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Painting Pegula with Chuck Van Dyke

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The ice has finally returned to the main rink at Pegula Ice Arena. With Pegula staffers scheduled to put the finishing touches on the ice throughout the weekend, the final product will be ready to go come Monday. 

Transforming the varsity rink is hardly a quick process, as the week-long agenda features carefully scheduled steps. One of the main individuals behind the entire operation though is Chuck Van Dyke.

Most fans might instantly recognize the Penn State Zamboni driver often seen on game days gliding across the ice to loud chants of "Chuck, Chuck, Chuck" from the Roar Zone.

Not a man of many words but brimming with plenty of witty personality, Van Dyke has been a Penn State employee for nearly 10 years, working at both the Greenberg Ice Pavilion and Pegula Ice Arena. While he's often seen on the ice, there's all kinds of responsibilities in a typical day.

"It could be anything here," Van Dyke said. "It's not just coming in here doing ice work, you have maintenance and anything that needs to be done, we do it all here. If a seat breaks, we fix or anything really that need repaired or replaced."

Since arriving at Pegula, Van Dyke estimated he has probably been involved in painting and setting at least seven sheets of ice between the main and community rinks.

 The process generally begins the same way each time.

"We start by cooling down the ice," Van Dyke said. "Then we put a paper barrier around the edges to hold in the water. We put a line down the center with string to divide the rink up and then we just start misting water to get a thin layer of ice down."

The center line is set with white string while black strings are run pulled tight for circles, blue lines and end lines. After the lines are set, white paint is mixed and sprayed evenly before another misting of water to make a sheet of ice that seals the paint.

Next up is setting the lines, which no longer includes any actual paint, as blue and red lines are actually fabric inlays. After the inlays are set, it's back to misting fine layers.

Perhaps one of the most involved steps is painting the Penn State Athletics logo at center ice, which begins with a massive stencil.

"We've had that since Greenberg, somebody drew a picture of the lion logo and poked a whole bunch of little holes in it," Van Dyke said. "They take blue chalk and they make a little pattern on the ice and then you start painting."

For Van Dyke, it takes four or five painters to lay on the paint inside the carefully chalked lines before it's set with more thin layers of ice.

Once everything from ads and lines to logos are set and painted, the real icing begins.

"We get so many layers down and then we bring out a fire hose and it gets built up pretty quick then," Van Dyke said. "After it gets to about a half inch we'll bring the Zam out and start dumping water with the machines."

What seems like a complicated process is just another day at the office for Van Dyke, who used to be a truck driver before a friend of his encouraged him to apply for his current position.

"When I came here, I was like I wish I had come here years ago," Van Dyke said. "It's a lot of fun. The best job I've ever had in my life is driving Zamboni."

Penn State Turning the Page

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Penn State's season ended earlier than it anticipated following a first round lost to Denver in the NCAA Midwest Regional. Considering it was the second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance for a program that's only years six old, it's well worth noting the success the Nittany Lions have earned. 

In his final wrap up of the year, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky drew positives from a season that culminated in 18 wins and yet another postseason berth, even if the Nittany Lions didn't make it as far as they had hoped.

"Anytime you can get into the tournament right now in college hockey you should be very proud of that," Gadowsky said. "To do it two years in a row is something special and when you look at all the good programs that haven't been able to accomplish that, it's something you have to feel really good about."

For Gadowsky, making the NCAA Tournament twice fully demonstrates that the first appearance wasn't anything related to a one-off for the Nittany Lions.

"This is going to be a goal, and one that we feel is obtainable every year," Gadowsky said. "If we don't get there, then there will be adjustments made to make sure we give ourselves the best chance to make it." 

Looking toward needs headed into next season, Penn State will be replacing the production from arguably its best Nittany Lions on each side of the puck. The Nittany Lions will lose their leading point scorer in forward Andrew Sturtz, who this past weekend inked an NHL contract with the Ottawa Senators. Penn State will also lose the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Trevor Hamilton.

