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Freshman Feature: Hamilton, From Small Town to Big Time

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11530748.jpeg By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa, -- Freshman defenseman Derian Hamilton has stood tall during his first few months in a Penn State sweater. Hamilton has played in eight contests and has secured two assists for the Nittany Lions.

Hamilton previously played in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, splitting his time between three teams during the 2012-15 seasons. Notably, Hamilton was captain of the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in 2014-15.

While the rest of the freshman class hails from the United States, Hamilton finds himself the lone Canadian player in the class of 2019.

Hamilton, who is from Port McNeil, British Columbia, comes from a town of fewer than 3,000 people. This tight-knit community was a perfect environment for young Hamilton to thrive in and develop his skills as a defenseman.

"Growing up in a small town was a little interesting," said Hamilton. "There are a lot of small towns where I'm from but the one big thing was getting a lot of free ice time. Ice was not that expensive so we got a ton of time to just go out and have fun and kind of do whatever we wanted on the ice."

With ice time not an issue, time skating was more of a fun activity, rather than an overly serious endeavor.

"I think that helped my skating a lot and it just made playing hockey a lot of fun," said Hamilton.

When asked who he models his style of play after, Hamilton talked about his respect for Kris Russell of the Calgary Flames. Hamilton spoke of Russell's performance during the 2007 Memorial Cup Final when Russell was a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL).

"I really like the way he played," said Hamilton. "He really moved the puck well and I really admired that out of his game even though he's turned into more of a defensive guy now."

Now in State College, a town made up of more than 40,000 undergraduate students, alone, Hamilton has transitioned into being a consistent force on defense for the Nittany Lions.

Hamilton has also successfully transitioned into being a student-athlete.

"The biggest change is definitely the student part, [in Juniors] I worked a little but mostly just played hockey, now it's just a bit busier schedule trying to balance school and hockey," said Hamilton. "I'm getting used to it and it's actually been a lot of fun so far."

The 21-year-old also spoke of how even though he's older than the average freshman, he still faces the same struggles his classmates do and isn't afraid to seek the advice of veteran teammates.

"I've actually learned quite a bit from the older guys," said Hamilton. "The older guys are really helpful with classes, with little things that we may have questions about, like what kind of classes to take. They're really open to questions and they want us all to succeed, so that's helpful."

Hamilton is excited for his time as a student-athlete and looks forward to pursuing a degree in business while also contributing on the ice.  

As the season picks up, and Big Ten play approaches, Hamilton will prepare for tougher games ahead, but that's something he looks forward to.

Penn State faces Michigan State this weekend in Pegula Ice Arena, Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.    

Banks, Nittany Lions Head into Boston College Game with Confidence

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While most of America was home enjoying the final stages of dessert on Thanksgiving night, redshirt sophomore guard Payton Banks was busy in the Bryce Jordan Center practice gym.

It wasn't the only time in recent weeks that Banks had been taking the time to get extra shots up on his own. The work outside of practice time often gives a player the confidence to finish off a key play when the lights are on in a game. Those extra shots also fall right in order with a line head coach Patrick Chambers has used since he stepped onto the Penn State campus.

"You earn the right to make shots (in games)," Chambers said.

With the score tied in the waning seconds of Saturday's game against Bucknell in the BJC, senior guard Brandon Taylor was double-teamed. The second option on the final offensive set for the Nittany Lions was Banks. Taylor found the Orange, Calif., native on the perimeter, and Banks' eventual game-winning triple dropped through the net without touching the rim.

"It's a huge confidence booster, and it also shows that the team has confidence in me," Banks said. "And also the coaching staff; for them to draw up a play where I have an open opportunity in the corner...It's very big trust. I've been getting shots up, and I felt like I was prepared to make that shot."

"For his confidence, it was big. For the team's confidence, that shot was big," said Chambers. "We need him to make threes (for us)."

Following back-to-back games where the Lions faced some adversity, they acted differently down the stretch against Bucknell. Penn State trailed by eight (57-49) with 5:37 to play. The group didn't panic, and it battled down the stretch on both ends of the floor.

The Lions (3-2) out-scored the Bison, 13-1, during the final minutes to score a much-needed victory heading into Wednesday night's Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup against Boston College (7:15 p.m. on ESPNU).

"It was a big win for us," Chambers said. "I'm not going to say it was a must win for us, but we are a young team, and we need to keep getting better...It was nice to see us fight and take that punch, battle back, take the lead and make that big shot."

For a young team in many spots on the floor, Penn State's ability to pick itself off the mat and make big plays down the stretch shows great signs of maturity.

"As a team, it gives us tremendous confidence heading into the next game at Boston College," said senior guard Devin Foster. "Everyone is enthused. We go hard in practice to be prepared for those game situations like Payton Banks had on Saturday."

