Monday, July 29, 2013

Three Stars: July 22-28

3. Southeast Schedules and What They Mean for 2013-14
(Twisted Thoughts)

While the ACHA Division 2 Ice Lions have yet to release a 2013-2014 schedule, several opponents - MACHA rivals Delaware, Virginia Tech and Liberty most recently - have. Here's what we now know of PSU's upcoming slate as a result:

October 26, 2013 - vs. Delaware
November 2, 2013 - at Delaware
December 8, 2013 - vs. Maryland-Baltimore County
January 10, 2014 - at Liberty
January 11, 2014 - at Virginia Tech
February 1, 2014 - at Maryland-Baltimore County
February 7-8, 2014 - at Navy Crab Pot (D1 Navy, D1 Towson, Maryland)
February 14-16, 2014 - at MACHA Playoffs
February 23-24, 2014 - at Southeast Regionals
March 21-25, 2014 - at ACHA National Tournament (Marlborough, MA)

The second-year Women's Ice Hockey Club, which is joining the new College Hockey East women's league with California (PA), West Chester and Delaware for 2013-2014, also has a few games out there, thanks to the schedule releases of both the Blue Hens and Michigan State.

October 19, 2013 - vs. Michigan State
October 20, 2013 - vs. Michigan State
November 16, 2013 - at Delaware
November 17, 2013 - at Delaware
December 7, 2013 - vs. Delaware
December 8, 2013 - vs. Delaware
February 21-22, 2014 - at CHE Playoffs (York, PA)
March 13-16, 2014 - at ACHA National Tournament (Newark, DE)

Notably, the December 8th Delaware game will be played at Galactic Ice in Altoona. Guess PIA isn't solving everyone's ice time issues after all.

2. The debate: players discuss CHL vs. NCAA
(The Daily Collegian)

Tackling something like a CHL vs. NCAA article is a tough task, because it's been done so often that it's difficult to find a fresh angle to bring to the table. But Matt Nestor has pulled it off by writing for a general Penn State audience that might not be familiar with The Choice while also bringing in quotes from guys like Luke Juha and Guy Gadowsky, both Canadians who played or are playing NCAA hockey.

Juha is a particularly insightful source as a guy who was once considered a potential late-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Electing for college over major junior probably hurt his stock in the short term, and he went undrafted. But Juha seems to believe that he'll ultimately be a better player because of college hockey, with a better shot of making it as a pro. And I believe that he's right.

1. Head Coach Morris to step down

Andrew Largeman, Zach Braff's character in the movie Garden State, memorably said:
"You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone... You'll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it's gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start."
That's how I'm starting to feel about ACHA Division 1. Maybe the process is a bit more gradual and less traumatic than it was for Largeman, but it's there nevertheless, because the simple fact is that after you remove yourself from a place, it still continues to evolve without you.

The ACHA will look a lot less like it did when we left without legendary Ohio coach Dan Morris, who is stepping down after 12 seasons, 344 wins and the 2004 national championship. Given that he also played for the Bobcats between 1993 and 1997 (winning three more national championships during those years) and then was an assistant coach under Craig McCarthy between graduation and taking over as the head guy, it's a no-brainer to call Morris one of the most important figures in the history of one of the ACHA's most important programs. Of course, he was also the Icers' archnemesis for all but the final one of those years on the wrong side of the greatest rivalry in ACHA history - including the 2004 title game win over PSU that ended Joe Battista's dynasty of four straight and five in six years.

No Dan Morris, Illinois' Chad Cassel departed a year ago, Minot State apparently wins the Murdoch Cup now... it doesn't feel like home anymore. And to be honest, neither does NCAA Division I and the Big Ten just yet, but it will. We have to evolve too, after all.

Best of the Rest

Eddie Quagliata and Matt Welch model Illinois' new jerseys...who says there's no "I" in "team?"

Just a year in, head coach Fabbrini hires another assistant
(The Daily Illini)

Let's stick with the ACHA for a minute, because it was quite a week for IllinoisWatch.

First, last Monday, the school's student paper published a write-up on new Illini assistant coach Blake Sorensen, who seems to believe that the program would consider going DI, and claims that belief was part of the reason he took the job: "Maybe I’m thinking out of the box, but I’m thinking the U of I would be the next school having the aspiration of going to the next level. So I said, ‘Why not?’ It was a very easy decision." That's either your garden-variety pipe dream or he knows something, take your pick, but I don't remember Billy Downey saying anything like that when he was hired as an Icers assistant in 2008.

That, by itself, is interesting but hardly A Thing. However, mostly-spam Twitter account @USCollegeHockey fanned the flames three days later: "May we have BREAKING NEWS soon? We were 1st to report Penn St.'s ascent to D1. Is another top ACHA team making the jump? Details soon..." They didn't specify that they were referring to Illinois, which is a pretty effective technique in the world of rumor mongering (PS. Someone will die of heart disease today. Because I can see the future.)

