Sunday, September 30, 2012

Army Will Open Pegula Ice Arena

Zak Zaremba, a sophomore forward this season, will likely be part of the Black Knights when they play in the first game at the Pegula Ice Arena.

Army's Black Knights will oppose Penn State in the highly-anticipated Pegula Ice Arena opener on October 11, 2013, according to a Penn State student's senior project (PDF link) based on the venue's construction. The assignment is the work of Shane Marshall, an architectural engineering major specializing in construction management.

The bombshell appears quite innocently on page 24 of the 44-page document where, in Appendix A of the report, a PIA project schedule summary is laid out. Here's a piece of that page:

While the need to include the arena's first hockey game in the schedule is obvious, Marshall spells it out on page four.
The project schedule is ultimately being pushed by the ice arena home opener October 11, 2013. This is the first men’s Division 1 hockey game to be played in this state of the art collegiate facility. The penalty for delay was not disclosed but this is a must hit target date. Therefore, main components for the building are to be erected before August, which would allow for enough time to commission and furnish the building.
In examining Marshall's work, it clearly seems to be a well-researched report that deals in realities, not hypotheticals. His information comes directly from those who designed and are building the arena. From the executive summary:
This report was completed by reviewing construction documents, specifications, estimates, schedules; and was accomplished through discussions with Mortenson, the construction manager, and Crawford, the architect.
The other remaining schedule items are interesting in and of themselves as well. Notably the roof truss erection, scheduled to begin on September 20th, actually began on Thursday, the 27th. The fact that things are a week behind isn't really surprising when considering some of the unexpected issues that have confronted Mortenson.
The excavation for the building proved extremely difficult. Much of the soil was rock which required the use of blasting to remove the earth. This was a long process that was anything but cheap. After this, it was realized the western portion of the building pad was on loose soil. This required micropiles to be drilled throughout the western portion of the building pad; whereas the rest of the building needed minimal micropiles to rest on. This did cause a slight delay on the project but was minimized in part because the building was sequenced counter clockwise starting in the south.
Regardless, three weeks of buffer zone were built into the schedule, meaning that it's unlikely to become an issue down the road. As you can see, the next major construction events will be the topping off in December (which, appropriately, coincides with the end of roof truss erection) and completion of the roofing three weeks after that.

The entire report is interesting reading, and I would encourage at least skimming it. But let's shift back to that first game.

Army might seem an unorthodox opponent to the uninitiated. Why devote such a historic event to an Atlantic Hockey opponent, and not a particularly strong one at that? Why not work something out to allow conference games against Michigan or Ohio State to open the building? Why not a giant of college hockey like Boston College? Why not Notre Dame, a well-known brand name and Joe Battista's second-favorite school? Why Army?

Here's why:

Yep, the 1940-1947 varsity team played Army. Twice, actually. The first meeting, on February 26, 1944, resulted in an 18-3 loss. The brief article above recaps the February 12, 1947 game - the second-to-last ever played by that team (the final opponent was Georgetown which, at present, only has ACHA Division 2 hockey). Army is one of just three active NCAA Division I teams played by PSU's first varsity team, along with Cornell and Colgate.

Unlike the latter two, the Icers also had a history with Army. On March 6, 1982, Army beat PSU 10-3 at the Kent State Invitational Tournament, while November 21, 1980 brought a 6-4 Icers loss at West Point (Army records omit that game as an exhibition).*

* Sorry for overwhelming the varsity history by pointing out that the Icers were somewhat more competitive against Army.

So it's against that historical backdrop, which by then will include this season's game at Tate Rink as well, that the Nittany Lions will battle Army next October. The service academy aspect is a nice touch as well, and should help maintain a positive, respectful atmosphere for the battle between what will be a second-year DI program and a program that's been in DI since there's been a DI. Can't wait.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

McAdam Takes Loss in Prospects Game

Eamon McAdam, a goalie who will join the Nittany Lions' roster next year, had a mixed performance in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game Saturday night at Buffalo's First Niagara Center. Behind five different goal scorers and three assists from Boston College commit Ryan Fitzgerald (the game's MVP), Team McClanahan defeated Team Housley 5-2 in the showcase for 2013 NHL Entry Draft prospects. Michigan-bound Evan Allen scored both of the losing team's goals.

Playing the first half of the game for the blue-clad Team Housley, McAdam conceded three goals on 14 shots (unofficially) and was the goalie of record, but his stat line doesn't deliver an appropriate level of complexity. The first goal past McAdam was scored by Hudson Fasching, a National Team Development Program player who will oppose PSU in the Big Ten as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in 2013. On a three-on-one, Fasching charged to the back-door post to McAdam's left, and put home a beautiful setup from Fitzgerald with 4:06 remaining in the opening period.

Fasching was a frequent nemesis for the big Perkasie, PA native. He almost added a second goal immediately after the first but hit the short-side pipe off left wing. McAdam did get the better of the duel a couple times, including a sparkling toe save seven minutes into the game to pass his first true test.

Seth Jones, a defenseman projected by many to be the top pick in next June's draft, beat McAdam from right point off the draw through a moderate amount of traffic 6:06 into the second period. As with Fasching, McAdam did manage a couple of quality saves on the son of former NBAer Popeye Jones, including a glove effort in the last minute of the first period. McAdam's last act in the game was a stop on a deflected Jones point shot.

The final goal against was scored by Nebraska-Omaha commit Jacob Montgomery, who caught Team Housley's defense napping and was able to split them while receiving a feed from Jimmy Lodge. Montgomery then put some lethal hands on display by dangling McAdam out of position.

Prior to his final four minutes, the Penn Stater put together a very strong effort. He demonstrated quick reflexes five minutes into the second period on a save of a sneaky effort by Denver freshman Quentin Shore from the slot. Just prior to that, his lateral quickness, particularly for his size, was up to par in moving to his left to deny Shore's attempt at a puck that rebounded off the end boards. In the first period, McAdam made a big save on a 2-on-1, as Montgomery attempted to finish a pass from Cole Cassels (the son of former Hartford Whaler Andrew Cassels).

In an interesting side story, Team McClanahan's netminder for the first half of the game was Cal Petersen. Petersen is McAdam's Waterloo Black Hawks teammate and someone who now owns some form of bragging rights over his goaltending partner, as he shut out Team Housley over his 30 minutes.

The game was attended by a reported 150 NHL scouts, who undoubtedly have a lot of new material to take home on McAdam and the other 39 participants.

Friday, September 28, 2012

We're Underway

The Penn State women played a scrimmage Friday afternoon, consisting of three ten-minute periods. UConn transfers Taylor Gross and Jenna Welch did all of the scoring in the first period, as Gross' blue team topped Welch's white team 2-1. Afterwards, Josh Brandwene was pleased with the team's effort.

Brandwene's crew doesn't play an official game until next Saturday at Vermont, but three of Penn State's CHA rivals already have a contests on their regular season records, thanks to a pair of tilts Friday night, the first night of NCAA Division I hockey games that count this season.

While it will undoubtedly pale in comparison to that rapidly-approaching time when Penn State is directly involved, it was nevertheless exciting to be able to watch hockey that directly affected the Nittany Lions. Let's take a quick look at what happened.

