wasn't anything above and beyond what existed prior to Pegula's donation. It certainly wasn't an impossible ticket, despite the coziness of PSU's home facility.

I'll also admit to being a little disappointed with the attendance at the outdoor game with NCAA Division III Neumann at Citizens Bank Park. With what was a de facto limitless supply of tickets in the largest city in Pennsylvania - and over winter break, with PSU's large Philadelphia-based student contingent at home - a unique event and with unprecedented media coverage for a Penn State hockey game, an estimated 3,000 Penn Staters hardly seems like the overwhelming success portrayed by school officials. It was a number nearly matched by NU, which has roughly 10,000 total living alumni. Philadelphia and adjacent counties (Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Bucks) alone have about 81,000 PSU alumni, according to the alumni association, and again, students at home.

There's an argument to be made that people will show up once the NCAA teams officially get rolling. That's fair, I suppose. Maybe expecting overflow crowds for the same old, same old at Greenberg is unreasonable on my part. But guess what? It's here. On the men's side, the roster is set. The schedule is known. There's a PSU page on USCHO. Penn State is an NCAA program now, in every sense of the word. And before we know it, there will be an NCAA-sized arena to fill, and there will need to be a large number of attendees who didn't go to Icers games needed to do so. Right now, it doesn't seem like they're beating down the door.

My sense as someone fairly well engaged in the Penn State community is that there are a ton of people out there who are sincerely happy that NCAA hockey is finally coming to PSU and that a nice arena is being built to host it. Certainly no sane Penn Stater doesn't approve. At the aforementioned Coaches Caravan, I observed people approach Gadowsky with sticks and pucks for autographs meaning, of course, that they planned to talk to him, they didn't simply read his name tag and grab a free autograph card. There is, generally, interest out there. There are not, however, a lot of people who are plugged in on anything beyond the most superficial of levels. At the Coaches Caravan, I also observed several people accidentally pick up hockey ticket interest slips, then toss them back when realizing they weren't entry forms for the autographed Bill O'Brien football. In aggregate, the sense one gets is along the lines of "Hockey? Awesome. Love the sport. Glad to have it. It's about time...oh, tickets? No thanks. Where do you sign up for the football?"

It's not uncommon to see comments from mainstream PSU asking basic questions like "When does the Big Ten start?" and "When does the arena open?" If they're not minimally informed or even interested enough to look it up on their own at this crucial formative stage, will they be there later? Suffice it to say that a lot of those "average" Penn Staters, the ones who live for football Saturdays but follow other sports much more casually, if at all, are going to be needed to fill the Pegula Ice Arena. The challenge for the foreseeable future will be to engage those people, to convert them to those willing to fill out both the hockey ticket and autographed football slips.

This picture of Value City Arena wasn't labeled, but I assume there's a hockey game happening below.

Penn State is, without a doubt, a fantastic sports school. Then again, so is Ohio State, which averaged 3,799 fans in 15 games at its home Value City Arena last season despite climbing as high as second in the polls after a 14-4-1 start (Michigan State, the second lowest of the Big Ten programs, averaged 5,364). Oh yeah, and the Buckeyes are based in a metropolitan area of 1.8 million people where the university is the primary sporting entity in town (sorry I'm not, Blue Jackets). Sure, people travel from all over for Penn State football, but the isolation of the campus has proven detrimental to sports with more than seven home games per season over the years (men's basketball drew 6,937 in 2011-2012, on the heels of an NCAA tournament bid).

Given the immense popularity of wrestling and women's volleyball at PSU - not the case everywhere, obviously - the resurgent women's basketball program and the potentially resurgent men's basketball program, how much time, money and interest will be left for hockey - particularly those 5,000 non-student seats (I'm not all that worried about the student section attendance, they'll show up) at the PIA, suite sales, advertising, et cetera?