Looking at the departures, it's clear both Nittany Lions will be missed.

"(Andrew Sturtz) has brought a lot of goals and a lot of energy," Gadowsky said. "The community loved him for very good reason and we're going to miss him just like everyone in Pegula will miss him. Mostly, to be honest with you, with what he's done here academically. His grade point average is excellent and he's worked really hard on that. I give him a ton of credit for him to be a Big Ten champion and to go to the NCAA tournament two years in a row. He will get his degree this summer and then sign an NHL contract. What else could you want to accomplish? I'm very proud of him."

Gadowsky had similar words of praise for his senior defensemen Hamilton, who led the entire nation in blocks with 109 on the season and recently signed with the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins.

"It was really nice and well deserved," Gadowsky said reflecting on Hamilton's one-year deal. "If you put up the numbers he did both offensively and defensively, you expect something like that. I'm really happy to see it get done." 

For Gadowsky and the team, turning the page after a disappointing game against Denver and improving focus for the future are all points of emphasis for his student-athletes.    

"Immediately we reviewed the game against Denver, but now it's time to get back on it," Gadowsky said. "The one experience that Denver has given us and (what we have learned) throughout the year is we need to get better and we're going to do everything in our power to get better. This week was a quick evaluation of how that can happen. I think the players are hungry to get right back to training and they know that's going to be very important for them."

For the Nittany Lions, that means developing a lean and mean approach when it comes to taking the next step as a program, a process that Gadowsky noted will start right away.

Penn State Looking Toward A Bright Future

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Saturday setting at the PPL Center seemingly could not have been better. Picture a crowd of 7,491 passionate Penn State fans packed into their seats with the same enthusiasm they've had all season long.

It was the outcome though, that could not have been further from what the Nittany Lions were anticipating in their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. 

"To be able to come here, to look around and be able to hear everybody, that's why I think I am just so disappointed," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I've been to a lot of regionals, whether working them with the NCAA or as a participant and I can tell you, I haven't seen an atmosphere at a regional like this. It was blue and white and it was great and it was awesome. I just feel like when I saw them it was set up to do really well and that's probably why I feel so bad."

Speaking softly in a somber tone, Gadowsky was direct when asked postgame about what went wrong, giving credit to Denver where credit was due. 

"They are excellent, they are skilled and I think they are excellent in their work ethic," Gadowsky said. "I give them a ton of credit, I think they really got to our net and we didn't get to theirs. I don't know enough yet to say if it was just what we didn't prepare for, or that we didn't do what we do well enough, or that they were that much better and it's because of what they did. I don't know." 

The Pioneers led from start to finish Saturday night, opening the scoring with a goal off an untimely bounce with 7:41 left in the first period. As quickly as the blare of the fog horn faded, the mostly Penn State crowd responded with a resounding "We Are" chant. 

No more than a moment later, the Nittany Lions saw one of their prime scoring opportunities swept away as sophomore Liam Folkes went horizontal on a breakaway, giving Penn State its first power play chance of the night. Still, it was Denver controlling the second half of the first period, striking again near the end of the frame, with the delayed penalty goal confirmed after a lengthy review. 

That would hardly be the end of the Nittany Lions though, as Penn State picked up the pace and looked to spark some offensive momentum midway through the second period to the tune of audible gasps of near excitement from the crowd among the flurry of offensive opportunities.

"I think they obviously had a lot of momentum over the first period but I think when we were down four nothing, it kind of shifted over the last five minutes in the second period and going into the third, really I think we played how we should have played the entire game," Folkes said.

As Folkes noted, the Nittany Lions wouldn't give in, as Penn State finally broke through with its first goal of the night in the third period. It was Folkes who beat Denver net minder Tanner Jaillet to shave the deficit to three, 4-1, with 7:39 left to play.

Gadowsky's message to the team between periods was simple and true to Penn State's philosophy - shots on net. 