RIT, last season's Division III national champion, opened their Division I era rather ambitiously, with a banner-raising ceremony and a home affair against - with all due respect to Robert Morris, which won the conference tournament last year - the CHA's dominant program, and one that carried a preseason rank of 10th into the season.

Indeed, it looked like the Tigers bit off more than they could chew right from puck drop. RIT actually won the opening draw, but the puck ended up deep behind the Tiger net, where Laker captain Christine Bestland found Christie Cicero on a beautiful back-door feed just eight seconds into the game to beat Laura Chamberlain. Ten seconds after that, just 18 into the game, Cicero assisted Bestland to make the score 2-0.

Welcome to DI, RIT.

Mercyhurst tacked on two more by the end of the first period, which saw a shot count of 16-3 in favor of the Lakers. That's as bad as it got for Tigers coach Scott McDonald and his team though.

When a beaten-down team gets up off of the mat in an already-decided game, it's always a little tough to determine why. Maybe MU took their foot off of the gas. Maybe RIT had opening game jitters and are a better team than demonstrated early. In all likelihood, it was a little of both. Nevertheless, 14 seconds after the score ballooned to 6-0 Lakers, the home team finally punched back. Carly Payerl scored the first goal in RIT's DI history by re-directing a point shot home, and Katie Hubert scored the game's only power play goal with 27 seconds left in the second period to close the scoring. She and her teammates actually outshot Mercyhurst over the last two periods. McDonald was impressed by both sides.
“Mercyhurst is a top-10 team and showed why right away. They are very quick, tremendously skilled, and did a great job getting on right off the bat. This is a great measuring stick for our team and lets us know what we need to improve on to compete at this level. I thought we definitely played better as the game wore on.”
Regardless, RIT is now 0-1-0 (0-1-0 CHA), while Mercyhurst starts at 1-0-0 (1-0-0 CHA). The six-way tie for first (and last) in College Hockey America has been dissolved, and there is now a team behind Penn State in the standings. Yeah, it had to happen, and the Nittany Lions didn't really earn it, but it's still fun nevertheless.

Lindenwood has already played a full season in NCAA Division I, going 8-21-0 last year (with just two wins against another DI team - both were against the Sacred Heart team that the Lady Icers also defeated).

Season two, at least after one game, looked like more of the same after the Lions opened with a 4-0 loss to Ohio State in Columbus. The score was somewhat deceptive, with the Buckeyes launching a staggering 64 shots at Nicole Hensley, a freshman from Lakewood, CO who played with PSU freshman Jeanette Bateman on the Colorado Selects. Hensley kept LU at least in range until the very late stages, when OSU added a pair in the last three minutes of the game.

From the Buckeyes side of things, Kari Schmitt had a goal and an assist while Sara Schmitt, Kari's twin sister, also scored.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Breakout Past: Varsity Debut

For this season finale of Breakout Past, I couldn't think of a better topic than the buildup to men's hockey acquiring varsity status in 1940, along with the first varsity game played by the team. Seems appropriate, right? As always for these posts, click to enlarge the articles for easier reading.

A Frustratingly Slow Process

Calls for Penn State to recognize hockey, of course, go back more than 100 years and, other than the understandable hiatus during World War I, were more or less a constant during the first four decades of the 20th century. After numerous aborted attempts at starting a team and/or constructing a rink, in late 1937, an informal team consisting largely of Sigma Pi fraternity brothers organized under coach Al Hook and played its first game against Pittsburgh on February 22, 1938, losing 4-0 at Duquesne Gardens.

While that was the only (known) game played that season, the formation of a team kicked things - including the rumor mill - into overdrive, as reported on October 11, 1938 (left side, below).

Three days later (right side, above), it was evident that the rumors were misinterpreted, as rumors so often are. Hockey was not given varsity letter status for the 1938-1939 season, although the informal team did receive $100, "which will be used to outfit this year's team." It seems likely that the funds were used to purchase the familiar (at least to history geeks) "PS" sweaters - according to the January 10th, 1939 Daily Collegian, "new uniforms for the squad have arrived. The jerseys are white with blue shoulders and sleeves."

The overdressed guy is coach Arthur F. Davis (obviously). The two kneeling in
front are Peany Gates (left) and John Dufford (right), who would combine to score
the first three goals in the history of Penn State varsity hockey.

The team went through the usual scheduling and ice availability struggles that season, eventually finishing 1-3-0 in four known games after several others (including winter break tilts with Cornell and Syracuse and the planned debut of the new jerseys against the Mountain Beach Club in Williamsport) were called off due to weather conditions. Nevertheless, Dr. Carl P. Schott, dean of the School of Physical Education and Athletics, "suggested the sport's becoming fully recognized" at a post-season banquet, as reported in the March 31, 1939 Daily Collegian. A Collegian editorial writer that December was a little more forceful in expressing himself.

As indicated, the team again received $100 for the 1939-1940 season, but still something less than "full approval," to borrow the article's choice of words.

It's impossible to ascertain that editorial's influence, but within a week, it was reported that the All-College Cabinet had formed a committee "to investigate College recognition of the ice hockey team." The All-College Cabinet, instituted in 1939 after an overhaul of student government, "functioned as the legislative branch and consisted of the presidents of each of the classes along with representatives from the Athletic Association, the Penn State Christian Association (formed by combining the campus chapters of the YMCA and YWCA), the Interfraternity Council, a new Independent Men's Council, and a few other large student organizations."

The involvement of the student-populated Athletic Association in the All-College Cabinet, and by extension the committee, is noteworthy. The students, who controlled most aspects of athletic administration in the early days of PSU sports history, eventually surrendered the "grown-up stuff" to a branch of the AA controlled by, well, grown-ups.
The alumni-dominated Athletic Advisory Committee, created during the reorganization of the Athletic Association in 1908, within a few years came to exercise nearly undisputed authority over the hiring and firing of coaches, the creation of schedules, and most other phases of athletic policy.
In 1931, the School of Physical Education and Athletics (headed by Schott from 1937 after he replaced the notable Hugo Bezdek, father of numerous rink schemes in the 1920s, among other things) took on oversight responsibility for the operation. Both students and the Athletic Advisory Committee, however, did retain power over many important matters.

Varsity Status - With A Catch

Even before the Nittany Lions finished their 3-8-0 1939-1940 campaign in the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Hockey League, the Athletic Advisory Board reviewed a varsity application by the hockey team and, after a deliberation that possibly included consideration of the All-College Cabinet committee's conclusions, decided to support it on March 2, 1940.

The student side of the Athletic Association's vote, conducted May 13th, 1940, was not particularly contentious. However, I would like to know if any of the 35 no voters are still alive today, just so I can find him/them (AA members had to be men at the time) and say "WTF bro" to his/their face(s).

The "light vote" comment may have been in consideration of the fact that Penn State had 6,514 undergraduates in 1940 (I have no idea how many were men). As mentioned in the previous two articles, letters were also awarded to senior members of the 1939-1940 team.

