Air Force wins ugly at Penn State

From AFA sports information …

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.  –  Five different Falcons scored and Jason Torf made 34 saves as Air Force beat Penn State, 5-1, in a non-conference college hockey game at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion in University Park, Pa. Air Force improved to 3-3-3 overall this season while Penn State fell to 5-3-0.

Air Force opened the scoring at the 7:57 mark of the first period as Casey Kleisinger scored from freshman defenseman Max Hartner. Hartner collected his first collegiate point as Kleisinger’s wrister beat P.J. Musico.

Kyle De Laurell’s second goal of the season gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead at 7:50 of the second period. Hartner started the play in his own end as Cole Gunner and Ben Carey picked up assists on the play. The Falcons took a 3-0 lead when Tony Thomas created a turnover in the Nittany Lions’ end. His shot was wide of the net, but Chad Demers collected the rebound and scored his fourth of the season at 14:57 of the second. John Kruse added an assist on the play.

“I can never remember playing so badly and winning a game 5-1,” Falcons head coach Frank Serratore said. “We were awful. We won tonight because we got luck and because Jason Torf was outstanding. We had too many turnovers, missed clears and bad changes. Torf masked all of our mistakes.  He was an All-American tonight. We got an early Christmas present tonight. If we play like that tomorrow, we will get pounded.”

In the middle of a penalty-filled third period, Penn State got on the board with a short-handed goal. Justin Kirchhevel intercepted a pass, skated in uncontested and scored at the 8:25 mark of the third period to cut the AFA lead to 3-1. Fifty-eight seconds later, the Falcons answered and re-gained the three-goal advantage. Carey fed Stephen Carew for his fourth of the season on the power play at the 9:23 mark for a 4-1 Falcon lead. With just over five minutes remaining, the Nittany Lions pulled their goalie in favor of the extra attacker. The Falcons took advantage as Tony Thomas scored an empty-netter from Demers and Alex Halloran at 16:32.

Penn State outshot Air Force, 35-24, in the game. Jason Torf made 34 saves in the game for the Falcons while Musico made 19 for the Nittany Lions.  AFA was 1-for-4 on the power play and the Falcons killed all six PSU power plays.

Air Force and Penn State conclude the two-game series on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m. ET in University Park, Pa.

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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.

Weekend reading: Bjugstad, Prosser, Parise, Suter, faceshields, Penn State scandal, Union, UMass, NHL Draft, NCAAs

Minnesota standout Nick Bjugstad, pictured, likely will announce if he will return this season sometime this weekend. UPDATE: He said Sunday night he and his family will decide over the next two weeks.

Former Tiger Nate Prosser, an Elk River native, is excited, like much of Minnesota, about the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signings.

The NCAA continues its slow saunter toward 3/4 face shields.

This Penn State fan blog talks about how the recent scandal may affect hockey.

Here is the top reported remaining candidates for the open UMass coaching job.

Lake Superior State lost an undrafted forward after he excelled in the Rangers development camp. A goal in all four scrimmages apparently caught the scouts’ attention.

The 2013 NHL Draft should be as loaded as the famed 2003 picks. Five are future collegians as the Grand Forks Herald reports.

If that is not planning far enough ahead for you here are the 2013 NCAA regionals:

Northeast, Manchester, N.H., on March 29-30;

East, Providence, R.I., on March 30-31;

Midwest, Toledo, Ohio, on March 30-31;

West, Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 29-30.

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.”