Technology today makes for some interesting trash talking. In years past, trash talking in the ACHA was only done through the college papers, and that was horribly inefficient. It would take days for a team or player to respond to an opposing player's quote that could only be found in the student newspaper. But now, it starts out with some unprovoked smack talk via Twitter:
Which then gets a response from an opposing player:
Finally concluding with a counter response:
And with that, the stage was set for an intense and crucial weekend set of games between Penn State and Delaware.
January 28th, @ Delaware:
|#11 PENN STATE
Matt Madrazo would get the start in net for the third straight game, hoping to keep the Icers' winning streak going. Throughout the first period, the Icers just looked to be the slower team, spending much of the time just trying to get the puck out of the defensive zone. While Madrazo had an amazing period (and game for that matter), the lack of energy finally turned into a Delaware goal 11 minutes into the period. A lackluster 1st period gave way to a more energetic 2nd period. The Icers still struggled at times defensively, but the offense was starting to pick up more pressure. 9:15 into the period, the Icers would win an offensive draw, and Paul Daley would back up his tweets, tying the game at 1-1. But 20 seconds later, the Blue Hens would respond and take the 2-1 advantage. That would remain the score until Delaware extended their lead early in the 3rd period on a fluky goal (off Icer defenseman, Dan Petrick), going up 3-1. A few minutes later, the Icers showed they weren't going to just lay down, as George Saad would put home a powerplay goal, cutting the lead to 3-2. The Icers would get their chances, but a late Delaware goal ended the comeback for the Icers, giving the Blue Hens the 4-2 win.
January 29th, @ Delaware:
|#11 PENN STATE||1||1
In desperate need of a win and Madrazo in net, the Icers were looking to get off to a good start against the Blue Hens. 5 minutes into the period, the extra energy (or desperation) would pay off as Mike McDonagh would continue his solid play and put the Icers up 1-0. As the period wore on, Delaware would start to gain momentum, leaving the Icers scrambling for much of the period. But thanks to some great work from Madrazo, the Icers took the 1-0 lead into the intermission. Both teams would get some chances in the 2nd before Mike Longo would get the puck to bounce off a Delaware defender and past the UD goalie, giving the Icers a 2-0 lead. The Blue Hen pressure finally got to the Icers late in the period, as Delaware would score twice in the final 1:16 to tie the game at 2-2.
The third period saw the desperation kick in for the Icers, and Mike Broccolo would make his first goal of the season an important one, giving the Icers a 3-2 lead early in the 3rd period. The Blue Hens, looking to "end the Icers' season", kept the pressure up, but Matt Madrazo wasn't going to let this game out of his grasp. A few huge saves from Maddy ensured the Icers picked up the win, the weekend split, and kept their national tournament chances alive.
Season Standings: Overall - 18-8-0; ESCHL - 8-4-0.
News and Notes: I'd make a prediction about the new rankings that come out Friday, but you saw how well that turned out last time. The Icers are 3-1 since the last rankings came out, with the win and loss to the #4 team. That probably doesn't let us jump Oakland (went 4-0 against lesser opponents), but it also should keep us ahead of Iowa State (went 4-0, but all against ACHA D2 teams) and Robert Morris (IL) (went 3-1, but with a less impressive slate than the Icers). I'm expecting to stay at 11, and I'll be calling shenanigans if we drop.
As for the action, the biggest flaw with the team continues to be with the defense. These games against Delaware saw the Penn State defenders constantly scrambling around in the defensive zone. But the defenders aren't alone back there, as the forwards haven't been the most helpful at times either - missing assignments and not being the most helpful on the breakout. While I think the Icers can hang with most of the top teams, they'll need to sure up the defense and defensive zone coverage in order to have any chance at the national tournament.
This coming weekend is a big weekend for the Icers in many ways. First, it's a home weekend set against (currently) #6 Rhode Island. Like this past weekend against Delaware, the Icers will need to at least garner a split in order to keep their tournament hopes alive. And like this past weekend, a sweep is still possible for the Icers, as the Rams are without some of their top players due to the World University Games.
This weekend is also Alumni weekend for the Icers. Along with the influx of Icer alumni and the annual alumni game on Saturday, the Hall of Fame inductions will be occurring this weekend. Six great Icers are being inducted, including Mark Konchar (1991-1994), Ryan Wick (1997-2000), Brandon Cook (1999-2003), goaltending great John Sixt (1995-1999), and two of my personal favorites - all-time goal-scoring leader for the Icers, Kevin Jaeger (2001-2005); and one of the greatest all-around players, Glenn Zuck (2000-2004). Yes, I'm quite sad that I won't be at the Ice Pavilion for this exciting Alumni Weekend.
Some Love for the Ladies: With my favorite Lady Icer Carly Szyszko back in net for Penn State, the Lady Icers welcomed a very talented Robert Morris (IL) team to Happy Valley. But unlike facing Cal of PA last weekend, the Eagles of RMU weren't going to be an easy task for the shorthanded Lady Icers. And the results unfortunately showed, as RMU took both games handily - 10-3 and 16-4. Of course, these results aren't indicative of the talent of this Lady Icers' team - just that losing your only two goaltenders makes life very difficult, especially against top teams. Julie Horn did replace Szyszko in Saturday's game to give Carly some time at her normal position. And kudos to Kirsten Evans for picking up the scoring while Szyszko was in net. A great effort by all during a very difficult situation for the team.
World University Games Update: In WUG action, the men have gone 1-1 thus far, with an opening 5-0 loss to Kazakhstan (...yeah....I don't know either), followed by a 7-3 win over Slovakia. Their final game of the group stages is Tuesday against 0-2 Spain, where a win clinches a spot in the quarterfinals. To this point, neither of the Icers (T. O'Brien and E. Steinour) have registered a point, but it's only two games, are there is still plenty of time for them to get involved. The ladies have had their fair share of struggles against some very good competition - losses to Canada, Slovakia, and Finland, but a win over host Turkey. Currently, they sit tied with Great Britain with a match-up between the two teams on Wednesday determining who goes on to the semifinals.