Monday, December 28, 2009
It was a great weekend of visiting family and eating far too much, while the insulin pump got a good workout!
We headed to Buffalo on Wednesday, arriving in time to enjoy a bucket of wings at Duff's, our favorite wing joint in the Buffalo area.
The fine dining continued on Christmas Eve, with breakfast at Tim Horton's in Amherst, NY and lunch at Johnny's Hamburgers in Scarborough.
Johnny's hasn't changed since my high school days, and the burgers, fries and shakes still taste as good 40 years later!
We had a great visit with my family in Canada. Christmas Eve at my brother's home, followed by a quiet Christmas Day spent with my parents, and Boxing Day was capped by the entire Penstone clan gathering for a fabulous dinner at my sister's house.
For the uninformed, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day, and is celebrated by people rushing out in the pre-dawn darkness to buy things they don't need or use up the gift cards they got the day before.
I believe that down here it's called "Black Friday."
Sunday was an early day for us, starting (of course) with another stop at another Tim Horton's before we headed for Pittsburgh to see the Penguins and Maple Leafs.
Fortunately, the weather was good, the increased security at the border didn't slow us down too much, and we made it to da 'Burgh well before game time.
We stayed at the Marriott across the road from the Mellon, and enjoyed a pre-game meal in the lobby bar. That gave Barb a chance to catch some of her Broncos stumblin' and bumblin' against the Iggles -- whoda thunk it that they would come back and almost beat Philly??
As is always the case when the Leafs visit Pittsburgh, there were a lot of Leafs fans in the hotel bar, which made for some interesting banter that continued inside the Mellon. All in good fun, with no one getting too carried away.
With the Leafs losing to Montreal in overtime the night before, I wasn't expecting much from them against the reigning Stanley Cup champs. But Santa must think I've been a good boy, because they were able to come away with a 4-3 win,
thanks to Ian White's late 3rd period goal just after the Pens had tied it up.
JoeBa was at the game -- I found that out when I read his email after getting back to the hotel. While I can't post most of what he wrote here, he didn't like what he saw:
Pens played lethargicly, the Leafs inspired! Is 'lethargicly' a word??
An interesting side note -- while it took Barb and I less than a half-hour to cross the border at Buffalo, apparently members of the Toronto press corps weren't so lucky.
Mike Ziesberger wrote in today's Toronto Sun:
Meanwhile, due to airport chaos and flight cancellations yesterday, only one reporter from a Toronto newspaper - that being a representative from the Toronto Sun -- was on hand for the Leafs-Pittsburgh Penguins game at Mellon Arena last night.
In fact, in more than a decade of covering the Leafs, yours truly has never seen so few Toronto reporters sitting on press row at a Leaf game. There were only two, with AM 640's Jonas Siegel being the other.
Hmmm - if only the Toronto radio crew hadn't made it! Hey, a guy can dream at Christmas, can't he??? Oh well, I'll be back at the Mellon in a couple of weeks for the Icers and Robert Morris.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The letter from Maple Leafs coach and GM Punch Imlach to Jim Pappin outlines a "rigorous" training camp regimen. I'm sure today's players are rather envious!
As Joe wrote: "The Leafs just need to simplify!!" Has Ron Wilson seen this??
Barbara and I are off to Toronto on Wednesday to spend Christmas with my family. Then we'll be hustling to Pittsburgh on Sunday to take in the Leafs and Pens at the Mellon, thanks to the generosity of one of the Icers' family!
On behalf of my executive producer, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Good thing they're not playing the Senators until Saturday night.
Good thing there's a Pro Life Hockey store nearby!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I think that it's safe to say that the coaches are none too pleased with what transpired, despite the fact that the Icers cruised to a 10-3 win.
I'll leave it to Tom Kinslow of the Collegian to give you the gory details of the game, especially the second period. Referee Tim Foreman had his hands full, calling 35 minutes in penalties and three game disqualifications!
There are not a lot of positives to report, with a few notable exceptions. George Saad finally got off the schneid, recording a hat-trick that doubled his goal output in the first semester.
Rich O'Brien scored his first goal as an Icer. As Rich's father, and former Icer, Rick told me in an e-mail, "Didn’t take him much to beat my scoring stats. I still have him on penalty minutes but it’s only a matter of time before that falls."
But, I have to say the highlight of the night was the play of Niagara freshman Patrick Martin. Martin was called upon to don the pads after starting goalie Patrick Jankowski was tossed out during the melee at 7:57 of the second.
After a delay of about a half-hour, Martin emerged from under the stands looking like a kid who had never played goal in his life. But in the first minute between the pipes he made several outstanding saves, including a diving case of highway robbery on Eric Steinour.
The Martin family was listening to the webcast from their home on Long Island. Sue Martin e-mailed to say her son had played goal -- AS A 12-YEAR OLD IN ROLLER HOCKEY!
Martin gave up 7 goals, but his 27 saves earned him third-star honors and several rounds of applause from the fans of both teams.
OK, so the Icers finish the first semester with a record of 18-2-1 and winners of 13 of the past 14 games, which ain't bad at all. The second semester won't be a cakewalk, starting with Robert Morris U. at the Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase at the Mellon Arena on January 8.
As the players gear up for finals week and the holiday break, I'll have a chance to get to work on the video that we are putting together to mark the 70th anniversary of hockey in Happy Valley.
One of the great pleasures of being with the team has been the opportunity to meet and get to know John Dufford. Mr. Dufford was a member of the original Penn State hockey team in 1939-40.
John is on the sunny side of 80, and up until a few years ago he skated in the Alumni Game.
I still say that helmet should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame!
I visited John at his home in Connecticut following the Rhode Island weekend.
