By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Reporters, photographers and video cameras filled the media room of Pegula Ice Arena Tuesday afternoon for the annual Penn State men's hockey media day.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky fielded questions for 30 minutes about the Big Ten Conference, the overall excitement surrounding the upcoming season and the development of the team over the past year.
Here are some sights and sounds of this year's men's hockey media day.
With an endless list of firsts now behind the team, the Lions know what to expect of this season. They have played their first Division I game. They have played their first game in Pegula Ice Arena. They have played their first Big Ten game.
Furthermore, the Nittany Lions have an almost identical roster to that of last year's team. With the loss of only one, and the addition of three freshmen, the Lions are mature and much more prepared for the season that lies ahead.
ready to pick up from where they left off last season.
"This is the first year we have that continuity," said Gadowsky. "We know where we are. We know who we're starting with. Although there are three unknowns, the basic core of the team is the same. We expect that we're going to be a lot further ahead come October 10 than we were October 11 last year on our opening night, and basically due to the fact that everybody is together. We've been through it with our systems. We've been through it against an opponent. We were able to play against the top teams in the nation, including conference games where it's so important. As a team maturity, we're way ahead."
Big Ten Conference
Playing in the same conference as teams like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin allows the Lions to compete at a high level day in and day out. Teams are getting stronger and more skilled each year, and this season is no exception.
"Every other program in the Big Ten, that's what makes this so exciting, has a tremendous history, has a lot of success, whether it was nationally in the CCHA or the WCHA," said Gadowsky. "Their goal is to get better, just like ours, so with Penn State getting better, I really hope to see a lot more parity, but at the same time when you play in the Big Ten with these hockey programs, you're going to be playing someone great every night."
Penn State will play a total 20 conference games this season, the first of which will be at Michigan on Nov. 21.
During the off-season, the Nittany Lions announced a change in captaincy, awarding defenseman Patrick Koudys the "C" for the 2014-'15 run.
Although many fans wondered about the impact of the switch on not only the team, but also former captain Tommy Olczyk, Gadowsky reinforced this change will ultimately assist the Lions in learning a very important lesson.
"It establishes the fact that you don't have to wear a letter to be a great leader, and we do want to establish that," Gadowsky said. "This is one way we can do it. At the same time, Patrick Koudys, he certainly has earned that, and he's earned the respect of the team."
Koudys, who is a Washington Capitals draft pick, proved his dedication to Penn State hockey, and was a unanimous decision for the position following a player vote.
"He's just a man," Gadowsky said of Koudys. "He's a manimal. He's the guy. Everybody can see it, so he's the guy."
Looking ahead, the Lions are scheduled to make the trek to Alaska for games on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, which is a trip Gadowsky and the team are both looking forward to.
"Probably the main reason is I really enjoyed my time in Alaska," Gadowsky said of why he wanted his team to play these games. "They love hockey, and I would like to share that experience with our guys. For the majority of our team, they've never been to Alaska, so this is one great way to see it."
Unlike the majority of the team, forward Casey Bailey makes the trip to Alaska regularly. These games will allow the Alaska-native to play in his home state in front of family and friends.
"The guy who's most versed in it is Casey Bailey, so he's actually going to present to the team the week that we go up there about the Do's and the Don't's of traveling in Alaska," said Gadowsky.
"If things don't go well," he jokingly added, "it's not our fault. It's his."