Monday, July 30, 2012

Three Stars: July 23-29

3. @PegulaVille


Just so you can't accuse me of not keeping you informed, there is something resembling an effort to get students to camp out for hockey games. I say "something resembling" because so far, it's just a Twitter account and a Facebook page begging for attention from Penn State and hockey-related people. That list didn't include me, so score one for Goon's World and the "nobody reads TYT" argument, I guess. On Twitter, I did retweet and follow the guy anyway, and got a follow back. So basically, we're boys now, I guess. Just to be clear, despite where I'm about to go, this or any student-initiated effort to promote interest in hockey has TYT's full support.

Interestingly, on Saturday, John Tecce chimed in on PegulaVille, via Twitter (1, 2):
Could we see a new PSU tradition on the way? Just stumbled across @Pegulaville, which is exactly what it sounds like it is. Having seen logistical side of something like that, it would have to occur indoors. Would be interesting to explore when Pegula Arena opens.
Tecce, if you're unfamiliar (and shame on you if you are) is a former president of Paternoville Nittanyville Paternoville (hey, it was still called that when he served). So yeah, he'd know about it. I'm not as informed about the obstacles as he is, but off the top of my head, I would think hockey season weather and space where it could be done safely and non-obtrusively would be major considerations that may push the group into the main lobby of the PIA. From what I can tell, that's a large, indoors area that won't be used all that much, except on gamedays (the community rink will have a separate entrance/lobby). John, thoughts? (1, 2)
I think it would be awesome to see. Would require a lot of coordination w AD and OPP to allow kids to camp in arena...tough to police it though. Trusting college kids in an arena that nice takes a lot.
Long story short, setting up social media accounts and getting attention is the fun part. Hopefully the guy behind the idea is willing to take on the not fun part as well - he'd be well advised to start with a history lesson. It's not a simply a matter of deciding you want to do something, raising awareness, and parking your tents. The football group's coordination committee doesn't exist merely to squeeze some funding out of it. Of course, people are allowed to disagree with me.
I was thinking if we get enough student support that we could make this into an official club at PSU and squeeze some funding out of it

2. Q&A with Penn State Coach Guy Gadowsky
(College Hockey News)

I suppose from a journalism point of view, this was well done. But as a Penn State and a Guy Gadowsky fan, the way CHN pounded on the "get Gadowsky to express a negative emotion" button was a little tacky, and the interrogative tone was unwarranted (obviously, I wasn't a witness to the conversation, so I'll acknowledge that it may not have gone as it reads, but I'm not the only person who felt that way). After seven scandal-specific questions, at least two of which were attempts to take a positive answer and spin it into a negative follow-up, we get...drumroll...
Your first reaction was as a parent, of course. I would be completely dishonest if I didn't go through that emotion.
...which was really just a repeat of something he had already said, and something I had possibly seen/heard him say before this interview (admittedly, it all runs together after a while). Either way, congratulations on getting a father to admit that he thinks of his kids first.

That said, I dare you to read the interview and argue that we hired the wrong guy. So it's not all bad I guess. But I do think that USCHO won the duel of head-to-head Gadowsky articles by a lot.

1. Penn State: Light in the Darkness
(Without a Peer)

It's not often that I play this card, but I will here: Just read it. It will restore your faith in the ability of people affiliated with other institutions to present a good, balanced take on things.

PS. The picture at the top is former RPI standout Oren Eizenman (2003-2007), Icer and ACHA Hall-of-Famer Alon's younger brother. As far as I know, the Eizenman family is pretty much the one thing PSU and RPI have in common, other than Union on the schedule this year. Well, that and the two games PSU played at Houston Field House in 1985 against non-RPI opponents that, in fact, no longer exist (not just the hockey programs, the entire schools).

Best of the Rest

Federal Hockey League Team Relocates to Pennsylvania
(The Hockey Writers)

Shooting for the Show gave you guys the heads up on the team that will be known as the Williamsport Outlaws a month ago, but there's been an interesting development in the story:
The Outlaws will play their entire [2012-2013] season at Bowman Field in Williamsport. The field is home to the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Once the baseball season is over, the process of laying ice will begin for the Outlaws’ 30 home games form October to January. When the team is not using the rink, it will be open for public skating. Since Williamsport does not have an ice rink, the outdoor pond will be the first of its kind in the city.
The unorthodox arrangement is a temporary measure until an indoor rink can be developed, possibly in the city's YMCA building. Still, outdoor hockey...yay?

Penn State’s other sports will survive

Here's Rob Rossi (we're probably related, although I can't prove it) on the subject of the NCAA sanctions and their effect on non-football sports:
Sanctions levied Monday by the NCAA against Penn State’s disgraced football program will not put the university’s fledgling hockey teams on ice.

Nor will the other 26 programs that comprise Penn State’s athletic department be negatively impacted by punishments against the football program that include scholarship reductions, disqualification from bowl games, vacated victories and a $60 million fine.

“People are going to see that figure and be wowed by it, but it’s not a significant number considering the ability of that program and that institution to generate money,” said Daniel Fulks, a professor at Transylvania (Ky.) University.
My Comets beat Cleveland Heights 3-1 in the Snow Days Tournament championship...hey, would you rather have a photo of Ohio State here?

Another outdoor game rumored for Ohio State icers

Know what makes more sense than an Ohio State-Mercyhurst outdoor game in Cleveland? Most things, actually.

I will leave this out there though: the Cleveland Indians put on a festival called Snow Days at Progressive Field during the winter months, which includes things like a high school hockey tournament (won by Solon, my alma mater, last year I'm proud to say), ice skating and snow tubing. In other words, there will probably be an ice rink set up there with or without a college hockey game, removing much of the expense from the equation.

It's about time living where I do gave me some kind of advantage.

By the way, the rumored game won't take place until December 2013, so feel free to forget all about this.

INCH A-Z: Jack Berger, Princeton
(Inside College Hockey)

While Penn State is a full-on NCAA Division I hockey program now, we're still in a little bit of an awkward place where I don't really expect full-on NCAA Division I treatment all the time. For instance, I'd be kind of surprised if INCH featured a Nittany Lion in their annual A-Z series this year. Prove me wrong, INCH.

