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Men's Hockey Media Day Sights & Sounds

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky entered the Pegula Ice Arena media room Thursday afternoon, eager to talk about the upcoming season. 

Gadowsky started by praising last year's team's efforts, noting the loss of some key players to graduation and NHL contract signing, that has left some holes to be filled this season. 

The departure of goaltenders Matthew Skoff and Eamon McAdam has provided an opportunity for sophomore returner Chris Funkey and for a new face, freshman Peyton Jones, to compete for a starting spot between the pipes. 

"In the goaltending position we really make it clear that we evaluate on numbers," Gadowsky said. "[We evaluate] on wins and losses, your goals against, your save percentage and then your work ethic, commitment and how you are as a teammate and how well you represent Penn State University."  

Both Funkey and Jones have different styles of goaltending. Jones uses his size to his advantage in order to make big saves, Funkey comes out of the net and challenges opposing team's offense more. Both styles are very different but could be useful this season. The ability to switch up styles in net could be crucial down the road. 

The Nittany Lions, who have been working out under the direction of their captains, senior forward David Goodwin, senior forward Ricky DeRosa, and junior forward James Robinson, are looking to build off of last season's successes. The upperclassmen, eager to return to the ice at Pegula, are also excited to see the newest members of the team contribute early on. 

The freshman class, made up of 10 capable young players, has depth unlike any previous class to sport the Blue and White. The added certainty that comes with having such capable young players is something Goodwin appreciates.

"It's a lot different in practice, there were some games last year where we were dressing 10 forwards," Goodwin said. "Now you look at the board before practice and you have five-plus lines of forwards. I think it's been great for internal competition but also at the same time we know if there's injuries or guys aren't playing well it'll kind of be next man up."

Although the freshman class does make up nearly half the team, Gadowsky emphasized that he will be looking toward the veteran presence on defense to start the season off strong. Returning defensemen like Vince Pedrie, Kevin Kerr, and Erik Autio will be essential to the team's early successes.

The first test of the season for the Nittany Lions is this Sunday, as Penn State hosts Queen's (Ontario) for an exhibition game at 1 p.m. 

Hockey Valley Embraces the NHL

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
When the doors to Pegula Ice Arena opened at 5:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, a sea of hockey jerseys rushed through the doors at Gate B. The students of Hockey Valley were eager to watch the first NHL exhibition game in the history of Pegula Ice Arena.

The two teams facing off, the Buffalo Sabres and the Minnesota Wild, were both playing in their opening game of their 2016 preseason.                                       

Fans of all kinds were excited for the opportunity to witness NHL hockey on campus. The local community was quick to embrace Penn State hockey's transition to Division I, producing consistent sell out games at Pegula. Additionally, the student body has become one of the most feared student sections in the country. It was no surprise that fans were looking forward to watching two high-caliber teams face off against one another. 

Kara Walters, a junior, State College native and Roar Zone executive board member was excited for the exhibition.  

"I think it's awesome how people were so excited to come out and watch these two teams," Walters said. "It says a lot about how the State College community has embraced hockey."

Fellow Roar Zone executive board member, junior Abby Bower, explained that she was most excited to show off what the Roar Zone has to offer.

"It's really incredible, especially since we've only been a Division I team for a couple of years now," Bower said. "To think that NHL teams wanted to come to a college arena because of the atmosphere we bring is awesome."

The Roar Zone prepared for this game a little bit differently than regular Penn State games, namely by tweaking their chants and the posters that usually adorn the glass in front of the student section. The main sign on the glass in front of the Roar Zone read, "Thank you Terry and Kim Pegula," a reference to the generous pair who donated the majority of the money to build Pegula Ice Arena, and who are the current owners of the Sabres. Both Terry and Kim Pegula were in attendance for the game. 

On the ice, the players had their own experiences, the vast majority at Pegula Ice Arena for the first time.

Supported by the energy from the fans in attendance, the Sabres kept the Wild on their toes, but a goal with five seconds left in the third period edged Minnesota past Buffalo, 2-1. 

Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons praised Pegula Ice Arena and the atmosphere of the game, crediting the fans with making the team feel like they were playing in front of a home crowd.

"It was awesome, the facility is unbelievable," Girgensons said. "The locker room and everything were nice and the fans were loud. It was definitely fun to play here."

Goaltender Anders Nilsson agreed the enthusiasm in the arena was phenomenal. While goaltenders of visiting teams are often the point of ridicule from the enthusiastic student section, for this game the student section kept their cheers positive for both teams.

