It's a little strange. Perhaps because of the fact that there will still be hockey next year, and it will still be played at the Greenberg no less. For the last time in front of that home crowd, the team played the last game in the form of the ACHA D1 Penn State Icers - a club team that became one of the more dominant, respected, and talked-about teams on campus. An ardent family of followers helped to support this team and ultimately help push the right buttons to finally bring Varsity Ice Hockey to Penn State. Before the guys start a new story on Penn State hockey, it's time to let the current players close the book on a very successful club team. In doing so, the Icers would look to take down a backsliding Kent State team to end the regular season.
|#24 Kent State||0||1||0||1|
|#1 PENN STATE||2||5||6||13|
|PSU Goals: B. Johnson (x2), Saad, Kirchhevel (x2),
Olczyk (x2), Friedman, McDonaugh, P. Daley,
Cerutti, Morrone, Longo
As the former Head Statistician for the team, these were the games I loathed. Don't get me wrong, it's great knowing that this Icers team can blowout the teams they're supposed to. Still, somewhere around 6-1, the point is made, and that's seven less goals that needed to be watched/reviewed for stats purposes. In any case, the Icers went out with a bang against the Golden Flashes. After giving Kent State an early 2-man-power play, the Icers took control of the game. Bryce Johnson would open the scoring, and George Saad would make it 2-0 thanks to some great tic-tac-toe passing with his linemates. The 2nd period saw the lead extended to 6-0 before Kent State would break up PJ Musico's shutout bid. Mike McDonaugh would add another before the end of the period to make it 7-1 Icers. Then it just got silly, as the Icers would add 3 goals in the first 3:15 of the period, before scoring 3 more late to make it a 13-1 blowout and giving the Icers more goals than Kent State had shots on net (12).
Season Record and ACHA Ranking: 27-3-1 (26-2-1 ACHA), ranked #1 in the ACHA
News, Notes, Observations: Although it was nice to end the season on a winning streak (and a 19-0 home record on the season), the three weeks of Mercyhurst-Duquesne-Kent State did very little to prepare Penn State for the ACHA tournament. While I don't think the team will really struggle, it would be nice to have some quality opponents instead of what basically amounts to a month off for the Icers. The team looks solid otherwise, hitting on all cylinders in all areas of the game.
Interesting to note that D2 Ice Lions goalie Tom Badali was the back-up for PJ Musico in Friday's game. It sounds like Matt Madrazo has a small injury (possible bone bruise) that kept him out of the line-up. No word if Badali will make the trip with the Icers to Cleveland next week for Nationals as a 3rd goalie just in case Madrazo (or Musico) is not fit to play. The Ice Lions don't play again until the week after the ACHA D1 Nationals - the MACHA Championship game against UMBC is on March 10th, and the ACHA D2 National Tournament is the following weekend. At the very least, Badali gives the Icers a solid emergency goalie option.
The Icers now have a week off until their first game in the ACHA Tournament. Their first game will be against the winner of the Rutgers-West Virginia play-in game - two teams the Icers have rolled over this season. The next day, the Icers get the winner of the Iowa State-Oklahoma game, which will certainly present a step-up in competition. Monday is an off day for the remaining four teams, who are reseeded and then play the semifinal games on Tuesday and the Championship (and Consolation) game on Wednesday. There's no doubt that this team has their eye set on bringing home the Murdoch Cup one last time.
Some Love for the Ladies: With two last games and the ECWHL regular season title on the line, the Lady Icers did not allow the news of their just missing out on the ACHA Women's Tournament keep them performing at their top level. The ladies used two dominating performances to sweep Vermont, 5-0 and 4-2. The two wins gave the Lady Icers a 7-2-1 league record, which was enough to earn them the ECWHL regular season title, just beating out URI. Although the Lady Icers were left out of the ACHA Tournament, there were a lot of great growing moments and wins in a half-transition year. There's little doubt that the Lady Icers are pointed in the right direction as they too make the jump to the NCAA next season.