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Lions Welcome a Break Before the Second Half Begins

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the first portion of the season comes to a close, the Penn State men's hockey team is happy with the progress it has made.

With a 9-4-2 record, the Lions have already won more games than they did throughout the entirety of last year, and they have solidified their place in Division I hockey.

Even with the success, this team is hungry for more.

"I like where we're at right now, especially with our wins in Wisconsin," said captain Patrick Koudys. "We already have more wins than we had last year overall. I'm definitely happy with the team's progression thus far, but we're still not satisfied. We have to get better and continue this progress."

These early season results have shocked many in the college hockey world, but the Lions knew they would be a force to reckon with this year.

Their offense ranks seventh among Division I schools with an average of 3.47 goals per game, and their power play is fifth in the nation.

Senior Taylor Holstrom and junior Casey Bailey are both tied for 13th in the nation in scoring. Both forwards have racked up 18 points thus far.

"I know some people weren't expecting us to be this high up this early, but we expected it," Koudys said. "We knew last year was a lot of firsts, a lot of new things for us, but we got mostly everyone back. We had a few additions with three great freshmen, so I'm not surprised by any means, but like I said, we're definitely not satisfied."

Not only are the Lions having overall success, but they are also playing well in conference games. A split with Michigan and a road sweep of Wisconsin have left the Lions at 3-1-0 in the Big Ten.

The three wins match the number of conference wins the Lions had throughout all of the 2013-'14 season. Currently, the team sits at first place in the Big Ten Conference, which is exactly where it wants to be.

"Our strong point is just when we are playing our game," Koudys said. "When we do that, we're a tough team to play against, and I think that shows with our wins this year. Those come when we're playing our game and doing well, but I think inconsistency is something we need to take out of our game. We need to be more consistent in doing those things that make us great every day and every game."

Ending this first half on such a high note keeps the Blue and White motivated and focused as they begin an extended break. The team will not dress for a game again until after Christmas.

The time off is something the Lions and head coach Guy Gadowsky are welcoming with open arms.

"Not often do you get a sweep on the road and be happy that you can't get right back to playing because obviously those were two pretty consistent games for us, with two great results," Gadowsky said. "Normally, you want to keep riding that wave, but for us we have so many injuries to key people that we're very welcome to have a break and heal up."

With this break, Gadowsky is stressing his team to finish the academic semester strong. Practices are optional this week, allowing the student-athletes ample time to study for finals.

Even with the absence of mandatory practices, Gadowsky knows his team's character. He knows he can depend on them to balance studying and working out.

His team will be ready to pick up right where it left off.

"With their strength as a team, a lot of the improvements made were because we have very high quality guys that are committed to Penn State University, committed to the hockey program, committed to themselves as athletes," Gadowsky said. "That doesn't change because we don't have a mandatory practice. I don't have any concerns about that. I really believe in the quality and leadership in our locker room."

VIDEO: Madison Square Garden Hockey & Hoops Announcement

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NEW YORK - Penn State fans will be in for a treat on Jan. 30, 2016 when the Nittany Lion men's hockey and basketball teams compete in a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden against Michigan.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany confirmed the hockey-hoops doubleheader announcement on Tuesday evening inside MSG. Additionally, the conference announced that the 2018 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament would be played in Madison Square Garden (Feb. 28-March 4).

Attendees at the press conference included ESPN's Jay Bilas and Andy Katz, ABC/ESPN's John Saunders and Big Ten hockey alums and current New York Rangers Carl Hagelin (Michigan) and Derek Stepan (Wisconsin).

Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour was in attendance at the press conference and was thrilled with the news for two of Penn State's teams.

"It has been a great day in New York, and I think this is a really exciting announcement for Penn State, Penn State Men's Basketball and Penn State Hockey," said Barbour. "Any time the Penn State nation has the opportunity to come to New York is always an exciting time. And the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden is something I think our student-athletes will really enjoy, as will our community."

