Weekend reading: Wisconsin captain, CC practices, profiles, lockout

Colorado College captain William Rapuzzi will lead the team’s first unofficial practice of the 2012-13 season on Monday.

Senior John Ramage will serve a second year as Wisconsin’s captain. Here is a column by the Madison beat writer pointing out how successful two-time captain’s teams have been.

Inside College Hockey continues this summer’s installment of its short player profiles (I enjoy reading about the younger AHA players who do not get the press of the other leagues). Here are the latest involving future foes for Air Force and Colorado College:

RIT junior defenseman Greg Noyes hopes to follow up a stronger sophomore season with a breakout campaign in 2012-13.

North Dakota sophomore forward Brendan O’Donnell has the potential to be a big points producer if he can stay healthy.

Bemidji State sophomore defenseman Matt Prapavessis‘ 13 points (12 assists) makes him the top returning offensive blue-liner for the Beavers.

An NHL lockout would leave a huge hole in NBC Sports Network’s programming. May I suggest a few more NCAA and Canadian major junior games along with the AHL and ECHL?

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.”

UPDATED: Dineen records first pro goal (playoff game-winner)

Former Tiger captain Nick Dineen assisted the tying goal and scored the game-winner on a hard-work goal in front later to lift the Elmira Jackals to a 5-2 win over the Reading (Pa.) Royals in the first round of the ECHL playoffs.

Here’s the scoresheet and team write-up. Reading leads the best-of-five series 2-1 and can clinch it starting at 5:05 Mountain tonight in New York.

Elmira Jackals head coach Pat Bingham and forward Dustin Gazley spoke in this video on the team’s overall play, the goal by Dineen and his success in the face-off circle, and what the team needs to do to get a victory in Game 4. Gazley discussed the win and Dineen’s goal.

Here’s some good detail on the game-winner from the Reading Royals’ writeup:

“With time ticking down in the third, the Jackals got a favorable bounce that resulted in the game winner with just 3:43 left in regulation. Mario Larocque took a hard slap shot from the left point that hit Nick Dineen, who was skating through the slot, in the right calf. The puck ricocheted to the right wall and bounced directly back to the stick of Dineen, who quickly turned and wheeled to beat Owuya low blocker for his first of the playoff season.”

Dineen will sign with ECHL Elmira

Former Tigers captain Nick Dineen, pictured shooting against Minnesota Duluth, used the past couple weeks to heal and focus on finishing his economic degree at Colorado College.

Former Tiger captain Nick Dineen is flying to Elmira, N.Y. Thursday morning to sign his first professional contract and start his career with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, the Atlantic Division champions.

Dineen said the coach told him to plan on making his debut Friday against the Reading (Pa.) Royals in the first of the final two regular-season games.

“It all happened pretty quickly from 8 p.m. (Tuesday) on,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “Elmira called and needed a center. They are a first-place team and need me to play right away. I felt I was ready to go. It was an easy decision.”

Dineen said the amateur tryout deal lasts for the rest of this season, meaning he will be a free agent against this offseason.

Dineen was slowed by a tweaked knee sustained during his first shift on March 2 against Michigan Tech, he said, but now feels ready to resume playing. The economics major also used the last couple weeks to finish up his classwork.

“I feel a lot better,” he said.

Dineen is the fifth of the six Tiger seniors to move on to the pros. Arthur Bidwill (CHL Allen), David Civitarese (AHL Hershey), Gabe Guentzel (AHL Syracuse) and Tim Hall (ECHL Alaska) have all signed deals.

Dineen recorded 67 career points (34g, 33a) in 140 games as a Tiger, including 26 points (14g, 12a) in 34 games as a senior.

Thursday reading: Final 5 quarterfinal previews; TV schedule

Michigan Tech enters unfamiliar territory against No. 3 seed Denver at 1:07 p.m. Mountain today in the opening quarterfinals of the WCHA Final Five tournament in St. Paul.

Here’s a capsule preview look at the game. Freshman goalie Juho Olkinuora will likely get the start this afternoon for DU.

Here’s a preview on the second quarterfinal, No. 4 seed North Dakota vs. No. 5 St. Cloud State from an UND perspective. North Dakota is gunning for its third Broadmoor Trophy in a row.

Here’s a feature on SCSU captain Ben Hanowski.

All Final Five games will be televised live on FS North and ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain. Here’s the schedule courtesy of the WCHA:

WCHA Final Five, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN

Games for Thursday, March 15: (6) Michigan Tech vs (3) Denver (NC), 1:07 pm MT (TV-FOX Sports North, ROOT Rocky Mountain); (5) St. Cloud State vs (4) North Dakota (NC), 6:07 pm MT (TV-FOX Sports North, ROOT Rocky Mountain).

Games for Friday, March 16: Michigan Tech/Denver vs (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 1:07 pm MT (TV-FOX Sports North, ROOT Rocky Mountain); St. Cloud State/North Dakota vs (1) Minnesota (NC), 6:07 pm MT (TV-FOX Sports North, ROOT Rocky Mountain)).

Games for Saturday, March 17: Broadmoor Trophy Championship Game, 6:07 pm MT (TV-FOX Sports North, ROOT Rocky Mountain).