Here's the "Icers Pioneer" reminiscing about how he wound up on the team and how a coach could crank up his players as easily back then as they can today.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The Icers hope to go into the holiday break on an up note, having swept two from Delaware last weekend to run their record to 17-2-1 and 11-0-1 in the ESCHL. Penn State enjoys a four-point lead over Rhode Island in the conference standings, and a full ten points ahead of the 3rd place Blue Hens.
I was able to drop by practice today and caught up with Matt Kirstein and Kurt Collins. Both returned to action last weekend, with Matt scoring in Saturday's 6-0 win.
Both told me how excited they were to get back on the ice. The coaches did a good job of spotting both Matt and Kurt on the 4th line, not wearing them out in their first action in several weeks.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
On Friday night the Icers got off to a slow start in the first period and stumbled out of the gate in the second before righting the ship and winning 2-1 in a 7-round shootout.
There would be no repeat on Saturday. The Icers and Blue Hens both came out strong, with end-to-end rushes both ways. But it was the Icers enjoying a 2-0 lead after one as Matt Kirstein notched his 3rd of the season and Marek Polidor counted his 11th.
Marek made it 3-0 early in the 2nd before Tim O'Brien and Dom Morrone worked a give-and-go for O'Brien's first short handed goal and 11th of the season. That goal sent Delaware goalie SJ Broadt to the bench and brought in Kurt Pflumm, who would not stick around for long.
Mike Broccolo beat Pflumm for his 5th of the season and Chris Cerutti added his second of the weekend, 10th of the season and his 3rd power play marker, giving the Icers a 6-0 lead after 2.
The third period turned into a free-for-all at 7:40, with the Blue Hens getting slapped with two 10-minute misconducts and a pair of game misconducts, including the aforementioned Pflumm.
Less than a minute after the officials restored order, Delaware's Rocky Romanella came unglued and was hit with a game misconduct and an unsportsmanlike minor, while the Icers were awarded a penalty shot.
Marek Polidor had a chance to get a hat-trick on the penalty shot, but he hit the post.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed the rest of the way, with just one more penalty called by referee Foreman.
With the win, the Icers improved to 17-2-1 on the season and 11-0-1 in ESCHL action, while Delaware dropped to 12-7-0 overall and 6-4-0 in conference play.
With Ohio taking 2 from top-ranked Lindenwood this weekend and Illinois
Penn State will close out the first semester next Friday night when the Niagara Purple Eagles make their annual December trek to Happy Valley.
The Icers returned to the friendly surroundings of the Greenberg Ice Pavilion on Friday night for a big conference matchup against Delaware. The first period was all Blue Hens as they outshot the Icers 14-7 and led 1-0.
It didn't look much better as Penn State stumbled and bumbled through a 4-minute power play early in the 2nd, but then things started to change.
By the 40-minute mark the shots on goal were even at 22, but there was no scoring in the middle frame. It remained 1-0 until 4:59 of the 3rd, when Chris Cerutti took advantage of a deflection off a Delaware player.
Chris broke in alone and beat Hens netminder SJ Broadt high to the glove side to tie the game. Marek Polidor and Teddy Hume picked up the assist on Cerutti's 8th of the season. For Ted - his second career assist.
With no scoring through the overtime, it was off to the Icers' 3rd shootout of the season. This one went 7 thrilling rounds on some very dirty ice, which proved to be a big factor.
The Hens noticed Hume building a snow fort in his crease that was quickly removed by linesman Tim Foreman. Gotta give Big T some points for trying!
Cerutti almost overskated the puck right out of the gate on his attempt, but managed to get it back in his stick -- twice!
John Conte, the shootout hero in Rhode Island, also overskated the disc, but managed to kick it up to his stick and then beat Broadt for a highlight reel goal.
Hume came up huge, with a poke check on Jason Michaud that would make Johnny Bower proud and a sprawling save on Ryan McDonald.
Paul Daley scored to open round 7, leaving it up to Andre Menard to try and keep the Hens alive. But Teddy made a huge left pad save on Menard before the net came off the pegs.
As the Icers celebrated Menard pulled a Keith Ballard, slamming his stick on the boards at the Delaware bench, earning himself an inconsequential 10-minute misconduct at game's end.
Speaking of John Conte, he faced younger brother David last night. Kudos to Delware coach Mike DeAngelis and Icers bench boss Scott Balboni for putting the brothers in their starting lineups as their parents and grandparents watched with pride.
I didn't see any physical contact between the boys, but John made a perfect tape-to-tape pass to kid brother. Too bad the pass was intended for Marek Polidor!
I had hoped to post my post-game interviews with Paul Daley and Chris Cerutti, but I only have the video. I left my audio recorder with the rest of the equipment at the arena, so there's no way for me to link the audio and video together.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Unfortunately, the Icers gave them 40 minutes, with the second period proving to be their downfall as U-Mass Boston skated to a 7-4 win. The Icers left their game in the locker room in the 2nd period, allowing the Beacons to score 4 straight to take a 6-3 lead after 40 minutes.
Tim O'Brien scored his second of the game late in the 2nd, then Marek Polidor scored his 3rd of the weekend early in the 3rd to get the Icers to within 2, but Steven Weston scored midway through the period to make it 7-4.
As Beacons coach Peter Belisle told me in the post-game interview, he was worried the Icers would come back. They did, but fell short to a very good team.
Senior netminder Ryan Donovan was the big difference, making some big saves as the Icers outshot the Beacons 34-33. At the other end, Ted Hume was replaced by John Jay after giving up 6 goals on 16 Beacons shots.
Donovan was named to the all-tournament team, as were Polidor and John Conte.
The Icers return home next weekend with conference foe Delaware coming in for a pair of games.
A special thanks to the staff at the Ice Den and Chief David Mara, Lt. Ernie Goodno, Sgt. Brian O'Keefe and the members of the Manchester Police Department for their hospitality and for a well-run tournament.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Icers opened the scoring against the host team when Marek Polidor scored his 8th of the season at 14:01 of the second period. But the Penmen responded 46 seconds later, then took the lead at the 16:41 mark of the middle frame.
