Donovan is a native of Lebanon, PA. Pennsylvania is not a typical hockey state by culture, but in recent years it has produced noteworthy talent. The most prominent Pennsylvanian product in college hockey is Parker Milner, who hails from the opposite side of the Commonwealth than Ott, who backstopped the Boston College Eagles to its 2012 NCAA National Championship. The first NCAA roster for Penn State is dotted with talent from Pennsylvania including eight players from the Commonwealth. The other two NCAA Division I programs in Pennsylvania include five and four members for Robert Morris and Mercyhurst respectively from the Keystone State (the "State of Independence?").
Penn State with its recent large investment in the sport of college hockey and advantageous position as the flagship, land-grant institution of the Commonwealth makes it likely that competition in the atypical hockey states of the Atlantic region, Pennsylvania and New Jersey (a state that produced Johnny Gaudreau, you might have heard of him), will get more intense. It is a testament to the greatness of Cornell hockey that it can attract a talent like Ott from a hockey market in which the greatest programs have begun to show immense interest.
Ott will be a great addition to a Cornell hockey program that remains extremely nationally competitive both in recruiting and on the ice. Most of the major programs in college hockey showed interest in the recruitment of Ott. There is little question why. He led his Philadelphia Junior Flyers to an Atlantic District U18 Tier I Boys’ Hockey Titles in March. His dominant play included contributing the only goals on a stark rout in the tournament from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights which inspired the team to eventually claim the title with a 1-0 win and 3-2 win in triple overtime later in the tournament. Ott is oft-noted for his physical play which is a hallmark of Schafer-led Cornell teams. He will fit in well. That trait is what has many USHL and NHL scouts interested in the 15-year old already. The Philadelphia Junior Flyers report that during his 2010-11 campaign he tallied 69 points over 63 games. Ott will compete for the Selects Hockey Academy at South Kent School during the 2012-13 season.
Ott will be a dominant and welcome presence in Lynah and will add yet another element to the reasons why it is the college hockey barn "where angels fear to tread." We look forward to watching his development and anticipate that he, like Gaudreau for Boston College, will help a historic program build upon what-will-be recent national success when he arrives.
The Program is a leadership- and team-building program that high school, collegiate, and corporate teams use to channel both advanced physical and mental strength, and devotion into achieving beyond what a team has achieved previously. It is a program that allows a team to break through to the next level of their performance. When one considers that last season's team was one goal or a phenomenal late-game Taylor Nelson away from a national semifinal match-up with a Union team to which Cornell had not lost, I think we all know what the next level is.
Expectations are high from the fanbase after March 2012 and it is refreshing to see that those within the Cornell hockey program have set their sights equally high. I would say higher than usual. That is why they have chosen to participate in The Program. The promotional video (provided below) highlights the mission of The Program and the touching personal motivations of the founder. It is hard not to draw parallels in one's mind to the Cornell brand of hockey when listening to the introductory Spartan history considering Cornell's characteristic physicality and stifling defense.
The core principles of The Program include the team declarations that "we are physically and mentally tough," "we don't make excuses and we don't let others make excuses for us," and "we work hard." The central ethos of The Program is to be a good team leader and a good teammate who prepares every day to fill those roles.
How successful will The Program be in helping the Big Red "get that much better?" We will see in the coming weeks. However, its successes in hockey are worthy of inclusion. The Boston Bruins franchise has employed it for years in their prospect development programs and at other levels in their franchise. That franchise has had some accolades as of late.
How will it correlate to success in the world of college hockey? The best example that I can glean from The Program's website of participants is Merrimack College. The Merrimack Warriors participated in the program before the 2011-12 season. The program won only three games a mere five seasons ago and last season, after The Program, Merrimack rose to the rank of number one in the country. The Warriors defended that rank which is a feat that Notre Dame, Minnesota, and even eventual national champion Boston College found difficult to do last season. Furthermore, the Warriors maintained the longest unbeaten streak in the nation and began the season 8-0-1.
Correlation does not equal causation. However, involvement in The Program creates excitement about to what heights Cornell can climb this season. The skills learned from The Program will help the Big Red. The Program promises that it will help participating teams win championships. Well, Cornell has had little difficulty winning ECAC Championships, so that leaves only one other. When one considers last season, I think that Cornell will get that much better.
"One of the beautiful things of college hockey to me is the fact that you have these programs that maybe don’t have this big, national brand because they’re only Division I in hockey such as Colorado College and St. Cloud State and all of these wonderful Eastern institutions. And they’re right there in the game." (Emphasis added)
One should appreciate the inclusion of the small Eastern institutions. Now, I think the Ivies notwithstanding their role in bringing hockey to the United States and creating college hockey are precluded from inclusion in his statement because they certainly represent "big, national brand[s]" even if Cornell and Harvard are the only two programs with histories of national success. We should appreciate it because it refers to the six other non-Ivies within the ECAC that add greatly to the culture of our historic conference. Also, it indicates that even though he worked hard for Minnesota Hockey and is a product of Minnesotan and Western hockey culture, he respects Eastern hockey and shows no regional biases that are all too common in this great sports community.