In case they don't, here's Jack Berger's entry. He was recruited to Princeton by Guy Gadowsky, who then moved laterally on the Berger family tree to recruit brother Chase to PSU for 2015.

Chase Berger Commits to Penn State University
(St. Louis AAA Blues)

Speaking of...this is old news (Berger committed in early May), but this is the first acknowledgement I've seen from his current team.


Did you not hear what I just said above? I'm happy he stayed at UMD too. Actually, I don't really need to be happy, since he didn't have much of a choice - he wasn't offered the job.

Let me just put something out there, because to be honest, I'm kind of sick of this sentiment that's been floating out there for over a year that Gadowsky was something other than a first choice.
  1. I know for a fact that he was the last of the three finalists (Mark Johnson was the third if you've forgotten) interviewed. Actually, I don't even think that's insider knowledge anymore, as it more or less came out after the fact. That sounds like a slot you'd give to your leader going into the final round, so that you can make an immediate offer if he confirms your opinion. That is what played out, as the interview turned into a trip to Philly for a Sabres-Flyers playoff game and a face-to-face with Terry Pegula. That took place on a Friday/Friday night, and Gadowsky was officially announced on that Sunday - Easter Sunday, when a certain half-in-the-bag blogger, not expecting any news that day, had to get something online from his parents' house.
  2. Given all of that, would they have offered Sandelin or Johnson the job before even talking to Gadowsky? What about after? It seems much more likely that an offer was made to Gadowsky Friday, then accepted Sunday after the standard "let me talk it over with the missus" day.
  3. Rejected finalists are often allowed to "withdraw" as a face-saving courtesy. The fact that Sandelin and Johnson both apparently took that option means nothing.
No guesswork needed on my opinion. I know it's easy for me to say now, but back when I thought Sandelin was going to be the guy, I was disappointed. When I later heard that it was likely to be Gadowsky, my initial reaction was "Really? We can get him?"

Niagara AD McLaughlin Leaves for VCU
(College Hockey News)

A big change in the administration of one of PSU's CHA riv...oh, right.


The sophomore goalie's banter with now-former teammate Paul Daley is hands down the funniest (relevant to this blog) thing I've seen in a while. Don't get it? Check out the last entry in this Three Stars from a few months back.

Seriously, if someone who reads this blog makes a sign that says "Skoff >>>Wawa" and sends me a photo of it on display at a game (preferably behind the PSU net while Skoff's in a game, but I won't be picky about that), I'll name my first born after you. Or maybe just something on this blog.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Call Me Maybe?

Sources have informed TYT that several players not included on the initial NCAA roster releases for the men's and women's teams have been given "maybe" status, and might be added to the team as the season approaches.

Two of last season's Lady Icers, Cara Mendelson and Katie Murphy, as well as Icer Dom Morrone are definitely on call. Others might be (and probably are) as well, but their identities aren't known.

According to one source, players have been given the NCAA team's workouts and have been training as if they were on the team.

Mendelson and Murphy, both freshmen last season, were vital in helping the Lady Icers capture the ECWHL regular season championship while Morrone, who will be a senior this year, has 100 career points in 93 games - including a goal and an assist over a vital 12 second stretch to help the Icers to their last-ever win in the ACHA quarterfinals against Oklahoma.

The reasons for adding women's players at this stage are obvious. The Daily Collegian's Christine Newby reported in April that...
Penn State’s vice provost for affirmative action, Ken Lehrman, also in charge of Title IX, said the average size of a men’s NCAA Division I roster is 26.

“We are in balance [with Title IX] now,” Lehrman said. “So we reasoned that if we’re going to add 26 more participants on the male [hockey] side, we have to get to approximately 26 [women’s players]. Maybe we can get by with 25 and it wouldn’t throw us out of whack, but something very, very close to that.”
As things stand right now, the men's roster is at 27 and the women's roster is at 25. This would seem to place things in the Title IX danger zone according to Lehrman, as he said "maybe we can get by" with 25 women if the men's roster was at a smaller number than it is. That situation becomes magnified further if the men were to add Morrone or any of the other Icers not originally included (one, forward Josh Daley, has already elected to transfer).

Basically, don't be surprised to see some more roster tweaking ahead of the first DI games for both the men's and women's programs.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

PSU to Sponsor ACHA Women's D2 Team

Katie Vaughan might finally have a place in Penn State hockey.

Following rumors that scarce ice time was putting PSU's women's ACHA team in jeopardy for this coming season, the plan is apparently moving forward, according to a brief article posted to the ACHA's site:
As part of the on going NCAA advancement of the Ice Hockey program the Penn State Womens program will be moving into the Division 2 starting this upcoming year.
No details beyond that are known at this time, but they are expected soon.

That's certainly welcome news for the numerous players from last year's Lady Icers who did not make the NCAA roster, notably star goalie Katie Vaughan, along with Allie Rothman and Cara Mendelson on defense and Katie Murphy and Katharine Gausseres up front (I can't verify any participation - I'm simply naming significant players from last season who weren't seniors and aren't now on the NCAA team).

The "demotion" from D1 to D2 is probably a smart move, given the increasing wherewithal required to assemble a competitive D1 team on both the men's and women's sides, particularly in terms of travel and recruiting. It's largely axiomatic that a D2 team is the best way to go for a men's program seeking to co-exist with the NCAA. In fact, men's D1-NCAA setups are prohibited by an ACHA rule, although one that's never enforced. With the women, the evidence is a little less clear. NCAA DI schools Connecticut and Minnesota-Duluth have ACHA D2 teams, while Northeastern, Minnesota, Ohio State, Massachusetts, Vermont and Wisconsin were in D1 last year.

