Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Preseason Previews: Penn State Still Too Many Unknowns

By Jessi Pierce
@jessi_pierce on Twitter

I know, I know, it seems predictable and I am sure you Nittany Lion fans have a thing or two to object to constantly being put at the bottom with so much to prove.

But that is exactly the reason I predict Penn State at the bottom of the Big Ten -- because there is just too much to prove with so many unknowns.

It's the team's first season in an organized NCAA conference against the big boys who have been doing it for decades. That's tough for any team to swallow.

Last year in its first Division I season, Penn State went a respectable 13-14 with notable wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin. But the rest of their schedule was fairly weak -- expected to ease the transition from ACHA to NCAA -- compared to what other B1G teams have faced in past years and jumping into that this year will be a large dose of Division I reality.

But it's not all grim of course for PSU this coming year.

Standouts on the squad include Tommy Olczyk, a junior and likely to lead the team, along with transfer Max Gardiner who already has experience on the Division I level as a former Minnesota Golden Gopher. Eamon McAdams (goalie from USHL's Waterloo Blackhawks) and Mike Williamson (defenseman from AJHL) total the number of NHL draft picks on the roster to four (along with Gardiner and RPI transfer Patrick Koudys), and I am anxious to see how they shake out.

But despite those names, like the team itself, the rest are still relatively unknown, in large part due to the fact Penn State hasn't been able to land some of the top recruits being so new to the DI market.

That said, I do have a lot of faith in Guy Gadowsky and the potential he sees in this program, and realistically it just is going to take some time for PSU to get the ice beneath their feet and their stride about them.

As Gadowsky told in a recent feature story:

“Night in and night out, the Big Ten will be extremely difficult,” he said. “But it’s fun, and that’s why you come to Penn State. The building will be ready in September and our first game is Oct. 11 [against Army], and then it’s on to the Big Ten schedule.

“There’s a lot of very exciting new things going on.”

Like any good sports journalist I do tend to root for the underdog and I would be more than happy to see Penn State prove me wrong, which they just might. Either way, I am excited to see how it pans out for the boys in blue and white and anxious to see where the move to in our mid-season previews.

Preseason Prediction: Bottom of Big Ten with a 12-22 regular season record

Monday, August 19, 2013

B1G Swag

By Jessi Pierce
@jessi_pierce on Twitter

Just another reminder that Big Ten hockey is here. This was spotted at Goldy's Locker Room, the only Big Ten hockey swag I have seen since the announcement.

The shirt looks sharp in black and is definitely a way to try get Gopher fans on board before October with the B1G logo very dominating and hard to miss...(foreshadowing?)

Online, the Big Ten hockey section currently only offers a Michigan NCAA championship DVD in its store, but we anticipate plenty in coming weeks, or maybe even more during Big Ten hockey media day in September.

But we want to see what else the Big Ten is going to roll out. Have you seen any apparel on campus or at your college stores? Send them to or let us know what you'd think. Does a conference need to have specific sport apparel?

A letter to the Big Ten from (some) college hockey fans

Dear Big Ten,

We understand we can't stop what's about to happen to college hockey, just as long as you understand you forever changed the college hockey landscape, and change isn't always the easiest.

As long time fans devoted to our Michigans, Minnesotas and Wisconsins, we feel there are some things you should be aware of, being you guys are now in most likely unfamiliar territory on a rink instead of a basketball court or football field.

1. We aren't your biggest fans right now -- You can try sell us on how this is better for the sport of hockey on the collegiate level as a whole but the majority of us know that is a crock of soft ice shit. It's about money. We recognize that but in the process you removed us from beloved rivals and conferences that we have known and loved for years.

2. You have a lot to live up to -- As we mentioned in the first note,  the CCHA and WCHA are what we have known. Fox Sports North, Fox College Sports Channel and CBSC all adequately gave us plenty of hockey coverage. Admittedly you guys have been trying in the lead up, but you should know, we are going to expect a lot in the wake of taking over. Truthfully we can never get enough college hockey coverage, so pour it on we will eat it up. 

3. We're pretty hardcore fans. Every college sport has "their thing" be it tailgating in football or big heads in basketball, hockey has their chirping. It's true, us fans tend to hammer on opposing teams, complete with chants directed at the goaltender and more often than not, cursing is a large part of it. For those unfamiliar with this, it can be a bit of a shock, but rest assured it's just in good -- maybe not so clean -- fun.

4. Make sure you know the rules. The majority of us have been following hockey like our religion. We tend to know the rules like the back of our hand and will be sure to call you out on them if you don't.

5. We will eventually come around. Let's face it, we have no choice. And as you will quickly find, hockey fans are among the most passionate fans around. 

Sincerely yours, 

Badger/Spartan/Nittany Lions/Buckeye/Gopher/Wolverine ice fans