Another year, another solid class of Icer seniors prepare for their final games in Blue and White. While there were no championships for this group, a fair number of great accomplishments and accolades were still achieved. There is Carey Bell's quiet consistency on defense; Taylor Cera's successes in spite of a seemingly endless number of injuries; Chris Pronchik's role as an energy booster on offense; John Jay's undefeated career record between the pipes; Teddy Hume's success and wins that leave him as one of the winningest goalies in Icers' history; and Tim O'Brien's offensive leadership and scoring prowess that makes him only the 15th Icer to reach the 200-point mark for his career. We wish these Icers the best of luck in their final games, and hope that their success follows them as they continue onward.
February 25th, vs Rutgers:
|#10 PENN STATE||2||5
I'm going to keep these recaps short, because the results were as anticipated. After the Icers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, the Scarlet Knights responded to make it 2-1 after the first period of play. Then, the Icers scored the next seven goals of the game, only allowing Rutgers a late, meaningless goal to make it a dominating 9-2 Icers win. Chris Cerutti picked up his scoring touch, picking up a hat trick in the game. Mike Broccolo continued his hot streak, adding two goals of his own. George Saad, Chris Pronchik, Brian Dolan, and Kevin Miller each added a goal of their own to round out the nine Icers goals. John Jay would pick up the win, (likely) finishing his Icers career with a perfect 10-0-0 record.
February 26th, vs Rutgers:
|#10 PENN STATE||2
After a nice tribute to the Icer seniors, the team was ready to end the season on a high note. With Teddy Hume in net, the Icers picked up where they left off on Friday. The Icers would put up the first 5 goals of the game before the Scarlet Knights were able to respond late in the 2nd period. Another five Icer goals in the 3rd period was countered by yet another late Rutgers goal. But the Icers skated away with the 10-2 win, sweeping both games with a combined score of 19-4. The scoring was much more spread out for this game, as 9 different players scored (R. O'Brien, Zitarelli, Loucks, Seravalli, Cerutti, Longo, Bell, T. O'Brien, Saad), with Joe Zitarelli leading the way with 2 goals. While he has struggled at times this season, it was a nice end of a season (and perhaps Icers career) for Teddy Hume.
Season Standings: Overall - 22-10-1; ESCHL - 10-5-1.
News and Notes: With the season behind us, it's time to start picking apart the National Tournament which starts on Saturday. As I've mentioned previously, the Icers will face off against a well-known foe in the Rhode Island Rams in round one. The Icers did rest some guys this weekend (notably Paul Daley, who was resting his knee), while URI rested everyone during their idle weekend. I'm still wary about the Icers' chances to pull the upset, but they do have some positives heading into the game. There was the solid weekend of home games at the beginning of February where the Icers played tough against the Rams, coming away with a win and a shoot-out loss. As well, the Icers are still game speed ready after plowing through Rutgers this weekend, while the Rams might regret taking the week off. Finally, the Icers are playing very well offensively. Tim O'Brien and Chris Cerutti are nearing their normal goal-scoring rates, while guys like George Saad and Mike Broccolo are keeping up their hot hands. If the defense and goaltending can play well, the Icers have a serious shot to make it past the first round.
Of course, when they do, they'll be staring at the #2 team in Davenport - because there is no way Davenport is losing to Rutgers. While they are very talented, Davenport has shown some weaknesses, including losses to D2 Grand Valley State, unranked Michigan-Dearborn (D1), and a loss to D2 Michigan State his past weekend. Sure, they were likely resting players, but it's still not a good thing to lose like that heading into nationals. If the Icers get to the second round, it'll be a tough match-up against Davenport, but the Icers have the sort of team that can take down the DU Panthers.
After the second round, there's a break on Monday before the final four teams are reseeded for the semifinals on Tuesday. So at this point, I'll just do some general prognosticating as to how the tournament will unfold. The top four seeds (Lindenwood, Davenport, Ohio, and Adrian) should all take out their opponents easily, reminding everyone once again why the ACHA should not be using autobids. From there, the games get rather interesting. Delaware gets Robert Morris (IL), and while I'm high on UD right now (especially with the home ice advantage throughout the tournament), this should be a tight match-up. RMU has played very well late in the season and could very well play the spoiler in UD's run for the title. Still, I think the Blue Hens pull it out in a close one (in OT, even). Minot State is an unknown, but they should take out a struggling Oakland team. And the 8-9 match-up between Arizona State and Oklahoma is an interesting bout between teams that have looked good at times, but have struggled horribly with consistency. It will be a close game, but the winner is staring down the unenviable task of taking on Lindenwood in round 2.
Ultimately, I think the championship game will come down to Lindenwood and Ohio, with Ohio taking the championship and halting Lindenwood's recent dominance. (And yes, I feel very dirty for picking the Bobcats to win it all.) Again, Delaware has a serious chance, as they have the talent and (again) the home ice advantage. If you want a long-shot, well, when this Icers team plays up to their abilities, they can hang with anyone. They would have the hardest road, likely having to face all three top seeds at some point to win the championship. But a serious run at the title is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Some Love for the Ladies: Looking to end the season on a high note, the Lady Icers traveled to Rhode Island for the ECWHL playoffs. A first round match-up with the host URI Rams was no easy task, and the Rams took it to the Lady Icers. A 7-2 blowout win for the Rams relegated the Lady Icers to a consolation game against UMass the next day. It was a very close game, but the Lady Icers came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard, losing 2-0 to UMass and finishing 4th at the playoffs. It is an unfortunate end to the season for a team that is much more talented than these final season results.