Monday, June 10, 2013

RIT Rematch Set For October 25

Casey Bailey's goal helped the Nittany Lions to a shock win at RIT last season

Guy Gadowsky's Nittany Lions will attempt to win a rematch of one of its biggest 2012-2013 victories on Friday, October 25th at 7:05 p.m. when they host RIT at Pegula Ice Arena (while a return trip from the Tigers was already known, the date and time of the game have now been confirmed by RIT's schedule release). The contest will be the day before PSU's trip to the Wells Fargo Center for the second Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff with Vermont.

It's easy to forget now given what happened subsequently, but on October 20, 2012, Penn State pulled off a stunning - particularly given the previous day's PSU result, which will not be directly referenced - 3-2 upset of the Tigers in their homecoming game before 10,556 orange-clad fans at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena. Curtis Loik, Casey Bailey and Max Gardiner were the Lions' goal scorers, but the win was highlighted by P.J. Musico's often-spectacular 40 saves, as well as by a late-game kill of a George Saad checking from behind major that presented a serious threat to Penn State's one-goal lead with 4:13 remaining.

If it had stood as Penn State's signature win of the inaugural NCAA season, that would have been perfectly acceptable to most. But later wins against Ohio State, Vermont, Michigan State and Wisconsin, combined with RIT's disappointing 15-18-5 finish, sort of pushed it into the background. Which is a bit unfortunate, because if nothing else, the throng that evening is still the largest hostile crowd ever faced by PSU (the better-attended of the two Wisconsin games drew 9,078, and the larger crowds later on in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia veered towards the Nittany Lions).

For their part, RIT has now lost the final remaining players from a 2010 fairytale ride to the Frozen Four, a small but vital senior class of forwards Jeff Smith and Adam Hartley, along with defenseman Chris Saraceno. With the vast majority of the team back, the former national champions at both the DII (1983) and DIII (1985) levels will attempt to return to their 2006-2012 form when, in addition to that Frozen Four, RIT won at least 19 games for six consecutive seasons and played in three consecutive Atlantic Hockey championship games. Two of head coach Wayne Wilson's incoming recruits on defense are worth an extra mention: Dustin Fostvelt spent four seasons with the AJHL's Spruce Grove Saints and played with Nittany Lions David Glen, Dylan Richard and Mike Williamson there, while Alexandre Perron-Fontaine was with Dave Thompson on the BCHL's Chilliwack Chiefs from 2011-2013 and prior to that joined Jonathan Milley on the 2010-2011 Pembroke Lumber Kings' national championship team.

There are now very few surprises left for Penn State's schedule release, whenever it eventually occurs. Twenty-eight of the Nittany Lions' 34 allowed games are now press-release official (the 20 Big Ten games, plus RIT, a home series with Union, stand-alone home games with Sacred Heart and Army, the Philly Faceoff and the Three Rivers Classic with Boston College, Robert Morris and Bowling Green). The other six games are likely to be a Pegula Ice Arena game versus those same BC Eagles - yep, for real - a trip to RMU, a home series against UMass-Lowell and a series at Air Force. The full rundown of the knowns and lesser-knowns, as always, is here.

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