Despite varsity recognition, the hockey (and ski) teams were still forced to operate somewhat informally during the 1940-1941 season. As reported in the February 13, 1941 Daily Collegian, those two teams "are still making their own schedules, planning their own trips, and handling their own financial matters." Why the awkwardness? "When the two teams applied last year for college recognition, all they asked was the College approval plus varsity letter awards...this the College okayed, also stating that the Association could not budget any money during 1940-41 for the teams, but would help them out as much as possible." "As much as possible" ended up involving an appropriation of $350, supplemented by a 25 cent admission charge to games. This money helped pay for reported $50 (on average) guarantees to opponents as well as for new equipment.

That situation was rectified before the end of that first season, when the Alumni Advisory Board pledged full support for hockey during their meeting at the Nittany Lion Inn on February 22, 1941. At that point, the AA took over all administration, and the admission charge (which had been somewhat controversial, as other varsity sports were free to students at the time) was dropped.

The First, First Varsity Game

The 1940-1947 varsity era's first game took place in Johnstown on December 6, 1940 and was a 3-1 victory over Carnegie Tech (now part of Carnegie Mellon University, of course). Here's the Collegian's write-up.

I'm not sure 20 saves on 23 shots qualifies as "brilliant hockey" on the part of the Tech goalie but hey, pumping the opponent only makes us look better, so have at it. Also, it should be about the least surprising thing ever that John Dufford scored the first two Nittany Lion goals in the history of PSU varsity hockey. He was quite good.

The puckmen also won the next three games en route to a 6-3-1 final record. It would ultimately be PSU's most successful varsity season, both in terms of winning and in terms of managing to complete scheduled matches.

Shaffer Ice Palace: Penn State's One-Time "Home"

Shaffer Ice Palace, the site of the lightly-regarded but significant occasion, is an interesting side story in and of itself. According to one account, Frank Shaffer and his Shaffer Ice Company was the area's dominant maker and distributor of ice. But when artificial refrigeration became widely used by consumers and made his business obsolete, Shaffer decided to use his expertise to build an ice rink. The precise date of construction is unknown, although it was referred to as "new" by the Collegian both before and after a February 16, 1940 game against Duquesne.

Between that game and a January 17, 1942 contest with Carnegie Tech, Penn State played eight of 16 games in that rink (two games during that span have unknown locations and could have been played at Shaffer as well). For all intents and purposes, it was PSU's primary home for a brief time.

The Ice Palace also hosted the Johnstown Blue Birds, which played the 1941-1942 season in the defunct Eastern Hockey League. The link in the previous paragraph contains a story describing how Blue Birds owner Pick Hines was inspired to locate his team in Johnstown by a packed barn for a game involving Penn State.
Early in the fall of 1941, Memorial Hospital’s Junior Auxiliary hosted a hockey game between Pitt and Penn State. Neither school had an official ice hockey team [Note: Untrue, as we've just seen]. The game between two hastily assembled squads was not hockey at its finest level.

The auxiliary had, however, sold 1,100 seats, and the Ice Palace was filled to capacity.
I'm a little skeptical of the accuracy of this for one very simple reason: the Blue Birds played their first game on November 11, 1941 and Penn State didn't even hold an organizational meeting for that season's hockey team until the next day. It's entirely possible that the game described involved Penn State students, and possibly even members of the hockey team (see: "hastily assembled" and "not hockey at its finest level"), but it's extremely unlikely that it was a game that should be counted in any recordkeeping endeavor.

The Blue Birds went broke after that one year, and "soon after the hockey season, the Ice Palace was converted for use as a manufacturing plant, and winning a war, rather than hockey games, was the priority." By the time Johnstown regained professional hockey in 1950 - in the form of the Slap Shot-famous Jets - the Cambria County War Memorial Arena had been constructed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ACHA D2 Women's Roster Announced

The new women's ice hockey club will benefit from Katie Vaughan being left off of the NCAA roster.

The first players to skate for the newly-formed ACHA D2 women's hockey club have been posted to the ACHA's website.

Defenders (7)          Yr.  No.  Hometown
Nina Elia              Fr.   5   Skaneateles, NY
Georgia Foulds         Fr.   7   Monmouth Jct., NJ
Lisa Frank             So.  23   Hopewell, NJ
Amanda Krakovitz       Fr.  35   Penn Valley, PA
Allie Rothman          Jr.  20   West Chester, PA
Ashton Schaffer        So.   9   Midlothian, TX
Tara Soukup            Fr.  19   Pittsburgh, PA

Forwards (6)           Yr.  No.  Hometown
Devon Fisk             Fr.  15   West Chester, PA
McKenzie Kirk          So.  22   Jamestown, PA
Jacqueline Saideh      Fr.   8   Concord, MA
Carly Szyszko          Jr.  14   Bensalem, PA
Mary Kate Tonetti      So.   6   West Chester, PA
Alex Warren-Caldwell   So.  18   Arlington, MA

Goaltenders (2)        Yr.  No.  Hometown
Sarah Eisenhut         So.  31   Lansing, NY
Katie Vaughan          Jr.   1   Pittsburgh, PA

While 15 players might seem a little light, it's not at all out of line with the competition. Defending D2 national champ Wisconsin-Stout carries a roster of 16. West Chester and California (PA), two known opponents for the coming season, have 15 and 18, respectively. Rules differences from women's D1 include "recommended" 17-minute periods with a "minimum" of 12, down from 20, which of course minimizes the need for a huge roster.

Several of the names, including Frank, Rothman, Schaffer, Szyszko, Tonetti, Eisenhut and Vaughan are familiar from last season's Lady Icers team that won the ECWHL regular season championship. Vaughan, as she was with the Lady Icers, will likely be counted on heavily to ensure the team's success against more established outfits. Notably Tonetti, the club's president and a former goalie herself, will play forward to help address the team's thinnest position.

Freshman Tara Soukup was an alternate captain at Baldwin High School.

The newcomers are quite capable as well, though. Warren-Caldwell (who actually started last season with the Lady Icers) and Saideh both earned honors for their high school play in the ultra-competitive Boston hockey market. Soukup was an alternate captain for her boys high school team in suburban Pittsburgh. Foulds has been to the USA Hockey national championships with both the New Jersey Rockets (Tier I) and Hershey Jr. Bears (Tier II) - and in fact, scored the goal that got the Bears there in 2011. Kirk comes from the Behrend campus where she played water polo (not necessarily related to hockey, but awesome nevertheless), while Fisk is a six-time invitee to Atlantic District Select Camps.

Even as a first-year team, the women will be eligible for the six-team D2 national tournament, which will be held in Washington, DC this season. The full schedule has not yet been posted, but from the submissions of opponents to the ACHA website, we do have the following:

October 2012

Sat. 6 at California (PA), 6:10 p.m.
Sun. 7 at California (PA), 2:00 p.m.

November 2012

December 2012

Fri. 14 vs. TBA, 8:00 p.m.

January 2013

Sat. 26 at West Chester, 5:15 p.m.
Sun. 27 at West Chester, 12:45 p.m.

February 2013

Sat. 9 at Buffalo (ACHA D1), 6:00 p.m.
Sun. 10 at Buffalo (ACHA D1), 12:00 p.m.