With under a minute to go in the period Paradis, the Rochester, NH native, was sent in alone on a great pass from John Conte. Ryan roofed a backhand to the glove side of Penmen goalie Mike Mastracci to send the teams to the locker rooms tied 2-2 after 2 periods.
Penn State owned the third, scoring three unanswered goals to put the game away. Polidor picked up his 2nd of the game and his 2 power play goal at 2:38. Joe Zitarelli went top shelf as well, notching his 2nd of the year to make it 4-2 at 7:13.
Fittingly, Paradis finished off the scoring with his 7th of the season and his first power play goal at 11:46.
Paradis added two assists to the pair of goals, garnering first star selection. Polidor was the second star, with two goals and an assist, while Paul Daley was the third star with two assists and another solid two-way effort.
The Icers outshot the Penmen 42-18. Check out the complete box score here.
The Icers will face U-Mass Boston in the championship game at 4:30 on Sunday. The Beacons beat up on D-II Stonehill College 7-2. As Scott Balboni said in the post-game interview, the team can't be tentative like they were in the first period on Saturday.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Speaking of turkeys, JoeBa sends his T-day greetings from "da 'Burg." In case you did not know, Joe pens a weekly online column. He might have a future as an author.
Just to clarify, I don't mean Joe's a turkey, but his choice of a Thanksgiving meal sure is:
While checking out the fan forum at US College Hockey Online, I found this quote attributed to recently-retired Brendan Shanahan.
Brendan's a good Toronto boy who had a bit of a career in the NHL, but I just couldn't bring myself to posting a picture of Shanny hoisting the Stanley Cup in a Detroit uniform!
Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. We need to have the strength and power of a football player, the stamina of a marathon runner, and the concentration of a brain surgeon. But we need to put all this together while moving at high speeds on a cold and slippery surface while 5 other guys use clubs to try and kill us, oh yeah did I mention that this whole time we're standing on blades 1/8 of an inch thick? Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. Next question.
Next stop -- the Hall of Fame.
Eight hours on the road to Manchester tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing how the guys stack up against the competition this weekend.
UPDATE: Just spotted this from Chris Lerch at USCHO:
PAL Stovepipe Tournament
When: November 28 & 29
Who: Southern New Hampshire (host), Stonehill, UMass-Boston, Penn State
Outlook: Club powerhouse Penn State adds a nice twist to this tournament. I’m picking Mass-Boston to beat the Nittany Lions in the finals.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Icers are now 14-1-1 on the season, riding a 10-game winning streak after sweeping two from Navy last weekend.
The tournament will be another chance for Penn State to prove they can play with NCAA Div. II and Div. III teams. The Icers open on Saturday at 4:30pm against the host D-II University of Southern New Hampshire.
The Penmen are 2-3-2 on the season following a 3-2 loss to the Suffolk Rams on Tuesday.
Div. II Stonehill College and NCAA Div. III U-Mass Boston play in the early game at 1:30pm. The consolation game on Sunday will go at 1:30, with the championship game to follow at 4:30.
Stonehill is struggling. An 8-6 loss to Nichols College on Tuesday was the Skyhawks' fourth straight, dropping them to 2-5-1. UM-B thumped Framingham 8-3 on Tuesday to improve to 2-1 on the year.
While doing my prep work on Sunday, I stumbled upon a familiar name on the UMass-Boston roster.
Greg Schwind was a member of the Icers, but only briefly. He arrived in Happy Valley in 2004 and stepped right in to Joe Battista's lineup.
On October 22, 2004 Greg notched a hat trick, including 2 goals in 19 seconds, in a 13-1 thumping of Drexel at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
Two weeks later Greg's season came to an end when he suffered a broken leg in a penalty-filled game at Rhode Island.
Road trips to Rhody are usually brutal, but that one was the worst. Personally, it started as we were loading up the bus when Barb called to tell me from Harrisburg to tell me that she'd been hit by a car while crossing an intersection.
Fortunately, she wasn't seriously hurt and she told me to get on the bus. Hey, she's a hockey player -- or at least she's married to one.
The team lost 4-2 to the Rams on Friday night, then skated to a scoreless tie on Saturday despite outshooting URI 38-17.
Schwind wasn't the only Icer to suffer an injury in the Saturday game. Brett Wilson suffered a cut that needed some serious stitch work. After a long wait at a local hospital while the two wounded warriors were treated we finally hit the road in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The situation went from bad to worse when the bus driver made a wrong turn somewhere in Connecticut. After what seemed like hours of traveling down two lane roads we rolled past the sign welcoming us to Storrs, which was definitely NOT on the way home.
At one point, JoeBa and I - sitting across from each other at the front of the bus - looked at each other as if to say "Where the heck are we?"
A little later I was in the aisle of the bus telling the guys that were awake that it seemed like we'd been down every road in New England, at which point Teague Willits-Kelly chirped "Yeah -- every road but the right one!"
Needless to say, we got home a little later than expected. Needless to say, I hope the trip this weekend is more successful - and less eventful!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
As I said a number of times on Friday and Saturday, the Midshipmen simply had no answer for the Icers' depth and their team speed. With full respect for the heart of the Middies, when you are outshot by a 4-1 margin it's tough to mount any type of sustained offense.
It was a great weekend for the line of Nick Seravalli, Eric Steinour and Paul Daley. Eric potted four goals on Friday and added another on Saturday, Nick scored twice in both games, and Paul set the table for his linemates with some aggressive forechecking.
Chris Cerutti and Domenic Morrone each had two goals. Dom leads the team with 11 on the season, and it's interesting to note that 2 freshmen (Morrone and Steinour) are in the top 3 in team scoring (along with Tim O'Brien).