"I think tonight we forgot a little bit about what we did really well," Gadowsky said. "I don't think that we did what we do well enough. I think possibly we knew what to expect a little bit more and prepared for what they did, and I think what we lacked, at least in my mind, was a better commitment and execution in what makes us really good."

Denver's lethal leading line proved too strong for the Nittany Lions, as Jarid Lukosevicius sent his second goal of the night past Jones with nearly eight minutes left to play to send the Pioneers ahead 5-1.

"Our line, we've played a lot of good players all year and they're no doubt, arguably the best we've played," senior James Robinson said when asked about Denver's top line. "That's no excuse. It doesn't matter who you are playing, you need to come ready to match their intensity and outwork them and our team did not do that and it's disappointing."

A season-ending loss in the NCAA Tournament in one that brings a certain kind of bitter feeling. It's not this loss though that senior James Robinson will reflect on when he looks back at his time at Penn State.

"I feel like the seniors on this team as well as every guy in that dressing room has made this program better than it was at the start of the season," Robinson said. "With our senior class, we couldn't be more proud of this school, this organization, this program and we just can't wait to see where this program goes in the future." 

The future is exactly where the Nittany Lions will now look toward, with something always present to build on.

"We can build off of getting into the tournament," Gadowsky said. "You look at the program's that aren't in the tournament this year and you look at the programs that haven't been in the tournament two years in a row and there are some great ones. We can look at that and feel very, very good and be proud."

For Robinson, it's taken everyone to get the Nittany Lions to where they are now, but it's all those individuals who will also be responsible for continuing to carry on the legacy and tradition carefully set in place.

"We have a very bright future ahead of us and unfortunately both [Erik] Autio and I and the rest of the seniors aren't going to be a part of it but we feel it's in great hands and we can't wait to see what this program does," Robinson said.

Among those hands is Folkes, who has only gratitude when it comes to the impact the senior class has left upon the team. 

"They've been the best of the best, that's for sure," Folkes said. "I'm going to miss all of them, they've paved the way for where Penn State is where it is now. I have to thank James Robinson especially because was my mentor when I first got here and he's been the best teammate and the best friend for the two years that I've been here, so I have to thank Jim."

Penn State Ready for Denver

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Third-seeded Penn State will play No. 2 seed Denver in the first round of the Midwest Regional to kick off the NCAA Tournament this weekend. Sent home by Denver in last year's NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, the Nittany Lion postseason rematch against the Pioneers has a different feel to it this season.

"It's been different from last year," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Coming off such an emotional Big Ten Championship and then jumping right into the NCAAs, the practices were actually not very good. We were very tired, but this has been different. We've been off, guys have been chomping at the bit and they've really been working hard, so it's been a much different feel. I would say the plan is to just work hard and improve. The workman's-like attitude has really carried over and I like how the guys are approaching it." 

Looking toward the familiar matchup, Penn State is well aware of the challenge come Saturday.

"Obviously they're an excellent hockey team, but at this point in the year you're going to play an excellent hockey team no matter what," Gadowsky said. "That's what we've been preparing for even before we knew it was Denver."

Key for Penn State will be its ability to shut down the Pioneers' prolific offense - a task easier said than done. With three players on the team with more than 40 points this season, including NCHC Player of the Year, Henrik Borgström and U.S. Olympic team member, Troy Terry. Along with Jones in net, Penn State's defense will most certainly have a tall task ahead. 

"We'll be ready," Jones said.

Penn State is healthy and ready to go though, playing with a home field advantage, with the Nittany Lions serving as the host institution for the weekend at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

"It's certainly exciting being in Allentown," Gadowsky said. "We know we're going to have great Penn State support, which is awesome. That's going to be a lot of fun."

Sophomore goaltender Peyton Jones, who is a native of Langhorne, Pennsylvania talked about playing an NCAA Tournament game so close to Happy Valley. 

"It's going to be awesome," Jones said. "I'm going to have a lot of family and friends there. It's only about an hour from my house so it's going to be great playing in front of all those people."