March 2013

Thur. 7 at ACHA D2 National Tournament (Washington, DC), TBD
Fri. 8 at ACHA D2 National Tournament (Washington, DC), TBD
Sat. 9 at ACHA D2 National Tournament (Washington, DC), TBD

Commit Cycle: September 25

Chase Berger

St. Louis AAA Blues (Midget Major 18U)
6'0", 180 pounds
St. Louis, MO
Class of 2015
DOB 11/14/1994

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

9/14  vs. Victory Honda       W 2-4  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/15  vs. Cleveland Barons    W 6-4  2   0   2   2 [box score]
9/15  vs. Oak. Jr. Grizzlies  W 4-2  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/16  vs. Belle Tire          W 6-3  3   2   5   4 [box score]
9/22  vs. Chicago Fury        W 1-0  1   0   1   0 [box score]
9/23  vs. Chicago Fury        W 3-0  1   0   1   0 [box score]

Berger and the Blues are both off to unreal starts... among his team-leading seven goals and nine points so far are three game winning goals, in the pair of matches with the Chicago Fury as well as on the 15th against the Cleveland Barons... the first four games above came at the Chicago Tier 1 Super Showcase.

Conor Garland

Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
5'6", 146 pounds
Scituate, MA
Class of 2015
DOB 3/11/1996

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

9/14  vs. Chicago (ex)        W 4-2  0   1   1   0 [box score]
9/15  vs. Indiana (ex)        L 1-2  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/20  vs. Waterloo (ex)       L 2-4  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/21  vs. Sioux Falls (ex)    W 2-1  -   -   -   - [box score]
9/22  vs. Lincoln (ex)        L 1-3  0   0   0   0 [box score]

Garland, along with all of the USHLers below, participated in the scout's paradise of the USHL Fall Classic from the 19th through the 22nd... the showcase brings every team in the league to a central location (Sioux City, IA) to play three exhibition games apiece... Garland is attempting to make a successful transition to the USHL as a 16-year-old, and one without a ton of size... the good news is that he survived his first preseason in the circuit and even got his first point on the board.

David Goodwin

Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
5'9", 187 pounds
St. Louis, MO
Class of 2013
DOB 2/27/1992

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

9/11  at Dubuque (ex)         L 2-4  -   -   -   - [box score]
9/19  vs. Sioux Falls (ex)    W 5-2  2   1   3   0 [box score]
9/21  vs. Team USA (ex)       L 4-5  0   2   2   0 [box score]
9/22  vs. Omaha (ex)          L 2-5  0   2   2   0 [box score]

At the Fall Classic, hosted by his Musketeers of course, Goodwin demonstrated that he has no intention of deviating from the form that saw him put up 49 points last season, which he split between Sioux City and Green Bay... said coach Brett Larson of his performance on the 19th: "You can tell he’s the leader of the team for a reason. When things weren’t looking that great, when we weren’t playing very well, he stepped up big time and made big plays. That’s what your veteran leader has to do and he did it."

Related stories:
Musketeers rally for 5-2 Fall Classic victory (Sioux City Journal)

Kevin Kerr

Team Comcast (Midget Major 18U)
5'11", 155 pounds
Bensalem, PA
Class of 2014
DOB 2/9/1996

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

9/14  vs. Phoenix Jr. Coyotes W 7-0  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/14  vs. Las Vegas Storm     W 5-2  0   2   2   0 [box score]
9/15  vs. Dallas Stars        W 6-3  1   3   4   0 [box score]
9/16  vs. LA Jr. Kings        W 5-1  0   1   1   0 [box score]
9/21  vs. Boston Bandits      W 8-2  -   -   -   - [box score]
9/21  vs. Cape Cod Whalers    T 2-2  -   -   -   - [box score]
9/22  vs. East Coast Wizards  W 8-0  -   -   -   - [box score]

As with Berger, Kerr also had a fantastic Chicago Super Showcase over the weekend of 9/14-16, helping his team to a similar 4-0 record... stats were unavailable for the Jr. Bruins Shootout over this past weekend, but Comcast narrowly missed out on the playoffs in favor of eventual runners-up Cape Cod.

Alec Marsh

Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
5'10", 165 pounds
Bridgewater, NJ
Class of 2015
DOB 11/1995

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

9/14  at Waterloo (ex)        L 4-5  0   0   0   2 [box score]
9/15  vs. Waterloo (ex)       L 2-4  0   2   2   0 [box score]
9/19  vs. Des Moines (ex)     W 7-1  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/20  vs. Lincoln (ex)        W 4-3  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/21  vs. Tri-City (ex)       W 3-0  -   -   -   - [box score]

Marsh had a fairly quiet preseason other than his assisting on both Riders goals in the loss to Waterloo on the 15th.

Eamon McAdam

Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
6'2", 180 pounds
Perkasie, PA
Class of 2013
DOB 9/24/1994

Date  Opponent               Score SA GA  Sv% GAA

9/14  vs. Cedar Rapids (ex)  L 4-5 20  4 .800 7.51 [box score]
9/15  at Cedar Rapids (ex)   W 4-2 --  -  --- ---  [box score]
9/20  vs. Muskegon (ex)      W 4-2 29  2 .931 2.00 [box score]
9/21  vs. Chicago (ex)       W 3-0 --  -  --- ---  [box score]
9/22  vs. Indiana (ex)       L 1-3  8  0 1.00 0.00 [box score]

McAdam, who probably had the most eventful offseason of anyone in this post, struggled in his preseason opener, getting pulled in favor of Cal Petersen halfway through... he bounced back with a solid win at the Fall Classic and an eight-for-eight appearance in relief of Petersen.

Bo Pellah

Langley Rivermen (BCHL)
5'11", 150 pounds
New Westminster, BC
Class of 2014
DOB 5/25/1995

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

9/14  at Coquitlam            L 2-3  -   -   -   - [box score]
9/22  vs. Alberni Valley      W 7-0  0   3   3   0 [box score]

Pellah continued his torrid start to the season with a three-assist effort in a blowout win over Alberni Valley and now has roughly 25 percent of his scoring output from all of last season (six points vs. 25) in just three games.

Zach Saar

Right Wing
Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
6'5", 200 pounds
Plainwell, MI
Class of 2013
DOB 6/22/1993

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

9/14  at Omaha (ex)           L 2-4  0   0   0  15 [box score]
9/15  vs. Omaha (ex)          L 2-3  -   -   -   - [box score]
9/19  vs. Cedar Rapids (ex)   L 1-7  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/20  vs. Youngstown (ex)     W 4-1  0   0   0   4 [box score]
9/21  vs. Indiana (ex)        L 3-7  0   0   0   2 [box score]

While it's important to remember that these games don't count, there seems to be little reason for optimism on the part of Bucs supporters - after all, the team was 20-33-7 last season and may have been playing the worst hockey of any USHL team by the end of the year... Saar got into a dust-up with Scott Dornbrock in Des Moines' preseason opener, resulting in the 15 penalty minutes.