The differences between women's D1 and D2 include:
  • Lower membership dues ($1050 vs. $1250)
  • Lower games played requirements for tournament eligibility (six against three other D2 teams vs. 12 against six other D1 teams)
  • D2 players do not need to be degree-seeking students, although all must pass at least six credits to be eligible
  • Up to six years of total eligibility for players (D1 has a maximum of five)
  • Shorter periods (17 minutes vs. 20 minutes)

D2 competition - introduced for women in the 2006-2007 season - would potentially give Penn State a much tighter geography than the Lady Icers' New England trips of seemingly every other weekend. Pennsylvania schools Slippery Rock, West Chester, California (a frequent Lady Icers opponent), Villanova and barely-out-of-state Delaware all played in women's D2 last year. Wisconsin-Stout defeated Alaska for the 2012 national championship, culminating a tournament featuring six of 23 teams.

Last season's Lady Icers, of course, went 12-7-1-0 against ACHA competition, part of a 13-14-3-1 overall record that included a historic upset of NCAA DI team Sacred Heart and the ECWHL regular season championship. Women's hockey at Penn State began for the 1996-1997 season and joined the ACHA in 2000 when it first added a women's division. Since then, it's enjoyed a highly-successful history that includes six national championship tournament appearances and a trip to the semifinals in 2002.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Perspectives on Recruiting

According to some, if Guy Gadowsky found a way to win at Princeton, he can find a way to win at PSU.

What are the implications of Penn State's NCAA sanctions on hockey recruiting? Really, at this point, it depends on who you ask. Let's take a quick spin around a representative set of opinions, starting on the pessimistic end of the spectrum.

(By the way, message board "experts" need not apply here. I actually did look at USCHO in an attempt to pull a reasonably intelligent opinion to share. No such luck.)

Negative Impact

CBS Sports ran this piece on Monday, and while the subject was Patrick Chambers and Penn State basketball, the applicability of everything said to hockey should be pretty obvious. Both sports are in the same boat as not directly involved, but guilty by association. The writer talks about sitting next to PSU associate coach Eugene Burroughs at a showcase, seeing the logo on his shirt, and thinking "Sandusky, child rape, coverup." He concludes that if that was his first reaction, surely most potential recruits would see it the same way. The most compelling part of the article, though, was this opinion:
"It will affect [basketball] recruiting in the short-term," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, who already knows what Chambers soon will learn, that it's difficult to recruit to a ruined brand even if the damage done wasn't your fault. Drew, in 2003, took the challenge of rebuilding the Bears program rocked by a murder and coverup under former coach Dave Bliss.

"The people who only know of Penn State what they're reading nationally probably aren't going to be interested in going to Penn State right now," Drew said. "So Penn State might have to rely more on prospects and families who know more about Penn State than what's in the news -- maybe people who had relatives or family members go there, or just people who have spent some time on the campus before all this -- because those people will probably be more inclined to see more than just this situation."
Possible Negative Impact, But Ultimately Okay

College Hockey News managing editor Adam Wodon called into The Pipeline Show Tuesday night to discuss The Scandal's impact on hockey (here's the show's archive page, with downloadable MP3s of each segment - segment one, before Wodon was on, is also worth a listen).

Between the three people involved in the conversation - co-hosts Dean Millard and Guy Flaming were the other two - the consensus seemed to be that recruiting may (or may not, there was some hedging) be hurt on some level in the short run, but in the long run, the program will come out fine. Wodon, at one point, said that "it may take them a little longer, perhaps, to become a power than they might have anticipated," which sort of captures both sides of the coin - power status is still on the table, but delayed. He followed it up with this gem:
"[Gadowsky] recruited to Princeton and they won the ECAC championship and made the NCAA tournament. If he can do that, I'm pretty sure he can still recruit to Penn State."
Ouch, sorry Princeton.

Freshman forward Jonathan Milley and Sheldon Keefe won big at Pembroke.

A Speed Bump

On Wednesday, Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL) President/GM/Head Coach Sheldon Keefe tweeted this:
Guy Gadowsky, Matt Lindsay and the staff of Penn State's new D1 hockey program are the perfect people to help rebuild the pride at PSU.
No, he wasn't directly talking about recruiting, but as a guy in charge of a Junior A team (not to mention his specific mention of ace recruiter Lindsay), what do you suppose his context is? Even if the comment wasn't a "recruiting" comment per se, recruiting, whether consciously or not, probably played a big part in developing that opinion. At minimum, it's nice to see some confidence from someone representing a group with a great amount of influence on the process.

Keefe and the Lumber Kings, by the way, were the 2011 RBC Cup winners as the Canadian Junior A national champions. Nittany Lions freshman Jonathan Milley scored both goals in the title game win over the Vernon Vipers.

No Effect

I won't claim to be supremely plugged into the world of uncommitted players to the point where I can deliver any kind of large sample. But the father of one, Edina (MN) High School senior Anthony Walsh, told me recently that "the football mess leaves Anthony no less interested in PSU." I think that statement's important not just for the "no less interested" part, but for the "football" part as well. Clearly, some out there are able to see this as implicating something less than the entire university.

Here's a nice highlight reel of Walsh at his Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) tryout. For more, check out the YouTube channel of 55rudyrudy.

It...Helps? What?

The article that ties everything together and inspired me to do something beyond just dumping this all in Three Stars is this USCHO piece, posted late Wednesday and quoting Guy Gadowsky extensively on the NCAA fallout. Here's his take:

“When [recruits] see how the student body and our athletics program is dealing with this going forward, I think it will mean even more to come here,” he said. “In a strange sense, it’s certainly not going to be immediate, but by the way Penn Staters deal with this, Penn State hockey will become even more attractive.”
Good with me.

Just so I'm not seen as misrepresenting what he said, Gadowsky did also mention some level of concern from both players and parents, but that those issues are usually smoothed over with a campus visit or even a quick reassurance.

I think ultimately the final word, at least for now, is "we'll see." But it is encouraging that, even in close proximity to the worst of days, most still seem to believe in Penn State hockey's potential.

Breakout Past: 1983 Club National Championships

In their 1982-1983 schedule, the Icers struggled to a 14-11-1 mark, and it actually took quite an effort to make it that good. After a January 30, 1983 loss to Navy in the Crabpot Tournament championship game, PSU sat at 9-11-1 before firing off five straight wins to close the regular season and avoid what would have been the most recent losing record in team history.