In addition to the hometown advantage, Penn State also has a year of NCAA Tournament experience under its belt. For Gadowsky, it's a helpful addition when it comes to last year's matchup with Denver. 

"I think it's comforting because we've done it once before," Gadowsky said. "Not only playing the same opponent, but just the fact that we've gone to a regional and we know what to expect."

Comparing last year to this year, for Gadowsky, the experiences are certainly different but it's the quality, character and much of the same style that is the same for the Nittany Lions.

"Every team is a little bit different, but I think we have the same great feel in the locker room and really quality, competitive guys," Gadowsky said. "That hasn't changed. I think the style is relatively similar, too. We still play to score goals, we get up and down the ice really quickly, but I think every year is different. You go through experiences, both positive and negative, throughout the season and that leads you to where you are." 

Penn State and Denver lace up the skates Saturday at 7 p.m. in the PPL Center. Should the Nittany Lions advance, they would meet the winner of No. 1 Ohio State and No. 4 Princeton in Sunday's quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

Penn State Prepping for NCAA Tournament Selections

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Following a heartbreaking loss at Notre Dame in the Big Ten semifinals, No. 13 Penn State will now look toward the NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday to see if it receives an at-large bid. Even though the Nittany Lions have most likely already punched their ticket to the NCAA regionals, the team is most certainly not getting ahead of themselves.

"We know we're not in right now, but we're hoping at some point this weekend we are," head coach Guy Gadowsky when asked about the NCAA Tournament selection. "Because we're optimists, were approaching it in hopes that it is going to happen. We're just preparing as hard as we can right now. Until somebody says we're officially in, I'm not going to feel comfortable."

Despite the high stakes of a potential NCAA Tournament game and the level of uncertainty that comes with it, the Penn State's game plan for the next week of practice will not diverge from the norm.

"It's fairly similar because our goal all year has been to use every week to improve," Gadowsky said. "There's a couple things from last weekend that we know we have to improve so that's what this week is about. We're going to prepare like every week prior to this to get better and try to work as hard as we can."

For Penn State senior defenseman Trevor Hamilton, the Nittany Lions will continue to take things one week at a time while controlling the controlables.

"We are taking it as a game week just to make sure we're still in shape and still in midseason form in case we do get into the NCAA Tournament," Hamilton said.

Hamilton, who currently is tied for third on the team in total points, was recently named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The economics major is the first Nittany Lion in program history to receive a major conference award. 

"It's a huge honor and I think it's more of a team award than an individual award," Hamilton said. "With how successful our team has been this year, I definitely would not have this award without our goalies and forwards and just giving them the puck and letting them go to work. I'm just doing as much as I can to help out our goalies as well, so I think it's more of a team award than an individual one."

Although Hamilton is eighth in the Big Ten with 23 assists and has registered a total of 29 points on the year, his impact on the ice goes far beyond the box score. For a second consecutive year, he leads the nation in blocked shots with his current mark of 104 blocks just four shy of a career best.

"I take a lot of pride in (blocking shots), and it's not only me but the team as well," Hamilton said. "It's been a huge part of our culture the past couple years here."

Gadowsky talked about Hamilton's importance to the program as not only a top-notch defender, but as a leader, too.  

"It was such a well-deserved award," Gadowsky said. "For all defensemen, he leads the league in points, but I know for sure he's much more proud to lead the nation in blocks. When you have that combination, it really is a well-deserved award. Here at Penn State hockey we're so proud of him because besides those two stats, just the way he is. He's such a warrior. He plays hurt, he plays for the team, he's always smiling, he makes practices fun and he makes the locker-room fun. It's really the way he is as a guy and a teammate that we're most proud of."

Hamilton and the rest of the Nittany Lions will await their NCAA Tournament selection when the full bracket is announced Sunday, March 18 at noon on ESPNU.

Penn State Focused on Fighting Irish

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey is headed back to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Although the championship features a new format this year, there's no denying the Nittany Lions have been here before and they know what it takes to earn the title. 

