By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Growing up just down the road from the New York Islanders practice facility in Syosset, New York, Penn State freshman Sam Sternschein was introduced to hockey at a very young age. Skating lessons for him started at an early age and from there, learning to play hockey wasn't too far behind.
Since his early days on the ice, Sternshein has grown into a 6-foot-1-inch aggressive offensive option for the Nittany Lions. Originally verbally committed to Cornell in 2013, once he stepped on campus, Sternschein knew Hockey Valley was where he belonged.
"You come here you go to a game you see the fan base and the Roar Zone," Sternschein said. "From the coaching staff to the academic opportunities, it's exactly where I wanted to be."
The power forward does bring success with him from his past years in the USHL. The righty shooter ended his four season USHL career with the Lincoln Stars, after being traded from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
In his 45 games with the Stars, he registered 20 goals and 12 assists for 32 points, good for fourth best on the team. Even though the transition from juniors to college might seem like a big leap, Sternschein doesn't see it that way.
"A lot of those guys [in the USHL] played here, so the adjustment isn't too big," Sternschein said. "The biggest thing is guys are bigger and stronger."
The freshman forward is joining some successful Lincoln Stars alumni now playing for the Blue and White in senior defenseman Trevor Hamilton and sophomore goalie Peyton Jones.
Although he is a freshman, Sternschein is already contributing to the team. He earned both his first point and assist in his collegiate debut Friday night against Meryhurst. He was originally credited with the goal, before it was overturned to fellow freshman Alex Limoges, who was in front of the net to knock in the rebound.
"My first few shifts I was a little nervous, but playing in front of all the fans here and just playing my first college hockey game was really special," Sternschein said. "Those are two games I'll always remember."
After seeing Sternschein in action for the first time, coach Guy Gadowsky did note he liked the size and release of his shot, something he has been working on.
"I like his presence," Gadowsky said. "Size doesn't do anything to me unless your aggressive and he is, he seems to get in there."
For Strenschein, he'll continue to work toward growing his role on the team moving forward with the season.
"I'm here to play, I want to play," Sternschein
said. "I'm just going to take advantage of my chance."