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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the calendar begins to shift towards the start
of the 2014-'15 athletic season, GoPSUsports.com wanted to take a look back at
a tremendous campaign for Penn State Athletics.
Fueled by national championships from women's volleyball, wrestling and fencing,
Penn State accumulated a record point total in the Learfield Sports Directors'
Cup in 2013-'14.
Penn State's three NCAA Championships are its most since winning three in
1999-2000. Penn State student-athletes, who have an 88 percent graduation rate,
won a school record-tying and conference-best eight Big Ten titles in 2013-'14
and 16 over the past two years, easily topping second place Michigan (9) in
combined titles the last two years.
Take a look back at some of the top events from a stellar Penn State sports
Men's Hockey: Oct.
11, 2013 - Penn State 4, Army 1 (First Game in Pegula)
It was a night fans in Hockey Valley had been dreaming of
for years. The Nittany Lion men's hockey team christened the state-of-the-art
Pegula Ice Arena with a dominant performance before a boisterous sold out crowd
on opening night for the 2013-'14 season.
At 8:14 p.m., the puck dropped in the first game inside Penn State's sparkling
new home for hockey.
Nate Jenson owns the honor of tallying the first goal for the Nittany Lions in
Pegula. He took a feed from Taylor Holstrom early in the first period and beat
Army goalie Rob Tadazak to the high corner, glove side. Just as Jensen scored,
the crowd of 6,370 exploded and Zombie Nation blared through the speakers.
An early third-period two-on-one shorthanded goal from Curtis Loik and a
breakaway goal from David Goodwin would spark the same reaction. Leading 3-1,
Eric Scheid notched a last-second empty net goal to seal the first win in their
inaugural game in Pegula.
Hockey Valley could
not have any been prouder of its team following the 4-1 victory, and the
student section made that very clear. The Roar Zone was full song from the
moment it walked into the building 90 minutes before faceoff.
The Nittany Lions went on to win four games inside Pegula Ice Arena during
their first Big Ten season. The list of victories included a thrilling 4-0 win
over Michigan and a 4-2 triumph over Ohio State during conference play.
Football: Oct. 12,
2013 - Penn State 43, Michigan 40 (Beaver Stadium)
Down by 34-27 at its own 20-yard line with 50 seconds on the clock and no
timeouts, Penn State found itself in a difficult situation in sold out Beaver
Stadium against rival Michigan.
The stakes were simple. Drive down the field and score a touchdown or the game
True freshman and 18-year old signal-caller Christian Hackenberg jogged onto
the field to lead the offense during the 2-minute drill with the game on the
On first down at the 20, Hackenberg connected with Robinson, who dragged his
toe just inside the sideline paint in front of the Penn State bench for a
One play later, it was Brandon Felder's turn.
Hackenberg's toss to Felder in front of the Michigan bench covered 29 yards and
set up another first down at the Michigan 37-yard line.
Two plays later, Robinson returned to the spotlight with the play of the game.
Hackenberg fielded Ty Howle's snap and looked to Robinson, who was lined up
wide on the left side of the formation. Robinson stuttered in the first 10
yards of his route, attempting to freeze the Michigan defensive back. As he
regained full speed, Hackenberg's pass was in the air.
Robinson skied over the Michigan defender and plucked the ball at the highest
point in his jump before falling to a rest at the 1-yard line.
Hackenberg finished the drive off with a plunge into the end zone, capping off
a five-play, 80-yard game-tying touchdown drive that covered just 23 seconds on
The teams exchanged blows in the overtime frames before Bill Belton became the
hero. Belton trotted into the north end zone of Beaver Stadium for a game-winning
touchdown in the fourth OT, capping off an epic comeback and a victory that
will live in Penn State history for decades.
Women's Volleyball: Dec.
21, 2013 - Penn State 3, Wisconsin 1 (Championship Match)
Penn State's road to the national semifinals in Seattle was not an easy one
in 2013. After knocking off LIU Brooklyn and Utah inside Rec Hall to open the
NCAA Tournament, the Nittany Lions traveled to Kentucky for the regional round
of the 64-team tournament.
Penn State rallied from 1-0 down to defeat Michigan State in the regional
semifinals, which set up a showdown against seventh-seeded Stanford for a trip
to the national semifinals.
The Lions and Cardinal battled to a fifth set in what evolved into an epic
clash among two of volleyball's heavyweights. Penn State trailed Stanford 9-6
in the fifth before head coach Russ Rose used a timeout. Out of the break, the
Lions were not going to be denied.