The marquee along 7th Avenue outside of Madison Square Garden was lit with Big Ten signage as the press conference took place. The Big Ten is thrilled to make a new home inside Madison Square Garden, and it will be an exciting opportunity for the approximately 32,000 Penn State alums in the New York City metro area to see Penn State teams in action at "The World's Most Famous Arena".


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Lions Dominate in First Big Ten Sweep

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "Firsts" have been a theme for the Penn State men's hockey team over the past few years. This weekend's trip to Wisconsin was no exception.

The Lions crossed another accomplishment off their list, completing their first Big Ten sweep on the road after taking down the Badgers, 5-2 and 4-2, Friday and Saturday nights.

"That's something that we didn't know when we'd be fortunate to have that experience," head coach Guy Gadowsky said regarding the two victories. "It probably happened a lot sooner than anybody would have expected, and to get it against a program like Wisconsin that's just so successful and has such great tradition, it feels really great.

"The guys should be proud of themselves, and the program should be proud of itself. It certainly is an indication of the entire program, the university, administration, the student body and fans. It's a great credit to the whole program."

According to freshman James Robinson, sweeping teams on the road has been a major goal repeatedly discussed this year. The fact that this objective was accomplished against a Big Ten team made it even more satisfying for the squad.

Robinson had a large part in both wins, playing an excellent brand of hockey and being rewarded with his first and second NCAA goals.

His first career goal, an unassisted breakaway, gave the Lions (9-4-2, 3-1-0) a two-goal lead during Friday's game with the Badgers (1-10-1, 0-2-0).

"Their forward passed it up to their D-man," Robinson recounted. "He was my guy, so I headed out to the point. The puck bounced over his stick, and I was able to beat him to it. I went down on a partial breakaway and just took a quick shot that got over the goalie's glove."

The Alberta-native has appeared in 12 of the team's 15 games this season and is already making a strong impression.

According to Gadowsky, Robinson makes the team more confident through his dedication and work ethic. In his eyes, the freshman played his best hockey of the year during these two games.

"He'll block shots with his chest," Gadowsky said about Robinson. "He'll backcheck when his lungs are burning. He's tough to play against. He goes hard to the net. He just does a lot of things that make him very difficult to play against."

Robinson was not the only Albertan to make a substantial impact in Madison, as both David Glen and Dylan Richard returned to the lineup.

Glen and Richard had three and two points on the weekend, respectively, but their presence on the ice was far more valuable to the Lions. Both forwards bring unparalleled energy and skill to the team, which was missed during their absences.

"They both ended up with a goal on Friday night, but if they hadn't had any points at all they still would have been very, very valuable," Gadowsky said. "Both those guys are such character guys. They both play to win, not for stats. They both are extremely difficult to play against. They bring a lot of identity, and I thought the boost that they gave us coming back in the lineup was just huge."

Glen was ecstatic to contribute to the team's scoring, but he knows scoring is not the only contribution he makes to the Lions day in and day out.

"It's obviously nice whenever you can make an impact for the team," Glen said. "I try to make impacts in other ways, but it's just nice to have an opportunity to get on the scoreboard and that sort of thing. I'm glad to be back and glad to help out on the ice."

Following this series, the Blue and White have some much needed time off. With a lengthy list of injuries still affecting the team, the three-week break will help to rejuvenate the Lions.

Nevertheless, even with the time off, ending on such a high note will only increase the team's confidence, making it that much more dangerous.

"I feel like since we've had such a successful first half, it just makes the guys that much hungrier and eager to get back out on the ice, continue with our success and see where the year can take us," Robinson said. "I feel like we have a great team this year, and we can do some serious damage this year in the NCAA. I know everyone's excited to see what the rest of the year has in store."

Lions Return to Big Ten Play Against Wisconsin

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A little over seven months ago, the Penn State men's hockey team battled Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal game.

The Lions hoped for a victory to ensure the continuation of their season but instead fell to the Badgers, 2-1, and watched on as their former opponent ultimately became the Big Ten champions.