Now, all eyes are on the matchup with the Eagles. Penn State is 5-3 in its last eight games in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. That stretch includes a 1-1 mark against Boston College.

The Eagles enter the game with a 3-3 mark following a trip to the West Coast. Boston College started the season 3-0 (all home games) before dropping three-straight in games in California against Michigan State (99-68), UC Irvine (80-67) and Santa Clara (62-45).

Transfer guard Eli Carter enters the game as Boston College's leading scorer at 18.0 points per game. The Eagles are averaging 67.7 points per game and shooting 43 percent from the field.

"(Boston College) is a young team, just like us," said Chambers. "They play really, really well at home. It's going to be a challenge. They have a great player in Eli Carter, who is running the show and teaching the young guys how to play. They have a ton of young talent."

Following the trip to Boston College, Penn State returns home on Saturday for a 12 p.m. matchup against Eastern Michigan inside the BJC.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Highlighting Penn State's 2015 All-Big Ten Defensive Selections

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2015 regular season in the books, a host of Nittany Lions were honored on Monday evening when the conference unveiled its 2015 All-Big Ten selections for the defensive side of the ball.

Headlining the list is Carl Nassib, who was tabbed as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Take a look inside Penn State's All-Big Ten selections for 2015.

First Team All-Big Ten (Media and Coaches):
DE Carl Nassib - Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year

Senior Carl Nassib has etched his place among the all-time greats in Penn State lore following a record-breaking season where he became the program's all-time season leader in sacks. Nassib's statistics speak for themselves, but it has been the approach to every snap on the practice field, in the weight room and on the game field that has separated him from the best in the conference. Simply put, Nassib is a relentless worker with a never-ending drive to do everything in his power to ensure the Penn State defense is among the nation's elite. A former walk-on, Nassib has the utmost respect from all of his peers in the locker room for his efforts on and off the field. He will head into the bowl season as the nation's leader in sacks and forced fumbles. Nassib is a deserving recipient of the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year honor, but he would be the first to tell you that he doesn't play for individual accolades. Always humble, Nassib's preparation, effort, intensity and production put him a cut above the rest of the defensive players in the Big Ten this fall. And in doing so, Nassib joins an elite list of Nittany Lions who hold the honor of being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

"It's incredible. I'm so happy to be here and represent Penn State the right way," Nassib said. "I'm happy to show that hard work does pay off, and I couldn't be happier (to receive the award)."

- While making his first career start (high school or college), Nassib made a career-high 10 tackles with a sack and 2.5 TFLs in the season opener at Temple.
- Nassib had at least one sack in 10 consecutive games, which is the longest streak by a Penn State player since sacks became an official NCAA statistic in 2000.
- His 19.5 tackles for loss this season are the most by a Nittany Lion since Aaron Maybin had 20 in 2008. Nassib's TFL total is the fourth-most by a Penn State player since 2000.
- Nassib's six forced fumbles are the most by a Penn State player since Michael Haynes had a school-record seven forced fumbles in 2002.
- Nassib is the first Penn State player to force two fumbles in two games in the same season since Maurice Evans did it in 2007.

Second Team All-Big Ten (Media); Third Team All-Big Ten (Coaches):

DT Austin Johnson
One of the most dominant interior defensive lineman in America, Austin Johnson has been disruptive every snap in 2015. Johnson is among the most unsung players in the conference. A tremendously athletic individual for a player his size, Johnson is the top tackler among all defensive tackles in America and No. 3 in the nation among all defensive linemen. The team's third leading tackler with 70 stops, Johnson has made 13.0 tackles for loss and has 5.5 sacks. The numbers are remarkable for a defensive tackle, but they don't do his impact on games justice. When opposing coaches flip on the film of the Nittany Lion defense, Johnson's blend of quickness and power stand out. The New Jersey native made arguably the top play on the defensive side of the ball against San Diego State when he raced 71 yards for a touchdown after scooping up a fumble caused on a Nassib sack. Simply put, Johnson is a rare talent on defense and a deserving honoree of all-conference recognition.

- Johnson is second among defensive tackles in FB with 70 tackles, which is third on the team.
- He is second on the team with 13.0 tackles for loss.
- Johnson has the most tackles by a Penn State defensive tackle since Jordan Hill had 64 stops in 2012.

- He has four outings this season with at least nine tackles.
- Registered his first career touchdown with a 71-yard fumble return. The fumble recovery was Penn State's first fumble recovery for a touchdown since Mike Hull's 74-yard return vs. Navy in 2012
- Johnson tallied a career-high 10 tackles, including eight solo stops, at Northwestern.

