Monday, June 10, 2013

Three Stars: June 3-9

3. Forty Players Invited to 2013 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp

The buildup to the selection of Team USA for the 2014 World Junior Championships is officially underway, as USA Hockey has picked 40 skaters for its August evaluation camp. From there, roughly 25 will be invited to training camp in December, with a few more being trimmed ahead of the event, which begins December 26, 2013 in Malmo, Sweden. Not surprisingly, given the talent flowing through the program and that Don Lucia will be the head coach of the team, five Minnesota Golden Gophers (Brady Skjei, Mike Brodzinski, Tommy Vannelli, Hudson Fasching and Taylor Cammarata) received invites.

When I see Brodzinski's name, I automatically think of Eamon McAdam, so what of the goalies? Well, they're still TBD. A bunch of them - McAdam included - are in Ann Arbor, MI right now (Sunday through Tuesday, to be precise) battling for invites to the evaluation camp. Those making the cut will be announced at the conclusion of the mini-camp.

2. Penn State's hockey team builds toward inaugural Big Ten season

Often, I'm condescending towards stories built for a general audience. Not this one. Guy Gadowsky video, Pegula Ice Arena photo gallery, exploration of an underutilized angle with strength coach Robert McLean extensively quoted. Outstanding work, Mr. Leone. I'll even give bonus points for not automatically jumping on Tommy Olczyk for the player quotes. Read and enjoy, we're almost there.

1. Idea of hockey game at Beaver Stadium being considered?

The big story this week, of course, was WJAC's confirmation that Penn State officials have discussed Beaver Stadium hockey. I've hesitated to talk about it because...
  1. This is news? How is anyone actually surprised? Penn State would almost have to be trying for it not to have come up on some level by this point.
  2. I'm roughly 98 percent sure that discussion of Beaver Stadium hockey had already been publicly confirmed. At the very least, athletic department employees Gadowsky and Bill O'Brien openly talked about it at the 2012 Coaches Caravan, and I believe that I've heard the hypothetical Joe Battista laid out for WJAC before, either on or off the record.
  3. "Considered" is quite a few steps from "it's done."
But I suppose it's time to get this out of the way. To begin sorting through it, here's what Battista said.
"What will probably happen eventually is that we'll play Penn State-Notre Dame, Penn State-Boston College, Penn State-Michigan, and then we'll also have Flyers-Penguins, Penguins-Sabres, Sabres-Flyers."
"Probably," "eventually," several possibilities for games being thrown around... yeah, sounds imminent.

The idea of the NHL's Winter Classic stacked on top of major college games is not unprecedented - the now-annual Frozen Fenway college event got its start in the aftermath of the Boston Bruins' 2010 Winter Classic victory over the Flyers, and numerous lower-profile college games (Penn State-Neumann on January 4, 2012, to name one) have also piggybacked on the NHL-installed ice. Now that the pros have decided to play something like 30 outdoor games per year, that would seem to open even more possibilities.

The WJAC report was complemented by the official men's hockey Twitter dipping its toe into the water and unintentionally showing that the idea may be a bit undercooked. In response to the question "What do you think of an outdoor game at Beaver Stadium?" it got...

Ouch. Maybe we should park this one until people are excited enough about Nittany Lions hockey to think of it ahead of the NHL when the Nittany Lions' Twitter asks a hockey question. Or until PSU gets a mention in more than three of the roughly six zillion news articles and blog posts on the topic this past week (seriously, even Black Shoe Diaries is fixated on the Pens-Flyers side to the story while the Penn State blog ignores the idea of a Penn State team's potential involvement). The downside to having a huge stadium is that a crowd of 80,000 is a success for most places but a failure for University Park. We're going to need a massive amount of excitement for the college game too, and right now, nobody seems to care about Penn State playing outside.

And maybe it's a pipe dream, but as a matter of principle, I'd love for the Nittany Lions to not have to be an undercard to an NHL game. Big Ten rivals Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin have all managed to hold highly-successful outdoor hockey games in their school football stadia without swimming in someone's wake, and my hope is that PSU is able to do the same. In fact, my preference is that the PSU and NHL games take place in different seasons (yeah, good luck with that one, I know).

Enterprising journalists have confirmed that yes, people have talked about Beaver Stadium hockey, at least the NHL version of it, both in the eastern...
The Flyers have had preliminary discussions about playing a regular-season game at Penn State's Beaver Stadium against their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, club president Peter Luukko confirmed Wednesday.

"We have spoken to the Pens and the league about expressing our combined interest," Luukko said. "Not sure if next year is a possibility. Penn State is very interested."
...and western...
"It would be great for Pennsylvania hockey," Penguins CEO David Morehouse said Friday.