"Everyone said it was going to be a nice facility but it exceeded all my expectations," Nilsson said.

Prior to arriving in Happy Valley, Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma expressed familiarity with the Arena, that he also described as first class, in a conference call earlier this week. Bylsma had already coached kids' teams on both the main ice and the community rink in the past.

"We wanted to go to Penn State to be that first game," Bylsma said. "We were hoping to get this opportunity to bring the NHL and bring Terry Pegula's Buffalo Sabres to be the first game at Penn State. 

Penn State men's hockey returns to Pegula Ice Arena on Sunday Oct. 2 for an exhibition game against Queen's (Ontario) at 1 p.m.    

Freshman Feature: Biro Bonds Quickly with Teammates

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the youngest member of this year's Penn State men's hockey team, freshman forward Brandon Biro is eager to show off his talents.

Time and again, the Nittany Lions emphasize hard work and a well-rounded skill set, two things Biro displays. Through two seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) between 2014 and 2016, Biro scored 70 goals and had 75 assists. 

The Sherwood Park, Alberta native said that growing up so close to Edmonton is what he credits with inspiring his hockey journey. Edmonton, home to the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL, is also head coach Guy Gadowsky's hometown.

Biro named Ales Hemsky who played for Edmonton from 2005 and 2014, as his favorite Oiler, However, Biro named Sidney Crosby as his favorite hockey player of all time, something many Penn State fans would agree with.

Fellow Sherwood Park native, senior forward Dylan Richard, is Biro's mentor. Each freshman on the team is given a mentor, an older player on the team who is tasked with guiding the younger member through the challenges of being a student-athlete.

"Whenever I need anything he's the guy I ask and he's always got the answers," Biro said. "I have a good relationship with Mike Williamson as well, he also played on the same Junior team as me, and is kind of from the same area. [Richard, Williamson, and I] had the same coach in Juniors and had the same path here, so whatever I need they can help me out with it."

Prior to his first visit to Hockey Valley last year, Richard gave Biro his phone number and they communicated the weeks before Biro's visit. Biro appreciated the fact that someone on the current team reached out to him, and that he was able to get to know someone before visiting.

But what Biro pointed out that he finds most important about Penn State's program is that each player relates well to his teammates.

"Overall we have a bond with every guy, that's what's so special about this team," Biro said.

Biro was able to take in all Pegula Ice Arena had to offer for the first time last November, when he witnessed the Nittany Lions sweep Sacred Heart.

"It was unreal, the fans were crazy," Biro said. "Playing Juniors in Canada 1,000 fans is the most you're ever going to see, so coming here and seeing all the fans and how loud they were it was pretty cool to watch."

Having taken in the atmosphere of Pegula as a spectator, Biro is looking forward to skating out on the ice for the Nittany Lions. 

"I can't wait for the first game," Biro said. "Since I got to experience the crowd for a game I can't wait to play in front of them. Practicing and being here all summer you're working out all the time and you just can't wait for that first game. Now it's getting close and it's going to be really exciting once the season starts going." 

Hamilton Thrilled to be Back in a College Sweater

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After competing at Miami (Ohio) during the 2013-14 and part of the 2014-15 seasons, junior Trevor Hamilton will use his final two years of eligibility to don the Blue and White for Penn State.

As a transfer, Hamilton is already familiar with the speed of play at the collegiate level. A skilled defenseman, Hamilton will be critical in replacing the graduated seniors from last year's team who manned the blue line, Luke Juha and Connor Varley.

While Hamilton took a break from collegiate hockey he was playing in the competitive environment of the United States Hockey League. Hamilton played 56 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks during the 2014-15 season and served as team captain. The following year, Hamilton played 32 games for the Lumberjacks, two games for the Chicago Steel and ended the season playing 23 games with the Lincoln Stars, including four playoff contests. 

"The USHL is a great league, but obviously college is a step faster," Hamilton said. "Guys are stronger, older and they're smarter. I felt like I was a little bit more ready to go back [to the USHL], and perform to my full potential."

Hamilton enjoyed his time with Muskegon, and is thankful for the opportunity they gave him to continue his hockey career. 

"Muskegon was a great place to go back to, it's close to home and I was able to see my family every weekend," Hamilton said. "[The Lumberjacks] welcomed me, they gave me a chance to pla, and I did what I could there and hopefully made progress for that program." 

