Monday reading: INCH shuts down, PCHS’ Gross scores, 3 Things

Inside College Hockey, one of three national web sites covering college hockey, announced it is ceasing operations.

This is sad news though not surprising. Having three national sites devoted to only college hockey seemed like too much for what remains a niche sport in much of the country.

That said, I will miss it. I enjoyed their humorous approach to the game (I and others often take it far too seriously). Hopefully their writers will stay around the game as they promised and find opportunities to write for USCHO or the College Hockey News when they find the time.

Pine Creek High School graduate Taylor Gross, pictured, scored her first goal of the year for the Penn State women.

Here are Three Things Learned in the WCHA from this weekend.

Monday reading: CC at Wisconsin, Minnesota, NHL, USHL

The CC at Wisconsin series during the 2013-14 season was confirmed along with some practice notes.

Boston College was picked to win Hockey East this season by league media.

This longtime Minnesota season ticket holder got the runaround due to a new program.

The New York Times put together a guide to the top European leagues to aid fans wondering where their favorite NHL player is headed during the lockout.

The USHL plans to amp up its focus on player safety, falling in line with recent college hockey rule tweaks and changes.

Pine Creek High School graduate Taylor Gross led the Penn State women’s first practice.

Wednesday reading: CCHA championship, NCAA selection show, Bachman, Zaba, Prosser, Wisconsin, Mankato, recruits, women’s poll

The CCHA will hold its final league championship game Sunday afternoon, pushing ESPN’s NCAA Selection Show to 7 p.m. Mountain on March 24, 2013. The CCHA explains why.

MSU-Mankato had its first practice which hinted at the more aggressive playing style new coach Mike Hastings will implement. Here is the preseason prospectus for the purple Mavericks

Former Tiger goalie Richard Bachman talks about his new mask and his offseason.

Matt Zaba will play for the Vienna Capitals this season.

The Wild, including Nate Prosser, are holding informal practices. Similar stories can be found throughout the NHL.

Wisconsin is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the modern era. The university had a team from 1921-35 before the program was disbanded. It returned for the 1963-64 season and continues to this day. Here is a transcript of the press conference announcing the celebration.

Here are a few youngsters to keep in mind during the recruiting battles. A Cloquet, Minn. standout who was considering Colorado College committed to Minnesota-Duluth.

The USCHO women’s preseason poll is out.

Wednesday reading: West, Lowell, SCSU, Providence, Michigan

Former Minnesota women’s standout Emily West, a Pine Creek High School graduate in Colorado Springs, was named to the U.S. Over 18 camp roster for the 2012 USA Hockey Women’s National Festival Aug. 5-13 in Blaine, Minn.

The graduated Gophers captain scored the game-winners in the WCHA postseason and NCAA Tournament championships games to conclude her college career.

The festival ends with the selection of teams to represent the United States in a  a U22 series vs. Canada in Calgary. Three games between the two nations will be played from Aug. 16-19.

Here are the nine incoming freshmen, including fifth-round NHL draft pick Connor Hellebuyck, for future CC foe UMass-Lowell, which is coached by former Tiger assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers.

Former SCSU standout  David Eddy was featured by the Calgary Flames web site.

Providence picked up a Flames’ NHL Draft pick a year earlier than expected.

Michigan retains a big-time defenseman.

Sunday reading: MSG game, Wisconsin, Dimmen, USA women

It looks like Cornell will host Michigan at Madison Square Garden this November judging from this poster being distributed to Big Red fans.

If true, that would a big event for college hockey though I worry about filling such a large venue. No official confirmation has been made.

This tidbit was originally reported by the Michigan College Hockey blog, which provided the image.

Colorado Springs native Jeff Dimmen got to hoist the AHL’s Calder Cup Saturday afternoon when the Norfolk Admirals swept Toronto. Dimmen played in the first three games of the series.  Congrats to Jeff.

A former Vermont player is suing the university for lost financial aid after he was cut from the team.

