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Lions Gain Momentum Heading Into Break

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa. - With an 18 day break ahead of them, the Penn State men's hockey team is feeling confident about their play recently and is looking forward to getting back on the ice for the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Glen-David (2).jpegThe hardest part will be waiting nearly three weeks for the event.

The team showed dramatic improvement against Wisconsin on Saturday night after falling to the Badgers Friday night, 7-1. Their main goal over winter break is to keep their level of play high and carry the momentum from Saturday night's 4-3 loss into the Three Rivers Classic - again, 18 days away.

"I don't think the guys are ready to break," head coach Guy Gadowsky said at his Tuesday press conference. "I think that they certainly wanted to win [Saturday night], but I think now they know that they can play on that level. We're sort of anxious to get after it again."

Gadowsky was happy with his team's bounce back performance against the Badgers. Although they suffered a 4-3 defeat, the Nittany Lions looked much more poised and found a consistency in their game they had been searching for since the season began in October.

"Trust me, we're really happy to see [our improved play] and glad we get a little break," said Gadowsky," but I think we would all like that break to come a little later. We have to continue to practice, continue to stress our style of play and continue to show examples of why it works. I'm really happy that we saw it all start working before this break, but we would have liked to maybe have a few more games to get under our belt before [the break]."

Over the first 13 games of the season, the Nittany Lions have taken step after step, building the foundation necessary for a team to have success now and in the future. Gadowsky has noted several times that his team has to play a mentally grueling game to be successful, and he believes we saw a glimpse of that in Madison.

The bench boss said his team is playing better due to time together, increased maturity, practice and better awareness. He knows the process of becoming a good team doesn't always mean doing what is fun, but relies on doing the little things and experiencing some bumps in the road before you really understand what it takes.

"Sometimes, the things that you have to do to be successful consistently aren't really fun to do," Gadowsky said. "Sometimes you need negative results before everybody buys-in to the process. Once it clicks you can see them start making the extra effort and buying in to playing a mentally tough style that takes a lot of effort."

That type of mentally tough hockey is what Gadowsky saw on Saturday vs. the Badgers and knows that if his team is going to have success this season they will have to continue that grueling practice.

"Trust me, that's the way we are going to have to play against every team in the Big Ten if we want to have a chance," Gadowsky said. "The negative results we saw [vs. Wisconsin] probably came  a good time for our guys."

Gadowsky's players are also noticing the improvement in their style of play and are anxious to get back to work on the ice. Over the weekend, alternate captain David Glen and Max Gardiner both played well for the Nittany Lions and are both looking forward to getting back on the ice in the coming weeks.

"Obviously it's tough [to have a break right now] because we did some good things that we really do need to build on," Glen said. "It's about practicing hard this week and getting a couple days away and being with your family for Christmas and then getting back to our game."

The Nittany Lions will practice and have finals next week before going home for the holidays. During the week, the goal is to take the intensity of practice up a few notches and match the intensity from their weekend series.

"It's a big week of practice," Gardiner said. "We're trying to get better, as always, and we're going to be ready for the holiday tournament after this break."

The Three Rivers Classis is an excellent opportunity for the Nittany Lions to showcase the improvements they've made over the last several weeks.

Their first opponent is a familiar foe in Robert Morris, a team they beat 5-4 back on Nov. 1 in Pittsburgh. Captain Tommy Olczyk and the Nittany Lions know what kind of attitude they have to bring to the ice to be successful against RMU.

"{Robert Morris] is a team that works extremely hard," Olczyk said. "We're going to have get pucks to the net and we're going to have to drive the net hard. We're going to get a lot of shots on our net, we just have to limit the good looks. If teams are going to score against us, we have to make them work for it."



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