The Michigan native is now eagerly anticipating this coming season and is ready to once again face down some of the best players in the country at the collegiate level. He is also looking forward to having consistency back in his life. Knowing where he'll be playing for the next two years is a reassuring feeling.

While Hamilton may be looking forward to having some certainty back in his schedule, fans should be excited to have Hamilton's work ethic and determination as part of the Penn State program. A fearless defenseman, Hamilton has been known to deliver hard hits on the ice. 

A self-described two-way defenseman, Hamilton believes he's more offensive-minded than the average defender, but is also capable of playing shut down defense.

"If we're down by a goal I can play offense, but if we're up by a goal I can shut it down and know my role and what to do with the puck and how to keep it out the back of our net," Hamilton said. 

Hamilton brings physical play to the Lions' blue line, which will compliment the style of play enjoyed by the program's established defensemen like Vince Pedrie, David Thompson and Kevin Kerr. 

"The last two years I've broken three fingers blocking shots and I haven't missed a game," Hamilton said. "I told the guys here I'd rather be on the [penalty kill] first than the [power play], since I like to block shots and do whatever I can to make the team win. If that means blocking a shot or scoring a big goal, I'm doing whatever I can to put the team on my back and lead us to a victory." 

Freshman Feature: Sucese Brings the Consistency

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hailing from Fairport, New York, a suburb of Rochester, freshman forward Nate Sucese grew up immersed in the world of hockey. Born in Buffalo, Sucese has been on skates and playing hockey since he was three years old.

By spending his childhood near Rochester, Sucese had endless places to find on-ice inspiration. 

Rochester is home to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League and an hour away in Buffalo, are the Sabres of the National Hockey League.

"We have several teams in western New York," Sucese said. "Hockey is huge and I'm a huge Sabres fan."

The Sabres connection in Hockey Valley is obviously strong. Terry Pegula, a Penn State graduate and his wife Kim, are the owners of the Buffalo Sabres and the Rochester Americans and donated the money to build the ice arena on campus that bears their name.

Sucese named Ryan O'Reilly as his favorite player on the Sabres, and explained that he tries to model his own playing style after the fellow forward. He admires O'Reilly's knack for making big plays, his stability on the ice, and the effort he puts towards work in the defensive zone. Another player who has had a lot of influence on Sucese's playing style is Tyler Ennis. 

This season, Sucese will be wearing the No. 14 sweater, a number that has carried him through Junior hockey. The number is extremely important to Sucese, who explained he picked the number as a young player because it was the number his older brother Jonathan wore. Jonathan played four years of collegiate hockey at SUNY Geneseo, graduating in 2014.

Sucese, prior to enrolling at Penn State, played the previous two seasons with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL.

During the 2014-15 season, Sucese played in 51 games with the Saints where he scored 12 goals and had 17 assists. 

His final season in Dubuque, Sucese was named an alternate captain and played in 72 games, including playoffs, finding the back of the net 30 times. He led the team in regular season goals (26) and assists (33).

Describing himself as a fast player who likes to shoot the puck, Sucese is looking forward to playing for a team that emphasizes putting the puck on net with incredible volume.

Sucese is also excited for the opportunity to possibly play on the same line as fellow New York native, sophomore Andrew Sturtz.

"We play a similar style," Sucese said. "But I think he has a little more grit than I do, he's a character."

Sucese said he and Sturtz have become great friends due to their hometown backgrounds and off-ice interests. When not working out or in the classroom, Sucese said most of the time he and Sturtz are catching up on the latest shows on Netflix. 

What are their favorite shows to watch? 

"Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill," Sucese said. "Sturtz loves them and I know a bunch of the other guys have watched them." 

Freshman Feature: Smirnov Eager to Contribute

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Freshman forward Denis Smirnov moved to the United States from Russia when he was 14 years old. Since then, the quick-moving Smirnov has worked his way through Junior hockey with the Indiana Ice and Fargo Force of the USHL, on his way to the Penn State men's hockey team, where he is one of the first two Russian student-athletes in program history.

It's more than 4,000 miles from Smirnov's hometown of Moscow, Russia to Pegula Ice Arena.

The Russian capital has a long and storied history of producing exceptional hockey players. To highlight a few recent Muscovites, two forwards were named to the Russian 2016 World Cup of Hockey team, Nikita Kucherov and Alexander Ovechkin.

Leaving Russia for the United States was a difficult decision, Smirnov explained. He credited his family's unwavering support to making his departure from Moscow just a little bit easier. The hardest part however, was jumping into a country whose style of hockey was a bit different than home.