I spoke with Nick Seravalli and Chris Cerutti following Saturday's win. Chris Pronchik was the second star, but he was a no-show. He later pleaded innocence, claiming he didn't know he was supposed to come out for a chat.
We'll forgive him this time, but I'm not sure his mom, who was listening at home, will be so forgiving!
There was a scary moment early in the 2nd period on Saturday. Carey Bell, just back this weekend after recovering from a concussion, was chasing the puck down behind his own net.
Carey turned towards the end boards just seconds before Navy's Michael Orzetti made contact. The hit sent Carey hard into the boards and at first glance it looked bad. Fortunately, Bell popped up and was able to continue playing.
Orzetti was assessed a 5-minute major and a game misconduct, which was the right call by referee Rick Gallagher. However, as I said at the time, this was another case of a player putting himself in a position to get hurt.
I'll reiterate what I said on Saturday - I don't blame Carey for what happened, because that is how players today have been taught to play the game. But, I will reiterate what I said here and here about the need for changes in how the game is taught, beginning at the youngest age.
I'll climb down off my soapbox, but not before giving the final word to Ann Hume.
Ted Hume's grandmother wrote a very insightful email in response to my earlier posts. Here's part of what Mrs. Hume wrote:
Hockey is a physical sport, as you point out, but there have to be limits on the checking and slamming players into the boards that occurs. There is no game that is worth permanent or serious damage to players. At least in hockey players wear helmets and padding and are prepared for a certain amount of roughness.
But the fact that seven members of the Icers are out with injuries shows that the game is no walk in the park. I was glad to read in your blog that the Icers players and coaches are aware of the limits and are not so fanatic that safety is ignored.
As an octogenarian, I know that there is no wealth that compares to one's health. It is a tragedy to sacrifice that treasure to sports in one's youth, or to sacrifice peace of mind to the life-long guilt that follows injuring an opponent in a game.
It's time to get ready for the long drive to Manchester, NH for next weekend's PAL Stovepipe Tournament. The Icers will be facing the host school, NCAA Div. II University of Southern New Hampshire on Saturday at 4:30pm.
Div. II Stonehill College and NCAA Div. III U-Mass Boston play in the early game at 1:30pm. The consolation game on Sunday will go at 1:30, with the championship game to follow at 4:30.
Barb and I would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. For those of you heading to New Hampshire, safe travels and we'll see you there.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Navy simply had no answer for the Icers team speed, but you know that the Middies will be gunning for a win this afternoon.
Eric Steinour had a career night, with 4 goals and 2 assists. Eric is now 3rd in team scoring behind Tim O'Brien and Domenic Morrone, who also scored last night (his 10th).
Nick Seravalli chipped in with a pair of goals. After the game I spoke with Nick and Eric. Third star Chris Cerutti was being tended to by the trainers and made it out from the locker room as I was signing off. Sorry, Chris!
On a personal note, thanks to everyone who came out to Damon's following the game to help celebrate Barb's birthday. My "executive producer" hit the big 5-0 on Wednesday, but having our Icers family on hand helped eased her pain!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Some captains approach their role in an outgoing style -- using their strong personality to lead from the front.
Others are less vocal -- preferring to lead by example and picking their spots to make their view know.
Icers co-captain John Conte falls into the latter category, despite his well known Jersey personality. On Saturday, with the Icers trailing Rhode Island 3-1 after 40 minutes, John had seen enough.
The coaches dressed down some of the players, and John let his teammates know how he felt. Whatever was said worked, resulting in a solid 3rd period that saw the Icers erase the 2-goal deficit before the eventual 4-3 shoot out victory over the Rams, completing the weekend sweep.
What made it even sweeter for Number 6 was that coach Scott Balboni chose him as a shooter. John didn't let the coach or his mates down.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
You can see all of Michael's photos from Saturday here. Pay no attention to that man behind the laptop!
Here's the video, with the calls from your humble correspondent.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
After laying a rather large egg through the first 40 minutes of Saturday's game against Rhody, the Icers found their game in the third period, storming back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game and force overtime.
Steve Thurston and Paul Daley were the heroes in regulation, after Marek Polidor scored for the Icers in the 1st period.
When neither team could score in OT the Icers were on their way to their second shootout of the season. George Saad opened up with a goal, followed by URI's Jay Dupras. Ted Hume got a piece of Dupras' shot and sent it off the crossbar.
Scott Balboni surprised a lot of people (including me) by going with John Conte, who beat Joe Spagnoli low after Saad had gone top shelf.
That put the pressure squarely on the Rams' Kyle Krannich. When his backhand slid wide of Hume and the goal the Icers poured off the bench in celebration of a hard earned gut check win.
Afterwards, the coach shared his thoughts on the victory. Thanks to Paul Daley Sr. for manning the camera.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The loss was Rhode Island's first at home and first in conference play. They're now 11-4-0 on the season and 6-1-0 in conference action.
Once again the freshmen stepped up and did a great job, especially considering that Marek Polidor and Chris Pronchik were serving their suspensions.
Nick Seravalli (6th of the year) and Jaryd Coleman exchanged first period goals. In the second, Chris Cerutti tapped in a loose puck that got past URI goalie Joe Spagnoli for his 6th of the season.
I called Steve Thurston on the insurance marker in the 3rd, even though the goal was credited to Mike Broccolo. Turns out I was wrong and the officials were right. Broccolo told me after the game he tipped Steve's shot past Spagnoli, giving him his 4th of the season. Ryan Paradis iced the game with an empty netter, his 4th of the year.
The star of the game; however, was Ted Hume. Big Teddy rebounded from a subpar performance against Navy a week ago and was simply outstanding. As Scott Balboni said in the post-game interview, Ted made some huge saves when he had to, especially in the 2nd period.
The Icers did a great job of bottling up the Rams in the 3rd period. The forechecking by all four lines frustrated the Rams, who had difficulty getting out of their defensive zone.