David Thompson

Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)
6'2", 187 pounds
Glen Mills, PA
Class of 2013
DOB 5/19/1992

Date  Opponent                Score  G   A Pts PIM

9/14  at Surrey               L 2-3  0   0   0   0 [box score]
9/15  vs. Surrey              L 2-4  0   1   1   0 [box score]
9/22  vs. Victoria            L 2-4  0   0   0   0 [box score]

Continuing what seems to be a recurring theme with Penn State commits, the Chiefs awarded Thompson with the captaincy for this season.

Related stories:
Chiefs Announce Captains (

Monday, September 24, 2012

Three Stars: September 17-23

Lindsay Reihl (far left) and Jenna Welch (far right) will be the alternate captains this season. Taylor Gross (second from right) was previously named captain in May. The other three players pictured are (left to right) Emily Laurenzi, Paige Jahnke and Shannon Yoxheimer.

3. Penn State ice hockey preview: Goalie PJ Musico
(Stack the Pads)

Derek Meluzio's goalie preview Q-and-As have finally come around to hit a Penn State tender, and it's Mr. Cali Swag, P.J. Musico. While these pieces generally include a photo of the mask the subject will wear in the coming season, that's not the case here, as Musico's hasn't arrived yet. He did give an idea of what to expect, however.
All I know now is that it is a half California theme and half Penn State theme with the signature blue line separating the two. I still, myself, haven’t seen it.
2. Joe Battista: A Quarter of a Century Well Spent

I don't play the must-read card too often with you guys, but I will here. Hey, if you don't care about Joe Battista's reflections on 25 years at Penn State, what are you even doing on this blog?

1. Reihl, Welch Named Women's Hockey Assistant Captains

Back in May, Josh Brandwene named junior forward Taylor Gross captain for 2012-2013. Now, thanks to a team vote last week, we know she'll be assisted by senior defender Lindsay Reihl and junior forward Jenna Welch.

Really, the team could not have done a better job distributing the letters. Former Connecticut Huskies Gross and Welch are two of the three Nittany Lions who have already played NCAA Division I hockey (the other, Nicole Paniccia, is a goalie) and are therefore uniquely qualified to serve as team leaders. Reihl is one of only two "club originals" on the team (along with Kate Christoffersen), is a three-time Lady Icers defensive MVP, and helped Team USA to a fourth-place finish at the 2011 World University Games.

It's worth pointing out that the previous paragraph contains the names of literally every junior and senior on the team, which certainly helped the decision process as well.

Best of the Rest

Men's Hockey to Host Midnight Practice on Night of Oct. 5

In an event similar to one held by many college basketball teams (although not including Penn State), the men's team will hold an open practice with free admission just after midnight on the first day NCAA rules allow full practices. Doors to the rink will open at 11:00 p.m. on October 5th, and the fun includes pizza, giveaways, an address from Guy Gadowsky and a public skate with the players following the conclusion of practice at 1:00 a.m.

The women, incidentally, were allowed to begin practice two weeks earlier, this past Saturday. There was no fan-engagement event involved but the team was certainly pumped for it, as expressed on Twitter by Brandwene and freshman defender Jordin Pardoski. GoPSUSports also chipped in a story about it.

ASU hockey seeks redemption heading into new season
(The State Press)

Arizona State, one of PSU's three ACHA opponents this season, generally does a good job with their media coverage, including this quick look at their coming season. House of Sparky, the Sun Devils' SBNation blog, has a written preview if you prefer that mode.

As mentioned in my post immediately previous to this one, the ACHA is now already in full swing, a full two weeks before NCAA teams are allowed to practice. Just to keep the opponent watch up to date, ASU opened with a 13-0 waxing of D2 Texas A&M on Thursday. Ohio swept John Carroll 9-1 and 5-3, while Oklahoma blasted D3 Arkansas with a pair of 10-2 results.

Mercyhurst Picked CHA Coaches' Top Choice For 2012-13 Season

PSU was voted into last place of the six CHA teams by the league's coaches in one of the most pointless exercises in organized sports: the preseason poll. Not surprisingly, the three programs that have played more than one Division I season before were the top three (Mercyhurst, Robert Morris, Syracuse, in that order), followed by Division III national champ RIT and Lindenwood, which began DI play last year.

Two CHA teams have already played exhibition games against a pair of junior teams, with RIT topping the Oakville Hornets 6-1 on Sunday and Mercyhurst blasting the Stoney Creek Junior Sabres 10-1. So hockey season is indeed here for both the men and women, even if it's only Nittany Lion opponents playing games for the time being.

RIT Hockey teams boast high expectations
(Henrietta Post)

In a nice little burst of synergy, here's an article previewing the RIT men and women simultaneously. The women, as just mentioned, are now a conference rival while the men will oppose the Nittany Lions on October 20th at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena.

In still more RIT-related news from last week, their women's team added Shivaun Siegl as an assistant.

David Joyner to Remain Athletic Director Until 2014
(Onward State)

The sooner Penn State gets a qualified athletic director that wasn't handed the job (supposedly on an "acting" or interim basis) without any sort of search process by Ira Lubert and his cronies on the Board of Trustees, the better off the university will be. Apparently, we're deferring "better off" until at least 2014.

Also, it amuses me how people who cite Joe Paterno's influence over Tim Curley as part of what led to The Scandal don't see history repeating itself.

Meet #19 Jill Holdcroft 

The best women's player to ever come from the State College area highlights this week's set of "meet the women's team" videos. Also: Paige Jahnke, Hannah Hoenshell, Jess Desorcie, Darby Kern and Kate Christoffersen.

News - 2013 CCHA Championship Dates Announced

The CCHA, which I'm sure is not the least bit bitter about being torn asunder in the great conference realignment shuffle we started, decided to troll everyone one last time before disappearing. The league scheduled its last-ever championship game for Sunday, March 24th at 2:05 p.m. - roughly three hours after the NCAA Tournament selection show was originally scheduled to air on whichever ESPN channel wasn't already tied up with bass fishing that morning. The selection show will now go on at 9:00 p.m., likely delaying a scheduled airing of Major League 3 on ESPN Classic.

Justin Bieber

Fun fact: Biebs has a player page on the best site out there for basic hockey player information and stats (it's always my first destination when the Nittany Lion men get a new commit), thanks to the "doubtful" rumor a couple weeks ago that he was offered a contract by the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors. It has more than 29,000 views, compared to 4,355 for NHL draft pick Max Gardiner.

Okay, the NCAA championship trophy looks a little different now...but would
you rather see Bostons College or University or Minnesota-Duluth here?

NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship Trophy

Heads up: If you're going to be anywhere near Johnstown on Saturday, the NCAA championship trophy will be on Napoleon Street outside of the Cambria County War Memorial for viewing and photographs as part of the celebration of the Johnstown Tomahawks' first-ever home game.

Take a photo of yourself wearing Penn State gear with the trophy, and you get to be first star in next week's version of this post. I'm completely serious about that.

