With the #1 spot in the ACHA tournament locked up, the Icers moved into complete coast mode for the next two weekends. This caused the always difficult struggle - making sure the team remains used to playing at full speed, but not losing any major players in otherwise meaningless games. Icers were without Justin Kirchhevel for the game, as he was out for personal reasons (which also allowed him to recover from a pretty nasty slash he took at the end of the Mercyhurst game).
As well, the Duquesne game acted as Senior Night for the team (as we have had issues with the final game being cancelled due to poor weather/travel conditions). So some final kind words for this final senior class of the Penn State Icers:
- #3, D, Dan Petrick - Solid defensively-minded defenseman. We first really met Dan when he did some color commentary work while he was recovering from an injury, and he was phenomenal at it. On the ice, he's made great strides and has become a reliable cornerstone on that defense.
- #4, D, Dan Loucks - In three seasons with the Icers, Dan has a career +/- rating of +79, which is insane. He's been solid defensively and makes timely additions offensively. His work ethic paid off, as he was named the team captain midway through this season.
- #12, F, Nick Seravalli - Nick has struggled through injuries in his time at Penn State, including having surgeries that have kept him out of the lineup for his entire senior season. In his one healthy season (his sophomore year), Nick showed his talent, putting up 20 goals and 16 assists in 37 games.
- #15, F, Kurt Collins - Kurt has had a quiet career at Penn State, but that should not take away from his contributions. A grit player, Kurt makes his living by fighting for the puck along the boards and opening up his linemates for scoring chances. He's been vital to the second scoring line this season and already has a career high in goals for the season.
- #18, F, Chris Cerutti - Chris has been one of the more prolific scorers for the Icers in recent years. After a solid 13-goal freshman season, he followed that up with back-to-back 20+ goal seasons. Injuries and line shuffling have kept Chris from reaching the 20-goal plateau for a third straight season, but his scoring abilities should not be overlooked.
- #27, F, Paul Daley - Paul "Gunner" Daley has been a solid, consistent player for the Icers - missing only 7 games in his four-year career with the Icers. He reached 100 career points this season, showing an ability to be both a physical presence and a nifty puck-handler.
|#1 PENN STATE||4||3||1||8|
PSU Goals: Collins, P. Daley, B. Johnson
Saad, Longo, Morrone, Cerutti (x2)
Much like the Mercyhurst games last weekend, the Dukes provided little in terms of a challenge for the Icers. The Icers would jump out to a quick 3-0 with goals from seniors Kurt Collins and Paul Daley, along with a goal from sophomore Bryce Johnson. The Dukes would counter with a power play goal, but George Saad would make it 4-1 after one period of play. Mike Longo, Dominic Morrone, and Chris Cerutti would add goals in the second to make it 7-1 through two periods. Cerutti would add a second goal in the third period, and the Icers would cruise to the easy 8-1 victory.
Season Record and ACHA Ranking: 26-3-1 (25-2-1 ACHA), ranked #1 in the ACHA
News, Notes, Observations: The weekend went as expected - domination from start to finish. Of the healthy senior players, only Dan Loucks was unable to get onto the scoresheet for this Senior Night (Petrick picked up 2 assists). However, Dan looked solid in his return to the ice from injury, and that's the more important piece for the night. Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see what lineup Coach Guy uses in next week's game versus Kent State. The Icers can cycle through 5-6 scoring lines and 4 defensive pairings, so there are reasons to both play and scratch any player. Guy has also sat entire lines on certain nights, but sitting a top line for two weeks might be too much rest. And at the very least, Kent State is ranked and tournament-bound (if based on the technicality that they're the host team). I'd expect players trying to return to game-speed to play, but the rest of the lineup is up in the air.
I did want to give some mention to the D2 Ice Lions, as they have a #1 seed in their regional playoffs and earned an autobid to the D2 National Tournament since they finished 2nd in the Southeast Region in the final rankings. Their success has been incredible this season - a fact made more incredible when you realize they played their game last weekend vs. Saint Joe's starting at 11:30pm. That's dedication, folks. Kudos to the Ice Lions, and we wish you the best at the national tournament in Fort Myers, FL!
Some Love for the Ladies: After weeks of solid play and pulling upsets, the Lady Icers waited in anticipation to see if they would finish in the top 8 and make the playoffs. Alas, they could only (in the voters' eyes) make the jump to #9, falling just behind the UMass team that the Lady Icers beat and tied last weekend. Perhaps the biggest shame of this all is that the Lady Icers had some of the biggest wins and growth this year of any of the three ice hockey teams at Penn State. The ladies will look to conclude a very successful season with a set of wins at home today and tomorrow against Vermont.