A shot at redemption would come at the second edition of the inconsistently-named U.S. National Club Ice Hockey Tournament, played from March 2-5 at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL and hosted for the first time by the University of Alabama at Huntsville. UAH, of course, eventually preceded PSU in NCAA "promotion" by 27 years and appears on the coming season's Nittany Lions slate.

This original incarnation of the club hockey national championships (played from 1982 through 1985) featured six teams divided into "northern" and "southern" brackets. In 1983, Miami and Ohio joined PSU in the north, while Auburn and Arizona were in the south along with the Chargers. That lineup, at the very least, certainly featured a nice array of unofficial decapitated cat species logos.

"Univ. of Ohio"...hahaha. Sorry about that, Ohio U.

That's the cover of the event's program, obviously. The design was also used on souvenir items, including miniature flags:

While the precise tourney schedule from 1983 isn't available, pairings from other years of the event seem to indicate a schedule that wasn't entirely set in advance, but instead proceeded something like this (with S1 indicating the top seed in the southern bracket, N2 indicating the second seed in the northern bracket, and so on):

March 2nd: N2 vs. N3, S2 vs. S3, N1 vs. N2-N3 loser, S1 vs. N2-N3 loser
March 3rd: N1 vs. N2-N3 winner, S1 vs. S2-S3 winner
March 5th: Matchups of the third, second and first place teams from the north and south brackets after the two round robin games apiece. The game between the first place teams was, of course, the national championship game.

It sounds like a pretty innovative way of doing things in an attempt to get those games on the second day to decide the participants in the title game, which was a Civil War rematch of North vs. South.

Unfortunately, we also don't know the seedings or the full results, although based on the evidence we do have, it seems as if Miami was the top seed in the north, with the hosts/defending champs taking that honor from the south (for what it's worth, an old Arizona media guide I own claims that the IceCats were fourth that year, meaning that they likely beat Auburn in their opener before losing to UAH). What we definitively do know is that UAH and Penn State were the two teams left standing after facing the other teams in their respective brackets (PSU's results were 5-4 over Ohio and 5-1 over Miami). Here's the March 9, 1983 Daily Collegian on what happened next.

Click to enlarge.

Yep, John Davis - featured in this space last week - is back for a less glorious appearance as he gave up a fluky, championship-deciding goal. A long-time Chargers fan on the USCHO boards corroborates the nature of that goal.
UAH won the final against Penn State 5-4. I "think" I remember the UAH winning goal against Penn State as though it was yesterday. With little time left in regulation, the Penn State goalie had played an amazing game even though he had surrendered four goals. Then, he gets hit in the chest with a wicked shot that roles [sic] down his left arm, off his glove, onto the ice, across the line, and into the corner of the goal. It was almost in slow motion like in a movie.
Oh yeah? Well your home arena is named after a certified Nazi (sorry, I just learned that a couple weeks ago and am fascinated by it)!

The epilogue, as I've discussed before, is that the loss to UAH was the last game the Icers ever played at the USNCIHT (yeah, that's worth abbreviating). Beginning with the next season, a competing championship, the National Invitational Tournament, started up and drew teams away from the USNCIHT - notably including Penn State and Arizona, which won the 1984 and 1985 NIT championships, respectively. UAH, meanwhile, stayed with the older tournament and continued to host it though 1985, after which it dissolved, likely due to the Chargers going varsity for the 1985-1986 season. Huntsville claims 1982, 1983 and 1984 club national championships from that tournament, while North Dakota State won in 1985. The NIT became the only national championship beginning with 1986 and lasted until the ACHA's founding in 1991-1992.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Brandwene, Gadowsky Issue Statements (Updated)

In the first public comments from a "hockey" person since the NCAA and Big Ten sanctions were announced yesterday, women's coach Josh Brandwene released the following statement Tuesday afternoon.

Yesterday, the NCAA levied sanctions against Penn State for a failure of leadership that occurred in the past. As the women's hockey coach and a Penn State alumnus, my thoughts and prayers continue to be with the abuse victims and their families. Nothing can change the past, but I am confident of a better future, and I support the commitment the University has made to protect children.

Moving forward, I am also pleased that the Penn State administration has made a full and continuing commitment to support every Penn State varsity sport, including women's hockey. At Penn State, we are one team.

Penn State remains a great university. Looking ahead, I am thrilled with the women's hockey program we are building. The student-athletes who have committed to being a part of this new program are academic and athletic exemplars, and their character is something of which we can all be proud. I am grateful to have them as a part of the Penn State family.

Together we are committed to serving as community leaders and creating a world-class program built on the principles of respect, dignity, pride, and all-out effort. I'm counting the days until we get started!

Later in the afternoon, men's coach Guy Gadowsky joined Brandwene in voicing his commitment to the task ahead.

As you know, yesterday the NCAA imposed unprecedented sanctions on Penn State for failures that occurred in the past. I am motivated by the professionalism and positive nature in which Football Coach Bill O'Brien is dealing with the recent NCAA ruling. Penn State Hockey stands behind Coach O'Brien, our great University and the best student body in the nation. We are excited to move forward together to build a better Penn State.

One of the greatest things I have learned here is that the Penn State student body is unrivaled by any. I can't wait to see how they rally around the athletic department and show the nation what we are all about.

I greatly appreciate the numerous notes of encouragement that I have received from our alumni and supporters. After speaking with Mr. Pegula, I can assure you that he -- with me and our entire staff -- is totally committed to building our varsity hockey program and supporting our student-athletes as we prepare to compete in Division I and the Big Ten.

Hopefully this pair of statements (note that Terry Pegula's support was also mentioned in Gadowsky's version) definitively puts to rest the unfounded speculation I've observed concerning the future of the hockey programs or their personnel. And hopefully, you're as excited as I am to see these guys coach NCAA hockey at Penn State this fall.


As I may have mentioned before, one way I stay informed on things is by routinely searching "Penn State hockey" and related terms on Twitter. I thought Monday night would be an awful time to check up on that, for obvious reasons. I was dead wrong - in fact, check out some of what I found:

Those ten tweets were retweeted a combined 43 times as of this post's publication which, as many of you know, doesn't capture the full scope of their circulation.

