With all of the excitement built up surrounding the inaugural NCAA Division I ice hockey season at Penn State, it’s easy to overlook the Ice Lions, Penn State’s American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II team.
Coming off of a 30-3-0 season that ended with an early exit from the 2012 ACHA D-II National Tournament in March, the Ice Lions finalized their roster and released their schedule today.
The schedule, which opens on Sept. 28 at Greenberg Ice Pavillion against Penn State Berks, features contests against several familiar opponents from the Mid Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Association North division, including Temple, Delaware, and Rowan. The Ice Lions posted a 12-0 record in MACHA North play last season.
During the summer, the Ice Lions brought in Matthew Morrow as their new head coach, presenting him with a challenging task: improve on a season in which the Ice Lions had a 25-game winning streak and lost only three games. And, of course, win the national championship.
Accomplishing this becomes a bit more difficult with the graduation of goaltender Tom Badali, whose 20-1 record was perfect, except the loss to Florida Gulf Coast in the ACHA D-II National Tournament Championship.
The Ice Lions will also be without former captain Jim Recupero for the 2012-2013 campaign. As a senior last season, Recupero played a physical two-way style, amassing 21 goals and 29 assists, good for second on the team in total scoring.
The only Ice Lion who managed to find the back of the net more than Recupero last season was sophomore forward Chris Lewis. Lewis, who netted 32 goals in his first season at Penn State, earned ACHA D-II second team All-American honors. Lewis will be joined by returning sophomores Fredrik Linge, Ben Snow, and Ryan Urban, rounding out a young corps of proven scorers.
Two players from last season’s Penn State ACHA Division I Icers, forward Forrest Dell and defenseman Brandon Russo will join the Division-II Ice Lions in hopes of sparking a national championship run next spring.
Two mid-season tournaments in October and November come as opportunities for the Ice Lions to prove they can overcome the departures of their dependable netminder and playmaking captain.
Hosting the tournament scheduled for Nov. 9-11, Siena College looks to avenge its 5-0 defeat to the Ice Lions in last March’s National Tournament.
Just three wins separated the Ice Lions from Penn State’s first ACHA national championship in 2012. Playing under a new coach, and a renewed sense of hockey excitement at Penn State, the 2012-2013 team hopes to become the first Ice Lions team to bring national glory to Happy Valley.
Click here to view the Ice Lions’ full schedule: http://www.psuicelions.com/