These two programs will meet once again this weekend, but the Badgers now have a very different identity. While the Lions returned nearly their entire roster this season, Wisconsin worked to fill massive holes left behind by their previous senior class.

Even with this new look, Penn State is prepared for another round of intense, gritty Big Ten hockey with the Badgers.

"They're an extremely talented group that has just found some success, so they're definitely going to be ready to go," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I certainly don't expect we overlook them at all. They're Wisconsin, but at the same time I understand we're facing a dangerous group that's just starting to get some confidence. That sometimes is the most energetic group."

Wisconsin (1-8-1) is fresh off its first win of the season, a 5-3 victory over Ferris State, while the Lions (7-4-2) are looking to snap their first losing streak of the year.

With some major lessons learned through their losses to Michigan and Cornell, the Blue and White are working toward making corrections that will lead to more positive outcomes.

"We've been trying to hit the transition faster, but we still need to improve on limiting the odds, making bad decisions on pinches and stuff like that," junior Luke Juha said of the Penn State defense. "Just the little things, we have to clean up, but I think as a whole we've been a little more consistent. We're excited for Friday and Saturday."

It's no secret the Lions have been bitten by the injury bug as of late, especially at the forward position, which has undoubtedly made their most recent stretch of games even tougher.

In their last two outings, the Lions have been held to one goal, which is quite unusual for the team that's averaging 3.3 goals per game. This weekend, however, the Lions will get some relief as David Glen and Dylan Richard return to the lineup.

"Richard and Glen are going to play," said Gadowsky. "That's huge for us to get them back for a number of reasons. One is the faceoff circle, which we struggled with on Saturday."

Prior to their injuries, Richard notched seven points in eight games, while Glen tallied three points in his seven appearances. Gadowsky considers both individuals "identity guys" and believes they can and will give the team's offense a much-needed boost.

Despite these returns, the Blue and White will still be without defenseman Connor Varley and forwards Eric Scheid, Jonathan Milley and Zach Saar.

Saar, who has yet to play a game for Penn State this year due to an offseason surgery, is making strides in his recovery and is now practicing with the team.

"He looks good out there," Gadowsky said of the forward. "His wind is not there at all. He's really struggling with the conditioning aspect of it, as you'd expect, but he's just got such a presence. His skills are great. I mean he shoots the puck so effortlessly. To us, he looks really good."

As the healthy members of the team prepare for this weekend's series, they do so expecting a challenge. Instead of focusing on Wisconsin and what to expect from the Badgers, the Blue and White have been working diligently on their own identity, electing to refine their own talents instead.

"We don't try to change our game for anybody," said Juha. "We're just going to go out there, try to make the A+ backchecks, no odds, and play our game. Wisconsin is going to be a great team. I don't expect them to be any different than they were last year."

The Lions are 1-6 against the Badgers since the 2012-'13 season, and they are ready for that record to improve.

Not only is the team searching for improvement, but it also wants to conclude the first half of its season on a high note.

"If we can get through this and have success," said Gadowsky, "I think it's going to be a tremendous boost."


Goodwin Scores in Lions' Loss to Cornell

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday night, 15,027 fans piled into Madison Square Garden. Some donned blue, while others dressed in red.

This crowd, however, was not in attendance to support the usual home team New York Rangers. Instead, it settled in to watch the Penn State men's ice hockey team take on Cornell in the Frozen Apple.

"I thought it was great for Penn State," head coach Guy Gadowsky said of game. "We have 100,000 at Beaver Stadium at 3:30, and then we had thousands at Madison Square Garden at 8:00. I think it's a tribute to Penn State and how well they support our sports teams. It was a great environment, a tremendous arena and a great experience."

Despite a solid performance, Cornell defeated the Lions, 3-1, after an empty-net goal sealed their fate in the final minutes of play.