Even though at least a couple of those people are clearly from outside the Penn State community - the guy with "UConn" in his name shouting out UConn-to-PSU transfer Jenna Welch, for example - early indications certainly seem to be that in a bizarre way, The Scandal might ultimately become a good thing for support of the hockey teams. Several other sports may also benefit from the effects, but possibly because of hockey's clean slate at the NCAA level, it seems as if the programs of Guy Gadowsky and Josh Brandwene will see a disproportionate share of the fallout lift. (Out of curiosity, I searched "Penn State basketball" and "Penn State wrestling" as well, and while there was much of the same, hockey's results were the most universally positive in my opinion. Which is great, especially given the concerns I aired out last month.)

I do want to temper this enthusiasm with an admonishment, though. One of my least favorite things about hockey culture is the routine disdain for other sports. Basketball and soccer are usually the popular targets, but for obvious reasons with respect to Penn State, football is now in the crosshairs as well. You can see some bitterness towards football beneath the surface of a few of the tweets above, and I deliberately left out others that took a more direct shot.

If you're a Penn Stater reading this, I hope you realize that this is the time to rally around the entire university, football included. Of course I want hockey to be fantastically supported, but I want it to be because people love the sport and believe in the name on the front of the jersey, the student-athletes representing it, and the coaches and administrators running things. I don't want it to be because people are abandoning the football program en masse and suddenly need new games to attend as a social ritual. Let's rebuild our university, and indeed our collective psyche, in the most productive and supportive way possible - by building up, not tearing down.

Three Stars: July 16-22

When I assemble these posts, I really only have a couple of rules:

1. For top three consideration, a link must have a direct connection to Penn State hockey.
2. For first star consideration, a link must contain a picture or video I can use to lead the post. Or, at the very least, there has to be an obvious connection to a picture or video from elsewhere.

In light of those two rules (which admittedly are ignored on rare occasion) and some arbitrary sense of the importance level required to make the top three, I found it impossible to construct an appropriate Three Stars this week. Therefore, I'm taking the unprecedented step of simply listing the links. Before we get going though, allow me to add a third rule:

3. There is a temporary moratorium on NCAA and Big Ten sanction discussion. Yeah, I could probably link about 20,000 blog posts and columns, and tell you they're on point or (more likely) not, but that doesn't do you any good. Honestly, it doesn't do me any good either. My official position on all of that as it pertains to hockey is here, and as far as I know it hasn't changed since yesterday.

Royals goalie coach Darren Hersh has roots with the Hershey Bears
(Stack the Pads)

Darren Hersh, the Icers' goalie coach from 2000 through 2005 and who is now holding down that position with the ECHL's Reading Royals, is interviewed here.

"Here," by the way, is Stack the Pads, a goalie-centric blog that you need to get in your rotation as they bump up their PSU coverage.

Know Your Enemy: Union
(Without a Peer)

Speaking of your personal blogroll, make sure WaP is on it as well. I read it before I even started TYT, and this blog has been influenced by that one in several ways. So yeah, when they hit on a topic of mutual interest - like the Union College Dutchmen of the coming season - they're definitely getting a slot here.

After initial misgivings about the hire over in Spartyland, I've developed a solid mancrush on Tom Anastos.

A look at the 2012 - 2013 Schedule
(The Munn Minute)

Speaking of opponents for this season and blogs I like, and in spite of the fact that most major conference opponents aren't sweating PSU yet, here's a Michigan State blog that's actually kind of excited to see us hit East Lansing in January. TMM ranks that series third in a list of the top ten interest-piquing matchups, behind only their home series with archrival Michigan and the Great Lakes Invitational, which is outdoors at Detroit's Comerica Park this year. No pressure. Because the post includes a picture of the Land Grant Trophy, I'm just going to copy-paste what it says.
The Land Grant Trophy will be on the line in January as Penn State and Michigan State will face-off for the first time ever in a division 1 hockey game. Hey, the football teams aren't scheduled to face each other, so why not put the trophy on the ice (and have someone take a slapshot to it). In all seriousness, it will be great to see the sixth Big 10 school at Munn Icea Arena as we move towards the hockey conference for the 2013-2014 season.
Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson, 72, still 'all in' with the Wolverines
(Detroit Free Press)

The Red Baron was in the news last week, largely because he received a well-earned three-year contract extension. Rather than link a story about that though, I linked the one with this:
On Connor Carrick’s decision to sign with the [OHL's] Plymouth Whalers after being committed to Michigan for two years: “I think he talked to Coach Wiseman. I never got a call from him. I just think it’s a huge mistake. The sad thing is, we make a commitment to a kid two years ago and we sit on that scholarship and we honor that commitment and right up until the draft, and then he takes the draft and decides now he’s going to go in a different direction? What kind of integrity is that? That’s just terrible. That’s one of the things that bothers me about college coaching. Some of these families and kids don’t keep their word. I hate to put integrity on the line, but let’s face it. This is a commitment you make and this is your word and what are you doing?”

Gotkin, Sisti Signed To Four-Year Contract Extensions

Berenson wasn't the only PSU conference rival to get an extension, as former Head Coach Candidate Mike Sisti got four more years with the Mercyhurst women. Between Sisti, RIT coach Scott McDonald (who was also recently extended) and Josh Brandwene, there's some pretty decent job security in the CHA these days.

Not a likely rivalry anytime soon...hey, when else was I going to show off my Ice Vols jersey on here?

Nashville-area colleges remain cool to adding hockey as sport
(The Tennessean)

Expense, conference alignment, competition, Title IX, the usual. I remain of the belief that it's going to be quite a while before we see college hockey sweeping the sun belt or the west coast. That's not a knock on the numbers and quality of players those areas now produce, including Penn State pucksters Celine Whitlinger, Micayla Catanzariti, Jenna Welch, Hanna Hoenshell, P.J. Musico, Taylor Holstrom and Kenny Brooks. It's simply an acknowledgement that hockey's regional concentration of programs and unique facility demands (not to mention the idea of adding anything at all in the current climate) are pretty huge obstacles.