Winners of the last five straight, Penn State heads to South Bend, Indiana riding some serious momentum. Averaging nearly five goals per game within the stretch, the Nittany Lions knocked off Minnesota in back-to-back weekends to earn the semifinals matchup with Notre Dame.

Powered by the support of a passionate crowd inside Pegula Ice Arena, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky once again gave credit to the fans for creating a truly home-ice advantage to flare momentum.

For Gadowsky, there's only one word to describe Penn State's perfectly timed momentum though - fun.

"I think a bit of that momentum we're riding comes from the great crowd that we've had," Gadowsky said. "Obviously senior weekend, alumni weekend, that was really emotional and we gained a lot of momentum from the emotion of the weekend and the crowd was phenomenal. Then to come back on such a quick turnaround and see the support of the community and so many students come back from spring break, we certainly rode that momentum as well."

Momentum isn't anything new for the Nittany Lions, who have weathered their fair share of high and low points throughout the season.

From 11 unbeaten outings spanning mid-November through mid-January, Penn State navigated an eight-game stretch without a win before regrouping to respond with its current streak.

Rather than pin pointing a turning point though, Gadowsky describes where the Nittany Lions are now as the culmination of little lessons along the way.

"I think there have been experiences that we had to learn from, early losses to AIC or Mercyhurst," Gadowsky said. "I thought we learned a lot through the streak that we were unbeaten in 11 and I thought we learned a lot through the streak that we had where we played really well and didn't win. You can point to a number of things, not only in our games and competitions but in our practices as well."

A product of those experiences has been consistency, something Gadowsky is hoping the Nittany Lions can continue to sustain headed into Saturday's meeting against the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish.

"In terms of consistency, it's so elusive, it's so hard to get and I think they're a pretty smart bunch," Gadowsky said. "They figured out what they have to do to play a consistent game and they did pretty well for four games in a row and hopefully we can keep it going, but that's not an easy thing to do." 

The Fighting Irish have lost four of their last five, at 4-6-1 in their last 11 games, which also includes a 2-2 tie at Penn State, although Notre Dame grabbed the extra point in a shootout victory.

All momentum aside, Notre Dame will hardly be easy outing for the Nittany Lions, especially with the Fighting Irish entering fresh from an off week.

Penn State has plenty to draw from when it comes to game planning, having already seen Notre Dame four times during the regular season, most recently in the 2-2 tie, where the Nittany Lions battled back from a two-goal first period deficit. 

"I think that if you look at the last weekend that we played here at Pegula, I think you have to tip your hat to Notre Dame in the sense of how disciplined they were and how structured they were," Gadowsky said. "They were very disciplined, very structured, very consistent team in what they did. I think you can learn from others as well, not just your own experiences. I think we learned a little bit from that." 

Throughout all the meetings, Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris continues to be among the best in the nation.

It doesn't take much dissecting when it comes to what makes him so good either, with both Gadowsky and junior forward Chase Berger keeping it simple - he's just really good.

"I don't know, I played against him in juniors a couple of times too and he was really good." Berger said. "We just have to shoot the puck."

Morris owns a .945 save percentage that's ranked first in the Big Ten and second nationally, while Notre Dame opponents are also averaging fewer than two goals a game to date. 

When it comes to game planning though, the Nittany Lions will have to play well in all areas, and Penn State isn't looking to divert from its own style to get there.

"Certainly we understand their goaltender's performance throughout the year and their goaltender's performance against us," Gadowsky said. "I think that we have to somehow figure out a way, without changing what we do too much, to maximize our chances."

No. 13 Penn State and Notre Dame meet Saturday, March 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The Big Ten Tournament semifinal matchup will also broadcast live on ESPNU.

Extras
- Switching it up in this week's Penn State weekly check in, Berger takes to the microphone for a one-on-one with senior teammate James Robinson.