Penn State scored the next six points in the decisive set on the way to
punching a ticket to the national semifinals in Seattle.
Playing in the NCAA semis for the 11th time in program history, Penn State
rolled over Washington (3-0), which was playing just four miles from its
campus, with a truly dominant performance.
The national title match, the Lions' ninth all-time appearance, was next.
Facing off against Wisconsin in the first all Big Ten national final, Penn
State jumped out to a hard-fought 2-0 lead before the Badgers rallied to make
Wisconsin took a 23-20 lead in the fourth and was just two points from forcing
a fifth set, but the Lions were not done. A service error from the Badgers made
it 23-21. With ice water in her veins, ESPY nominee Micha Hancock stepped to
the service line. The junior delivered four potent jump serves, two of which
dropped for aces, before senior Deja McClendon's kill clinched the program's
sixth national title and fifth in the last seven years.
In six NCAA Tournament matches this season, the Nittany Lions dropped just four
Men's Basketball: Jan.
29, 2014 - Penn State 71, Ohio State 70 (Value City Arena)
The Nittany Lion basketball team trailed Ohio State, 59-48, with 7:58 to play
in Columbus after Buckeyes capped off a 10-2 scoring run.
Penn State never panicked, largely thanks to a dominant performance from D.J.
Newbill down the stretch.
A pair of buckets from Jordan Dickerson and two free throws from Newbill set
the score at 62-59, Buckeyes, with 2:20 to play.
Newbill then fielded a long pass moving right to left across the floor from
Frazier before burying a corner three, which tied the game at 62-62 with 1:08 to
go. Ohio State scored the next three points to make it 65-62.
Newbill answered in the form of a second clutch 3-pointer with 11.0 seconds to
After Ohio State's final possession in regulation came up empty, the game
headed into overtime.
The Buckeyes took a 70-67 lead on a pair of Lenzelle Smith Jr. free throws in
the extra frame, but Newbill was not done.
The Philly product snaked through the Ohio State defense for a lay-in with 45
seconds to play, pulling the Lions to within one (70-69). The Buckeyes turned
the ball over on the next possession, setting up an inbounds play with 13.2
Tim Frazier inbounded to Jordan Dickerson, who handed the ball off to
D.J. Newbill in front of the scorer's table. Down one with 11 seconds to play
in overtime as he crossed halfcourt, Newbill raced to the right side of the
The Philly native wanted the ball in his dominant hand. With one of the Big
Ten's top defenders an arm's length away, Newbill began his move with 5.4
seconds on the clock.
After one power dribble to his right, he sent the ball to his left hand under
Aaron Craft's extended right arm. Newbill took one more power dribble with his
left hand before elevating at the right elbow with 3.5 seconds on the clock.
The ball never touched the rim as it sailed through the cylinder to give the
Lions a 71-70 victory. Penn State's win at Ohio State was its first since 2001.
Women's Basketball: March
1, 2014 - Penn State 77, Michigan 62 (Bryce Jordan Center)
To put it simply, Senior Day couldn't have gone any better for Penn State's
four seniors in 2014.
Maggie Lucas, Talia East, Dara Taylor and Ariel Edwards all
were double figure scorers on a day where they were honored with friends and
family in attendance as the team claimed its third consecutive Big Ten title
with a 77-62 over Michigan.
Edwards led the Lady Lions with 21 points on 8-for-12
shooting from the field while Lucas, East and Taylor added 17, 16 and 11 points
Penn State had control of the game from start to finish as
they shot 54 percent from the field, missed just one free throw on 19 attempts
and collected seven blocks and 11 steals.
The group of seniors combined for 65 of the team's 77
points; epitomizing their leadership during their time at Penn State in their
last regular season home game.
That was expected from a group of four leaders who ensured a
team of seven freshmen didn't miss a beat coming off of two-straight conference
titles heading into the season.
Edwards, Lucas and East left Penn State as one of the winningest classes ever.
They finished with 101 wins, good for second in program history. Taylor was at
Penn State for 75 of the 101 wins after transferring from Maryland.
With all of the championships, accolades and wins, it was a
perfect way for Lucas, East and Taylor to complete their Penn State careers.
Penn State's third-straight Big Ten title put the Lady Lions in elite company
with Iowa and Ohio State as the only programs in the conference to win three or
more consecutive conference crowns. The title also fueled the Lady Lions'
second run to the Sweet 16 in past three years.
Wrestling: March 22,
2013 - Nittany Lions Clinch Fourth-Straight NCAA Title
Penn State's reign over the college wrestling world continued in March
when the Nittany Lions captured their unprecedented fourth-straight NCAA team
title in Oklahoma City.