Now, we have to see if the Icers can carry the momentum into Saturday's rematch. Last season, a win on Friday at the Boss was followed by a lackluster Saturday loss. Hopefully history doesn't repeat itself.
Not only are Scott Balboni and Bill Downey having to deal with all the injuries, they will be missing Marek Polidor and Chris Pronchik tonight. Both will be serving their one-game suspensions assessed following last Saturday's dust up at the end of the game at Navy.
Certainly not what the coaches need as the #6 Icers face a very good #7 Rams squad in front of what will be a hostile home crowd at the Boss Arena.
This arena at Choate is fabulous, with one caveat. The home team locker room facilities at this New England prep school put many major college facilities to shame.
The ice is hard and fast, and it's no wonder. It's darn cold inside this arena. Last year when the team practiced here it was like a meat locker. I remarked that I was never that cold playing outdoors back home in Canada! At least this year, they threw a couple of extra logs on the fire, making it bearable inside for those of us not skating.
After practice we're off the Steve Thurston's house for a team meal. It will be a bittersweet visit, not seeing big Bill Thurston's smiling face and enjoying his welcoming handshake.
But we know he's there in spirit, and every day we're thinking of Bill, Valerie, Chris and Steve.
Here's a quick look at the rink as the guys were warming up. The banners honor the US Olympians who have attended Choate Rosemary Hall. Quite an impressive list.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I drove up to look after some personal business, and so that I won't have to ride home on the bus after Saturday's game! I'm looking forward to Sunday, because on the trip home I'm going to visit with John Dufford, one of the original Penn State hockey players.
Killing time in Connecticut gives me the chance to update you on Ben Fanelli. If you recall, earlier this month, I blogged about the 16-year old defenseman for the Kitchener Rangers on the Ontario Hockey League.
Fanelli was seriously injured when he was slammed into the boards by Erie Otters forward Michael Liambis, who has since been suspended for the season by OHL Commissioner Dave Branch.
On Wednesday, Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington reported that Ben is out of the hospital and recovering from his injuries at his suburban Toronto home.
As I wrote, the hit was another example of the lack of respect shown by players at all levels. It is also an example of how players today are taught a different way to play along the boards than how we were taught when I was younger.
Well, none other than Don Cherry and former NHL goalie Kelly Hrudey have joined the chorus. "Grapes" has been preaching for changes in coaching and equipment for years, as you will see in last Saturday's "Coach's Corner" segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
By the way, the second half of the segment is Don's homage to Canadian soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.
Hrudey, now a HNIC analyst, used an unscientific process to determine that players turn their faces to the boards as many as 600 times in a 60-minute game!
"Here’s how I came to that number. I simply replayed a game from this past week and watched around 10 minutes of action. I counted how many times in my opinion players put themselves at risk, and then multiplied that by six.
True, not the most scientific procedure, but I’m pretty sure the numbers would bear out over a full 60 minutes in most games. Again, it means 600 times that players are putting themselves in the most vulnerable position possible."
Hrudey proposes a radical idea that could curb the rate of injuries from hits along the boards:
"(W)hy don’t we consider giving minor penalties to all players that intentionally turn their back to “protect the puck” when they are within five feet of the boards?
It seems to me open ice hits are not nearly as dangerous and catastrophic as when the boards are involved."Certainly something to think about!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Between the growing list of injuries and the likelihood of one game suspensions to Marek Polidor and Chris Pronchik following the donnybrook at the end of Saturday's 5-1 over the Middies, the freshmen are going to be heavily relied upon by Scott Balboni and Bill Downey.
I also caught up with Tim O'Brien before Tuesday's practice. Tim says Saturday's win over Navy was a big confidence builder for the freshmen, especially the defense.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Mr. Anderson had faced a barrage of 60 shots, and with Marek Polidor bearing down on him on a breakaway, Anderson gave up any pretense of being a goalie, went to flank speed, and rammed headlong into the onrushing Icers forward.
The ensuing donnybrook involved everyone on the ice except Anderson, who had executed a perfect hit-and-run attack, as well as Penn State freshman goalie Dan Ivanir (more on him in a moment).
Fortunately, cooler heads quickly prevailed. The teams shook hands and lined up for the Navy alma mater, but the controversy continued as the officiating crew retreated to their locker room and sorted out the punishment.
Polidor and Chris Pronchik were slapped with game disqualifications, which didn't sit well with Scott Balboni. It remains to be seen if the pair will be eligible for Friday's game at Rhode Island.
Now to the positives on the night. Pronchik scored the team's first shorthanded goal of the year in the 1st period and added an even strength goal in the 2nd (the eventual game winner). Polidor, Nick Seravalli and George Saad chipped in with 3rd period goals that gave the Icers a 5-0 lead.
With Dan Petrick out with a sprained shoulder (and joining me to add his excellent analysis on the webcast), the Icers were down to 5 defensemen - 4 of them freshmen!
Steve Thurston and Rich O'Brien logged a ton o' ice time, while Mac Winchester, Dan Loucks and Brian Dolan helped to build a seawall in front of Dan Ivanir, keeping the Middies at bay through most of the night.
Ivanir, nicknamed "Muffin" by his mates, came up 3:05 short of recording a shutout in his first game as an Icer when Mitch Pulver slid a loose puck past Dan to ruin the bid.
Dan's parents were on hand to watch him play. Michael Ivanir had camera in hand and captured some great shots of his son.
Today, he sent me a video montage set to music. I've taken the liberty of adding some comments and my post-game interview with Dan.
Here's a link to Mr. Ivanir's gallery of photos from a number of Icers' games. Great work, Michael, and thanks for the outstanding video!
Friday, November 6, 2009
It was a game that should not have been in doubt, with the Icers outshooting the Midshipmen 48-22. As expected, Navy played a solid 60 minutes, while the Icers left the best aspects of their game on the bus.