Penn State (7-4-2) maintained the advantage in shots throughout the game, outshooting Cornell (4-4-1), 38-25. The opportunities were present, but a stellar performance by goalie Mitch Gillam took away the Lions' chance at victory.

"I actually thought we had a pretty good performance," said Gadowsky. "We came out well right from the start, had some good opportunities and were able to sneak one by their goaltender. They are a very tough team to play against. You have to work very hard to create opportunities. I thought we did. I thought we moved the puck very well from our back end. I thought we didn't give much at all.

"We gave up five shots in the first. In the second, I don't think we had our best period, but I thought we played tough. In the third, we probably created our most offensive chances. In the end we turned the puck over high and worked hard to get back, but one of our defenders caught an edge and fell. That was enough for them to take advantage of it, but all in all pretty good performance."

The Lion's lone goal came from sophomore forward David Goodwin at 9:11 in the first period. The goal marked his fifth of the year, and once again highlighted the dominance of his line, which also features senior Taylor Holstrom and junior Casey Bailey.

"Taylor Holstrom had the puck and he skated it into the zone," Goodwin said. "He skated wide, and Casey Bailey and I drove the net. Taylor passed it out front, and really either Casey or I could have put it in, but it just happened to hit my stick. Thankfully I was able to put it in the back of the net."

Holstrom, Bailey and Goodwin all currently lead the Lions in scoring with 18, 16 and 10 points, respectively. This line has been a consistent point of offense for Penn State and continues to rise to the occasion in all situations.

Additionally, Holstrom's assist Saturday brought him to 14 on the year, which ties him for first in the nation in that category.

"Everybody knows how very consistent and successful offensively that line has been," said Gadowsky. "You know other teams are taking notice, and trying to match against them, and they've still been able to chip away every game. I really give them a ton of credit. I really do.

"To score consistently at the DI level is an incredible feat in the best of situations, and right now with us having so many other offensive weapons out, they're easier to key on and have still been able to produce game in and game out."

The success of this line can be attributed to the hard work and effort these forwards put in on a daily basis.

They want to continue helping the team in big ways.

"I think consistency on the individual level has been really important for us," Goodwin explained of his line. "Each of us has been prepared for each game, knowing the importance of each game. That's been big for us, but also the three of us have a lot of synergy. We're definitely jelling right now. The more we play together, the more confident we are and the more we know where each other's going to be on the ice."

Even with the loss, Gadowsky recognizes the effort put in by not only Holstrom, Bailey and Goodwin, but by the entire team. The outcome was certainly not what the team was hoping for, but they played Penn State hockey.

"I thought it was a great experience to compete and play in Madison Square Garden," Gadowsky said. "I think our guys put together a good effort. I can't be disappointed with the effort or the way we played."

Lions Head to NYC for the Frozen Apple

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State men's hockey team takes the ice Saturday for its game against Cornell, it will once again cross off another program first, playing at Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena.

"We're really excited," said senior captain Patrick Koudys of the opportunity to play in the Frozen Apple. "First off, it's such a huge venue, arguably the biggest venue in the world, but it's going to be probably the biggest venue we've ever played in. To play against a team like Cornell, they're a great team. It's a good hockey program there, so we're just really excited to get to NYC and play some hockey."

Following a disappointing end to their series with Michigan, the Lions spent the week regrouping and getting back to playing their style of hockey.

The team hopes to step into the Frozen Apple looking like the dangerous, skilled squad that took down then-No. 4 UMass Lowell on the road.

"We have a lot of things to improve on, and it's not new things," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "It's refocusing. We focused on a few team aspects that really allowed us to get better and to play great at UMass Lowell, and those things are very difficult to do. They take a lot of effort and a lot of commitment, and if you just relax your focus a little bit, you can be exploited. For us, it's refocusing our commitment in certain areas of our game."

Commitment and putting forth a high level of effort day in and day out are key for the Lions right now as the team battles a number of injuries.

With so many key individuals out of the lineup, the remainder of the team has had to step up and work toward the continuation of positive results.

