By Erin Neri, GoPSUSports.com student staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Like many other first year Nittany Lions on this year's team, freshman forward Alex Limoges arrives in Happy Valley bringing lots of experience, also arriving with a positive attitude that radiates from the locker room to the ice.
The Winchester, Virginia native played his last two seasons in the USHL, mostly with the Tri-City Storm in Nebraska before being traded to the Waterloo Blackhawks in Iowa during his 2016-17 season. While in Waterloo, Limoges skated in 27 games, contributing 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points.
"It was tough leaving, I left a lot of friends and teammates," Limoges said. "Waterloo was very welcoming and made the transition really easy."
In his USHL career, Limoges skated in 106 games, totaling 101 points, scoring 37 goals and dishing out 64 assists.
Limoges also helped Waterloo to the Clark Cup Finals, a moment he says is his favorite hockey memory so far.
Many rookies and veterans come to Hockey Valley with similar experience, having played in the USHL for multiple different teams. Like Limoges, many of the Nittany Lions have either played with each other in the past, or had teammates who have played with each other, almost like a small network that can offer an added advantage on the ice in the collegiate setting.
"It's a lot of trading stories from back playing against each other," Limoges said. "It's also a quick way to bond and make friends."
Limoges also has experience in a Team USA jersey, having earned a spot on the U.S. Junior Select Team, helping the squad to a gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge.
Still, it's his USHL experience that he noted has his most prepared to make the transition to the collegiate game.
"I think going in there, my coach Bill Muckalt, coached it like a college team so it prepared me with the style of play and just what to expect," Limoges said.
This year, a freshman class of six skated onto a Penn State hockey team coming off its most successful season in its program's history, which could sound a bit intimidating. This close-knit group was able to make it through preseason and up to this point, it's all about supporting each other.
"All the freshman are really close, we have a pretty strong bond right now," Limoges said. "It's been unbelievable getting to know them.
Limoges not only has the freshman class to lean on, with an upperclassmen mentor like the rest of the newcomers. For Limoges, that's alternate captain Chase Berger.
"I look up to a lot of the older guys for different reasons, but mainly Chase Berger," Limoges said. "He's been helping me a lot on the ice, off the ice and in the classroom."
When asking Limoges about his first taste of collegiate hockey in last Sunday's exhibition against Ottawa, his response was quick and simple.
"College hockey is fast," Limoges said, "And it's physical, but I'm excited to get things started this season."
Limoges, along with all the other freshman, will have to wait a few weeks to get an official taste of Pegula's home ice advantage. The Nittany Lions open the 2017-18 season on the road at Clarkson and St. Lawrence this weekend before taking a trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota to meet the Golden Gophers.
Come Thursday, Oct. 19 though, Limoges will have the opportunity to see Pegula from an entirely new perspective.
"(I'm excited for) that first home game, being able to be there when they raise the banner and watch," Limoges said. "That is going to be really cool, and to see the Roar Zone in action."
The lefty shooter will also face a lot of former teammates throughout the season, like many others on the team, but he's not worried about keeping things professional and competitive once he steps on the ice."I have a lot of old teammates on other teams and it's going to be a lot of fun to compete against them," Limoges said. "But there's no friends out there, on the ice it's all business."