The Penn State Nittany Lions are Friday's opponent. In case you aren't aware, last season was their first in Division 1 hockey. Their addition to the college hockey landscape prompted the slew of changes that resulted in the formation of two new leagues (the Big10 and the NCHC), the death of one league (the CCHA) and the complete revamping of the WCHA. Terry Pegula (Pennsylvania Fracking Magnate) donated millions and millions and millions to build a rink on campus in Happy Valley and begin the program.
Amidst all the brew-ha-ha with the Football program, the hockey program hired their first NCAA coach, former UAF and Princeton Head Coach Guy Gadowsky. Guy promptly began trying to build a D1 roster. In 2012-13 the Icers (as they were still known by their Club name) under Gadowsky skated a mixed ACHA and NCAA schedule with a roster that was also a mix of ACHA and NCAA players.
Last year the program went 8-26-1. The roster has improved since 2012-13 and last year's leading scorer was Eric Scheid. Eric played his freshman year at UAA and had a pretty nice rookie season scoring 6 goals and 9 assists. During his transfer year Eric played for the Lincoln Stars in the USHL bagging 23 goals and 36 assists in 63 games. Eric showed talent and ability at UAA and I was sorry to see him go. In high school, he was Nick Bgjustad's linemate and set-up man; helping lead their team deep into the Minnesota HS playoffs.
Eric isn't the only threat on the Nittany Lion's roster. Another player with an Anchorage connection is Anchorage-born Casey Bailey who skated two years with Alberni Valley and a year with the Omaha Lancers before joining Penn State in 2012-13. Last year as a sophomore, Casey scored 9 goals with 4 assists. He's a big kid at 6ft 3in and 195lbs.
Des Peres, Missouri native sophomore David Goodwin started his junior career with the Green Bay Gamblers before being traded to Sioux City after 68 games. In 2 games this year he's got 2 goals to go with the 7g-11a he quite nicely put up on a team that lost a lot of games but hey - at least they beat Michigan 3 outta 4 times. Nothing wrong with that.
In net, Penn State will likely go with Matthew Skoff who played in 23 games last season and had a .906 save percentage. He was in net last weekend when PSU tied (2-2) and beat UConn (7-1) on successive nights and earned the Big10's Third Star of the Week honor.
This Penn State team might be better a bigger test for the Seawolves than the Wisconsin team we just faced. Our guys will have to play and execute every bit as well as they did last weekend. Winning your non-conference teams helps every team in the WCHA a little bit and can help the conference get more teams into the NCAAs.
I have no doubt that the Seawolves can beat Penn State on Friday. My lack of doubt though doesn't equal a win. GoSeawolves … don't let up on the spirited play and get the win.