While most other teams had already started the 2009-10 ACHA season, the Icers didn't pick up business until the first weekend in October. An opening weekend series against Towson was tabbed as a good way to get the new guys up to ACHA game speed. Of course, the following weekend saw a road-trip to Byrd Arena to face the ever-tough Ohio Bobcat fans. Oh, and their team is pretty solid too. Not to mention both sides hate each other. Guess there's no better way to test the new guys like throwing them into the fire.
October 2nd, vs Towson, 4-3 W (OT): With a line-up heavy in new players, the Icers hit the ice against Towson with the same goals in mind - another ACHA National Championship. After a short feeling-out process, the Icers finally got on the board 9 minutes into the game off the stick of freshman Dominic Morrone. It would take another 10 minutes before another goal - this one also for the Icers, credited to sophomore Nick Seravalli. The Icers brought the energy early in the second period, but an interference penalty to freshman Ryan Erbe allowed Towson to get on the board 7 minutes into the period. Some more scrumming around and penalties, and Towson would tie the game 8 and a half minutes later. But Nick Seravalli would not allow it to be tied for long, as he put the Icers up 3-2 less than a minute later.
The third period started, and like an eerie case of déjà vu, a Ryan Erbe interference penalty led to a game-tying power play goal for Towson. More back and forth play would follow until the Icers would get a break with a late-game power play opportunity. But that break almost turned into an upset when a Towson player would steal the puck and beat Teddy Hume. Somehow, the refs missed what happened and called "no goal" saying the puck hit the post and bounced out. (There was enough anecdotal evidence from Icers faithful that said the refs screwed up this call.) Heading into overtime, the Icers would not take this second chance for granted. Freshman George Saad would put away the game-winner just 54 seconds into the overtime period, letting the Icers leave with a win and the chance to go home counting their blessings.
October 3rd, vs Towson, 15-3 W: Saturday came around, and the Icers hoped for some better play all around. The game would open much like Friday night, with the Icers jumping out to an early 2-0 lead (goals by Tim O'Brien and Kurt Collins). But the mirror of Friday night continued as Towson would get the next two, including a short-handed goal thanks to an Icer turnover. Marek Polidor would put the Icers back up by a goal just 1:17 into the second period. As was the theme for the weekend, Towson would respond, tying the game back up at 3-3 a few minutes later. Dominic Morrone would insert himself in this game with a goal just 3 minutes later, giving the Icers the 4-3 lead. And the heavens opened.
The Icers would go on to score 11 more goals in a row - 12 total unanswered - to blow Towson out of the water, 15-3. To keep this from going on forever, here's the recap of scoring of the 12 unanswered: Morrone (2), Herel, Kirstein, Seravalli, Steinour (2), Thurston (2), Daley (2), Pronchik. So yeah. There's that.
October 9th, at Ohio, 2-1 L: After a roller-coaster weekend, the Icers found themselves on the road against a more-seasoned and more-experienced Ohio Bobcat team. Both teams came out with energy, and the Icers controlled the early part of the 1st period. The Bobcats would even things out, shots-wise, as both teams ended the first period tied at zero. The second period saw more action and some scoring. The Icers would open the scoring on the stick of (yet again) Dominic Morrone. But the lead would be short-lived, as the Bobcats would strike back later in the 2nd period, setting up an exciting fight for the win. Speaking of fighting, there was a rare fight involving the Icers' Eric Steinour. No real winner/loser of the fight, but both men involved would be given the game disqualification and be suspended for Saturday's game.
Onto the third period the two teams went, and the hitting and energy picked up again. The refs let the two teams play for awhile without calling any penalties. Then stopped. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of the Icers and the Bobcats would eventually take advantage of one of the power plays to take the 2-1 lead. The Icers continued to play hard, but they just couldn't beat OU goaltender Paul Marshall again (something most teams struggle doing anyway, as evidenced by his 3 shutouts already this season). A well played game by both sides, including some great play by goaltender Teddy Hume. But with the Icers falling just short, they had to look to Saturday for a weekend split.
October 10th, at Ohio, 4-3 W (OT): Saturday saw more intense play between the two teams. After some good back and forth action, the Icers would strike first, as Kurt Collins found the back of the net for the second time this season. But Ohio kept up their play and would capitalize on a power play late in the first, sending the teams into the 1st intermission tied at 1-1. The second period belonged completely to Ohio. Ohio also got the benefit of a number of penalties in their favor (to the point where one could start to wonder about some "home cooking" with the calls). They peppered goalie Teddy Hume with shot after shot, but Teddy Hume stood tall time and time again. It may be fair to say he single-handedly kept the game tied going into the 2nd intermission.
As the 3rd period took shape, the phantom penalties started to subside, but the physicality picked up. Then 11 minutes into the period, Matt Kirstein found himself in the right place - in front of the net. A quick deflection off of a Marek Polidor shot to give the Icers a 2-1 lead. But it was a short-lived lead, as OU would win the faceoff, take a quick shot, and put home the rebound just 11 seconds later to bring the game to a 2-2 tie. Not to be outdone, the Icers would take advantage of a shot rebound, with George Saad giving the Icers a 3-2 lead with just under 8 minutes left in the 3rd period. Then came the scrum in the corner, and the 8-day joint session for the refs to figure out what penalties they actually wanted to call. After it was all sorted out, the Bobcats ended up with a power play. The Icers would hold their own until with 44 seconds left, Ohio would put home a rebound at the side of Teddy Hume and tie it up at 3-3. Both teams would get some chances in the overtime, but it seemed as though a shootout would determine the winner. That was until Steve Thurston put the puck past OU goalie Paul Marshall with mere tenths of a second left in the overtime period, giving the Icers the much needed emotional win, 4-3.
[EDIT: Just came across this - enjoy! :) ]
Penn State Icers Overtime GWG 10-10-2009 (via PSUHockeyBD)
Season Standings and Rankings: ACHA Rankings - 3rd; ACHA Season Record - 3-1-0; ESCHL Season Record - 0-0-0.
On the Horizon: The Icers have two home-and-home sets in the coming weekends. The Icers start at home on Friday against West Chester, before heading to WCU for Saturday's game. The Icers follow the same setup the next weekend against Drexel. WCU is always a tough team, but took a beating at the ACHA Showcase, losing 9-2 to Arizona State. Drexel is, well, Drexel. Not to take a team lightly, but they're still not a good team. This can be evidenced by their loss to Rutgers, their overtime win over Villanova, and a loss to Lehigh - the last two teams, I didn't even realize they had a DI ACHA team. That should say enough...
So after a shaky start, the Icers started to find their legs. The tight games against Ohio don't surprise me at all, and the team played very well all things considered. The returning players have made a number of mistakes - something they will have to cut down to help the new guys. The new guys have begun to insert themselves nicely - the "Black Line" of Dominic Morrone, Eric Steinour, and George Saad has played very well together. And it's nice to see some of the returning players who did not see a lot of ice time last year playing well - as is the case with Seravalli and Collins. If Teddy Hume can keep up the form he "re-found" against OU, this could be a very successful year for the Icers, new players and all.
On a quick side note for those of you in the Pittsburgh area (or those who want to take a trip to Pittsburgh), the Icers face off against Robert Morris' ACHA team in January as part of the 4th Annual Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase. Tickets are on sale (at Ticketmaster) now for the full day of hockey. So yes, you can go watch the Icers (and the other Robert Morris hockey teams, if you want) play at Mellon Arena if you're so interested.