The injury list continues to grow. John Conte did not make the trip, adding another veteran to the walking wounded. That meant a lot of freshmen getting a chance to show what they bring to the team.
Tim O'Brien told me at the end of the first period that there were no excuses for the poor effort, which continued through a full 60 minutes. Head coach Scott Balboni said in his post-game interview that he was not impressed.
Penn State led 2-1 after 1, then the teams traded goals in the 2nd period, with Dan Loucks' power play goal at 16:30 giving the Icers a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes.
Navy got back to within a goal when Tom Fick scored at 3:56 of the third. Paul Daley put the game away with a rare empty-net power play goal with 44 seconds left in regulation.
Steve Thurston scored twice, garnering first star recognition, while Daley's goal and 2 assists got him 2nd star honors. Navy goalie Jameson Marshall stopped 42 Penn State shots and was named 3rd star.
The Icers will need to come up with a better effort throughout the lineup for Saturday's rematch. Game time from Annapolis is 7:30.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The Icers came close last weekend, with two convincing wins over West Virginia. They'll need 120 minutes of solid hockey this weekend when they resume ESCHL conference play against Navy.
It is a given that service academy teams may not get the best athletes in any sport, but it is also a given that those service academy teams will battle you until the bitter end.
That is certainly the case with the Midshipmen hockey team. It doesn't matter what the score, the Middies keep coming until the final buzzer. We've seen that year in and year out, and I have the utmost respect for Coach Fox and the job he does with his men.
The dedication of the Navy teams the Icers have faced over the past few years speaks volumes to the quality of the men that some day could put themselves in harm's way to defend this country. We salute them for their service, as we do all the men and women who serve this country and other freedom-loving nations.
It's going to be fun for me being back at the Brigade Sports Complex. I'll be calling the games from ice level, which offers some challenges, but sure gets me up close and personal to the action.
The coaches ramped up the intensity at today's practice. I caught up with Assistant Coach Bill Downey after practice.
I don't know, but look at this video and ask yourself the question. 16-year old Ben Fanelli of the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers remains in serious condition after being plastered into the end boards on a hit by the Erie Otters' Michael Liambis.
Was it a head shot? Not from the view in the video. Did Liambis leave his feet? No. Was it a vicious, illegal hit? Not by the rule of law in the rulebook.
Back in my day, and not all that long ago, that was called "finishing your check." Unfortunately, all too often today finishing a check involves drilling an opponent who has his head down.
Doesn't matter if it's against the boards or in open ice, there have been too many incidents (head hunting or not) that have left careers and lives in tatters.
Ben Fanelli's future as a hockey player is in doubt, and the hit has also left Michael Liambis a shattered young man.
As Steve Simmons wrote in today's Toronto Sun, "(s)ince the incident, Liambis has hardly stopped crying and he's not alone."
Simmons asks questions that have been asked for years - questions that hockey execs at many levels don't seem to want to answer:
That is the fine line, the indiscernible line between legal and illegal, proper and improper. Where does it start and where is it crossed ?
From this viewpoint, there's three reasons, in no order of importance, for the increased number of dangerous hits in hockey:
1) RESPECT - Do young players, whether they're in Major Junior or peewee, see their heroes in the NHL smoke someone and say, "Hey, I need to do that" or is it just a case of not thinking about what could happen when I drill a defenseless opponent?
Most youth organizations have added STOP signs to the backs of sweaters, which is helping cut down on the hits from behind, but we see it all the time in the ACHA and other levels of hockey.
Even with the speed of today's game, players should take a second and think before lowering the boom.
2) COACHING - Do today's coaches, especially at the youth level, teach their players to keep their head on a swivel? I'm sure they do, but I don't believe that they stress it as much as coaches did back in my day.
I've said this a number of times -- we were taught to not turn your back on an opponent when you're close to the boards. Back in the day, we were taught to turn a shoulder into the boards (and keep your head on a swivel). Going back to teaching and playing that way would lessen the number of dangerous hits from behind.
3) EQUIPMENT - There is no doubt that today's equipment contributes to the soaring number of head injuries in the game. Don Cherry has been arguing the point for years on Hockey Night in Canada, and he's absolutely right.
The shoulder pads worn by today's players are not much different than those worn by NFL players, and the elbow pads might as well be made from steel.
There's so much hard plastic worn by today's players that even the strongest helmet strapped tightly on a kid's head can offer enough protection. As you can see, Ben Fanelli's helmet came off during the hit, leading one to wonder if his chin strap wasn't as tight as it could/should have been.
Here's Grapes venting on a Coach's Corner segment from the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals -- you'll find it about half-way through the video.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Once again, the scoring was spread throughout the roster, with 7 different scorers. Eric Steinour led the way with 2 goals, while Dan Loucks notched his first as an Icer.
Chris Cerutti, Marek Polidor, Tim O'Brien, Chris Pronchik and Kurt Collins all added singles.
Unfortunately, the injury list grew by two, with Collins and Nick Seravalli both leaving with undisclosed injuries.
Speaking of leaving early, Steve Thurston must have wanted an early shower, picking up a questionable minor at 6:51 of the 3rd, before getting slapped with a 10 minute misconduct by referee Scott Palmento.
The 12 minutes sent Steve over the 150 minute mark for his career, a day after John Conte reached the dubious milestone.
Hold on a sec....12 minutes in penalties? "Sweet Lou" should have served his time in the box! Guess that's why he was chuckling with the linesman as he left the ice!
Now, through the magic of digital editing, here's my interviews with the 3 stars. Not bad for a first effort by Barb with the camera and the camera shy guys in various stages of
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The Icers Friday night cruised to a 10-1 romp over West Virginia at the Greenberg, improving their record to 7-1-1 on the season and ending the Mountaineers' 5-game winning streak.
