Happy Holidays: Enjoy the videos

Former Tiger Noah Clarke scored to put the Belfast Giants into second place in Great Britain’s Elite Hockey League. Unfortunately for Tigers fans, the following Christmas video by the Giants was made two years ago to promote their holiday homestand  so Clarke is nowhere to be seen.

I guess we cannot get everything we want for Christmas each year.

Enjoy this video and have a joyous holiday surrounded by family and friends. The blog will resume on Dec. 27.

Here is the Vermont women’s more recent version:

And if a traditional song version is more your style, here’s the Calgary Hitmen performing Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” from earlier this month:

Tuesday reading: Colorado College, North Dakota, poll, Wisconsin, Clarkson, AHA, Notre Dame, Northeastern, Penn State, Merrimack


Penn State’s Taylor Gross, a Pine Creek HS graduate, and Syracuse’s Kallie Goodnough fight for the puck during a 6-0 loss to the Orange Sunday at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. The Nittany Lions are 1-3 this season. Abby Drey — Centre Daily Times Photo

Here is a fan’s take on CC and Wisconsin.

North Dakota junior goalie Clarke Saunders is profiled.

UND is No. 2 behind Minnesota in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll.

Here is my 3 Things blog about last weekend in the WCHA for USCHO.

Clarkson can take heart in its good showing on the road in Colorado Springs according to this ECAC weekend review.

Atlantic Hockey enjoyed a strong opening weekend.

Notre Dame’s goalie had a .962 saves percentage this past weekend, among other CCHA notes.

Here is more reaction to Northeastern’s big opening week.

Penn State got its first Division I men’s win on Saturday.

A former Merrimack coach succumbed to throat cancer recently.

Friday reading: Bloggers preseason poll, USCHO rankings, Lagrone, Face Off Luncheon, Mankato, Michigan Tech, Wisconsin, Gross

Eighteen bloggers, including yours truly and gmf1a of the CC fan forum, made their preseason picks and ranked CC eighth in the 3rd Annual Web Site and Bloggers Preseason Poll compiled by Tradition of Excellence. Give it a look.

USCHO announced its preseason Top 10 forwards, led by Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad, who is pictured.

CC 2013/14 defenseman commit Duggie Lagrone of Dallas will play for NAHL Fairbanks this season.

Both Air Force coach Frank Serratore and CC coach Scott Owens are feeding off the enthusiasm of their players as the season nears.

There is a definite buzz around the Minnesota State program this preseason.

Six second-year coaches are discussed, including Michigan Tech’s Mel Pearson.

Here is a season preview about Miami.

Wisconsin really needed its new on-campus hockey facility. There is a lot for the Badgers to celebrate this season.

Pine Creek High School graduate Taylor Gross leads the Penn State women into the 2012-13 season.

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.

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.”

Colorado Springs woman is first Penn State varsity captain

Taylor Gross led the Huskies in scoring as a freshman but was one of many standouts to leave the UConn program at the end of the fall semester in 2011.

Pine Creek High School graduate Taylor Gross, who transferred to Penn State after garnering team rookie honors at UConn, was named as the Nittany Lions’ first varsity captain, the program announced on Wednesday night.

She led the Huskies in scoring as a freshman in 2010-2011 with 23 points (12g, 11a), and was Hockey East’s rookie of the week on Feb. 7, 2011.

Despite playing only half a season at PSU after leaving UConn after the fall semester, the now-junior forward finished second on the club team in scoring last season with 27 points and assisted both Nittany Lions’ goals in the school’s first win over a Division I program — Sacred Heart.

Gross continues a string of success for area women in ice hockey. Of the 12 Colorado women on Division I rosters this past season, four were from Colorado Springs, including Minnesota’s Emily West who scored the game-winners in the WCHA tournament and NCAA championships games.