Psychologist: Some comparing Lindsay case to Sandusky case

I had to close with this, even though it's waaaaay off topic, because the last couple weeks have been a major turning point for my "Matt Lindsay" Google Alert. Much like Joe Battista (also a sanitation worker who committed suicide in New York a couple months back), or Kenny Brooks (also a comedian/YouTube celebrity), Matt Lindsay is a frequent source of false alarms, thanks mostly to a highly-successful high school football coach in Fort Wayne, IN. The synopsis of the news that caused my email to explode is that Lindsay (the football one) was suddenly fired after "large number of inappropriate video clips, none involving nudity" were found on his computer. Since the video clips included high school students, predictably...
...some people drew a natural comparison to the Penn State case and coach Jerry Sandusky. Of course not all of the details are the same, but certainly the role of coaches with their students.
Of course, there were differences beyond the facts of the two cases...
[Psychology professor Justin] Boyce's best advice is to try to withhold judgment until we have all the facts. He said we should give police enough time to investigate it until we form an opinion.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

One Step Back, Two Steps Up

While a handful of teams played last weekend and 2012-2013 opponent Arizona State opened up on Thursday, Friday was the first truly robust day on the calendar of the ACHA season. And it had nothing to do with the Icers. Sure, it was of interest from a Nittany Lions standpoint to keep track of ASU, as well as fellow PSU schedule inhabitants Ohio and Oklahoma (all three won big over bottom feeders), and it was fun to laugh at now-former rivals Rhode Island and Illinois for their embarrassing losses...but beyond that, the only involvement Penn Staters had in the proceedings was based in nostalgia. It's hard to articulate how I feel about that. It's exciting remembering the reason PSU is out of it. It's a little bizarre, knowing that the organization and its teams will continue to grow and evolve without the Icers, to the point where we might not even recognize it after a few years. It's also a little sad.

I celebrated this rebirth of college hockey - sorry NCAA, the ACHA has you beat for allowing games in September - by attending an ACHA Division 2 game between Akron and Ohio State. In a match that read like an early-season game for both teams, with plenty of turnovers followed by unfinished chances both ways and throughout, the Zips managed to barely nurse a 3-0 second-period lead to the finish line, winning 4-2 following an empty-netter.

Akron goalie Max Miller, a Medina, OH native, turned in an excellent effort against Ohio State.

Akron plays at a rink called the Center Ice Sports Complex. Not only is it an off-campus facility, it's in an entirely different county, its location in North Canton about 17 miles from the sports facilities owned by UA. There's actually a (very) tenuous PSU connection to the building in the form of Icers Hall-of-Famer Don Coyne, who briefly played there with the UHL's Ohio Gears, which moved from Saginaw in the middle of 1999-2000. The team suspended operations after that season, eventually folding after a couple failed attempts to re-christen itself with a new arena in nearby Massillon that never came.

Zips hockey also has a pretty unremarkable history. In stark contrast to traditional archrival Kent State, which has had a long run of non-varsity hockey, and was even NCAA Division I from 1986 through 1994, Akron only started up in 2006 as an ACHA Division 3 program. In 2010, the Zips elevated to D2, where they remain today. While Akron has done reasonably well for the most part - they have spent a lot of last two seasons flirting with the poll in D2's Southeast Region - it has never progressed beyond that. In fact, their sole true appearance on the national radar was the result of an exploding hockey bag early in their first D2 season. Seriously.
A hockey bag which appeared to belong to a University of Akron hockey player was blown up by a bomb squad after it was determined to be a suspicious package, according to a report.

According to the website of WEWS, police in Akron, Ohio, responded to two suspicious package calls Wednesday morning, neither of which were determined to contain explosives. One of the packages was reportedly a bag belonging to a University of Akron hockey player. The report says the hockey bag was detonated by the Summit County Bomb Squad.
Things are drastically different now. Under second-year coach Michael Sadjadi, a 26-year-old former junior goalie from Fairbault, MN, the program seems to have a new focus. It now receives regular media coverage - for positive things. It's much more active in fundraising and community outreach. The recruiting, which has generally focused on Northeast Ohio high school and low-level junior players (particularly from the Wooster Oilers of the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League), is on the upswing. And the on-ice payoff is starting to follow. Last weekend, the Zips earned their first-ever win over an ACHA D1 program, topping Canisius 4-3.

They also have The Dream:
The huge support finally drew the attention of the Akron athletic department late last season, as several officials, including athletic director Tom Wistrcill attended a home contest. Though nothing has been made official, it’s become common knowledge that UA is seriously discussing the possibility of adding a D1 sport (or two) soon. And with plans for a new basketball arena currently a hot topic, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that a dual-purpose arena has been discussed.
So why a post about Akron? Well firstly, I see a lot of parallels with Penn State, and how our present circumstances developed. It seems to me like the Zips are currently at the point the Icers hit sometime between the opening of the Greenberg Ice Pavilion in 1981 and 1987, when Joe Battista returned as head coach. In my observation, the Icers of the 1970s had the varsity dream, but it wasn't realistic. Once the Ice Pavilion's size indefinitely delayed that dream, the team refocused on building an support organization that was the envy of many in the varsity ranks. That organization, along with the sheer force of Battista's will, is ultimately what led to Terry Pegula and the NCAA, not the previous approach of merely hoping to be handed a capable rink by the athletic department. It seems as if Akron now has that same sense of purpose that drove the Icers for about 30 years, and hopefully they won't have to wait as long before joining fellow MAC schools Miami, Western Michigan and Bowling Green among the ranks of NCAA DI programs.

More than that though, it helps me confront some of mixed feelings I have about the NCAA transition, as attending the Zips-Buckeyes tilt helped remind me why I became involved with Penn State hockey in the first place, and why I'm still here today.

At the game, I spoke with Kevin Davis, who is in charge of marketing for UA hockey. He described to me how he sold the ads on the boards, then stayed at the rink until the middle of Thursday night/Friday morning to put them up himself before returning early Friday morning to finish his preparations. Signage, streamers and balloons were ubiquitous to the point where Center Ice felt like a campus rink, and I'm sure he and a small but dedicated group of volunteers had something to do with that as well. The game presentation was nearly flawless, worthy of the Icers. And Davis packed the place out too. I have no clue how many seats the rink contains (probably in the neighborhood of 800-1000), but they were all full.

The atmosphere, in my judgment, was only surpassed in any obvious sense by Penn State and Ohio among ACHA venues I've attended. Davis and Sadjadi get marketing in the same way Battista does: there was a Score-O contest (with a car, which was driven on to the ice, as the prize), merchandise sales, a raffle, and a postgame autograph session, all things I've seen at the Ice Pavilion.

It may seem a little crazy to invest so much of yourself in non-varsity hockey, but that's precisely what so many of us did over the years at PSU. I can't speak for every Hockey Management Association member or support staffer ever, but to me, the Icers were easily the most important thing I did at Penn State - much more than school itself or the football team. My Friday night social life during the season was tearing down after the game, which generally took until after midnight for the 9 p.m. puck drops, followed by a late dinner at Perkins or Eat 'n Park (the two 24-hour eateries removed from downtown, and therefore not filled with drunk people), back home to catch up on other ACHA scores, then into bed for the quick turnaround on Saturday afternoon. And I loved every second of it. Well, other than fetching the six-foot sub for the booster hospitality room before games, I could have done without that.