Third Team All-Big Ten (Coaches & Media):
DT Anthony Zettel
Alongside Johnson, Anthony Zettel is an All-Big Ten honoree for the second-straight season. It would be hard to find a more disruptive pairing of interior lineman than the duo in blue and white. Zettel and Johnson embody every facet of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's mantra of never-ending pressure and relentless pursuit. The Michigan native found a home at defensive tackle after playing at defensive end during his first two years on the field. However, the senior demonstrated his versatility by starting at defensive end in the regular season finale on Saturday in East Lansing. Zettel's motor never stops when he is on the field. Opposing coaches throughout the season pinpointed Zettel as a guy who needed consistent attention. Heading into the bowl season, Zettel has 10.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, five pass break-ups and a fumble recovery. Those figures speak volumes about No. 98's importance to one of the Big Ten's top defensive units.

- Zettel ranks third on the team in sacks (3.0) and fourth in tackles for loss (10.0).
- He is tied for eighth on Penn State's career sacks list (19.0).
- Zettel is 10th on the program's career tackles for loss chart (37).
- Zettel registered seven tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and recovered his second career fumble against San Diego State a day after his father passed away. He was selected as Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week.
- He had a career-high eight tackles against Maryland.

All-Big Ten Honorable Mention
S Marcus Allen

LB Jason Cabinda

CB Grant Haley

CB Trevor Williams

The All-Big Ten offensive awards will be announced on Tuesday.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

McAdam Records First Career Shutout, Offense Stands Tall

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11528671.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Behind a powerful performance by the special teams, the Penn State men's hockey team (8-2-3) returned to Hockey Valley victorious, after shutting out Vermont (3-2-9), 4-0, in the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff on Sunday.

"We really believe in what we do as a team, with the structure, so it doesn't matter who we're playing, we want to play the same game and put up the same effort," said junior forward Dylan Richard. 

Richard had two goals in Sunday's contest, his first coming on the power play.

"I think [the power play is] doing a great job at creating chances, shooting the puck and really just creating a little bit of chaos in front of the net," said Richard.

Junior Zach Saar also got on the board for the Nittany Lions on Sunday thanks to a strong shot off the faceoff during another Nittany Lions power play. Both Richard and Saar scored in Penn State's last shutout win, a Feb. 8, 2014 game against Michigan.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky has said previously the power play is an area he wants to focus on improving, and making it a stable factor of Penn State's offense.

The most outstanding performance of Sunday's game, however, came from the young man in net for the Nittany Lions, junior Eamon McAdam. The Perkasie, Pa., native had 30 saves against the Catamounts on his was to his first shut out as a Nittany Lion.

"I think it was a game where we came out hot and were able to control the play in the first period," said McAdam. "[Vermont] had a few chances, but nothing crazy."

Several scrambles in front of Penn State's net could have yielded goals, if McAdam wasn't a dominating presence in the crease.

"The second period we hit kind of a wall so I stepped up and made saves and kind of kept it 1-0 for a while." said McAdam. "Toward the end of the game it turned into a team effort, with guys blocking shots and back checking. I played a really good game but it's all about a great team effort."

Playing in his hometown NHL arena was a highlight of the season so far for McAdam, who had an abundance of family members in attendance for Sunday's game.

"I grew up watching Flyers games pretty much every night. It's making one of my dreams come true [to play in Wells-Fargo Center]," said McAdam.

McAdam had previously started for the Nittany Lions in net the last time the team visited Wells-Fargo Center, during the 2013 Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff.

McAdam said the atmosphere of Wells-Fargo Center provided the perfect backdrop for Penn State's win Sunday afternoon.

"To play in front of 9,000 people, that's a pretty cool experience and it's easy to get pretty pumped up for a game like this," said McAdam. 

Sixth Straight Shutout Propels Lions to Fifth College Cup

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11527054.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It wasn't easy, but the No. 1-seeded Penn State women's soccer team

(20-3-2) defeated No. 2 seed West Virginia Saturday to advance to its fifth College Cup and second in the last four years.

In reality, Penn State and West Virginia entered as two of the most accomplished programs in the country and extremely evenly matched. With the help of an early goal and a rousing home crowd, Penn State bested a physical West Virginia squad.

"That is a really good team that we battled with tonight," said head coach Erica Walsh. "I thought the quality of play overall was fantastic on both sides of the ball. There's so many quality players and that's two good, discipline teams."

Sophomore Emily Ogle got the Nittany Lions on the board early with a goal in the 12th minute. From 27 yards out, Ogle swung a free kick into the middle of the box and WVU goalkeeper Hannah Steadman mistimed her jump as the ball hit off her gloves and bounced through the posts.

After scoring only twice in the first 20 matches, Ogle has now scored five goals in Penn State's previous five games to bring her 2015 goal total to seven.

