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Success on the Third Line

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - During his weekly meeting with the media this week, Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky stressed consistency in both the offensive and defensive zones. Coming off two strong series against Arizona State and Michigan State, the team has been making practical strides toward their goal.

"Consistency is what our goal is, that's what we're after," Gadowsky said. "I do still think we're very aggressive deep, both offensively and defensively but I'd like us to be a lot more consistent in certain areas."

The Nittany Lions have been experiencing consistent success is their third line though, adjusted to feature sophomores Nate Sucese and Brandon Biro with the addition of freshman Sam Sternschein, who filled in for sophomore Denis Smirnov on the right wing.

Even with the line experiencing some shakeups, keeping the pair of Sucese and Biro intact was a no-brainer for the coaching staff.

"They've played together in the past and they've showed synergy," Gadowsky said. "They are two guys that do a lot of extra work."

Although the two line mates work well together on the ice, their bond goes far beyond the ice. They're roommates this year after rooming together last year, and both constantly collaborating on how to improve their game. 

"He's my best friend on the team, we rarely spend any time apart," Biro said. "We pretty much talk hockey all the time." 

Individually, Biro score in back-to-back against the Sun Devils along with three assists to earn himself the Big Ten Third Star of the Week honor last week. The Canadian native also extended career-high three-game point and assist streaks in game one against the Spartans. 

Sucese achieved his own success alongside Biro, with two assists and a goal in game one against ASU as well as an assist.

Complimenting an already efficient pairing, Sternschein made a smooth transition on to the line, playing like he had been there since the beginning of October. His efforts have not gone unnoticed by his counterparts on the left and in the center of the offense either.

"He's awesome, especially coming in for his first couple of games," Biro said. "He's a super fast player, he always seems to get open and he's getting more confident every game. "It's been really easy to play with him."

Sternschein registered his first career goal and an assist in game one against Arizona State, along with an assist in game two. In game one back in Pegula against Michigan State, the New York native put two in the back of the net in the first and second period. 

"Sammy Sternschein absolutely did what he had to do to make a case that he should be in the lineup every night," Gadowsky said. "Now it's just a matter of slotting him in and finding synergy with him and someone else."

With Smirnov's return into the lineup, Sternschein will have to readjust back to a different role on the team off of the third line. He is confident though in the success he has found so far in the season and that he can still contribute consistency to the team.

"I'm just going to do what I can, play my game, work hard every night and if I'm in the lineup that's awesome that's what I want," Sternschein said. "The rest is up to the coaches."

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