"When you're little [in Russia] you just do a lot of skill work, and it's different because they use an Olympic sheet," said Smirnov.

Getting used to a smaller rink was something that challenged Smirnov, who had to learn to utilize passing more and skating the puck into the zone with possession, rather than a game of dump and chase. Smirnov also emphasized how physical North American hockey can be, but pointed out his speed is a weapon on the ice.

Despite the differences in Russian and American hockey, Smirnov was confident his choice to play hockey in the United States would pay off, which it did.

During the 2014-15 season with the Force, Smirnov was the team leader in goals, finding the back of the net 18 times in 53 games played. He also contributed 22 assists, which placed him second on the team.

The following season, Smirnov played in 60 of the Force's 70 games and once again, led the Force in goals (29), finishing second on the team in assists (32). 

Smirnov noted that his ability to quickly adjust to the physical style of hockey in the USHL was how he was able to make major impacts on his previous teams. He believes his ability to use his skill set and vision of the ice taught in Russia, combined with his knowledge of North American hockey will be critical for the season ahead. 

Alongside Smirnov, there are nine other young players also in their rookie seasons with the Nittany Lions. The freshman class includes four Canadians, four Americans, and two Russians, Smirnov and Nikita Pavlychev.

Despite their diverse geographic backgrounds, Smirnov believes that having players from across the globe is what contributed to year's team capability to achieve success.

"I think [the freshman class] will be good," said Smirnov. "The guys played on good teams last year in good leagues."

Freshman Feature: Jones Working to Earn Spot in Net

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the departure of two goaltenders last season, Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky will look toward veteran Chris Funkey and newcomer Peyton Jones to fill the void.

Jones, a Pennsylvania native, is coming off of a successful 2015-16 season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. Jones played in 35 games with the Stars and ended the season with a .922 save percentage, placing him fourth in the league.

Standing at 6 feet 4 inches, Jones has learned over recent years how to utilize his size inside the crease.

"I used to be a smaller goalie, so when I did grow I still played like a smaller goalie," said Jones. "I had to get used to not coming out and challenging as much."

During Jones' final year in Lincoln, Nebraska he focused on watching video of bigger goalies and how they play efficiently. Watching a lot of film, along with working with his goaltending coach Clay Adams, is what Jones credits his success to during his final season with the Stars. 

Jones describes himself as a quick goaltender who moves well laterally. Both skills will be an asset once the season starts, especially during Big Ten play. Up against quick-moving offenses like Minnesota, Jones' talents could be a key for shutting the opposition down. 

While the season may be a few weeks away, Jones is working now on getting better little by little every day. He emphasized that if he can improve each week before the season, it will put him in the best position possible to earn a starting spot. 

Jones also explained how he is thankful he'll have his family come to many of the games once the season gets rolling. Hockey Valley is a simple drive from his home in Langhorne, Pennsylvania compared to the last two years he spent in Lincoln.

Although familial support is vital, Jones also has the support of two others.

Helping Jones play up to his size in net are two very close friends. He wears the numbers 20 and 24 on the back of his helmet to honor two of his friends from high school who passed away.

In the world of sports, goaltender helmets are one of the final elements of individuality, an opportunity for players to showcase what is important to them. Goaltenders often design the paint job on their own masks and it is very telling that Jones wanted to include the numbers of his two friends. 

In addition, Jones' helmet also has several Penn State logos on the sides, along with the logo of Pegula Ice Arena itself. The words "We Are...Penn State" are painted on either side of the traditional blue stripe down the middle of the helmet.

With the clock winding down on preseason workouts, Jones is eager to skate out on the ice for the Blue and White. Having never attended a game in Pegula Ice Arena prior to committing to the University, one of the things Jones is looking forward to is the game day atmosphere.

Knowing the Nittany Lions' contests have consistently been sold out since Pegula opened four years ago, as well as having the support of the vocal and dedicated Roar Zone, Jones is ready to put on a show and work hard for all in attendance.

"I've heard nothing but good things," Jones said. "I'm excited to play in front of the fans."

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Men's Hockey senior forward and Spanish major David Goodwin spent last summer in Mexico, learning about Mexican culture and improving his Spanish skills. In May, Goodwin embarked on another journey, this time to Cuba, where he taught English at a local university. 

For more than a month Goodwin lived in Santa Clara, a large city three hours from Havana. Unlike in Mexico, where he stayed with a host family, Goodwin lived on his own in Santa Clara. He learned how to navigate Cuba by himself, and appreciated the opportunity to set his own itinerary. 