The talks have been between Morehouse and Flyers president Peter Luukko, who confirmed them to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Luukko told the Inquirer that Penn State is "very interested" in being the site of such a game.
...halves of the commonwealth, and that PSU has been involved with those discussions on some level. Cool. Now don't blow it by letting the Sabres break up a potentially epic installment of the NHL's best rivalry (Terry Pegula, contrary to popular belief, bought an arena and some scholarships, not our souls) or by letting Luukko somehow cram his kid's team (Vermont) down our throats one more time on the NCAA side of things.

I'm hardly an outdoor game hater, and have made my position clear on one of the other occasions this came up. I just think we need to pump the brakes a bit. Everything is still very obviously in the earliest of stages, and the soonest this will realistically happen is 2014-2015. Beyond the things mentioned at that link, you're crazy if you think PSU will sacrifice an inaugural-season Pegula Ice Arena game, especially with no marginal benefit to doing outdoor hockey this year versus next year. Even a date 18 months from now assumes a positive resolution of things like the idea of 100,000 people parked in an icy mud pit (grass parking areas mixed with wintry precipitation) and the timing of Beaver Stadium's winterization.

We'll give Dan Vecellio and BSD the last word.
Battista told me that no formal talks with any teams had taken place from Penn State's end and that no commitments to any groups (teams, owners, etc.) had been made. The school was still in the exploratory phase and still researching whether a game at the stadium is even feasible considering parking and "winterizing" the stadium like they do every year as had been reported before. So, don't put too much stock into these stories just yet.
Yeah, that.

Best of the Rest

Kate Christoffersen before (left) and after (right) running a marathon

Lake Placid Marathon & Half Marathon

Kate Christoffersen, the Lady Icers original who played her senior year as an NCAA Nittany Lion in 2012-2013, ran a marathon on Sunday. Hey, if you have what it takes inside to come back from a career-ending concussion, why not?

She actually did quite well too. From start line to finish line, she only required 3:48:02, or 3:48:20 when measuring from the starting gun (the latter is the actual time used to rank the runners, which seems silly in this day and age). That was good for 85th place of the 327 runners overall, or sixth among females between 20 and 29 years old.

Save the Date: Summer Social

If you're in Boston on June 29th and want to hang out with Battista and/or hear him speak (he's quite good at both of those things, trust me), here's your chance. Advance tickets are $40 for members of the Greater Boston Chapter of the alumni association, $45 for non-members, and $50 at the door.

Big Ten continues to expand its horizons and Purdue needs to catch up
(The Exponent)

Sometimes I forget that Purdue is in the Big Ten. Way to matter at things that aren't engineering, Purdue. Anyway, they're still broke and not adding sports like hockey or lacrosse, if you needed that.

Sidney Crosby’s sister carving her own hockey path in goal
(The Globe and Mail)

The headline says it all... Sidney Crosby's sister Taylor is a pretty well-regarded goalie, one good enough to get invites to Hockey Canada U18 camps. She's entering her senior year at Shattuck-St. Mary's, where she posted a 2.04 goals against average and a 0.924 save percentage last season.

Hey Taylor, if you're looking at colleges, I can name one fairly close to your brother's team... geez, wouldn't that be something?

Admit it: for a split second, you thought about Laura Bowman doing the Happy Gilmore swing

2013 State Golf Tournament Qualifiers

Laura Bowman is a Minnesota Ms. Hockey semifinalist by winter and a Minnesota state golf tournament qualifier by spring. She's okay at sports.

The Minnetonka High School senior emerged as one of five individual qualifiers from Section 6AAA and will compete for the AAA (the largest division) state title on Tuesday and Wednesday at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids, MN. For the "small world" file: on day one, she'll be playing with Lakeville North's Brianna Vetter, the younger sister of 2014 commit Christi Vetter.

Amy Petersen, Bowman's long-time linemate and a fellow incoming PSU freshman, also doesn't suck at golf, as she finished 29th at last year's state tournament.

Koelmel Named President of HARBORcenter

After Pegula's Buffalo hotel/restaurant/ice rink project hyped a "major announcement" that many (guilty) assumed was the long-awaited "Canisius will play its home games here" unveiling, they instead introduced John Koelmel as the facility's president. Koelmel is a former CEO of First Niagara Financial Group, the entity which happens to have its name on the arena in which Pegula's Buffalo Sabres play. Moving on...