Here’s more on the NCAA rules changes and Wisconsin brings in an Illinois goalie commit.

The Badgers are grumpy about having to leave the Kohl Center for neutral ice against St. Cloud State to end the regular season.

Katey Stone will be the coach of the U.S. women’s team in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia. The 18-year Harvard coach has 378 victories, the most for an active Division I women’s college hockey coach.

Stone will be the national team’s coach for the 2013 IIHF World Championships in Ottawa.

“Katey knows what it takes to build gold-medal teams,” Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey, said in a news release.  “We’re very excited to have her continue to lead our U.S. women’s national team up to and through the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.”

Pine Creek grad assumes big leadership role at Penn State

Pine Creek High School graduate Taylor Gross received a huge honor and an equally large responsibility last week when she was named as the first captain of the new NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey program at Penn State.

“Even if I was not captain, I would still need to be a leader because of my Division I experience on a team with a lot of freshmen,” she said. “But, I think we will surprise some people. We will be better than most people will expect.”

Her coach is confident too as he builds a program that will take on the likes of Syracuse and women’s national power Mercyhurst in the College Hockey America conference this October.

“Taylor is absolutely the ideal person to lead this team. She has significant experience and success at the Division I level, and has demonstrated the commitment to Penn State’s academic and athletic values in her time here already,” said Nittany Lions head coach Josh Brandwene. “She will be a tremendous leader for our program and a great mentor to our many young student-athletes.”

The 2010 Eagles graduate played on PSU’s club team this past spring semester after playing a season and a half for Hockey East member Connecticut. She appeared in 46 games during her UConn career and totaled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists). The Colorado Springs native was the team’s 2010-11 Rookie of the Year.

She will lead 18 freshmen on a 25-player roster that includes a couple holdovers from the previous club squad. Women’s club hockey is a step down from Division III programs, which are below D-I. There is no Division II.

Gross partnered up with two fellow juniors and UConn transfers to give the club team their top scoring line despite playing only half a season. The forward did her best to contribute on the ice without overstepping her role as a newcomer in the locker room.

“I tried to be a leader but without getting in the way of the older club players who had been here for years,” the biology major said. “I stayed positive.”

Excitement is building for hockey in Pennsylvania’s Happy Valley, she said. The women will share a state-of-the-art arena when it opens in 2013 with the men’s team, which is coached by former Colorado College standout Guy Gadowsky. Terry Pegula, owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, donated $88 million for the Pegula Ice Arena and to bank roll the two programs.

The creation of the men’s program started a conference shuffle in Division I hockey that prompted CC to become one of the charter members of the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which is headquartered near the Broadmoor Hotel.

Gross is one of three Colorado Springs women set to play Division I hockey this winter including Rampart graduate Molli Mott, a standout forward for St. Cloud State, and defenseman Kristen Jakubowski, a former Cheyenne Mountain High School student in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute program. A fourth area player, former Minnesota captain and forward Emily West (Pine Creek), graduated in May after scoring the game-winner in the NCAA championship game.

Gross played with Mott on the Sabercats, a local Tier II high school team, and on the Tier I club Colorado Selects of Denver with Mott and West. Gross played against boys in the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association until age 12, when her small frame – she is listed at 5-foot-1 as a college junior – led her to focus on girls’ leagues. Playing against the bigger boys certainly helped her development as a player in a physical sport, she said.

Her goal of obtaining a Division I scholarship was realized, but she soon grew tired of UConn, considered moving to St. Cloud State,  and then transferred to PSU over Christmas because of its strong academics and athletics. Because it was only a club, Gross could transfer to Penn State without having to sit out a season.

Now she is ready to lay the foundation of a new program with big-time resources and TV exposure. The men’s and women’s programs have the potential to become national powers.

“I am excited to be at Penn State,” she said. “We have a lot of good leaders among the returning club players and the (incoming) freshmen. Everyone will have to play a large role. My job is to make the freshmen feel welcome and build team unity. If we can do that, we will surprise some people who may be underestimating us.”