"Last summer I liked having a host family around, but this time it was nice having a little bit more freedom," said Goodwin. "Being able to make my own adventures was different than my last trip, but it was what I wanted." 

During the week, Goodwin taught English to university students. He enjoyed spending time with students his own age, and quickly became friends with the students and other locals. On the weekends Goodwin traveled around the country, visiting beaches, small towns, and the capital city of Havana.

Goodwin also embraced the country's love of baseball. In addition to teaching university classes, he volunteered with a youth program after work hours, and played baseball with kids in the community. Goodwin explained that although he wasn't very good at baseball, it was fun to experience something new.

"I'll definitely stick with hockey," Goodwin joked. 

In fact, Goodwin was able to teach several of his new friends about his hockey background. He showed them photos of games at Pegula Ice Arena and described the spirited atmosphere of the Roar Zone. 

"They were definitely very interested in ice hockey," said Goodwin. "The majority of them had never seen an ice hockey game on TV, but I would explain to them how it worked and we would do comparisons between ice hockey and baseball."

Goodwin's favorite part of his time in Cuba was feeling like a member of a tight-knit community. He appreciated the hospitality and welcoming nature. Goodwin dined with new friends in their homes, met their families, and learned first-hand about Cuban culture and everyday life. 

Goodwin returned from Cuba at the end of June, and is currently back in State College preparing for his senior season with the Nittany Lions. Despite living in Cuba for only a few weeks, Goodwin is sure that the memories will remain with him for a lifetime.

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On the Malecõn in Havana

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Dinner with a local family

Nittany Lions Reflect on Many Milestones of 2015-16 Season

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After tallying a new program record with 21 wins in a season, the Penn State men's hockey team can look back on the 2015-16 season proudly.

The Nittany Lions started their season off strong, winning three of their first four home games in Pegula Ice Arena. The Nittany Lions had four sweeps during the season in Pegula, against AIC and Sacred Heart, as well as Big Ten foes Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky boasted how the Roar Zone continues to amaze the team and coaches alike, and the group is without a doubt a reason for the Nittany Lions amounting a 12-5-1 home record this campaign.

"Just looking at the season obviously lots of positives and takeaways, we sold out every game which I think is just tremendous, and not only are we continuing to improve, our Roar Zone is continuing to improve. I thought they were absolutely awesome so those are two big positives," said Gadowsky. "First 20-win season is great, I think third place in the Big Ten is a big accomplishment, as well."

Gadowsky pointed out that the Nittany Lions were able to develop offensively throughout the season, which contributed to adding more wins for the program. Comparing Penn State to other Big Ten offensive teams, such as Michigan and Minnesota is hard, explained Gadowsky, but nationally he pointed out that the team did very well.

Another high point for the team came in the form of the freshman class. Transitioning to college hockey can be tough, but this class seemed to fit right in from the start.

Freshman forward Andrew Sturtz led the team this season in goals with 18, followed by fellow freshman forward Chase Berger with 13, tied with senior forward Eric Scheid.

On defense, freshman Vince Pedrie and Kevin Kerr stood out as individuals who were willing to do anything for teammates, as well as were quick with a shot on net if needed.

"Another factor was how well our freshmen fit in," said Gadowsky. "I don't know if that's credit due to the freshmen or credit due to the upperclassmen who really did a great job at mentoring them but I think those were all positives for us."

With the season over, several Nittany Lions will be continuing their hockey careers beyond the walls of Hockey Valley.

Scheid signed a contract with the Portland Pirates of the AHL. Scheid notched 77 total points during his time wearing the Blue and White.

Senior goaltender Matt Skoff joined the Reading Royals of the ECHL on an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO). Skoff leaves Hockey Valley holding every career record possible for a goaltender at Penn State, including games played (77), victories (32), and saves (2,114).

Senior forward and alternate captain Luke Juha departs Penn State for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL on an Amateur Tryout Agreement. In his final season, the Ontario native notched 15 goals, the most ever by a Nittany Lion defenseman.

The only junior leaving the program, goaltender Eamon McAdam, signed his NHL contract with the New York Islanders. Drafted in 2013 by New York, McAdam finished out his junior season at Penn State by singing a three-year entry-level deal with the Islanders. McAdam played in 22 games during the 2015-16 season, 13 of those games were victories.

"It is difficult, and in this conference, the Big Ten conference you look at Minnesota who lost three juniors, it's something that you understand it's a possibility and in one strange sense you realize it's almost a factor of success," said Gadowsky of early signees. "If you have a lot of people signing early it probably means they did a good job."