Rocha Named Academic All-America

Cheyne Rocha, a senior defenseman at Army last season, was one of just two men's hockey players nationally to be named first-team Academic All-America. As mentioned here numerous times before, he is also the son of former Icers assistant coach Larry Rocha and Penn State lacrosse legend Candace Finn Rocha. They did an okay job raising him.
Rocha, who commissioned as a second lieutenant two weeks ago and posted a 4.20 grade-point average, is the first Army hockey player to earn the national academic honor as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. He registered the highest grade point average of the 15 first-team choices.

Rocha, who won the Senior CLASS Award for ice hockey, was a Rhodes Scholar finalist and is a three-time Atlantic hockey Association Academic All-Star. The 2013-14 team has not yet been announced.

A native of Rye, N.H., Rocha missed just two games this season when he interviewed for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. In addition to play as a defenseman, he was instrumental in starting the House of Blues, an awareness campaign for prostate cancer. He is also active with the Special Olympics and Neighborhood Knights, a group of hockey players who perform community service in and around West Point.

An engineering management major, Rocha will enter the Engineers branch of the U.S. Army and begin his service in Fort Carson, Colo.
Alaska-Anchorage down to finalists for second time in coaching search
(Western College Hockey Blog)

Sure enough, despite the ouster of athletic director Steve Cobb, Alaska-Anchorage's gongshow of a head coaching search is marching forward. Even more surprisingly, they found five people who want easily the worst job in Division I right now.


John Carroll, a university in suburban Cleveland for those who don't know, has won the bid to host the ACHA Men's Division 1 National Championships in 2015. It will be the fifth time that the tournament has been held in the state of Ohio since 2003, and the fourth go for the Buckeye State in a nine-year stretch back to 2007.

This coming season's D1 tournament will be in Newark, DE, while D2 is in Marlborough, MA. The D2 men will head to Salt Lake City in 2015, and the D1 and D2 women join the D1 men at UDelly in 2014.

The Blue Streaks previously hosted D1's best in 2009, a tournament which saw the Icers bounced in the semifinals by Illinois (the Illini went on to lose the championship game to Lindenwood) but not before PSU earned nationals bragging rights over Ohio for all eternity. That year's tournament was probably best remembered, however, for the Zamboni exhaust incident that forced the evacuation of the rink, sent 100 people to the hospital (as a precaution, nobody to the best of my knowledge was seriously affected) and forced a couple games to be suspended and completed the next day, including one involving Penn State Berks. Hopefully they got that checked out at some point in the last few years.


  1. By the time the outdoor game becomes possible, maybe everyone will realize it's really not so great to spend so much to watch hockey outside in the winter from wayyyyyy far away from the ice. We'll see. I thought we'd have reached that point by now. Then again, I've never been to one of these games so maybe it's more fun than it looks.

    However, I think - perhaps ironically - TV and general hype about the novelty of playing in a storied outdoor stadium is what really drives interest in these games, not so much the attraction of playing outside. Which, as I mentioned, isn't really that attractive given how far away the fans are from the ice and
    knowing State College, it won't just be cold, it will be sleeting sideways with occasional rain just to make it more miserable.

    The Pens and Flyers each play 42 home games a year (I can't recall how many times they'll play each other under the new structure, but several) so losing one for the prospect of a road trip to the hinterlands of PA with the prospect of getting into fights with fans of the other team (yes, that will happen) is probably very appealing to their fan base, much of which has probably never been to Beaver Stadium.

    But as PSU hockey supporter, I think I might feel a bit gypped if one of our only home games against Minnesota, for example, is moved outside so I have to pay more to watch it from miles away instead of the much better seat at Pegula. There's no particular novelty in visiting Beaver Stadium for me or for most PSU fans.

    But of course, if there is a game at Beaver Stadium - any game - I'll be there.

    1. Good takes on all fronts. My only attendance experience was with PSU-Neumann, and that was in a kind of chilly, but more comfortable than not, fully enclosed press box. They only used the seating in the level immediately below the box for that game, so I feel like my view wasn't completely different from most fans there. And I would've been screwed if not for the monitors we had. With my Red Wings hosting next season's Winter Classic, I'm going to soak that in as much as my wallet will allow (I skipped a chance to go to the 2009 game because of PSU playing in the Rose Bowl that same day!) and after that, I'll probably be good.

      Maybe it's still too soon to make this call, but it might be telling that almost nobody except for the Frozen Fenway people (which involve a huge metro area, several different schools and a not-huge stadium) has elected to do this a second time. I feel like it's one of those things that we just have to get out of the way, scratch everyone's itch, and then we'll be fine with never doing it again (or at least, we'll be able to wait until the generations too young to remember this one come of age). Outdoor games seem one of the only trends ever that becomes uncool on purely an individual level.