For the record, I don't know if @USCollegeHockey was first on Penn State in August and September of 2010. And I don't care. You know who I credit as being first? The Harrisburg Patriot-News' David Jones, who noted Terry Pegula's windfall from the Royal Dutch Shell sale in May 2010 and connected it to the idea of Penn State hockey a few days later. Accuracy and fresh insight over unchecked speed, every time.

Anyway, "soon," evidently, was Saturday evening, when @USCollegeHockey jumped back in with "Remember that BREAKING NEWS we mentioned on Thursday?" and attached a screengrab of a Facebook status (since deleted).

From there, the predictable played out. People overreacted, some commented on how it would be a great idea (it would be), Let's Play Hockey patted themselves on the back over the Jimmy John's rumor they advanced a couple years ago, and real journalists like Matt Slovin and Chris Peters got to work, ultimately taking about 90 minutes to confirm that the Facebook post had to do with the sale of the team's new jerseys.

There's an important lesson, which should have been learned from Penn State, that also needs to be applied here. PSU's process took five years from the initial Battista-Pegula dinner. Along the way, people talk, toes are dipped in the various pools and feasibility studies are conducted. And any one of those occurrences, which repeat themselves many, many times throughout those five years, has the potential to become an "OMG IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN!!!" tweet. Just as a rumor doesn't mean something is imminent, the short-term dismissal of a rumor doesn't mean that the information wasn't a legitimate hint, just applied incorrectly or prematurely. Illinois probably has explored the idea of NCAA hockey, and they probably will have an NCAA program someday. There's been an awful lot of smoke, and it's increased in volume recently. But I'm fairly sure that when it does happen, @USCollegeHockey won't be the first to tell us.

Portland, ME's newly-renovated Cumberland County Civic Center will host the 2015 Ice Breaker


Last week, Notre Dame was awarded the 2014 Ice Breaker (a season-opening four-team tournament presented by College Hockey Inc.) while Maine grabbed the 2015 version. And almost immediately, the rumor mill fired up.
Hearing Michigan, Michigan St., Penn St & BC are possible teams to take part in '15 IceBreaker.
Just as a reminder, since this seems like an appropriate spot: way back in January 2012, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that the Nittany Lions had signed on for the 2014 Brice Alaska Goal Rush. The Goal Rush is another season-opening tournament, hosted by Alaska and always including their dumpster fire of a neighbor in Anchorage. This year's field - Denver and Western Michigan are the two "outside schools" - was announced on November 16, 2012, so we might hear confirmation on that one relatively soon.

150 Miles for a Cure...
(Bike MS)

Coming up on September 28th and 29th, women's assistant Casey McCullion will once again go on a bike ride to raise money to fight multiple sclerosis. Please consider supporting her and the cause if you're able. And yes, I'll remind you again.

Pro New York Sports Exclusive: Eamon McAdam
(Pro New York Sports)

Know what I like seeing in a player? This, from Eamon McAdam:
I want to help the team progress as fast as possible and by my second or third year I want to give the team here a chance to go for a National Championship. This may seem like a lofty goal but the age old expression of championships are won with goaltending is true in my eyes and if I put in enough work I am hopeful I can give the team a chance no matter who we’re playing.
Check Gadowsky's track record, especially with a Princeton program that had/has a lot less behind it than what's in place at Penn State. Kid ain't crazy.

New York Islanders 2013 draft review
(Hockey's Future)

Your second dose of Big Mac comes through a roundup of Garth Snow's 2013 draft picks. If you're like me and are now trying to follow the Isles a little bit, it's probably good to check things like this out once in a while.

Ohio State's dumping of Mark Osiecki has continued to prove costly

Magyar chooses Kitchener Rangers over Ohio State
(Western College Hockey Blog)

Ohio State's firing of coach Mark Osiecki back in April... yep, still an absolutely terrible decision. The latest evidence: Ohio native and Cleveland Barons product Nick Magyar, a Buckeye commit who played for Sioux City and the National Team Development Program in the USHL last season, has signed with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers and blowtorched his college eligibility. Magyar is just the latest in a growing line of Osiecki recruits to flee, including Nolan Valeau, Cliff Watson and Zach Stepan.