Speaking of streaks, the Red Line of Tim O'Brien, Domenic Morrone and Marek Polidor had a night, combining for 5 goals and 7 assists.
Morrone continued his torrid scoring with the Icers' first hat trick of the season along with 2 assists. O'Brien added his 3rd power play goal of the year (7th overall) and a trio of helpers, while Polidor picked up his 2nd goal to go with a pair of assists.
Tim and Dom told me it just took time for the three to get in synch on the ice. Now that they are, they're throwing the puck around like it's on a string. I think it's safe to say the coaches have found their number one line combo.
While Tim, Dom and Marek sit 1-2-3 atop the team scoring list, there were contributions through the lineup last night. In all, 13 players counted points.
Ryan Paradis finished the scoring parade, getting his 3rd of the season on a breakaway with just 1 second left, giving him a 3-point night.
Mike Broccolo potted 2 goals and added an assist, while Dustin Roux picked up a pair of assists in his first game as an Icer. Rich O'Brien and Dan Loucks also had a pair of assists as they continued their strong play on the blue line.
Finally, there was a milestone of sorts last night. John Conte's interference penalty in the 3rd period gave John 150 minutes in penalties for his career. Sorry John, but that's a long way from overtaking the Icers career leader. Curtiss Patrick rang up a whopping 325 minutes in the sin bin from 2000 to 2004.
Game two of the weekend series with the Mountain men is this afternoon at 3:30. The webcast on Fightonstate.com gets underway at 3:15.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
First Taylor Cera suffered a high ankle sprain during Friday's game with Drexel, now Matt Kirstein is out after straining a MCL in his knee during Tuesday's practice.
What makes it worse is that both Taylor and Matt had just returned from groin injuries. Both are expected to be out of the lineup for at least a month, likely longer. The big problem when they return will be conditioning.
As Scott Balboni told me, the injuries will give some of the new Icers a chance to step in, get some playing time and perhaps have an impact. We saw a similar situation last year, giving Marek Polidor and Taylor a chance to impress the coaches.
Paul Daley was hit by the virus a few weeks ago. Judging by his game winning goal on Saturday night, Paul seems to be no worse for wear.
Colorado Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj has just been diagnosed with H1N1. According to the Denver Post's Terry Frei, Avs head coach Joe Sacco said Tuesday, "We've taken the necessary steps, the necessary precautions, to keep him away from the guys at the right time." Sacco added, "Hopefully, he'll be joining us on this trip."
UPDATE: AP is now reporting Washington Capitals forward Quentin Laing and Edmonton Oilers forward Ladislav Smid also have contracted the H1N1 virus.
All kidding about Paul Daley aside, a shocking story from Toronto really drives home how dangerous H1N1 can be.
As Toronto Sun columnist Mike Strobel put it this morning:
A sweet, all-Canadian, little-boy face.
Evan Frustaglio's face.
Evan died on Monday after coming down with flu symptoms while at a hockey tournament over the past weekend.
Click on his picture to watch the Sun Media video interview with his dad, Paul Frustaglio. Mr. Frustaglio is every hockey parent - you, me, Canadian, American, it doesn't matter. No parent should suffer a tragedy as the Frustaglio family. Watch that video and tell me you didn't tear up.
Pandemic or not, H1N1 will continue to impact our game. The Sun reports that minor hockey officials in Canada are considering safety measures:
Warnings from Hockey Canada were circulating among several teams yesterday, including suggestions that parents keep from the rink any child showing signs of the virus.
Teams are also warned against providing sport-drink bottles, where direct lip contact is more likely than traditional water bottles, and towels on team benches.
Some leagues have also ditched the traditional post-game handshake.As Mr. Frustaglio said to reporters, "If you guys were talking to me about something else, if there was a train derailment in my backyard, he'd be standing there shooting pucks right now. He loved the game so, so much."
Our deepest condolences to the Frustaglio family. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I caught up with Paul Daley after practice to talk about his game winning goal on Saturday, giving the Icers a 4-3 win and a sweep of the weekend series with Drexel.
It wasn't easy, but Paul's game winner prevented a third straight Saturday with overtime!
Last night I sat down to watch the Leafs in Anaheim, but the NHL Center Ice package on DirecTV only had the Anaheim feed!
This morning I crunched the numbers from the DirecTV Center Ice schedule. I wonder why we have to pay the same amount as fans of US teams, since we are getting an inferior product.
Here's the results from the start of the season through last night:
Number of games involving Canadian teams broadcast on the Center Ice channels: 37
Number of games with 2 Canadian teams: 12
Number of games with 2 Canadian teams shown in HD: 0
Number of games with US vs Canadian teams: 25
Number of games with US vs Canadian teams with both feeds: 10
Number of games with US vs Canadian teams with both feeds in HD: 0
Number of games with US vs Canadian teams with single feed in HD: 4
With less than a month gone in the season, less than half of the games between US and Canadian teams have offered both feeds.
None of the games between Canadian teams and none of the games with both US and Canadian feeds offered the Canadian feed in HD.
It's amazing what a road trip can do for a team. A solid effort Saturday night in Vancouver, despite losing to Roberto Luongo and the Canucks, followed up by another outstanding effort tonight that resulted in Toronto's first win of the season.
Five power play goals in a 6-3 win in Anaheim! Now if the Leafs can just carry the strong play into Dallas on Wednesday night.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Well, as this venerable TV icon put it
Those numbers are the shots on goal and final score from Saturday, as the Icers narrowly avoided another Drexel debacle, this time at the Class of 1923
Once again, the Icers let the Dragons hang around like that pesky little brother we all had. In fact, for the second night in a row it was Drexel that got on the board first, with Jake Davis scoring just 3:27 into the contest.
Tim O'Brien tied it on the power play with 1:10 left in the first as the Icers outshot Drexel 17-4, cueing Yogi's "Deja vu all over again" for the 2nd straight night!
