1. Kearns Departs For Neumann: Penn State’s offseason of chaos had one more major strike left as Gina Kearns, Josh Brandwene’s top assistant, accepted the head coach position at NCAA Division III’s Neumann University last Tuesday. It was a tough blow for the Nittany Lions – the former Boston University captain is considered a rising star as a coach, is a great recruiter, and related to players extremely well. For her part, Kearns gets the chance to run her own bench and move closer to home (she’s a Philadelphia-area native who was an assistant at NU from 2009-2011), but we probably haven’t seen the last of her in DI.
Without too many other options late in the offseason, PSU responded by naming Alex Dawes to Kearns spot. Dawes came in to the program as director of operations last season, and has been well regarded for his work there as well as during his undergraduate years at DIII’s Utica College, but his ability to coach on the ice is certainly an open question at this point.
2. Polisseni Center Sees Game Action: That “thunk” sound you may have heard Monday night was RIT finally breaking in their new Gene Polisseni Center with a hockey game, but dropping a 3-2 decision to Pursuit of Excellence. That’s the same PoE that Mercyhurst waxed 7-0 over the weekend, not exactly a ringing endorsement for the Tigers’ repeat bid. It doesn’t officially count of course, which will also undoubtedly lead to a bunch of awkward “what was the true arena first” conversations – in hindsight, Penn State probably got it right by making a regular game lead the way at Pegula Ice Arena.
It wasn’t all bad for RIT, as they did enjoy a 42-19 shooting advantage and didn’t play star goalie Ali Binnington. Still, coach Scott McDonald was not pleased.
“Tonight was an embarrassing effort. We overlooked a team that with a full lineup is very talented and dangerous. Our fans deserve a better effort, especially opening a new building and that effort will be corrected by Friday.”
Yikes. Enjoy the bag skate, guys.
3. Syracuse Goes Farming: Community service? Sure. Other sports? Often. Some pseudo-military survival game? Naturally. Syracuse, though, has found one of the more unique preseason team-building activities: apple picking.
— SU Ice Hockey (@CuseIce) September 29, 2014
4. RMU Introduces Freshmen: Opening weekend didn’t go exactly as planned for Robert Morris, with the Colonials taking a large step off of their aspirations with a home sweep at the hands of Bemidji State. But on a more positive note, RMU is showing that Penn State and RIT aren’t the only conference schools on top of the video thing, as they’ve launched a set of freshman introductions that (so far) include Natalie Fraser and Amanda Pantaleo:
5. CHA Announces First Award Winners: One of the somewhat amusing things about College Hockey America is that the league conducts its weekly awards, regardless of how few teams are playing (the CHA stepping in with an all-champion set, including player of the week, a couple days after a league playoff MVP is named is always funny…if you have a low threshold for comedy anyway). Hey, gotta be consistent, I guess. Senior defenseman Erin Staniewski was the season’s first player of the week after scoring two of RMU’s three goals over the weekend (the first two of her career), while Lindenwood’s Nicole Hensley was goaltender of the week, more or less for surviving second-ranked Wisconsin.