U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2013 Unveiled
(USA Hockey)

This year's U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class lacks the direct Penn State connection of the 2012 group featuring Eddie Olczyk, but it's still a robust collection headlined (for our purposes) by Ron Mason. Mason coached at Lake Superior State (1967-1973), Bowling Green (1974-1979) and Michigan State (1980-2002), won the 1986 national title with the Spartans, and was the winningest coach in college history (924 victories) until he was passed by Jerry York last season. He was also among the hockey giants surveyed for quotes distributed to the press on September 17, 2010, for whatever that's worth:
“I think it’s wonderful that Penn State will have Division I hockey. I’ve long thought that if Penn State ever decided to elevate its program that it would be a school that would challenge for championships. This is a good move for the school and for college hockey.”
Jake Gardiner, a Maple Leafs defenseman and Max's brother, is among the U.S. Olympic hopefuls

Men's National Team Orientation Camp Roster Set
(USA Hockey)

Arguably the biggest story in the hockey world last week was the release of Olympic team camp rosters by most of the countries expected to contend in Sochi, Russia next year. Team USA's version includes a pair of Penn State siblings in Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner and Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad, and yes, we're going to keep living vicariously through those guys until there are Nittany Lions in the show.

The 48-man camp roster will eventually be cut to 25, so Saad and Gardiner certainly aren't home yet, although both are strong contenders for selection.

Glen Gulutzan happy to return 'home' with Canucks
(Vancouver Sun)

Glen Gulutzan, one of the more prominent members of the Guy Gadowsky coaching tree (Gadowsky coached Gulutzan with the WCHL's Fresno Falcons in 1996-1997 and 1998-1999), has joined John Tortorella's Vancouver Canucks staff. Gulutzan, last time we checked in on him, was being fired as head coach of the Dallas Stars after two seasons, so it's nice to see him land on his feet.


The leading Twitterdrama last Tuesday: assistant coaches acting butthurt for really, really stupid reasons. First, there's the case of Quinnipiac's Bill Riga, subtweeting QU blog From the NIP to the Bank for having the audacity to predict the Bobcats' lineup for the coming season (forwards, defense/goalies).
Love people who have our line-up and freshmen predicted. I don't even know and I've seen them all play a lot. #smarterthani
Someone needs to look up the definitions of "prediction" and "know" and note the differences.

Jerry Keefe of Northeastern skipped snark and went straight to fury. His target? The Providence Journal's Mark Divver, whose horrific crime was tweeting that new Providence College commit Spenser Young, a defenseman at Phillips Exeter Academy, held an offer from Keefe's Huskies. Time to rumble.

Divver wisely bowed out at that point, but in Keefe's estimation, Twitter still wasn't safe - after all, there were people making innocuous "don't see that every day" comments about the Keefe-Divver exchange to straighten out.
@smclaughlin9 @MarkDivver don't like when people tweet false info to make a hockey program look bad. We all work to hard for that.
Yeah, you (may have) lost out on a highly-sought-after (heavy hitters Boston College, Yale and New Hampshire also whiffed on Young, according to Divver) recruit. Brutal. Your program looks absolutely horrible now. But no worries, you're well on the way back, because you don't spread rumors about the media.
@smclaughlin9 @MarkDivver I don't report false info on twitter about you guys and your jobs so don't do about hockey programs and our jobs
Also, don't tell Keefe he's in an argument...
@smclaughlin9 @MarkDivver it's not an argument it's a point I feel strongly about.
...or that he melted down.
@FearTheTriangle @TheBUHockeyBlog no meltdowns here!
I beg to differ. The best summation is brought to you by Boston University "blog/Twitter combo without the blog" BurntBoats.

Moving On
(From the NIP to the Bank)

Finally, best wishes in blogger retirement to Luke Devoe, who is stepping aside from his aforementioned work on Quinnipiac.

I don't feel a true kinship with too many bloggers out there (which isn't to say that I don't respect and enjoy their work or like them as human beings). The SB Nation guys have 800 different writers and 20 billion pageviews a month. Other blogs are run by professional journalists as a side project or as part of the coverage of their beat. TYT isn't any of those things, and I don't really identify much with their realities. Devoe was different. Much like him, I'm just a guy who loves hockey, loves his school, and enjoys the artificial level of closeness allowed by doing this. That's why I find his reasons for stopping heartbreaking.
I became blacklisted to a certain extent because, well, I was a little too opinionated during a rough stretch of play. I accepted this, altered my approach, and went on covering the team I love. Recently, a small but similar event occurred. While it would be easy to shrug it off and file it under the "can't make them all happy" category, I simply can't.

Back when things weren't exactly gravy and FTNTTB wasn't on the best of terms with the brass at the Q it was tough receiving sideways stares walking into a venue that I held, and still hold, so near and dear. It was even harder when those stares were coming from some people whose opinion mattered. The labor of love turned into a exhausting game of second guessing and self-censoring, even at times when I truly felt I was right. I just don't feel like doing it again. I concede.
Shame on you, Bill Riga and anyone else who may have contributed to his struggles.


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