UNIVERSITY PARK — Dominic Morrone and Matt Madrazo are quite happy to be in State College this week.
They could be at home, sifting through what was left behind by Hurricane Sandy.
The pair from the Penn State ice hockey team hail from the hardest hit areas of the storm — Morrone is from South New Jersey and Madrazzo is from Long Island, not far from New York City.
Both rode out the storm on campus, and while they and their teammates prepare for their next game Saturday night hosting Buffalo State, they can be excused if they are occasionally distracted by what their families have to endure.
“It hasn’t been bad for the first couple days,” Madrazo said of his parents’ situation. “But I guess it’s starting to set in on the people and the people are getting a little antsy with no power and waiting on a lot of long lines and there’s no food. We’ll see what happens the next couple of weeks.”
Madrazo hails from Sea Cliff, N.Y., on Long Island’s North Shore where winds upwards of 90 mph were recorded. His family’s house escaped undamaged, but their yard is littered with downed trees and the area will be without power, grocery stores, gas stations and banks likely for a couple weeks.
“I feel kind of guilty,” Madrazo said. “My dad’s calling me, he’s doing all this back-breaking work, cutting down all the trees, and I’m kind of enjoying myself here, going to practice and going to class. Don’t get me wrong — it’s not a bad thing that I’m not doing yard work.”
Morrone’s family also escaped relatively unscathed in their home in Washington Township, N.J., not far from Philadelphia, but his family also has a beach house on Sea Isle, between Atlantic City and Cape May and a little south from where the hurricane’s eye made landfall. The first floor of that house was under 5-6 feet of water, Morrone said, and the area is covered in sand from the dunes.
“They weren’t too worried about it and there was nothing I could do about it,” Morrone said. “There was no point to stress about it. All the damage was replacable. Luckily we have insurance.”
Both were glued to their computers and news reports to see what was happening back home, and were happy to be in the safety of Central Pennsylvania. The team practiced early in the day Monday and had the day off Tuesday.
“It was pretty crazy,” Marrone said. “I didn’t realize who severe the storm was. I remember in class, flipping through Facebook and people were putting up pictures — the whole town was under water. I was shocked. I had no idea it was going to be this crazy.”
Madrazo noted it could have been much worse, especially with a fire breaking out during the storm on the South Shore in Queens that burned through more than 100 homes.
“They predicted here it was going to be crazy and they closed classes,” Madrazo said. “But it was another rainy day (here). At home, looking at the pictures and the flooding in the city, the city being completely shut down and dark ... Thank God my family is fine, there’s just a lot of work to do.”
A little incentive
For the first time in nearly a month — since the season opener — the Nittany Lions are back on their home ice. They had five games on the road, and hold a 4-2 record entering the contest with Buffalo State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The game is a rematch of a 3-0 loss to the Bengals two weeks ago, and the team has been itching to get another shot at the Division III program.
“It’s going to be a good test for us,” Morrone said. “They beat us up pretty good. They’re coming here to our home rink and we want to play them as hard as possible and give them a great game.”
Head coach Guy Gadowsky said his team was looking past the Bengals to their game the next night against Rochester Institute of Technology, but this time the focus will be entirely on Buffalo State.
“I think the guys in the locker room might have a little more motivation to make sure they show that team who they really are,” Gadowsky said.
Gadowsky said he and his staff are looking forward to see how the players handle the rematch.
“We’re not going to say too much,” Gadowsky said. “We’re going to sort of stay quiet and see what the response is from the locker room. I think they might be (ticked off). They want to atone for what happened last time and I’ll be interested to watch.”
Gadowsky said he will continue starting sophomore PJ Musico in goal for the time being, but he still wants Matthew Skoff back in a game sometime soon, and he is not yet committed to using one goaltender yet. ... With a goal and an assist in his first game of the season last Friday in a 5-0 win over Army, sophomore defenseman Peter Sweetland will again see ice time Saturday night. Gadowsky declined to comment on any other line changes. ... Penn State is home again next weekend when their biggest opponents of the season to visit Greenberg Ice Pavilion, with Air Force arriving for a two-game series. The Falcons played in the NCAA Tournament last season.