Same scenario to start the 2nd period, with Gino Angeloni scoring at 1:41. However, freshman Mike Broccolo was finally rewarded for his hard work with his first goal as an Icer at 8:10 and Tim O'Brien notched his 2nd of the night and 3rd goal of the weekend just 50 seconds later.
With the Icers outshooting the Dragons 26-6 in the middle period it was the latest episode of the Daniel Pyne show. The Dragons goalie did all he could to keep his team close again last night, with his heroics continuing in the 3rd period.
The two teams spent most of the 3rd in Drexel's half of the ice, with the Icers pounding Pyne with 29 shots, while Drexel could only manage 4 on John Jay. The last one by Andy Surawiec managed to slip between John's arm and body. Kyle Zoldy found the loose puck in the crease and scored with 1:23 left in regulation time.
Overtime appeared imminent for the third straight Saturday, but Paul Daley saved the bacon just 14 seconds later, going top shelf on Pyne at 18:51.
Pyne, who appeared absolutely crushed after the final buzzer, was the obvious choice as first star, with Tim O'Brien and Marek Polidor rounding out the 3 star selections. Honorable mentions go to Broccolo and Joe Zitarelli, who assisted on Mike's goal after scoring his first as an Icer in Friday's win.
West Virginia comes to State College next weekend for two games at the Greenberg. Let's hope the Mountaineers don't pull a Halloween trick on the Icers!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Coaching victory #100 won't top Scott Balboni's fave list. For the first 40 minutes it looked liked Yogi Berra's "deja vu all over again" could happen.
Flash back to November 7, 2008: The icers pumped 71 shots at Drexel netminder Dan Pyne, but wound up on the short end of a 3-2 final score. It was the Dragons' first and only win over Penn State.
Despite outshooting Drexel 31-15, the score after 2 was 3-3. The Icers had some good scoring chances, but once again Pyne was on his game.
All three Drexel goals came on the power play and a it took a couple of big saves by Teddy Hume to keep it from being a Drexel lead after 2.
As 3rd star Dan Petrick told me in the post game interview, something clicked in the locker room between periods. The Icers came out on a mission in the 3rd, outshooting Drexel 18-3, clamping down defensively and putting the game away with power play goals by Steve Thurston and Chris Cerutti sandwiched around Chris' even strength goal.
"Sweet Lou" was a force at both ends of the ice. His coast-to-coast power play goal in the 1st period was a thing of beauty. So was Joe Zitarelli's first goal as an Icer, a top-shelfer that was past Pyne before he could blink. Tim O'Brien rounded out the Icers' scoring with his 4th of the season.
Tough to see Taylor Cera hobble to the locker room early in the game. His physical presence will be missed while he's out with the undisclosed injury.
The Icers will need a better effort tonight to sweep the weekend series. Game time is 7:30 from the Class of 1923 Arena.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
It was a so-so performance that came a day after the Icers played 60 minutes of solid hockey in Friday night's 7-1 romp. The Saturday letdown was the latest loss for the team on the main rink at the Ice Line, the 4th straight going back to the 2006 National Championship Game loss to Rhode Island.
Watching a spirited practice this afternoon, it looked like the team has put Saturday's loss behind them while they prep another home and home series this weekend.
The Icers host Drexel on Friday night before heading to Philly on Saturday in the second straight weekend of ESCHL conference play. Even though the Dragons are 2 and 4 on the season after dropping a pair of games to Rhode Island, the Icers cannot take Greg Marinari's team lightly.
They did that last season, and we all know how that worked out -- Drexel shocked the ACHA with the first ever win over Penn State.
Ted Hume continued his outstanding play in net this past weekend, although he wasn't thrilled with his performance on Saturday. I caught up with Ted after practice. Like most goalies, Ted marches to his own drummer and he remains upbeat despite Saturday's setback.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Remember back to last December, when the Icers took the opener of the home-and-home with a 3-2 shootout win at the Greenberg, before being handed a 6-4 loss at the Ice Line in West Chester.Unfortunately, it didn't happen this weekend as Penn State split the home-and-home series with the West Chester Golden Rams.
The main rink at the Ice Line has not been a fun spot for the Icers over the years, going back to Rhode Island's national championship win in 2006. It's long past time to end the curse!
The weekend got off to a good start with a 7-1 victory at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. It was a game that Head Coach Scott Balboni praised as a full 60-minute effort by the team.
Solid goaltending by Ted Hume, good special teams play and four strong lines helped the Icers dominate at home. However, Saturday night would be a different story.
The Icers came out flat, trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes and were down by 2 midway through the 2nd period. Domenic Morrone narrowed the margin to 2-1 with his 6th goal of the season in the middle frame before Tim O'Brien's 3rd of the season tied it up at 3:35 of the 3rd.
Ryan Paradis gave the Icers their first lead at 15:38, but just 30 seconds later Steve Meade tied it up as Penn State ran around in their own end, winding up with Meade banking the puck into the net off the leg of Ted Hume.
The teams couldn't decide it through overtime, with no last second heroics a week after Steve Thurston scored with 1 second left in OT at Ohio, so it was on to the shootout.
Both teams counted twice in the first four rounds, but Eric Steinour missed before Ted Gilbert won it for the Golden Rams -- final score West Chester 4 Penn State 3.
West Chester goalie Matt Murnane was the first star one night after getting yanked in the Icers win. The freshman netminder stopped 43 of 46 shots through the overtime, while Ted Hume was 23 of 26.
Scott Balboni blamed the loss on a lack of effort and a lack of preparedness by the coaches, but the bottom line is -- the curse of the Ice Line continues to haunt the Icers.
Despite the loss, it was fun having my good friend Steve Zodtner in the booth. Barb and I were supposed to play golf with Steve and Nina. Instead, we enjoyed their hospitality watching college football before heading to the arena.