Wednesday, December 29, 2010

St. Michael's College 3 - Team USA 2

The World University Games team continued its holiday week barnstorming tour of New England last night, dropping a 3-2 decision to NCAA Div. II St. Michael's College.

On Monday night, Eric Steinour and Tim O'Brien each scored as the team beat Div. III Castleton State 5-4 in overtime.  Last night, Eric and Tim notched assists in the losing effort.

Kyle Rossi has the full details on the game in his Thank You Terry blog.  Kyle apparently watched the video feed - I'm not sure if I should thank him or feel sorry for him.

Tonight, the team wraps up its three-games-in-three-nights tour against Div. I Vermont at the historic Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington.  As Kyle notes, the WUG team will need to stay out of the penalty box to have any chance of knocking off the Catamounts, despite their woeful 2-9-4 record.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Copycat Goal

I'm browsing the web today and see this video on the NHL.com website.  LA's Anze Kopitar connects with Mike Brown on a 35 yard pass and run play for the touchdown er, goal.


Hmmm, where have we seen that before? Oh yeah, October 30, 2004 at a packed Greenberg Ice Pavilion. Early in overtime, Mike Carrano flips a short toss to Kevin Jaeger. Kevin beats Ohio goalie Ryan Baksh at 2:04 of the OT, giving the Icers a 4-3 victory.


It was Kevin's third straight goal, and the Icers second consecutive 4-3 overtime thriller over the Bobcats. On Friday night, Joe Maglaque tied it with 51 seconds left in the third, setting the stage for Mike McMullen's winner in the extra frame.

I think I can honestly say that weekend was THE most exciting of my nine seasons behind the microphone.

USA 5 - Castleton State 4

While most of the Icers players and staff enjoy the holiday week, two members of the team are on the ice with the World University Games team.

Senior Tim O'Brien and sophomore Eric Steinour have joined their WUG mates on a three-game exhibition swing through New England.  Icers head coach Scott Balboni is an assistant coach for Michigan Dearborn bench boss Dave Debol.

Last night in Rutland, Vt., Tim and Eric scored as Team USA beat NCAA Div. III Castleton State College 5-4 in overtime.

From the Castleton press release:

Team USA broke through just over 13 minutes into the contest as Eric Steinour (Carlisle, Pa./Penn State)
Eric Steinour
scored off a rebound.

Michael Lepre (Kent, Ohio/Kent State) rifled a shot from the point that Castleton goalie Seth McNary (Woburn, Mass.) turned away stick-side, but Steinour was able to control the loose puck and beat McNary high on his glove side.

Tim O'Brien (Bethel Park, Pa./Penn State)
Tim O'Brien
made it 2-0 for Team USA, converting with less than a minute to go in the opening period. 

O'Brien received a centering pass from Alan Dionne (North Scituate, R.I./Rhode Island) and bounced the puck off McNary's pad and in.

The two teams were full of the holiday spirit late in the second. Steinour and Dionne got early showers when they were both slapped (pun intended) with 5-minute majors and 10-minute and game misconducts for contact to the head.

Castleton took a rash of penalties late in the third, including a 5-minute major, that carried over into the extra frame. UM-D's Michael Macari scored the game winner on the power play with 1:07 left in OT.

The WUG team plays Div. II St. Michael's tonight at 7:00 pm, then wraps up the holiday exhibition tour Wednesday night at 8 against the Div. I Vermont Catamounts.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A View Worth Watching

Barbara and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  I'm writing this from the computer at my parents' home near Toronto on a nice, relaxing Christmas morning before heading to the fun of Christmas dinner at my sister's home.

The focus of the hockey world is on Buffalo, and the World Junior Championships that get underway tomorrow.  With Canada facing Russia at the HSBC Center Sunday afternoon, we'll no doubt be sitting in heavy traffic on the Queen Elizabeth Way as we head back to Happy Valley.

While doing some web surfing this morning for Boxing Day sales, I happened onto a link to a video from a recent Ontario Hockey League Junior A game between the Guelph Storm and Kitchener Rangers.  

More on that in a moment, but first let me explain the meaning of Boxing Day.  The holiday is celebrated in Great Britain and other Commonwealth countries, including Canada.