Singing early, Gadowsky explained, is a testament to how well McAdam has played this past season, and how much vision the NHL has for the young player.

Whether they're departing Hockey Valley after graduation or for the pros, the departing Nittany Lions, including a senior class of eight, will forever be remembered by teammates, coaches, and fans as some of the most dedicated individuals the program has ever had.

Gadowsky noted in his final press conference of the season that now is a critical time for the program when it's in transition between seasons. He pointed out that the new freshman class joining the program would be bringing in decorated individuals who each bring a unique skillset to the table.


Seven new Nittany Lions will step onto the ice for Penn State this fall, including goaltender Peyton Jones, and 2015 Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick, Nikita Pavlychev.

USHL standout Denis Smirnov will also join the program this fall, after putting off his enrollment for a year to further his development.

Gadowsky is excited to welcome such a talented class to the program, and is confident they will smoothly transition into college hockey with a little help from the veterans.

With the Nittany Lions eager to welcome a new class and to get back onto the ice, it's all about looking ahead to next season and building off the successes of this season's campaign. The future is looking bright for a program that didn't even have the ice of Pegula Ice Arena to skate on four seasons ago.

Lions Prepared to Battle for Big Ten Title

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11792088.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After tallying a 20-12-4 overall mark and 10-9-1 in the Big Ten record for the regular season, the Penn State men's hockey team enters Thursday's quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament a hopeful No. 4 seed.

After struggling through their last two road series, the Nittany Lions and head coach Guy Gadowsky, are confident in their abilities that they've relied on so far this season.

With their best regular season as a Division I program behind them, the Nittany Lions are eager to start off on the same ground level as all other Big Ten teams in the tournament.

All teams enter the tournament essentially 0-0, no regular season record matters once the puck drops in the quarterfinals, and all that the Nittany Lions can focus on now are the games ahead.

"Right now all we have is Thursday and once we're successful Thursday we'll look at Friday," said Gadowsky. "If we're fortunate to be successful there we'll look at Saturday."


After a series of injuries popped up toward the end of the season, Gadowsky assured that although they are missing impactful players such as freshman defenseman Vince Pedrie, the Nittany Lions are prepared to do whatever it takes to put their best available players on the ice.

With several other players day-to-day Gadowsky is leaning on healthy players such as senior forward Kenny Brooks to continue to be versatile at both ends of the ice. Brooks will likely play some time at defense, which he has done previously when several defensemen were out with injuries.


"For his first weekend of the year on defense he was excellent," said Gadowsky. "I mean I can't tell you how hard that is, it's very difficult. He's good with the puck and I think when you pair him with someone like Erik Autio who likes to move the puck I think they fit well together."

Gadowsky is also standing behind the performance of his goaltenders, junior Eamon McAdam and senior Matt Skoff. After facing some difficult tests late in the season, Gadowsky remains positive that when asked, either goaltender can be prepared to make the saves and do whatever else needed to contribute to the team's performance.

"I think obviously going in to Michigan how we did shorthanded and then Saturday night way shorthanded, the way it was, he knows it was a tough situation," said Gadowsky of McAdam's performance at Michigan this past weekend. "I like the way he handled it and to be honest he played extremely well."

McAdam will start in net for the Nittany Lions on against the Badgers.

Looking ahead to the first round of the tournament on Thursday, the Nittany Lions will first face Wisconsin, who went 8-12-8 and 3-13-4 in the Big Ten this season.

The Nittany Lions swept the Badgers in Pegula Ice Arena on January 15 and 16, but split their series in Madison on March 4 and 5.

"They're a young, very talented group and I don't think anybody is surprised how much better they've been getting," said Gadowsky on Wisconsin. "They've been improving a lot and we're expecting an excellent team, not just a hungry team."

If the Lions successfully take down Wisconsin, they will face Michigan on Friday night, a team that over the years has become one of the most anticipated matchups of any given season.

During the 2015-16 campaign, the Nittany Lions went 0-4 against the Wolverines, but historically the series is closer. Penn State has won six matchups and Michigan has won seven since the 2014-15 season.


No matter what, the Nittany Lions know they're in for a battle Thursday night but remain hopeful they can work together despite injuries and find a win.

With their most winning regular season behind them, now it's time to look ahead to postseason play and a possible run at an NCAA tournament appearance.

The Nittany Lions faceoff against the Badgers tonight at 5 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. 
 
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