"Ogle has really come into her own in the attack," Walsh said. "We have so many weapons in that attack, and she's always been the key to our assists but now she's finding her stride in that area. It all speaks to the quality of the team overall."

Following a flurry of chances from both sides the remainder of the half, Penn State struck again in the 39th minute off the right foot of Frannie Crouse. The sophomore received a perfectly placed ball from substitute Ellie Jean in the box and finished in the top left corner to double the Blue and White's lead.

Crouse finished the contest with five of Penn State's 14 shots, each on goal. She has now matched her goal total from the previous season with 10 in 2015.

"The ball was played across and Mal (Weber) was right beside me and it looked like it was going to her," said Crouse. "I knew that I was more open than she was so I screamed to let it go and luckily she let it go and I saw the goalie was a little pressed to the right so I hit it to the upper left corner."

The second half was a chippy one to say the least. West Virginia became tremendously physical, as it's been all year, but Penn State matched the physicality.

Despite encountering six shots in the second half and 10 in the game, goalie Britt Eckerstrom and the back line held their ground for their sixth straight shutout.

"This is a really special senior class for us," said Walsh. "Britt Eckerstrom was fabulous tonight in goal, and all of our seniors have been so special throughout this final run of the season. There's so much to be proud of with this group."

"It takes the whole team," said Eckerstrom. "What a way to finish out a soccer career if we win a National Championship. We finished our time here on Jeffrey Field in pretty good fashion, but we have two more games to go to finish this up."

The Nittany Lions improved their home record in the NCAA Tournament to 36-6-1 with the victory. The Lions notched 14 wins on Jeffrey Field in 2015, which ties the program record set in '05 and '06.

Unfortunately, Penn State will not return to Jeffrey Field this season, as the team will now travel to Cary, N.C., to battle Big Ten foe and No. 2-seed Rutgers in the College Cup semifinals on Friday.

Scouting the Scarlet Knights

Penn State and Rutgers faced off merely 20 days ago on Nov. 8 in the Big Ten Championship. Penn State got the best of the Scarlet Knights in a solid 2-0 win, but Rutgers defeated the Nittany Lions back on Oct. 18 in Piscataway, N.J.

Rutgers won an improbable quarterfinal game against the No.1 ranked team in the country, the Virginia Cavaliers, in PK's to advance to the College Cup. Down 2-0 in the penalty stage, RU fought back and won 7-6 on PK's in the end.

Like Penn State, Rutgers prides itself on its tough, gritty defense. Both teams have yet to surrender a goal in regular time so far in the NCAA Tournament.

Goalkeeper Casey Murphy has been an absolute stud between the posts for the Scarlet Knights in 2015. She hasn't missed one minute on the field, and she's only allowed eight shots by her this season. Her .327 Goals Allowed Average is the best mark in the nation.

However, 25 percent of her goals allowed this year have been surrendered to the Nittany Lions.

Offensively, Colby Ciarrocca leads the way for RU with nine goals and four assists, both highest totals on the team. Aside from Ciarrocca, Rutgers' offensive attack isn't very potent. The Scarlet Knights have scored 40 goals in 2015, as opposed to Penn State's 61.

The beasts of the B1G should unquestionably provide an entertaining, defensive rubber match on Friday in Cary. The winner will face the winner of Florida State-Duke from the opposite end of the bracket on Dec. 6.

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame Press Conference - at Michigan State

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Head coach James Franklin talks with the media following the regular season finale at Michigan State.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks - at Michigan State

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Hear from several Nittany Lions as they talk with the media following Saturday's regular season finale at Michigan State.

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2015 Gameday Live - Penn State at Michigan State

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Welcome to live, interactive coverage of the 2015 Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions will meet Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in the final regular season game. Follow along for live updates from gameday.

Live Blog 2015 Gameday Live - Penn State at Michigan State


2015 Photo Blog - Penn State at Michigan State

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Welcome to live coverage of the 2015 Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions will meet Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in the final regular season game. Follow along for photos from gameday.




VIDEO: NCAA Women's Soccer Quarterfinal Preview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The top-seeded Nittany Lion women's soccer team is set to host second-seeded West Virginia on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the NCAA quarterfinals.

The Lions and Mountaineers will clash with a spot in the 2015 College Cup on the line. Making its third appearance in the quarterfinals since 2012, the Nittany Lions are no stranger to this stage. The team is headed into the round of eight with a great deal of confidence following a dominant start to the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State has outscored its opponents 15-0 during the first three games of the tournament. In total, the Lions have not allowed a goal in five-straight games, stretching back to the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State and West Virginia are familiar foes, with WVU scoring a narrow 1-0 victory back on Sept. 4.

GoPSUsports.com spent time with head coach Erica Walsh and senior midfielder Raquel Rodriguez to preview the NCAA quarterfinal matchup against West Virginia. Take a look here.

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