There are varying ideas on the etymology of Boxing Day, but this from Wikipedia best describes the English tradition:
A custom of the nineteenth-century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for good and reliable service throughout the year.
Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to the poor.
Nowadays, Boxing Day is Canada's version of Black Friday. The malls and stores are crammed with shoppers looking for a post-Christmas bargain. I'm not sure if stores open in the wee hours of the morning. I know I wouldn't be standing in line in Winnipeg waiting for those doors to open!

OK, back to the video.  It's a penalty kill by the Guelph Storm, with the Kitchener Rangers enjoying a 2-man advantage.

The play of Storm forward Tyler Carroll redefines the term 'guts' in the hockey sense.  The Kitchener fans were so impressed with the young man that they gave him a standing ovation.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Twas the Week Before Christmas...

Icers PA announcer Rodney Martin brought his video camera to the arena last week and caught up with some of the Icers players to get their thoughts about Christmas and the holiday season.

His question about their favorite Christmas/Hanukkah gift got me thinking about my favorite as a kid growing up in Toronto.

That's a no-brainer.  Every year, my uncle would bring my brother Rick and me a new hockey stick, puck and roll of tape.  And not just any stick -- it was either a Hespeler Green Flash or a Hespeler Mic Mac.

The new piece of lumber meant that we could use last season's stick for road hockey, relegating the road hockey stick with the well-worn blade to the scrap heap.  

You see, unlike today's composite twigs, those hickory or ash sticks would last forever.  Wonder why I always say "That wouldn't happen if he used a wood stick"?

Enjoy the holiday video, as well as the look at Barb and I at work at URI. Thanks to team videographer Vince Chandler for the video.



Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Kids are Alright

As I said in Friday's pregame, the first semester was an up-and-down one for the Icers and they wanted - needed - to finish the term on a strong note.

Well, they did that in spades, cruising to an 8-1 victory over the Niagara Purple Eagles before an appreciative crowd at the Greenberg.

I'll say it right now.  If the team plays in January and February like they played last night, they'll be on their way to another National Tournament in March.

The Icers played with a confidence that has been a rarity at times this season.  Passes that in prior games were missing or bouncing off sticks last night were going tape to tape.

Players were going to the net, buzzing NU goalie Dane Wakefield, getting goals on tips and rebounds.  Paul Daley and Taylor Cera led the way with two goals apiece, while Dom Morrone, Tim O'Brien, Kurt Collins and Mac Winchester added singles.

Mac's first goal as an Icer was a top-shelf rocket from the point.  Andrew Duval picked up the assist, his first point at Penn State.

So Penn State heads into the holiday break with a record of 13-5 and enjoying a boost of confidence.  As Taylor Cera told me on Tuesday, they can't wait for the grueling schedule they'll face in January, starting with the visit to the Bird Arena at Ohio U.

I'll be posting from time to time between now and then, but on behalf of  the Executive Producer, I would to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind comments.  Barb and I wish you all the joy and happiness of the holiday season.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No Loss of Confidence

The Icers faced their toughest test of the season last weekend with mixed results.  They dominated play on Friday night, handing the 3rd-ranked Delaware Blue Hens their first regulation loss of the season with a 4-0 shutout.

However, the Hens bounced back on Saturday, scoring six straight on their way to a 7-2 thumping of the Icers.

There were concerns raised by those of us who follow the team that the drubbing may have killed any momentum the team had built from the previous night.

I caught up with Taylor Cera before Tuesday's practice and asked him about that and about the tough road ahead.

The Icers face Niagara on Friday night, then spend all but one night in January on the road.  Road trips to Ohio and Robert Morris (PA), followed by a home-and-home with West Chester and a road trip to Delaware.

Taylor told me his teammates remain confident and they are actually looking forward to the challenges they face on Friday and especially in the month of January.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Payback!

This morning, I wrote that "(t)he Icers blitzed Delaware in the first five-plus minutes of the first period last night, scoring three goals in that span on their way to a well-earned 4-0 shutout of the Blue Hens."