"It's hockey," said Gadowsky. "Very seldom do you go into a game 100 percent after the first few weekends of the season. Any time you lose a Dylan Richard, a David Glen and an Eric Scheid, and remember we're down Zach Saar as well, at the forward position it's going to hurt. Right now Connor Varley is out for us on D, so it's part of it. Part of improving as a program and getting better is improving your depth, and we have faith in all the people we have on our roster."

The numerous team injuries have forced the Lions to work on filling voids on the team, giving them more experience and adding a new dimension of depth to their squad.

"It obviously sucks that guys are out and guys are injured, but it does give other guys more opportunities to play in spots that they're maybe not normally playing in or to get more time in those situations," Koudys explained. "It's good and it's bad. It's good that guys get to try new thing and play a little more, but then again we do love those guys who are injured. We want them healthy. Right now I think we're all just focusing on what we need to do as a team, and we're looking forward to this weekend."

With Saturday quickly approaching, Penn State (7-3-2, 1-1-0 B1G) will continue to prepare for the highly defensive Cornell (3-4-1, 3-3-0 ECAC) team. This season, the Big Red have given up an average of 1.6 goals per game, which is significantly lower than the 3.5 goals per game average the Lions have scored.

Cornell is accustomed to playing low-scoring games, which may call for a bit of an adjustment by Penn State.

"That's really an indication of their team and their team systems and how they play the game," Gadowsky said of Cornell. "Our staff is very familiar with Cornell. They're very, very well coached, and they're a very tough team to play against in the sense that they play a tremendous defensive game. If you're waiting around for them to give you opportunities, it's going to be a long night. You really have to make your own opportunities because they don't give you much at all."

The Frozen Apple between Penn State and Cornell is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Saturday in Madison Square Garden.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for giving thanks, and the Penn State Athletics would like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.

As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unrivaled support you give every team on campus.  Penn State's teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.

As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give them throughout the athletic season.

Bailey and the Lions Set to Open Big Ten Play

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 10 games under their belt, the Nittany Lions are ready to start the next portion of their season, Big Ten play, against an opponent they have history with, Michigan.

During the teams' last meeting, the Lions defeated Michigan in double overtime and advanced to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. Not only did the Blue and White take down the Wolverines in that specific game, but they also emerged victoriously in three of the five matchups last season.

This year the two teams are ready to rekindle that competitive edge, starting with this weekend's series.

"We don't need any added sense at all," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "This is Michigan. This is the most successful program in college hockey history that we get to compete against, and we do it a Yost Arena, which is a tremendous environment. It's a very tough environment, and it's something I think our guys are now starting to look forward to, so we don't need any added incentive to play the University of Michigan, believe me."

Last season's results are something neither team has forgotten after the offseason months. Penn State remembers victory, while Michigan remembers the pain that came along with defeat.

"Anytime that you develop a history with any team, I think that contributes to it," said Gadowsky. "I know that at media day, some of their reporters already told me, 'Michigan has you circled,' stuff like that, so I can't comment from what they're thinking. From our standpoint, we're excited to play all Big Ten teams. I mean they're all monsters in this game, and a big part of why we come to Penn State is to compete against the very best. Certainly this weekend is the epitome of that."

The Lions are coming into these games with momentum on their side. The team is fresh off its split with UMass Lowell, a series in which forward Casey Bailey tallied three goals and one assist.

Bailey currently leads the team with eight goals and is only one shy of tying the nation's leaders in goals scored. Clearly, the junior has entered this season with big expectations, and thus far, he has been fulfilling them.

"I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates," said Bailey. "Taylor Holstrom is playing incredibly, and David Goodwin has been great. I'm just having a lot of fun playing with my linemates. I think as a team, when you create offense, it really opens up space for other guys. You've got to give a lot credit to everyone on the team. I don't think it's anything personally that I'm doing special. I just think the team's playing well. I'm a shooter and when I get those chances, it's nice when the puck goes in."