Unfortunately, and despite the early indications that led to this post, that question will have to remain unanswered for now. But it is time to ask it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Three Stars: June 11-17

3. Black Hawks accept invite to Junior World Cup

2013 G Eamon McAdam's team will represent the U.S. in the second-ever Junior World Cup August 18-26 in Omsk, Russia. The tournament, won by Krasnaya Armiya of Moscow last year, features teams from ten countries split into two groups, with the top two following an intra-group round robin advancing to the semifinals. Canada, incidentally, will be represented at the World Cup by the OHL's Sudbury Wolves. Unfortunately, they're not in Waterloo's pool, meaning that somewhere, USHL commissioner Skip Prince is considering human sacrifice to get both teams to the semifinals.

On a more serious note, it should be a nice opportunity to get an early look at McAdam (who is the most experienced returning goalie for the Black Hawks) against top-shelf competition.

2. Pine Creek grad assumes big leadership role at Penn State
(Paisley Hockey)

Women's captain Taylor Gross gets some nice run from veteran college hockey scribe Joe Paisley. And she sounds ready to run show on the CHA.
“Even if I was not captain, I would still need to be a leader because of my Division I experience on a team with a lot of freshmen,” [Gross] said. “But, I think we will surprise some people. We will be better than most people will expect.”
1. The Jersey Thread
(Pride of Pegula)

If you think about it, the revealing of Penn State's NCAA jerseys is really the only big thing left unannounced to this point, so why not hit the boards and engage in some pointless and ultimately futile (but fun) speculation about it?

The picture leading this post is the official TYT endorsement for the jersey design. For the home and away, I kept the lettering and numbering basic (because we are Penn State) and the striping single to mirror PSU's iconic football helmets, which hockey borrows as well. I didn't include the chipmunk anywhere, because I concluded that "PENN STATE" lettering has been more significant as an element of historic PSU hockey jerseys and adding a chipmunk would clutter things. That said, I would be open to using it as a shoulder patch or even in place of the front numbers, similar to the current jerseys. Or, you could even remove the last names and place a small chipmunk in that space, which would be pretty solid. Anyway the alternates, of course, are a nod to the jerseys of the first varsity team in 1940-1941:

Special thanks to PoP proprietor Aaron Griffin, who really deserves credit for the idea on the alternates, by the way.

If you want a better look, click here (after allowing me to remind you that I'm some random guy in Ohio with zero influence on the jersey design process). If you think you can do better, well that's what the thread is for.

Best of the Rest

Pegula Ice Arena Construction Photo Gallery

Friend of TYT Ben Jones took some time off from covering the Jerry Sandusky trial to snap some PIA site pictures. He stole my thunder on that a little, but I'm not at all mad - I avoid Sandusky coverage as much as I possibly can (unfortunately - in this case - staying on top of PSU hockey news means I have to keep up with "general" PSU news outlets, so...), I can only imagine what it's like, for someone who cares at all about Penn State, to have to take a front-row seat to it as a job requirement. Taking a break to give some time to a positive story, yeah, I get that.

Anyway, they're from last Wednesday. And looking quite good.

Lions, and Dutchmen, and Bears! Oh my!
(Stack the Pads)

Be on the lookout for some great PSU coverage from StP, with special attention given to the goaltenders. I think it's axiomatic in the hockey world that non-goalies don't truly get goalies, so I'm looking forward to the insight.

Coaching veteran Guy Gadowsky to speak at Hockey Coaches Conference
(The Coaches Site)

I mentioned this in a Three Stars a couple weeks ago, but since the hosts actually sent me the press release, I'll give them one more go. I have no idea how they even know of TYT, but I'm honored to be considered that legitimate. Here's the canned quote on Gadowsky:
"Guy Gadowsky is one of the top amateur coaches in North America. He built both the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Princeton University Mens’ programs into National contenders; however, it’s his track record of developing his players on the ice and in the classroom which sets him apart." said Aaron Wilbur, managing director of the Coaches Site. "His contributions to grass roots hockey are immeasurable and we are excited to have him represent the NCAA and Penn State University."