I think there's a closeness to the program that comes from a certain level of involvement, which will be impossible to duplicate with the NCAA program. I can write this blog, obsessively follow every little development, donate money, have season tickets in the front row, but realistically, I'll never be as much a part of the program as I was then. And neither will anyone else who isn't a grown-up employed by Penn State or playing for the team. Yes, the plan is to keep HMA going, but from a distance, it seems like it will mostly be about limited marketing activities and game day operations while the most important stuff will be handled by the athletic department. Future HMA members, for example, are unlikely to be that socially awkward college student trying to sell ads door to door, as I once was (okay, I'm still socially awkward).

So yeah, I'm a little sad for the loss of all of that, while also a little envious of Davis and others all over the ACHA who are truly invested in a way not possible in the NCAA (even for many employees, I have to imagine that it's more job than passion).

There's still plenty of work to do at UA, of course. The team hasn't won on a significant level, it remains to be seen if the off-ice side can be maintained through a whole season let alone several, and to that end it would be nice if Davis had a little more help. The distance that remains was underscored by the people who sat behind me and had evidently never heard "sieve" or "it's all your fault" before. So time will tell if Sadjadi ends up being the Battista of Akron, but at the very least, the early signs are encouraging.

Ultimately, of course, my feelings of loss are outweighed by those of excitement - after all, NCAA status was the goal all along, and PSU finally made it. It's entirely possible that I'll forget all about what I've expressed here by October 6th when I'm skipping the Zips' next home weekend to live blog the NCAA debut of the Nittany Lion women. But hopefully you'll forgive me if one day, when this blog has run its course, I end up volunteering with Akron or another ACHA team local to wherever life takes me between now and then.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Breakout Past: ACHA National Championship Pucks

1984 National Invitational Tournament
Tucson Convention Center - Tucson, AZ

March 8th: Penn State 5, Colorado 3
March 9th: Penn State 11, Marquette 3
March 10th: Penn State 7, Arizona 5

Daily Collegian coverage:
Icers fulfill goal; win national title

1990 National Invitational Tournament
Ossian C. Bird Arena - Athens, OH

Pool B
February 28th: [6] Penn State 6, [4] Arizona 5
March 1st: [6] Penn State 5, [2] Ohio 3
March 2nd: [8] Wisconsin-Whitewater 7, [6] Penn State 1

National Championship
March 3rd: [6] Penn State 4 vs. [3] Iowa State 3

Daily Collegian coverage:
Icers take NIT title with surprise wins vs. Ohio, Iowa St.

1998 ACHA National Tournament
James H. Hilton Coliseum - Ames, IA

Pool A
March 4th: [1] Penn State 10, [8] Arizona 3
March 5th: [1] Penn State 9, [5] Eastern Michigan 4
March 6th: [1] Penn State 4, [4] Iowa State 0

National Championship
March 7th: [1] Penn State 5, [2] Ohio 1

Daily Collegian coverage:
Icers melt Arizona; EMU next
Icers bury EMU; Iowa St. up next
National title on ice

2000 ACHA National Tournament
All Seasons Arena - Minot, ND

Pool B
March 1st: [2] Penn State 5, [10] Illinois 2
March 3rd: [2] Penn State 5, [7] Minot State 4 (OT)

March 4th: [2] Penn State 2, [3] Michigan-Dearborn 1 (OT)

National Championship
March 5th: [2] Penn State 3, [4] Eastern Michigan 2 (OT)

Daily Collegian coverage:
Icers begin road to national championship
Icers bring home ACHA championship

2001 ACHA National Tournament
Tucson Convention Center - Tucson, AZ

Pool B
March 1st: [2] Penn State 6, [10] Kent State 2
March 3rd: [2] Penn State 8, [7] Arizona 3

March 4th: [2] Penn State 7, [6] Illinois 3

National Championship
March 5th: [2] Penn State 7, [9] Delaware 2

Daily Collegian coverage:
Icers win championship for third time in 4 years

2002 ACHA National Tournament
The Gardens Ice House - Laurel, MD

Pool A
February 27th: [1] Penn State 2, [12] Drexel 1
March 1st: [1] Penn State 8, [8] Kent State 2

March 2nd: [1] Penn State 6, [5] Iowa State 2

National Championship
March 3rd: [1] Penn State 4, [7] Illinois 0

Daily Collegian coverage:
Icers best Drexel in first round
Rocky start gives Icers new urgency
Icers win 3rd title in ACHA

2003 ACHA National Tournament
Ossian C. Bird Arena - Athens, OH

Pool B
February 26th: [2] Penn State 8, [11] Eastern Michigan 3
February 28th: [2] Penn State 3, [7] Iowa State 2 (OT)

March 1st: [2] Penn State 5, [6] Delaware 1

National Championship
March 2nd: [2] Penn State 5, [4] Ohio 0

Daily Collegian coverage:
Icers dominate Eagles in first round
Icers beat rival Ohio for 7th national title

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

McAdam, Pellah Make NHL CSS Watch List

Eamon McAdam has had quite an offseason - a silver medal at the Junior Club World Cup, the award for top goaltender from that tournament, a spot in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey Top Prospects Game on the 29th, and now a B rating from NHL Central Scouting.

With all due respect to Max Gardiner, who was the 74th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues while committed to Minnesota, the sentiment that Penn State hasn't really had a draft selection yet is somewhat justified.

Gardiner, of course, will go down as the first NHL pick ever on a PSU roster, but at the same time, Nittany Lions fans haven't experienced the feeling of hearing someone's name called in June and having that "wait...he's one of our guys!" epiphany.

Next June 28th and 29th in Newark, NJ, and assuming the NHL hasn't completely imploded by then, Penn State will have another shot at rectifying that situation. According to the NHL's Central Scouting Service, 2013 goalie commit Eamon McAdam and 2014 defense commit Bo Pellah are now the two most likely players to become the first drafted while associated with PSU. On a CSS watch list of North American prospects released today, McAdam was rated as a "B goaltender," while Pellah was a "C list" skater.

A previous CSS watch list (PDF link) defines those ratings as follows:
A Rating -- A 'must see' player who is predicted to be a potential First or Second Round Draft selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft

B Rating -- A player to note if you are in the area, a potential selection in the Third to Fifth Round Draft Selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft

C Rating -- A player that Central Scouting is tracking, a potential late round selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft
Since that 2010 watch list, and according to Western College Hockey Blog, the ratings have been adjusted so that an A rating is only given to those seen as potential first-round selections.

It's noteworthy that the USHL didn't have any A goaltenders on the list, while McAdam was the only B goaltender - meaning, of course, that he's seen as the most worthy draft-eligible goalie in the U.S.' best junior league right now. Pellah was one of just six BCHL players listed.

While an obvious statement, it's worth pointing out that McAdam and Pellah will need to continue to rate well over the next nine months to stay in the NHL's good graces, because they're not the first Penn Staters to appear on a watch list. That distinction belongs to freshman defenseman Mark Yanis, who was awarded a B rating at this time last year but slid off of the radar by the time of the 2012 draft.

