UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Pegula Ice Arena Media Room was overflowing with members of the press in anticipation of men's hockey media day on Monday (Sept. 30). Head coach Guy Gadowsky answered questions for nearly 30 minutes and six players graced the stage to give their thoughts on everything from their new home ice to the Big Ten Conference to expectations for the coming season.
Nittany Lions are scheduled to open their second Division I season on Friday, Oct.
11 when they host Army inside Pegula Ice Arena. The team returns 18
letterwinners and welcomes nine newcomers into the fold as the 2013-14 squad
looks to build upon the 13-14-0 record from the Lions inaugural season.
Lions Getting Stronger,
The Nittany Lions played with just four defenders At times last season and that really limited the pace in which Head coach Guy Gadowsky's group was able to play.
On Monday, Gadowsky said that the depth on his 2013-14 roster is night and day from a season ago when he saw two of his top defenders miss chunks of the season. The frontline was strong and will return over 90 percent of their roster from a season ago, while the backline adds a pair of freshman and transfer student-athlete Patrick Koudys.
The Nittany Lions have been working all summer in the weight room to gain size that they know will come into play when they begin a tough 2013-14 schedule on Oct. 11 vs. Army at Pegula Ice Arena.
"I think size is something that coach likes to build his team around," said Gardiner. "We did a lot of work in the weight room this offseason to get ready for this year...We have a lot of guys who like to get in the corners and work to towards digging out pucks and setting up scoring opportunities. Our work in the weight room will help us in those situations."
Big Ten Hockey
Penn State did have success against their Big Ten brethren last season, before the official formation of the conference, and will look to continue proving themselves against some of the most storied programs in college hockey during 2013-14 campaign.
The coaching staff and players are looking forward to the challenge and they believe that is something college hockey fans around the nation are excited about. Gadowsky talked about the tradition of the six teams that begin the first season of Big Ten play in November and how the excitement continues to build.
"This is extremely exciting for the Big Ten and extremely exciting for college hockey," said Gadowsky. "The exposure that this brings to college hockey is huge and I think it can educate a lot of people about college hockey through the Big Ten Network. I think that when you see the Big Ten rivalries, the excitement and intensity is going to be phenomenal."
The Lions have already had a taste of Big Ten hockey, compiling a 3-2 record against the likes of Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Penn State toppled Ohio State in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh and split a pair of games at Michigan State and at Wisconsin, ending their 2012-13 campaign with a 3-2 overtime decision over the Badgers.
"To do as well as we did against the Big Ten opponents last year shows how much work our coaching staff and (our players) had put in," said Matt Skoff. "We have a lot of experience against some of those teams, so we know it's not going to easy, but we are not going to be overwhelmed by playing in the Big Ten."
Expectations Are High
When you get a taste of anything that pleases the senses, you always want more. That is the case with the Nittany Lions and head coach Guy Gadowsky who said that winning marquee games in 2012-13 was something that he would like to continue to do this season.
"When you start winning you want to keep winning," said Gadowsky. "It's kind of addicting."
The Hockey Valley faithful would like for that craving to continue and so would the players. All six of the players that attended media day echoed their coach's thoughts, adding that their wins in 2012-13 were not something they are resting on. They spoke on how this team will work just as hard as last season's squad to continue and build a foundation of hardworking, grind-it-out hockey that started in their inaugural season on the ice.
"Once you put that Nittany Lion crest on your chest you have to be ready to work hard," said Casey Bailey. "A lot of the programs on this campus are hard-working and we're no different. I think the new players that came in this season know that we have to work hard to get the things accomplished that we want to accomplish."
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