- Penn State's Brett Murray made an appearance on the fourth line at center for the Nittany Lions in place of an injured Nikita Pavlychev. While Gadowsky noted Pavlychev is day-to-day, he was most impressed with Murray's collegiate debut performance at center, which included one assist.

"I thought he came out and won the opening draw of the series and I think it gave him confidence," Gadowsky said. "It set the tone. I thought he played really, really well. You have to admit, part of Nikita's not just value, but part of his effectiveness, has to do with he's such an imposing figure. Every team that see's Nikita is out of the lineup is happy and then all the sudden they see Brett Murray is maybe an inch and a half shorter and I think he did a really good job of diminishing the loss."

Home Ice Lifts Nittany Lions

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey has officially punched its ticket to the Big Ten semifinals, beating Minnesota for the fourth consecutive time Saturday night.

While the Nittany Lions swept the Gophers just last weekend, there were no guarantees Penn State would be able to beat them twice more.

"Minnesota is a tremendous team," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "[We] sure put it together and with the help of the crowd, [we] turned out to beat an excellent team in a series. It feels really good." 

Playing in front of a home ice crowd for the first and second time in program history turned out to be a valuable piece of Penn State's quarterfinal-sweep.

While Penn State was only granted home ice last weekend, the attendance question quickly arose as many students members of the community had already made plans to leave Happy Valley for spring break.

Proving just how passionate they are, both students and community members still packed Pegula Ice Arena to create an environment that give Penn State the boost it needed to pull off the win.

"Home ice turned out to be massive," Gadowsky said "We never would have gotten home ice if it wasn't for our crowd and I don't think we [would've had] a shot tonight it if wasn't for them. We can't thank the students and the community enough for their support tonight. They were absolutely huge."

Compared to last year, when the Blue and White beat Michigan in a nearly empty Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, winning in front of a sea of cheering fans dressed in blue and white, only made the night that much sweeter.

Celebrating the big win on home ice made only made for an even more special memory for the veteran Nittany Lions who went through the tournament last year. However, the upperclassmen know there's still a long road to the Big Ten Championship game. 

"[The fans] definitely helped us pick up the win," sophomore forward Liam Folkes said. "It's always better when the crowd is louder, but we have a long way to go and we're not done yet." 

Senior captain James Robinson has also been through the gauntlet of the tournament, but tonight, he played a pivotal role in making sure his team advanced to the next round. Robinson scored the last goal of the second period, breaking up a streak of three Minnesota goals.

While it may be the last game Robinson and the other seniors skate in Hockey Valley, it was only fitting for Robinson to score the game-tying goal headed to the third period.

Both the final score and his goal gave Robinson a special postgame moment on the ice with Gadowsky.

"When we were shaking hands, Jimmy came up behind me and said, 'If this is the last night here at Pegula, what a night,'" Gadowsky said. "It meant a lot to Jimmy."

As Gadowsky stressed though, the team has learned many lessons throughout the course of the season, and they're not done yet.

Junior forward Andrew Sturtz told the media after last night's win that his team is "finally starting to learn how to play with a two-goal lead." During Saturday's game though, when the Nittany Lions took the lead, they remained calm even as the Gophers responded. 

"You have to give those guys a lot of credit for coming back and coming back," Gadowsky said. "Sturtzy (Andrew Sturtz) said we were learning how to play with a lead and well we got an opportunity tonight to learn how to come back and obviously they were tremendous." 

Following their usual mindset, the Nittany Lions were focused on beating Minnesota this weekend, not paying much attention to other matchups in the Big Ten. Penn State isn't planning on enjoying the win for too long though, because come Monday, all attention will be on Notre Dame in the semifinals.

"We try very hard not to look [at the rankings]," Gadowsky said. "I'm just very happy to win this series and we'll look after this." 

Nittany Lions Clicking at the Right Time

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After sweeping No. 8 Minnesota for the first time in program history, No. 18 Penn State men's hockey will once again host the Gophers in the opening quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Nittany Lions beat the Gophers decisively both nights last weekend, securing home ice for a best-of-three series to kick off the postseason. Headed into the weekend, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky and his team are preparing for a Minnesota squad that will likely return to Hockey Valley a better team than the first time around.