Bailey's 54 shots on the season are a team high, and his 12 points having him trailing only Holstrom.

"With Casey, I think his physical strength and conditioning is at a much higher level than it's ever been, I think in his life," Gadowsky said of the junior. "He started this season playing to play good hockey, not playing to score goals.

"He loves scoring goals, and that's part of what makes him a good hockey player. He loves scoring goals in games. He loves scoring goals in practice. He loves scoring goals in street hockey. He just loves scoring goals, but I don't think that's what he's concentrating on. I think he's concentrating on playing good hockey."

With multiple forwards, including Bailey, producing game in and game out, the Lions have an added sense of confidence right now.

The team knows what to expect of Michigan, and the trip could not have come at a better point in the season for Penn State.

"We've played them [Michigan]," Gadowsky said. "We know there are certain things they're going to do that are different from UMass Lowell, but the bulk of this is certainly our preparation and how we play. Really for our program, it's always going to be like that. We really try to just get as good as we possibly can at our game."

The Lions and Wolverines will open their series 7:30 p.m. Friday at Yost Ice Arena.

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McAdam Leads Lions to Weekend Split

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the loss of Friday's game still fresh in their minds, the Nittany Lions took the ice on Saturday for a rematch with No. 4 UMass Lowell determined to make changes and play a stronger brand of hockey.

As time in the third period expired, the Lions successfully accomplished what many believed to be an impossible task for the young program. They dominated against and beat a top-five team on the road, taking down the River Hawks, 4-1, to complete a weekend split.

"I'm really proud of the way they did it because it shows that they certainly can focus and commit to playing a much better hockey game and give more of themselves," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I think that's exactly what happened. I think every single guy really worked extremely hard throughout the whole game, and when everybody does that you give yourself a chance."

Following Friday's 5-3 loss, Gadowsky decided to make a few changes in an attempt to give his team some life. One of those decisions was giving sophomore goalie Eamon McAdam the nod for the first time this season.

McAdam's play on Saturday was a defining point of the game, and his 24 saves against the top-scoring team in the NCAA allowed the Lions to stay competitive against the River Hawks.

"First of all, I think Eamon has really made some commitments to himself and how he was going to approach this year," Gadowsky said. "Both in his own work ethic and throughout the start of the year the way he's approached practices and the team has been excellent. We do a lot of evaluations and statistical evaluations at practice as well, and he really has been excellent. He's absolutely deserved to get the chance if we needed him to come in."

"Friday night we weren't playing very well, and we certainly were giving up some huge opportunities. By no means is this a knock on [Matthew] Skoff, but we happened to give up a lot of Grade A opportunities and four of them went in. The timing seemed right to have Eamon go in, and he actually faced a lot of very difficult shots and played extremely well. Starting him on Saturday was really a no-brainer."

While the win was momentous for the Lions, it also marked a special occasion in McAdam's collegiate career. With the performance, he earned his first win as a Nittany Lion.

"It was a pretty big relief and a monkey off the back kind of feeling," said McAdam. "It's always good to get your first win. Last year, I was close a bunch of times, but I couldn't pull together a win. Like I said, it was a big relief. My parents were there, which is cool because I got to enjoy that with them."

Through the first 10 games this season, both McAdam and Skoff have combined for a .924 save percentage and an average of 2.16 goals allowed per game.

Both goalies are playing consistently for Penn State, giving the team its best chance night in and night out.

"I think it's big to have two great goalies," said junior Casey Bailey, who had two goals in Saturday's victory. "Skoff has been playing amazing for us, and we kind of left him out to dry Friday. Coach gave Eamon a chance on Saturday, and it shows a lot. He played really well Saturday and at the end of Friday's game, and I think to have two goalies playing this well is definitely good for the team."

Despite the positive outcome this weekend, Gadowsky is far more satisfied with the way his team played and the effort he saw. In his mind the win itself is not the key to believing in the team and its abilities.