The Snail's Pace of Ticket Sales

Penn State hockey has been well supported for decades - so why has moving tickets for the first
NCAA season been such a struggle?

As an undergrad, I went to every Icers home game for free (don't be too jealous, it's hard to watch the game from the merchandise stand or booster hospitality room). From graduation through 2010-2011, I never bought season tickets - I live in Ohio, and there simply wasn't any reason to do so. When I was around for my one or two weekends per year, I'd make sure to arrive at the rink early enough to ensure that I would be able to walk up and buy tickets.

I changed that pattern last year by purchasing season tickets, even though I ultimately didn't use them any more than I would have any other season (actually less, since I'm once again getting in for free thanks to somehow being considered media). My thoughts were along the lines of "everyone at Penn State is pumped for NCAA hockey, that building is tiny, it's going to be an impossible ticket especially for the opener, and they're saying that Icers season ticket holders will have priority." Since my first introduction to Penn State hockey, I've pined for this moment, and I was going to do everything possible to make sure I didn't miss the puck drop on the NCAA era. Incidentally, in a related thought process, the urge to obsessively follow the ACHA-NCAA transition and ensure that I didn't miss a single development was the major factor in my starting this blog about a month after Terry Pegula's donation was announced.

It turned out that I was right to buy season tickets. Only Icers season ticket holders were allowed to buy season tickets for 2012-2013, so I did receive something I would not have otherwise by jumping on board in 2011-2012. My scarcity-based fears, however, could not have been more off base.

The Ice Pavilion's listed capacity is 1,350. Before going further, let's engage in some educated guesswork as to how that breaks down.

Dividing the total seating by the rink's five seating sections yields 270 (I don't believe standing room is counted in the 1,350 number, since the list of the Icers' best-ever crowds include throngs more than 200 people greater than 1,350). However, Section C, the middle one, is smaller than the other four due to the tunnel connecting the locker room area to the ice and to accommodate media at the top. So let's say Sections A (the student section), B, D and E have roughly 285 seats each, with Section C including the remaining 210.

Using that breakdown, it follows that there were about 855 student ticket packages available for this season, since there were three different packages of five games sold for those 285 seats. They went on sale September 12th for an insanely-cheap $20 each, and after one week are still available (two of the three packages are sold out while Package B, highlighted by the November 10th game against Air Force, is not). Fifty-six zealous students were in line before the ticket office opened on the first day of the sale which is certainly better than nothing, but also a far cry from similar lines at more traditional NCAA hockey schools like RPI, whose lines more closely resemble Nittanyville than PSU's hockey ticket queue:
“The hockey line, the passion of the students just really makes this a unique hockey program and one that’s special to be a part of,” RPI head coach Seth Appert said.

The distinctive event, which dates back to the early 1970’s, began at the Rensselaer Student Union where both students and fans alike, fully clad in RPI's trademark cherry and white, mingled with players on the current roster.

“To be here and to see how much passion the students have for athletics, for their hockey program is really a great feeling,” Appert said. “I know its humbling for our guys to know the kind of support they get from their fellow students.”

“It means a lot to us,” said sophomore defensemen Luke Curadi. “If you’re a new student you get to see what RPI hockey is all about and to just get excited about the next couple months.”

The school’s popular pep band kicked things off playing a number of signature tunes heard inside Houston Field House at home games. As a makeshift clock counted down the time until tickets officially went on sale at the box office, the student body, led by the team, paraded from the union to the Field House to select their season tickets before the night culminated in a party outside the arena.
Ticket campouts are a staple at many schools, including RPI and this one, at Denver.

Back in June, the same three five-game packages offered to students were sold to the non-student public for an extremely reasonable $55. The total number of packages available was a little bit over 200 (the team tweeted that there were "less than 200 left" about 90 minutes into that sale). Since we're estimating most of this stuff anyway, call it 240 total, or 80 seats per game. Those did sell out, although it took about two weeks.

On Tuesday, a public single-game sale began with "fewer than 100" tickets left over for each of the 15 home games - to keep the math simple (and without further information anyway), we'll say 1,500 total tickets. To be fair, it's only been one day since those went on sale, but they're still available as well.

If you added everything together and discovered 885 seats per game left over, presumably those are renewals by Icers season ticket holders and other obligations (visiting team, media, etc.).

A fair assessment of all of that, in my opinion, is that Penn State will eventually sell out all games at the Ice Pavilion this season. "Eventually" being the key word there - it certainly wasn't the mad rush predicted by myself and others.

In fact, take away my season ticket and my press pass for a second. Assume I'm just some random guy interested in PSU hockey, and who wants to attend the first NCAA hockey game in the history of Penn State men's hockey. Without resorting to the secondary market, and in a rink seating 1,350, I would be able to do so even if I had completely neglected the June sale of five-game packages and also forgot about the single-game ticket sale until (at least) the second day. That's mind-blowing to me.

The Penn State community, when motivated, is fantastic at moving tickets. There are numerous examples of this phenomenon, but just to hit a couple:
Yes, all of those things have some context in their favor. Football's football and is the alpha sport, both in our society and at Penn State. Wrestling was the defending national champion (and would be on the way to going back-to-back) and was opposing a program with 23 national championships in the last 38 years. That women's soccer match was the first major sporting event with students on campus since the NCAA sanctions hit over the summer and had a unique atmosphere as a result - and it didn't hurt that the opponent was ranked no. 1 and the defending national champs. Swift is hugely popular, not at PSU every day, a native of Wyomissing, PA, and had not yet released "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." I get all of that.

Gratuitous photo of Taylor Swift, taken at her BJC show.

But hockey is not without context as well. After all, Penn State has waited forever for NCAA hockey. The Icers already had a built-in fan base that filled most of the Ice Pavilion for each game. Surely I'm not the only one who felt a sense of urgency because of those two facts and because of the rink's size. There's an NHL lockout (if you haven't heard) and therefore a decent chance that Penn Staters won't be watching Penguins and Flyers games anytime soon. A very visible reminder that the program exists is under construction across from the Jordan Center. Given all of that, the overall sluggishness of Penn Staters in grabbing about 7,000 of the 20,250 total seats at Greenberg this season is discouraging.

Speaking of that reminder, yes, I do believe that the Pegula Ice Arena will contribute to the demand for tickets in 2013-2014. However, the history of new sports venues (including PSU's Medlar Field) indicates that the attendance spike will only last for one year. After that, it will just be a venue with more seats to fill in four games than the Ice Pavilion has for an entire season. Can we do it? It's still too early to say, but I'm less confident in success than I was even six months ago.

In June, I wrote a post called "Cause For Concern?" discussing the relative lack of buzz about hockey at "mainstream" PSU as measured from different sources. It wasn't my intent to duplicate that post - apologies if I have - but rather to update it with new data.

That data, to me, reads something like this right now: "Penn State is a new market for NCAA hockey, and is therefore going to require some building time, just like most new markets. It's not the automatic that some (again, guilty) assumed it would be, and it will have to find a solid niche in a landscape already pretty saturated with big-time college athletics in order to draw at a level appropriate for a large-conference program."