Other sports deserve attention, too
(The Daily Collegian)

Before there was...uhhhh...something else to talk about, one popular topic on Penn State message boards was: "Why do we underachieve in football and suck in men's basketball, while dominating in sports nobody cares about?" It was actually the number one criticism of (technically still) athletic director Tim Curley, before there were...uhhhh...other things to criticize him on.

Long story short, now-ish would be a decent time to start caring about those sports "nobody cares about" (men's and women's hockey are two mentioned in the column). But then again, every time is a decent time for that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

NCAA, Big Ten Sanction Penn State

NCAA president Mark Emmert and PSU president Rodney Erickson bypassed the NCAA Committee on Infractions and the Penn State Board of Trustees, respectively, in acting. Concentrated power, indeed.

This morning, the NCAA announced sanctions for the Penn State football program related to The Scandal. The most noteworthy of these are:
  • A four-year bowl and postseason ban.
  • Scholarship restrictions to 15 per year (from 25) over the next four years and a total of 65 (from 85).
  • Immediate eligibility for football players wishing to transfer.
  • All wins from 1998-2011 vacated.
  • A five-year probation period.
  • A $60 million fine, which can be paid over five years.
Reportedly, the university worked with the NCAA to help design this punishment, and PSU president Rodney Erickson has signed a consent agreement and stated that he accepts the penalties. Basically, don't expect an appeal or a lawsuit.

Let it first be said that I could not disagree more with the NCAA's intrusion in this matter. It would have been more appropriately left to the criminal and civil courts, instead of some seemingly unilateral (or bilateral if you count Erickson, who probably just sat at the conference table with his head down most of the time) process that didn't involve an independent investigation of any sort. It relied instead on the Louis Freeh Report, biases, flaws - yes, there are many of both - and all, and on the wave of public opinion it inspired, mostly from people who read Freeh's conclusions without critical examination of the evidence used to support those conclusions.

In doing so, it handed down a punishment that harms numerous people who had nothing to do with any of this. I don't believe the punishment even has much of a deterrent effect, as the ringer PSU has and will continue to be put through from other corners is more than sufficient in that regard. It certainly won't change the "sports is king" culture prevalent at universities nationwide.

I'll leave it to the "overall" Penn State blogs to lace into the NCAA further, though. Hockey is why you're here, so let's get into some analysis of that end of things.

In my judgment, the most significant hockey-centric news came not from the NCAA, but from the Big Ten, which piled on a couple hours later with:
  • Official censure.
  • Conference probation during the five-year term of the agreement.
  • Ineligibility for the Big Ten championship game for the term of the NCAA's bowl ban.
  • Forfeiture of its share of the Big Ten's bowl revenue cut during the period of the bowl ban, estimated to be $13 million total.
If that represents the total of the Big Ten's punishment, crisis averted. I've maintained all along that the only punishment from this that would truly cripple Penn State hockey would be expulsion from the conference. Right now, it doesn't look like that is going to happen and Big Ten hockey will march forward as planned. Sorry about your luck, rest of the world (at least one media personality has called hockey a major reason why PSU didn't face that fate). Taking the broad view of things, it appears that the league has accepted the NCAA's punishment as appropriate and has more or less developed their sanctions to fit the spirit of the NCAA version.

College Hockey News may end up as the only entity outside of this blog (beyond fan forums, Twitter, etc. of course) offering analysis strictly from a hockey point of view. Here's part of what they had to say about NCAA sanctions, a hypothetical at the time the piece was written:
[It] would be a hit on the athletic department that could have trickle down ramifications for hockey, in terms of budget and recruiting, and so on.
I agree with that position, contingent on the appearance of the word "could."

The bottom line is this: we don't know. About any of that. The athletic department has been stashing away large surpluses for a while (including just south of $15 million 2010-2011), so it seems as if PSU is capable of taking what amounts to a direct hit of $14.6 million per year for five years without too much suffering. The longer-term concern, of course, is the continued profitability of the football program in light of the sanctions, which largely depends on their ability to remain competitive in spite of the scholarship limitations and possible coming transfers (I don't think the bowl ban will have a significant impact on whether people show up on Saturdays in October - the hard reality is that most bowls are meaningless, and I believe most people realize that). Football alone accounted for about $43 million of PSU's $116 million in revenue in 2010-2011, and that doesn't count items like Nittany Lion Club donations (the second biggest contributor at $18.5 million) that are largely based on football. A lot of non-revenue sports, if not in panic mode just yet, should at least be on notice.

Terry Pegula believes in the dream and in those guys to his left. He's not going to let either be hurt if it came down to it. So, uh, thanks again Terry.

But flipping back to hockey, the stated goal of administration is for it to be self-sufficient. That may or may not happen. Certainly, a paid-off arena and a boatload of endowed scholarships help on that front. If it's not self-sufficient, it becomes dependent on the athletic department's finances to some extent. If it is, administration could attempt to cut costs in order to turn that zero balance into a profit if things get tight enough. But as I've mentioned before, the average Big Ten men's hockey program costs $2.5 million year to run, and Penn State certainly has a guy capable of footing that bill in the absolute worst-case scenario. Terry Pegula won't let Penn State hockey face significant financial harm, I think that's more or less obvious to all.

Recruiting? Short of asking a representative sample of PSU targets how they feel, that's going to be a tough one to assess (I don't plan on doing that - I have no interest in calling uncommitted high schoolers at dinnertime to get a top five, then charging you to read the answer). Sure, we know of at least one case where it's been an issue, but if recruiting lags in the coming years, how much of it is this and how much is "new and (possibly) uncompetitive program?" We just don't have much of a track record from which to develop an intelligent opinion. In any case, Guy Gadowsky didn't seem overly concerned about it recently:
"I think there’s questions – as soon as it broke, there certainly were questions, and rightly so, parents called and had questions about it. Once it was established – Mr. Pegula was great. He came out and said, ‘look, I believe 100 percent in Penn State and what they do, and I am more committed than ever to have the best college hockey facility, I’m committed to that.’ In fact, he stepped up and added more money, and his commitment is fantastic. And I think once that was made public, nothing else was brought up."
I don't really believe the technicality of NCAA and Big Ten sanctions in place significantly changes anything. This has been in the news cycle more or less constantly since last November, and people have already made up their minds on whether to see Penn State as something larger than The Scandal.

