Union-Penn State pregame report (Saturday edition)
Good evening from Messa Rink, where the eight-ranked Union Dutchmen return to action after two weeks off as they face NCAA hockey’s newest Division I team, Penn State.
The Dutchmen (6-2-1) will host the Nittany Lions (6-3) for two games, tonight and Sunday at 4 p.m. They haven’t played since a 3-2 loss to Dartmouth on Nov. 10. Since then, the Dutchmen were preparing for the final-exam period for the first trimester. As many of you Union fans know, the school uses the trimester format instead of semesters. The exam period ran from last Thursday through Tuesday.
Union will get its first look at Penn State, but the Dutchmen are very familiar with the Nittany Lions’ coach. Guy Gadowsky was head coach of ECAC Hockey-rival Princeton for seven seasons. He compiled a 105-109-15 record and guided the Tigers to the 2008 ECAC Hockey tournament title and a semifinal spot in the 2009 championships. Both years, the Tigers played in the NCAA tournament.
Gadowsky, who grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and was a fan of the Edmonton Oilers’ high-octane offense of the 1980s, employed a similar style at Princeton. His teams would shoot the puck from anywhere. And that is what the Dutchmen are expecting.
“His philosophy is to get up-and-down the ice,” Dutchmen senior defenseman Greg Coburn said. “We’re expecting an in-your-face game [tonight] . . . We can prepare for that. If they’re going to shoot from everywhere, we need to box out and make sure that they’re not getting second chances. If we can make that perimeter around [goalies] Troy [Grosenick] or Colin [Stevens], I think we’ll be all right.”
In addition to preparing for the Nittany Lions, the Dutchmen may also have to worry about rust after the two-week layoff.
“We’ve been off here,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “We’ve been off physically, but mentally, they’ve been on with exams, so we have to switch channels, as a coaching staff, and get their six inches between the ears right on for hockey, and that’s our job.”
Even though Grosenick returned to practice this week after suffering a right-leg injury in the Nov. 9 game at Harvard, Stevens will get the start in goal. It will be the second straight start for the Niskayuna native. He is 2-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average and a. 933 save percentage.
There are some lineup changes for the Dutchmen. Freshman left winger Theo DiPauli makes his Messa Rink debut playing on the third line. The only game DiPauli played this season was Oct. 26 at American International. Center David Roy, right winger Sam Coatta and defenseman Charlie Vasaturo are back in the lineup after missing the Nov. 10 game at Dartmouth. Out of the lineup are left winger Matt Wilkins, center Mark Bennett, right winger Kevin Sullivan and defenseman Sebastien Gingras. For Gingras and Wilkins, both freshman, it will be the first games they have missed this season.
Here is the Union lineup, starting with the forwards (LW/C/RW):
Daniel Carr/Josh Jooris/Nick Cruice
Daniel Ciampini/Kyle Bodie/Wayne Simpson
Theo DiPauli/Max Novak/Matt Hatch
Cole Ikkala/David Roy/Sam Coatta
The defensive pairings are:
Shayne Gostisbehere/Ryan Forgaard
Greg Coburn/Charlie Vasaturo
Shawn Stuart/Tim Boyle
Of the 27 players on the roster, 15 are either freshmen or sophomores. Sophomore forward Tommy Olczyk, the son of NBC Sports hockey analyst and former NHL player Ed Olczyk, is the team captain. Freshman forward David Glen is the leading scorer with six goals and four assists.
So far, the Nittany Lions are off to a good start, going 6-3. But will that translate into immediate success when Penn State, which is playing as an independent this season, begins Big Ten play next year?
“That’s a tough question to answer,” Gadowsky said. “We hope so. We brought in players that are really great people, really great students and excellent hockey players. Only the future can tell. I don’t think anybody can answer that question, but, certainly, that’s the plan.”
Here is the Penn State lineup, starting with the forwards:
Casey Baily/Max Gardiner/Dominic Morrone
Curtis Loik/David Glen/Kenny Brooks
Tommy Olczyk/Taylor Houston/Justin Kirchhevel
Michael Longo/Michael McDonagh/Jacob Friedman
The defensive pairings are:
Nate Jensen/Joseph Lordo
Luke Juha/Peter Sweet
Brian Dolan/Connor Varley
Matthew Skoff starts in goal.
The referees are Peter Feola and Kyle Allen. Tory Carissima and Justin Prusak are the linesmen.
I’ll have updates on the on Twitter. If you’re not following me, my Twitter handle is @slapschotts. The hashtags I will use for this game are #UnionHockey, #PSUHockey and #ECACHockey.
I’ll update my Parting Schotts blog after each period, and have more description of the game.
If you haven’t done so, please like two Facebook pages — my own, The Daily Gazette on Ice and the Slap Schotts College Hockey Segment.
Enjoy the game!