As has been pointed out on WAFT before and implied above, Penn State is transitioning to NCAA Division I hockey in October. This transition is occurring after several decades of laudable club hockey at Penn State. Most people familiar with NCAA hockey do not realize ACHA hockey exists. It is the club hockey analog of the NCAA. It governs the sport of club hockey at various levels (division 1, division 2, etc...) and for both genders. The ACHA has helped hockey grow into very atypical hockey regions at various universities including both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, and the University of Oklahoma among many other relevant ACHA programs. The competitiveness and the prestige of the ACHA level has grown as now it lures quality recruits to many of its key program. Most experienced observers of the sport analogize good programs of ACHA Division 1 to similarly positioned programs in NCAA Division III. Penn State, along with its ACHA archrival Ohio, helped create the ACHA and the successes of Penn State helped grow the ACHA level as well as the sport of hockey. It is but one of the bright spots in eras of disappointment as Penn State struggled since even the 1920s to start and maintain a varsity hockey program.
That is why the recent choice of members of the Penn State athletics department is striking. Those who have made this decision have undertaken to remove any historical recording of the success of the Penn State Icers, the name of the ACHA Division 1 program, in drafts of the future Penn State Nittany Lions media guide. There are other historical errors that the linked article from Thank You Terry highlights in his introductory paragraphs, but the choice to ignore 41 years of history and successes, including seven ACHA Division 1 Championships, is insulting to the on- and off-ice successes of the Icers (a term whose use by loyal fans the athletic department has attempted to quash).
The emphasis upon the inclusion of the short-lived varsity era is bizarre. Why care about that era if you are going to delete another? There was no NCAA hockey at the time and varsity status is something that is entirely subjective until the NCAA began to host formalized competition in 1948. Penn State misses that cut-off by a year. Why include that era and not the Penn State Icers era when the program, albeit it at a different level, competed in and won organized national tournaments? This leads one to think that those within the athletic department are suffering from Big Ten envy. They worry that their program will seem sophomoric next to programs that have sponsored varsity hockey since 1921 at Minnesota and Wisconsin, 1922 at Michigan and Michigan State, and 1963 at Ohio State if it emphasizes club and ACHA hockey eras. I think those who may think that misunderstand the culture of hockey and college hockey in the host states of most of those programs and campuses.
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State would not frown upon Penn State as a founding member of the ACHA that expanded hockey much more rapidly beyond rigid cultural and geographic bounds. They would celebrate it. They represent states and schools that love hockey and the growth of the sport. Also, they would respect that Penn State did what almost no other ACHA program has done with transitioning to NCAA Division I. The Penn State athletic department is misguided. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State will respect the entire history of Penn State hockey. It is the product on the ice on which each program will focus when and if they want to jeer Penn State, not its path to the NCAA level.
WAFT encourages TYT and fans of Penn State to embrace the history of their programs, much like WAFT did for Colgate in a post a few weeks ago. The diversity of histories of programs and fans is what makes college hockey great. Penn State's path indubitably adds to such diversity. We also encourage them to follow the example of ECAC member Clarkson in using an abandoned nickname in one of their chants: "Let's go Icers" has a nice sound to it.
The content of this section this week is thanks to an aside comment made a few months ago on RPI Hockey.Net, a fellow member of the ECAC Hockey Blog Network. Well, here it is:
"But Cornell looked to be a tougher task given their quest for a league title, their Senior Night, and the...um, let’s call
it 'challenging'...refereeing style that always seems to prevail at Whinah, er, I mean Lynah Rink."
Well, there it is. Firstly, not that creative. Blaming biased refereeing is a typical way of apologizing for one's own team's shortcomings. Also, one should think better about how to get the idea across that one wants with the mocking name of the Rink. "Whinah" is more easily confused with the pronunciation of winner, what Cornell has been against RPI 59 out of 98 times, than that of whiner. From one skilled taunting fanbase to another, try "Whynah," it is closer in spelling to Lynah and more likely to be pronounced the way you intend. I respect RPI hockey and think that their fans should expect more than making excuses for their teams. Maybe their fans need to partake in The Program, emphasizing especially the second core principle. RPI hockey is storied and respectable.
Is the irony of the excerpt lost on the author?
Blaming poor officiating is one thing. Officials make mistakes that regrettably cost teams wins. That is understandable. If Cornell wins on a blown call against RPI in a game, highlight it and complain about it. However, claiming that there is an institutional bias in favor of Cornell is illogical.