Football is certainly the most visible part of Penn State, and has been for a long time. It can even be argued that, despite everything the school has going for it in terms of programs and research, football was the single largest contributor to PSU's academic reputation as well. If you accept that assumption - and I think most do - the school's institution-wide reputation has taken a major blow, regardless of women's volleyball, THON, or whatever "more than football" examples you want to throw out there. Sure we, as Penn Staters, know better, the world at large does not. Unfortunately, the world at large is going to be vital for the hockey programs in many regards, perhaps most importantly in recruiting, but also in terms of things like sponsorships.

At the same time, I think it's important to remember that each sport at a university has its own niche following and is perfectly capable of building a juggernaut program, and the larger following that goes with it, with or without football. Boston University does okay for itself in hockey without a football program, as one example. Several other highly-successful hockey programs operate at schools with an irrelevant football program or without one at all - in fact, it's pretty hard to find Big Football schools that even have DI hockey outside of the Big Ten. Seemingly, the only major impact in cases where football is diminished in some way is that hockey becomes more, not less, important. Sure, people like all teams associated with the school, but at the end of the day, they do compete for time, attention and dollars. And there are really only four college sports capable of enough interest to stand on their own merits (two of those, baseball and hockey, are largely regional, of course).

Penn Staters, most of whom share my opinion on these sanctions - I'll admit to unscientific sampling there - might also react in a way unanticipated by the NCAA: by increasing their support in an act of defiance. That may or may not include football, but it almost definitely would include basketball, wrestling, volleyball and yes, hockey. Certainly, this sign outside of Beaver Stadium over the weekend might represent some indication of that sentiment.

Penn State vs. The World? Fine by me. Fine by most of us, I think, and that's sort of my point.

Despite the unknowns, and there are many, I continue to believe that Penn State hockey can survive and thrive, in spite of these sanctions. In fact, I believe Penn State football will ultimately be okay too once the pound of flesh has been taken, but that's for a different blog.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

PIA Construction: July 20, 2012

Seventh 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 / June 27, 2012).

As usual, click on any of the photos to open a gallery with an enlarged version of everything in this post.

First, here's the Mortenson Construction camera shot from the approximate time of my visit:

Yeah, it was a pretty miserable evening.

Remember the June 15th entry, when I trespassed on the construction site? Well, I pulled it off again, because like I've told you, an open gate is no obstacle for a ninja spy like myself. Here's a look inside the site.

The progress since last time is pretty evident, as there's now a full horseshoe to the main seating bowl, and it now even seems "enclosed" (as opposed to being the only thing just kind of sitting out there, as it was last month). Concrete has been poured on much of the second level, and the suite area and roof is now starting to take shape. The community rink end is largely untouched, so I didn't really bother going down that way (which turned out to be a wise decision).

Just to give a quick idea of the location of a couple of event-level amenities: the weight room will be just on the other side of the wall on the right edge of the third-to-last photo. In the second-to-last photo, the visitor's locker room will be right off the left edge, while the men's coach offices will be in the background, just past what's been developed so far.

I slipped out right as a car pulled into the site entrance, avoiding the awkward conversation of last time. Looking at the timestamps on my pictures, there's about a three-and-a-half minute spread between the first and the last one. You know, just in case you want to try it yourself and are curious about the response time on the silent alarm I'm probably setting off.

Once again, because I can't assume I'll be able to pull off this kind of close-up every time, here are some of the more prominent "legal" views.

To close, here's the picture I took from furthest away, just because it's nice to see the arena have a profile visible across University Drive - which was not always the case.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Breakout Past: John Davis Feature

Here's a feature from the February 27, 1985 Daily Collegian on goaltender John Davis, written late in his senior season. When Davis' career ended, he was the Icers' all-time leader in both career and single-season wins. He backstopped Penn State's first national championship team in 1984, and also notably stopped 49 of 53 shots in a 4-4 tie with once-and-future NCAA Division I team Notre Dame that season. Davis was both president and vice president of the ice hockey club's business arm, later to be known as Hockey Management Association.

Click to enlarge.

Many of you surely recognize Davis' name from more recent Penn State hockey news, but for those of you who don't...
Intercollegiate Athletics announced [on April 15, 2011] a leadership gift from John N. and Karen M. Davis to the Penn State Ice Campaign. The family's gift will endow a full position scholarship for a goaltender as well as the naming gift for the men's hockey head coach's office. The office will be named the "Joseph M. Battista Head Coach's Office" in honor of former Icer head coach and current Associate Athletic Director for Ice Hockey Operations Joe Battista.

The Davis family joins Paul and Nancy Silvis, co-chairs of the Penn State Ice Hockey Campaign, as leading supporters of the ice campaign with this gift, the second major contribution the campaign has received since Terry and Kim Pegula's $88 million commitment last fall for a new ice facility as well as the start of Division I men's and women's ice hockey programs at Penn State in 2012.

"The hockey team becoming a varsity sport is a dream that a lot of us have had since we first put on the Penn State jersey," said John Davis, who played for the Icers from 1981 to 1985. "Karen and I feel fortunate to be able to give back to the University, in particular to help support a scholarship for the ice hockey team. I am also proud to join the effort of a fellow Petroleum Engineering graduate, Terry Pegula, who has made the dream of so many become a reality."
Hey, you know how big I am on the past-present connection.

Davis was inducted into the Penn State Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996, the same year as current women's coach Josh Brandwene. Obviously, he's been quite successful in business as well, working as a petroleum engineer for Exxon and Netherland, Sewell & Associates before founding Alpine Gas Company in 2003.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Coaching the Coaches

Guy Gadowsky will make an hour-long presentation called "Teaching Habits, Not Systems" in Burnaby, BC at the Second Annual Hockey Coaches Conference presented by The Coaches Site. The conference will take place Friday and Saturday, July 20th and 21st.