"I think where we're going to gain our confidence is the fact that we played a very good hockey game," Gadowsky said. "Win or lose, I think that because they're such a well-coached team UMass is so consistent in their habits and so difficult to play against that we sort of proved that we can perform at a high level against a very, very difficult team."

The Lions now have a 6-2-2 record on the season, which stands as a testament to their growth as a program. With this historic win under their belts, the remainder of the year looks very bright for Penn State.

"Compared to last year, we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were," McAdam said. "I think as a team, and also you can just look at it on paper, you can see the steps we've taken have really started to turn into results. I think that's sparking a ton of confidence with the whole team. It's only going to make us want to work harder and try even harder for bigger and better things."

Lions Travel to Take on No. 4 UMass Lowell

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off a week of rest, the Nittany Lions are ready to face their first big test of the season, taking on a ranked opponent.

The Blue and White will travel to Massachusetts this weekend for a series against No. 4 UMass Lowell. While the games will serve as a challenge, the Lions are prepared and excited to see what will come of playing such a skilled team.

"They are the only team in the NCAA scoring more than four goals per game," said head coach Guy Gadowsky of the River Hawks. "They're ranked fourth in the nation. It is a great test. I didn't know this until it was pointed out, but their two top scorers are defenseman so it's not like you can really key on a line or anything like that. It is going to be an excellent test for us.

"Right now, we're just trying to get back into the grove. A week off can be a good thing in terms of bumps and bruises, but a really bad thing in terms of timing. We're just trying to get a little bit of compete back in us."

The Lions worked to restore their health during the short break. With a number of student-athletes both under the weather and out due to injury, a week off could not have come at a better time for the team.

Many, including forward Curtis Loik, believe the extra rest will be highly beneficial and lead to positive results this weekend.

"It's going to be huge," said Loik of the time off. "You know, a couple guys feeling under the weather and not feeling as hot as they want, it's a good week for us to recover and get back to our habits and work on the little stuff that we didn't do so well against Bentley and Holy Cross. We've had a good week of practice, and we're going to come into UMass prepared and ready to go."

Although in many ways, this series will serve as a benchmark for Penn State, Gadowsky will not be placing any additional weight on the outcome.

His focus remains on the completion of team objectives, which is how he will continue to measure the program's success.

"Our goal is to improve every week, no matter who we're playing," said Gadowsky. "I think a lot of people are looking at it that way. I don't think we are as a coaching staff. We're trying to improve this week as much as we can regardless. I think we recognize that people around the nation are saying, 'They had a great start, but they haven't played a top team.' Well this is a top team, so I think eyes are going to be on it."

During the last meeting between the two programs, UMass Lowell swept the Lions at Pegula Ice Arena, winning the first game, 4-0, and the second game, 3-2.

Despite last year's outcomes, Gadowsky knows the Lions have matured. At this point, there are no parallels to be found between last year's team and this year's.

"I think we're a much better team than when we played them last year, and I think it's probably around similar time," Gadowsky said. "I think we're a much different team now than we were then, so we're not really drawing on to see the comparisons."

Even with the team's growth, Loik and the Lions know they will need to bring their A game to compete with the River Hawks.

"Obviously, just sticking to our objectives and what coach says, like benchmarks of getting pucks low and backchecking," Loik said as he describe the keys to having a successful weekend. "Those are some of the things we have to stick with and not let fall apart. If we fall apart from that or fall behind, that's when we're going to start losing games. We just have to stick to our objectives, and I think we'll be fine."

Traveling to Massachusetts with a four-game winning streak, the Lions hope to use their newfound confidence to their advantage.

They are not intimidated by the River Hawks. Instead, they are more than ready to compete.

"We got some momentum from those four games," said Loik of the winning streak. "We gained a lot of confidence. Every line is producing. All the D are playing well. [Matthew] Skoff is playing unbelievable. I think if we keep that rolling we're going to be one heck of a team to deal with."

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