  2. That article from Leone was good. Surprisingly so. Some of the quotes from it are revealing in ways that I had not expected. I have liked McLean a lot since the hockey introduction videos with him in which he emphasized that he is training players not to be professional athletes per se, but so that they will be healthy for the long term and less likely to be injured. I like his holistic approach to training. I really appreciated his comment that "[his] goal is to really make sure our guys are bigger, stronger than hopefully most of the other teams, and really make an impression on the D-I schools that we're not going to be a fledgling team that's going to get pushed around." I realized how dichotomous my college hockey rooting interests are. As a Cornell fan, I am all about the history and the bigger programs (especially programs that play physical styles like Cornell and Wisconsin) pushing around the upstarts and neophytes. As a Penn State fan, I pull for the feisty upstart team to topple the established programs. It will be very interesting to see how the offseason and postseason training and team-building efforts pay off. I have not decided which weekend I will go back to Penn State to see a B1G Hockey game. I am probably investing in the Big Ten Network. Brittany and I plan to make the trip for the Army hockey game and the Michigan football game if our schedules allow. However, I have mixed emotions about which B1G opponent to see. I am opposed to seeing Minnesota at Pegula Ice Arena until the Gophers start playing Eastern teams out East at their buildings save for conference requirements and new-building openings (Agganis). Wisconsin is atop the list (history with Cornell) as is Michigan State (gotta love Anastos).

    I have to agree with your consensus above regarding outdoor games. I think the luster is wearing off. I am glad that we sat in the cold in Philadelphia for the Neumann-Penn State clash. For those who were in the stands at Citizen Bank, I have to admit it was quite cold. Rumors have begun to swirl about Yankee Stadium in the near future. With the whole "Cornell is NY' campaign following Cornell's winning of the New York City Tech Campus land grant and Cornell's filling of The Garden on an annual basis now, people (including me) have begun to speculate that the Yankee organization may host a college hockey game for which Cornell is the host. But, like was implied again, it's the idea of seeing Cornell hockey in Yankee Stadium, not the outdoor game, that draws my intention and would compel my attendance. The same is true of Penn State.

    I think it would be a waste of a Beaver-Stadium game to host a B1G Hockey opponent. I think intraconference games at novel venue games are foolish (see Harvard and Yale at Madison Square Garden this coming January). I could wax philosophically about why, but I will spare you. haha The other options that Battista mentioned: Boston College draws surprisingly badly even at Conte Forum and Notre Dame would be very interesting but I am not sure how well they travel for hockey. I think that the best teams to consider that could meet the requirements of travelability and a large fanbase are: Boston University, Cornell, Maine, New Hampshire, and North Dakota. I would go to any of those. Obviously I have my preference. If Penn State plays a B1G Hockey program, I might not go. It doesn't seem special enough on some level. I know a Cornell-Penn State series at Yankee Stadium and Beaver Stadium would be too much to ask probably. One can dream, right?

    1. I thought New York's College Team is Syracuse. ;)

      It's tough, but I keep trying to convince myself to have a bit of patience. The way we sort of tip-toed into this thing largely locked our schedule in for this year. Of our 14 non-cons, 8 are return trips from last year's AHA-heavy slate. Two others were supposed to be as well, but UAH had to bail when they got into the WCHA (we did quite well in filling those two slots - the later adds were the Philly game and BC). We'll have a lot more wiggle room in 2014-15, and supposedly, we're going to strongly veer to the east. FWIW. I have to think that Harvard, Princeton and St. Cloud State are on at least one athletic department employee's list, obviously I'm hoping to see Cornell (and Colgate too) at some point.

      Cornell's a *very* appealing Beaver Stadium opponent. It's been lost a bit now, but when this whole thing started, the allure of the event was supposed to be the recreation of hockey's roots. And since the Hershey Jr. Bears (the one outdoor game that succesfully went off at PSU in the 1940s) aren't an option...I agree that the Big Ten would be a waste, but I fear that they'll ultimately go in that direction in an attempt to pull in casuals with a familiar football opponent.

      Big vs. small program quickly, since my food just got here! One of the reasons I like Cornell is because it *should* be a small program, but isn't. Cornell, with Ivy admissions, Ivy scholarships (errrr need-based aid), Ivy scheduling, Ivy travel, etc. goes toe to toe with any program in the country. In a lot of ways, I think of CU as an intruder in the world of one-and-done hockey factories like Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Minnesota and sticking up for "doing it right" while winning enough to give that argument credibility.

      I wouldn't sweat that dichotomy too much, by the way. Have a good feeling that PSU won't be considered an upstart for very long.

  3. Corby's sister and her journey with hockey goalie campsounds interesting and I am so happy to see that too.