"Once the puck drops, the puck drops," Gadowsky said. "All that stuff to me is thrown out the window. Whether we did sweep them for the first time and feel good, or got swept and we're going to Minnesota, it's still two wins to get to the next round and that's really how we look at it."

Week in and week out, a point of emphasis for Gadowsky has been in the importance of all four lines playing their best hockey at the same time. While it's a struggle the coaching staff has looked to address all season, the problem has seemingly solved itself at the best possible time.

All lines were involved throughout the weekend, with each producing at least one goal while on the ice. All three defensive pairings also added multiple assists, even chipping in a goal of their own.

"[It's] very safe to say that over the course of a weekend we probably achieved the most consistent play both offensively and defensively," Gadowsky said. "From all four lines and all three defensive pairs."

The third line in particular exceeded expectations, contributing half of the Nittany Lions goal scoring during the series.

Sophomore forward Liam Folkes, freshman center Evan Barratt and freshman forward Alex Limoges all scored Friday night, with Limoges adding two more goals Saturday. Folkes and Limoges also each added an assist apiece during game two.

"We've definitely been controlling the puck quite often in the offensive zone and taking care of the team as best we can," Barratt said. "It's good to see the puck go in the net, finally. I know we've been working all year to be where we're at now and it's the right time for it to start clicking."

Although Barratt and Limoges have been important skaters for the Blue and White all season, the freshmen are starting to gain their confidence at just the right time.

With the pair finally starting to see the results of their hard work on the scoresheet, Barratt and Limoges have learned to enjoy the journey and have fun along the way.

"When we see each other doing well and we're having a lot of fun on the ice, it's fun to come to the rink and when you're winning it makes it that much more fun," Barratt said. "For him and I, it's just laughing together on the bench or going out for our 30 seconds and doing our job. We love having fun out there and it definitely builds confidence for both of us."

Opposite of his younger line mates, Folkes has experience in the in the Big Ten Championship from last season.

When looking at the dynamic of the third line, Gadowsky noted that it wasn't exactly the plan headed into the season. Looking at offseason training though, Gadowsky saw Folkes' attention to detail and movement off the puck as the main reason to have him lead the line.

"He does everything right," Barratt said. "He takes care of the team in the defensive zone, he gets pucks in and he wins battles. You see what he's doing and you want to do just as well as he can, so it definitely is nice having an older guy on our line."

In playoff mode since traveling to Michigan State, Penn State has been mentally preparing for round two with the Gophers.

"They're Minnesota, I don't care when you face them, they are going to be an excellent team period," Gadowsky said. "That doesn't change, so we're not looking at it any differently." 

Goaltenders, Limoges Shine on Senior Night

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Don't look now, but No. 18 Penn State men's hockey did it again. After defeating No. 8 Minnesota 5-1 Friday night, the Nittany Lions got the best of the Golden Gophers again Saturday, this time by a 5-2 score to complete the program's first series sweep against Minnesota.   

Sophomore goalie Peyton Jones did his part in helping the Blue and White close out their regular season with a victory. Coming off a game Friday night where he only faced a total of 15 shots, Jones came up big in game two of the series, making 38 saves in what was a very busy night for him.

"I thought I played well," Jones said. "But the team played great in front of me and I was just there when they needed me."

Although Jones made some incredible saves, including 17 in the third period, he wasn't the only Penn State goalie who received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at Pegula Ice Arena Saturday night. Senior goaltender Matt Erlichman entered the game to a loud cheer from the crowd and that long tribute was exactly how he would finish off his senior weekend. 

Erlichman, a walk-on from Penn State's club hockey team, skated onto the ice with 1:07 remaining in what will most certainly be a game he will never forget. The Pennsylvania native not only played in his first home game for Penn State, but registered the first save of his collegiate career. 