The men's coach is scheduled to speak on Saturday, from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. Eastern. Other speakers at the conference include some high-profile bench bosses, including Stanley Cup-winning coaches Ken Hitchcock and Mike Keenan and three-time Memorial Cup winner Don Hay.

"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 [in a release]. "His contributions to grass roots hockey are immeasurable and we are excited to have him represent the NCAA and Penn State University."
While I mentioned Gadowsky's appearance a couple times previously in Three Stars entries, I felt like it deserved promotion to full post for a couple reasons:
  1. Today is July 18th. Enough said.
  2. The Coaches Site is now offering a chance to watch Gadowsky (and the other coaches) online.
It's not cheap - after all, the intended audience is other coaches passing the bill along to their respective employers - but while single-presentation access costs $19.95, it should offer a unique insight into Gadowsky's philosophy beyond what he says to the media. If interested, simply to to to register. The video is viewable on any device that has a Flash-enabled browser and will be archived for six months if you're not able to watch live.

Given the title of the presentation, Gadowsky may have tipped a little bit of his hand in a radio interview with The Pipeline Show on July 7th. When asked about his goals for the coming season, rather than the Balbonian answer of "perfecting our systems," he replied with a much more holistic perspective:
"We’re really still trying to build a foundation, and the things that we hold important to us – in terms of how we represent ourselves, how we are in the weight room, and what kind of feeling we get, not only results, but how we’re committed to the classroom. One of the things you go to college hockey for is not just for hockey. [It’s] to expand yourself as a person, not only in academics, but as a person as a whole. If we can build a foundation where we have that environment that people want to come to our program, to graduate really quality people, you’re going to have a great education, a great hockey experience, you’re going to be developed as an athlete in the weight room…if we can establish a foundation for those things, we’re going to be a success."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

PSU Adds S&C Coach, Equipment Manager

Penn State today announced the addition of head strength and conditioning coach Rob McLean and equipment manager Adam Sheehan to the men's staff.

As everyone knows, strength and conditioning is a vital component to every athletic program, and indeed every athlete. So, it would follow that if Penn State is going to recruit players with NHL aspirations, it would help to hire an NHL strength and conditioning coach.

That's exactly what PSU has done in poaching McLean away from the Colorado Avalanche, his employer since June 2010. McLean has also been the head equipment manager of the Avalanche (1995-1999) and the Florida Panthers (2005-2008).

If you glossed over those years, they include the Stanley Cup championship won by the Avs in their first season after relocating from Quebec.

Last one on the fourth row.

Does your strength and conditioning coach have his name on the Stanley Cup? That's what I thought.

The new most hated man in Penn State hockey (internally, anyway, and I'm sure S&C coaches don't mind that label, because it means they're doing their job well) has a nice list of accomplishments as a strength coach as well. Former first overall NHL Entry Draft selection Erik Johnson became a believer in McLean during his first offseason in Denver last summer:
"In the past, I really bulked up a lot and was a little too top-heavy," he said. "I've improved my footwork and foot speed. I think I've become more explosive and more powerful all around."
Colorado's front office apparently agrees, as they recently re-signed Johnson through 2016.

Also last summer, T.J. Galiardi (now with the San Jose Sharks) put on 20 pounds of muscle, thanks in part to daily 7 a.m. workouts with McLean.
"I think I've always been fit, but I just took things to a new level," said Galiardi.

"He's not going to get sand kicked in his face anymore," [then-teammate Paul] Stastny said.
The University of New Brunswick graduate has also spent two years as the head strength and conditioning specialist with BRS Sports (2008-2010) in addition to his three years in a role with Mission Hockey as a manager of advanced concepts design (2001-2004).

Sheehan was previously the assistant equipment manager for the Detroit Red Wings, and has also worked for the Carolina Hurricanes and Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL and Sacred Heart collegiately.

It's not very often that I can present a guy's career to you in his own words, but that's exactly what I'm about to do in Sheehan's case.

I went to college [at Western Michigan] for criminal justice and psychology. I moved to Phoenix in 1998 to pursue that career. I worked with my team in college and when I got to Phoenix, I called the Coyotes equipment staff and asked if they needed some help part time. At that point they didn’t but they ended up helping me get a game night job with the marketing staff where I spent two seasons.

During that time I got to know Stan [Wilson] and Tony [Silva] from the Coyotes [equipment] staff and when a spot opened in 2000, they remembered me bugging the sh*t out of them for two years and brought me on the game night staff. I spent the next few years learning from Stan Wilson how to sharpen skates, do repairs, sewing and a lot of the things we do on a day to day basis. Their staff took me under their wing and treated me fantastic over all the years I was there. I was only a part time, game night guy so I was looking for a full time job with another team.

I got that chance in 2003 with Carolina where I held the same position that I have with the Red Wings. After that season, the NHL lockout happened and I returned to Phoenix briefly before getting a job with Sacred Heart University as equipment manager for the men’s and women’s teams. It was a fantastic experience and it helped me learn a lot. In the NHL we have everything we need to do the job. In college, you don’t. You spend time inventing ways to get things done when you don’t have everything you might need.

In 2008, a spot opened in Detroit and I had been hoping to move home to be back closer to family and work for my hometown team. I pretty much blew up [Wings equipment manager] Paul [Boyer]’s phone and was hired a few days later. I’m someone who believes in making the best of opportunities that come in life and don’t wait for things to be handed to me. I go for what I want!

Beyond the additions of McLean and Sheehan, PSU has also hired Justin Rogers as an athletic trainer. He is a 2009 Michigan State graduate who was an athletic training student for the Spartan men's hockey team, and more recently was with the NFL's Chicago Bears and the University of Nebraska's football program.

Also, expanded roles have been announced for both director of hockey operations Billy Downey and Ice Lions coach Josh Hand. Hand will serve as a volunteer assistant coach for the NCAA team, while Downey adds video coaching to his responsibilities.