Correction: Tim Curley, Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier allegedly (for the time being, that word still needs to be in there) tried to cover this up to protect there [sic] 51 million dollar a year profitable football program. I've never done 28 tons of blow over a decade and a half, but not surprisingly, it apparently affects your cognitive abilities.

I try to stay out of the whole thing as much as possible unless it touches the hockey program in some way (AD changes, Terry Pegula reaffirming his donation, etc.) and like I just mentioned, I don't envy those who don't have a choice in the matter. But a hockey hall of famer guy who could have been a hockey hall of famer, had he not trashed his career, tweeting about it is noteworthy, I guess.

Ohio State men's hockey schedule coming together for last CCHA season

Included for the fact that an Ohio State guy semi-admits to his program's weakness. There's something that doesn't happen very often. Well, it doesn't in football, but maybe it does it hockey. Going to have to play the "I'm still new here" card on that.
The format [for the Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational] has not been decided but if it’s one where the winners advance to the title game then Robert Morris would likely select OSU for its first game based on Miami’s better record the past few seasons.

It’s unlikely the Buckeyes and Miami would want to face each other in a nonconference game unless some hardware was at stake.
So...RMU wouldn't pick Miami because OSU sucks more. They wouldn't pick PSU - which, it has to be said, sucks more than everyone as a new program until otherwise proven - because OSU would throw a hissyfit about playing Miami in a non-conference game. Hey, here's an idea: pick Miami anyway and give us PSU-OSU, RMU-Miami. Because pairwise credit is fun and everyone gets two games regardless. And because it's the best draw of any of the arrangements. And because RMU plays both PSU and OSU in December.

Wait, that's what the Target Center looks like?

NCHC believes its on target with tournament site
(Omaha World-Herald)

Since the NCHC hitting the Target Center in Minneapolis for their tournament (opposite the Big Ten in St. Paul) is old news now, I searched for, and found, an article with something more interesting than the typical write-up.
"I’m sure the Target Center is willing to go head-to-head with the Big Ten, based on the teams," [Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean] Blais said. "Obviously if Minnesota is playing (in St. Paul), they’ll sell it out. But if fans can’t get tickets to that, or — nothing against Penn State or Michigan or Michigan State or the Big Ten — if those teams are playing, I think they’ll want to see our tournament."
Two can play at that game, Deano. If North Dakota's out of the NCHC tournament, you're left with a choice of: a) two branch campuses, b) two MAC schools (and I love the MAC as a current student at a member school), c) two schools 900+ miles away and d) St. Cloud State in e) a facility that's almost universally seen as second-rate for hockey compared to the Big Ten's Xcel Energy Center. So good luck with that. The Big Ten, without Minnesota, still offers three all-time top ten men's hockey programs and five schools with universal brand recognition. And (including Minnesota again) the main campuses of two NCHC schools, although Nebraska doesn't sponsor hockey yet.

Actually, it is worth pointing out that the Big Ten's entire tournament will be played in St. Paul (or Detroit, in alternating years). In other words, Minnesota will have at least one game at the Xcel Energy Center every single year the tournament is there. North Dakota, on the other hand, will have to get through a best-of-three campus site first round to make it to Minny. They probably will most of the time, but hey, no guarantees when you've recruited the eight best hockey programs in the country into one conference.

Quick break while I finish laughing from typing that last sentence...

ND vote lets school scrap Fighting Sioux nickname

I'm. So. Pumped. And no, it has nothing to do with my opinion of Native American mascots, the NCAA's rule on them or the larger social and political issues involved. I just hate North Dakota, so things that make them sad make me happy, simple as that. All of that said, this is The Story That Will Never Die (TM), so I'm not throwing the party until what's apparently a minority of the state's residents are unsuccessful in their next avenue of appeal, an attempt at a constitutional amendment.

Back at ya, buddy.

NCAA Sends North Dakota State's Championship Banner To Rival UND
(SB Nation Minnesota)

This isn't a hockey story, but it's hilarious. Fun fact: North Dakota State has more hockey national championships than North Dakota. 8-7.