"It was awesome," Jones said when asked about Erlichman getting a warm welcome from the home faithful. "He deserves everything he got tonight. He works so hard on and off the ice."

"I'm really happy that he got in here at Pegula Ice Arena," Gadowsky said. "It's a special experience to play here and I'm really happy he got that opportunity."

On the other end of the ice, the Blue and White were lead offensively by freshman forward Alex Limoges, who got Penn State off to a much-needed fast start when he found the back of the net just 3:36 into the game.

"They (Minnesota) came out firing and were a better team than us early," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "When Limoges scored the first goal, we breathed so much easier. I thought that (goal) let us get into our game-plan and we weren't so nervous. We knew they came out strong, but when we went up 1-0 it gave us some confidence."

Limoges scored another goal two minutes and 37 seconds into the third period to extend the Nittany Lions lead to three. The Virginia native stretched his consecutive goal streak to a career high three games after a personal best two goal, one assist night.

Limgoes credited his confident play as of late to his increased sense of comfort with the team, having finally made the adjustment to college hockey.

"At the start of the season I was somewhat intimidated," Limoges said. "College is a step up. These guys are bigger, stronger and faster. I've had the same line mates from then to now and we've developed a lot of chemistry in practice. When one of us gets a chance, we're all rewarded. It doesn't matter who scores."

Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions will host their first home postseason event in program history as the Golden Gophers once again visit Hockey Valley. This time, it's to kick off the Big Ten Championship tournament. The best-of-three series between No. 4 seeded Penn State and No. 5 seeded Minnesota will begin Friday night.

Nittany Lions Find Consistency

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After defeating No. 8 Minnesota in a dominating 5-1 win, No. 18 Penn State gained a much-needed confidence boost. With the postseason right around the corner, it's an optimal time for the Nittany Lions to heat up.

"I think that was probably the most complete game that we've played this year both offensively and defensively," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said.

Forward James Robinson opened the scoring early in the first period, ending a scoring drought for the Nittany Lion leader. He was also quick to note postgame how good it felt to finally put one between the pipes.

Robinson's efforts showed up on the scoreboard seemingly right from puck drop, evident in his aggressive skating as he battled for pucks.

"Jimmy was a catalyst right from the first shift," Gadowsky said. "I also thought his two line mates were equally productive throughout the game." 

Alongside linemates Sam Sternschein and Nikita Pavlychev, it was Sternchein who added an assist on a dramatic late third period goal scored by fellow freshman Evan Barratt. 

Just out of the penalty box, Barratt laid a huge hit in the Gophers' defensive zone, setting the stage to get the puck back before launching it into the back of the net. Although Barratt has been an offensive option throughout the season, the Nittany Lions will look for a performance like this to give him some extra confidence heading into the postseason.

"To have success against such a great team I'm sure [will be] a really good confidence booster," Gadowsky said.

Barratt wasn't the only one of his linemates to get pucks past the Minnesota goalies, with forwards Liam Folkes and Alex Limoges also scoring in Penn State's 3-goal third period.

Through all the line changes the coaching staff has experimented with this season, the second line has remained mostly untouched. Due to Gadowsky's confidence in the line, he was hardly surprised to see their success come to fruition Friday night. 

"That line was great," Gadowsky said. "It's really nice to see them rewarded with all three of them getting goals."

Headed into the weekend, Penn State opted to shift its attitude toward postseason-mode for the last few weeks in preparation for a strong finish.

"The conversation a few weeks ago was that this is playoffs, this is crunch time," Robinson said. "With it being where it is now, it's obviously amplified a little bit more."

With the mindset yielding consistency, the Nittany Lions achieved what they set out to accomplish, but it's not over yet. One game still remains in the regular season and the Nittany Lions aren't changing a thing when it comes to mindset. 

"We played probably what I thought was our best game of the year," Robinson said, "So, same mindset tomorrow."

Penn State and Minnesota wrap up the regular season Saturday, Feb. 24 with a 7 p.m. puck drop inside Pegula Ice Arena.

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