This evening, I'll repeat what I said in the wrap up of this afternoon's game between the Blue Hens and Icers.  "Whatever momentum the Icers built on Friday was blown up this afternoon."  

The explosion came in the form of three goals in 35 seconds as the Blue Hens blitzed the Icers in the opening 2:10 of the second period on their way to a 7-2 rout of the Icers.

That was all for Matthew Madrazo, less than 24 hours after his brilliant performance in net led the Icers to the 4-0 shutout, Delaware's first regulation loss of the season.

Six unanswered goals by the Hens between the opening goal by Marek Polidor and George Saad's second of the weekend was indicative of how Delaware dominated the game and indicative of how the Icers had no answer for the Delaware game plan.

Nicholas Lepore, the younger brother of former Icer Chris Lepore, finished off the scoring with 12 seconds left in the second.  Lepore was named the first star, with the goal and two assists.

Joe Battista and I talked Friday night about the target that has always been on the back of the Icers. Since September 17th, that target has gotten bigger and will continue to grow for the next couple of years.


Hens Hammered!

"PSU ended this game before it started." 

That sentence, from a poster on Hockey101, says it all.  The Icers blitzed Delaware in the first five-plus minutes of the first period last night, scoring three goals in that span on their way to a well-earned 4-0 shutout of the Blue Hens.

How fitting that the first goal at 1:42 was scored by Taylor Cera on a perfect feed from George Saad.  Both players, along with defenseman Dan Loucks, returned to the lineup last night.  All three had an impact.

Tim O'Brien scored twice in 8 seconds, sending shell-shocked Hens goalie Nick Casella to the bench after giving up three goals on just six shots.

Saad made it 4-0 in the second with an outstanding rush.  Loucks was a force on the blue line and assisted on George's goal along with Tim's second marker.

It wasn't a perfect 60 minutes of hockey, with some defensive lapses from time to time.  However, freshman netminder Matthew Madrazzo was simply sensational.

Matthew made two huge saves in the second period on his way to his third win and second shutout of his young Icers career.

Madrazzo gained first-star honors, with Saad named second star and Rich O'Brien the third star.

Rich assisted on Saad's goal, and have several thundering body checks that had the Hens players looking around whenever he was on the ice.

Here's the highlights in five minutes.  Let's hope the guys can repeat this afternoon.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Pinks

The Icers face their toughest test of the season this weekend with the fourth-ranked Delaware Blue Hens in town for two important games that could have a huge impact on the second half of the season.

Putting aside the importance of the on-ice result, this is also an important weekend for another reason.

Saturday is "Pink at the Rink" day, when the Icers will don their rather unique third sweaters.  Sorry, but I can't give up my Canadian roots.  A jersey is a cow!

Anyway, you may or may not know that Penn State's original colors were pink and black.  From the Penn State Athletics website:
A three-member committee representing the sophomore, junior and senior classes was appointed in October of 1887 to develop color options from which the student body would select the school's official colors. Dark pink and black was the unanimous choice of the student body after considering the color combinations presented by the committee.
Soon many students and the baseball team were sporting pink and black striped blazers and caps. However, problems arose when the pink faded to white after several weeks of exposure to the sun. The students then opted for blue, rather than black, and white. The official announcement of the new choice was made on March 18, 1890.
Flash forward 120 years, and the Icers will be honoring history and a very important cause.  The game-worn sweaters will be auctioned off, with bidding taking place during Saturday's game.  A portion of the proceeds from the auction will support the Penn State Business Services Relay for Life team.

You can bid on your favorite sweater even if you're not at the game.  Here's how it works:
  1. Email Marci Palmer before noon on Saturday.
  2. Indicate your maximum bid and which sweater(s) you are bidding on.
  3. A Hockey Management Association member will do your bidding, up to the maximum specified in your email.
  4. Sit back, enjoy the game on UStream and wait to learn if your bid for the autographed sweater is the winner.

Speaking of sweaters, I have to tip  my cap to the Blue Hens.

Friday's game was Armed Forces and Military Appreciation Night.  The Delaware players wore special camouflage sweaters in support of military families.

I hope they don't bring those sweaters this weekend.  I'm not sure my eyes and our camera will be able to adjust to camo and pink at the rink!