Ice Hockey Will Host Delaware in Outdoor Game

Lebanon Valley College is taking on the defending ACHA national champs at Hersheypark Stadium on January 22nd, following an AHL outdoor game between Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on the 20th. If LVC gets their team up to standard, it should be a great event.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

PIA Construction: June 15, 2012

Fifth in a series tracking Pegula Ice Arena construction every few weeks (February 7, 2012 / March 27, 2012 / April 10, 2012 / May 20, 2012).

As always, clicking any of these photos brings up a gallery where they appear larger.

I decided to approach this entry the same way I did the last one - by taking a lap around the site starting at the University Drive-Curtin Road intersection and snapping a picture wherever it looked good.

It's kind of nice that there's something visible off of University, now that steel has gone up.

Wait, what's that up ahead? AN OPEN GATE INTO THE SITE?!? I walked in...

Out of nowhere, I was approached by a guy important enough to drive a car around a construction site. The conversation went something like this*:

Him: Where are you going?
Me: Somewhere I can look without being bothered.
Him: How did you get in here?
Me: I'm a ninja spy. I could break into Cheyenne Mountain if I felt like it. I don't feel like it today and instead decided to walk through your open gate.
Him: You're just looking around?
Me: No, I forgot to mention - I'm a ninja spy terrorist. This place will be rubble by the end of next week.

* The conversation went nothing like that. My half was "Out," "Ummm...I walked in the open gate," and "Yeah, I'm just a fan, chillax**."

** I didn't say "chillax."

Actually, I'm remebering the sequence of events wrong. That conversation happened after this:

Here's a view of the ice from the second row in the corner. I climbed up on the steel to take it. Don't tell anybody.

Hey, the community rink is important too...just not yet, I guess.

I tried to approximate the view from the student section with this next one. The steel up so far is on the opposite end (obviously), and turning the corner to the side that will have the penalty boxes.

Since I can't really count on those types of pictures every time, I went back out and got a baseline reading from the concrete bench behind the Shields Building and from near where the main entrance will be.

I have no idea what this is, but it's brickwork just to the right of the main entrance and it looks legit.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Breakout Past: Huntsville Channel Cats

In 2003-2004, and following highly-decorated careers at Penn State, goalie Scott Graham and defenseman Josh Mandel played for the Huntsville Channel Cats of the SEHL. The pair are, of course, Icers legends and also members of the only class in team history to win the Murdoch Cup in every season of their college careers.

The Cats, who played in the Von Braun Center - also the home of upcoming PSU opponent Alabama-Huntsville - enjoyed a hugely successful season with a 43-13-2 regular season record and the President's Cup playoff championship of the four-team circuit. Graham was 10-1-1 with a 2.98 goals against average as the team's primary backup goalie. Mandel played in 37 games, registering a goal and 13 assists.

Unfortunately, the pro careers of the two Penn Staters, the Channel Cats and the SEHL all died following that season amidst the perpetual reshuffling of low-level minor league hockey in the southeast U.S. in those years.

A brief history: the Atlantic Coast Hockey League played only one season, 2002-2003, then split into two competing leagues, the SEHL and WHA2, for 2003-2004. After that season a new league, the SPHL, formed and absorbed teams from the going-defunct SEHL and WHA2. The SPHL, however, accepted a competing bid for the Huntsville market over the Channel Cats, bringing an end to the franchise that had played since 1995 in several different leagues. The SPHL and that competing bid, the Huntsville Havoc, are still around today (an eternity in low minor league hockey terms), so I suppose things worked out for the best.

Anyway, from the Tim Hanselman collection, here are some photos of Graham and Mandel in action for the Channel Cats. Apologies for the quality in some cases. These were internet printouts, mostly stretched beyond their resolution, and jammed into an envelope buried in Selinsgrove, PA for eight years before I got my hands on them and dropped them in a scanner.

First, Graham. Most of these can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Now, Mandel. These are of much lower quality than the Graham pictures and can be enlarged a little, but not nearly as much.