Yes, I'm making an executive decision* and moving these to once a week during the spring semester. I figure this will give me a chance to post some deeper info about the team, and overall, less blocks of text for you all to read. Also, I'll probably move this off of Wednesday to Tuesday since most of the up-coming basketball games are on Wednesdays. So, hopefully more stats, more information, and perhaps more on the Lady Icers (when I can find info). So, with that as the lead in, let's jump into this past weekend's set of games against West Chester.
*Executive decision will last until the real executives here reprimand me and tell me otherwise. Or just strip me of my story-posting powers...
Who's ready for some ESCHL play - and lots of it!
With Ohio in the rear-view mirror, the Icers have nothing but ESCHL games to finish out the season. Weekend sets against West Chester, Delaware, Rhode Island and Drexel will lead into the ESCHL tournament (being held in Delaware this season). By that point, the rankings for the National Championship tournament will be set, but a final weekend set against next-year's addition to the ESCHL in Robert Morris (PA) will close out the regular season. The next month of games will be no easy picnic.
January 22, at West Chester, 3-1 W - Back at the Ice Line, the Icers were hoping to shake some demons from playing on this ice in West Chester. And Marek Polidor would try to change that early, scoring on the power play just 4 minutes into the game. A run of penalties against the Icers kept the offense out of sync for much of the rest of the period, but the lead remained 1-0. Nick Seravalli would follow Polidor's lead, scoring a power play goal of his own 90 seconds into the 2nd period. But scoring on our own power plays wasn't enough for Dominic Morrone. Later in the period, Morrone would score on a WCU power play on a great individual effort, giving the Icers a 3-0 lead. West Chester would respond shortly after Morrone's goal to make it 3-1, but that would be as close as they would get. An energized but scoreless 3rd period let the Icers skate away with the 3-1 win, breaking their string of bad luck at the Ice Line
January 23, vs West Chester, 5-4 W-SO (1-0) - Coming off of a big win on the road, the Icers looked to complete the weekend sweep over the Rams. The first period saw an energetic Icers team get on the board first, thanks to a powerplay goal from Dan Loucks - his 3rd goal of the season, all on the PP. Although the Icers would go on to out-shoot the Rams 23-9 in the period, the Loucks goal would be the only goal of the period. The second period would start with a bunch of scoring chances for the Icers. But it would take about 9 minutes before the Icers would finally make use of these chances, with Nick Seravalli putting home a great feed from Matt Kirstein. A late Icers penalty would give West Chester the powerplay, and the Rams would take advantage, cutting the lead to 2-1.
The 3rd period saw more Icers energy and recently-healthy Taylor Cera would give the Icers a 3-1 lead. But the Rams just wouldn't go away, scoring two goals of their own to tie the game at 3-3. With all the energy, the Rams would score a 3rd straight goal with 5 minutes left in the period, giving WCU a 4-3 lead. As the clock wound down, it would seem that the dominating effort by the Icers would result in a loss. Penn State would call their time-out with 73 seconds left. From there, Tim O'Brien would win the offensive zone face-off back to Steve Thurston, who would fire the puck past the West Chester goalie, tying the game at 4-4. Neither team could score again in the 3rd or OT periods, so to a shoot-out we go:
|Penn State||Result||West Chester
||No Goal||S. Meade
||No Goal||P. Johnson
While an otherwise dominating performance should not have gone to a shoot-out, a win is a win, and the Icers will gladly walk away with their 18th win in a row in ACHA play - their longest streak since the 2005-06 season.
Season Standings: Overall - 23-2-1; ESCHL - 13-0-1; ACHA Standings - 2nd.
Reflections and Ramblings: Well, the rankings were a pretty sight to see when they came out on Friday. The sweep of Ohio gave the voters all they needed to jump the Icers all the way to number 2, sliding Ohio to 3, Illinois to 4, and Liberty rounding out the top 5. Ohio has completely fallen off since they swept Lindenwood, posting a 3-5 record since. At this point, the team to watch is Minot State. They were solid during the early years of the ACHA, and then they fell off the map (for reasons I'm unaware), and are apparently back now. They currently sit at #11, with a record of 17-3-0. And if they're returning to form, this will be a team to watch in the coming years.
How can I pass on a picture of the Beavers?
Still no video streaming of the games yet - they need a something-or-other to put into that other doohickey. Hopefully things will be up and working for the up-coming weekend set against Delaware. Speaking of Delaware, the Blue Hens have been sliding down the rankings, currently sitting at #14. This is big because the individual league champions get an autobid into the tournament, and then they fill in the rest of the field based on the final rankings. At #14, Delaware is on the extreme edge of missing this year's tournament. Any wins against a #2 Penn State would be huge for them, so the Icers have to be prepared for a team that will be playing for their post-season lives on home ice.
A quick perusing of the stats show an Icers team that is really balanced in terms of scoring. Timmy O'Brien is going about his normal thing, leading the team in goals (14) and total points (31). The next trio of goal scorers (at 13 goals each) are a bit of a surprise - Marek Polidor, Nick Seravalli, and Dominic Morrone. Polidor had 11 career goals coming into the season, Seravalli had 4, and Morrone is a frosh, so it's great to see production from some players who haven't had a chance to shine until this season. Ryan Paradis doesn't have the goals as some of the others, but his 20 assists lead the team thus far. Rounding out the players with at least 20 points on the season (8 players in total) include frosh Eric Steinour, and sophomores Paul Daley and Chris Cerutti. This is a great sign that, not only are there talented younger players already producing, but there is depth across many lines.
Keeping these updates rolling, the Lady Icers just came off of their insane road trip, which included 2 games against #1 Lindenwood sandwiched between two games at #2 Robert Morris (IL). The Lady Icers played very well against two of the top teams, but unfortunately went 0-4 for the weekend (scores of 4-1, 3-0, 4-0, and 6-1). While you can't always tell how a game went from the scores, these scores are at least a lot better than previous seasons - back when 12-1 losses were more common than necessary. But this has been a serious building project, and in just a couple of seasons, the Lady Icers are much better off and pointed in the right direction. Sadly, however, the tough games aren't done yet - a weekend set against #5 Liberty is coming up, with a game at Cal U of PA on Sunday. Winnable, but tough. Oh, and a picture.