Fueled by NCAA individual crowns from seniors Ed Ruth at 184 pounds and David
Taylor at 165 pounds, the Lions celebrated on the sport's grandest stage inside
Chesapeake Energy Arena as the 2014 national champions.
By no means was the fourth title an easy one for the Nittany Lions, who edged
Minnesota by 5.5 points in the final team standings. Following a victory from
Ruth at 184 pounds, the Lions pulled ahead of the Gophers by 1.5 points after
two championship bouts.
Minnesota suffered setbacks in its two national title bouts, with the second
coming in the ninth match of the evening. As the 157-pound bout ticked to zero
on the clock, the white-clad Penn State fans rose to their feet to celebrate
the program's fifth national championship.
But the work was not quite done for the Nittany Lions, as Taylor was on deck in
the final championship match of night against Oklahoma State's Chris Perry.
You could not have scripted a better way for Taylor's career to end in a Penn
State singlet than the way it did on Saturday night. The epitome of a team
player, Taylor's imprint on the program goes far beyond his stellar accolades. He
didn't miss a match at the national tournament because he wanted to support his
fellow teammates. On Saturday morning, he did not need to be at the arena, but
he was the first to greet fellow senior James English as he came off the mat
after his critical win in the seventh-place match at 149 pounds.
Thanks to another dominant performance, Taylor finished off his collegiate
career with a victory in the final match of the national tournament, an individual
national title and a team title.
Taylor and Ruth played a paramount role in Penn State's fourth-straight title,
but the Nittany Lions will remain atop the NCAA wrestling mountain because of a
hard-fought team effort in the 2014 NCAA Championships.
Fencing: March 23,
2014 - Nittany Lions Clinch 13th NCAA Title
No program in Penn State's illustrious sports history has won more national
titles than the fencing team. Under the direction of interim head coach Wes
Glon, Penn State mounted a furious charge on the final day of the NCAA
Championships in Columbus to clinch its 13th national championship.
As a team, Penn State finished the competition with 180 bout victories,
toppling Princeton in second-place (159 victories), and St. John's in third
Individually, sophomore Kaito Streets claimed the 2014 men's
saber NCAA title. Streets became the 13th individual champion for the Nittany
Lions in program history.
In the team race, the Nittany Lions were neck and neck with
Princeton throughout much of the competition. The Lions began pulling away from
the Tigers on day three of the competition. Penn State clinched the program's
third title in the past six seasons on day four.
Streets held the number one spot in the men's saber event
heading into the final competition. He knocked off Ferenc Valkai from St.
John's to become an individual champion.
Glon has been with
the Nittany Lions for 29 seasons, and he has seen all 13 national titles. But
the 2014 crown marked his first as the leader of the program.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- The playing surface inside Pegula Ice Arena was a hub of activity on
Wednesday as a crew worked to paint the lines and center logo in preparation
for the 2014-'15 season.
Led Chris Whittemore, head of facilities management at Pegula Ice Arena, the line
painting on the surface took roughly four to six hours, while the intricate
process of putting the ice back into the arena takes a few days before it is at
the ideal thickness for competition.
Whittemore said the crew of six to eight people installs four to five layers of
water (ice) before applying three coats of white paint. Another five to six
layers of water are added before the lines, logo and creases are painted. From
there, the crew seals the playing surface before adding an inch to an inch and
a half of ice to build thickness, a process that takes three to four days. The
ice then strengthens over time as more skating takes place on the surface.
Penn State's second season inside the sparkling facility begins in the fall.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
VIDEO: Highlights from Williamsport & Wilkes-Barre
East Stroudsburg Photo Gallery | Lehigh Valley Photo Gallery | Coaches Caravan
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The
2014 Coaches Caravan rolled through East Stroudsburg and the Lehigh Valley on
the penultimate day of the 17-stop tour through the region.
Wednesday's lunch stop was a special one for head football coach James
Franklin, who returned to his alma mater, East Stroudsburg University. Head coaches Rob Cooper (baseball), Guy
Gadowsky (men's hockey) and Mark Pavlik (men's volleyball) joined Franklin in
East Stroudsburg. Nittany Lion basketball
coach Patrick Chambers paid a visit to the Lehigh Valley event on Wednesday
evening. Take a look through highlights
of the eighth day on the road.
Stop No. 15 - East Stroudsburg (East
Coach Franklin returned to his old stomping grounds for the first stop on
Wednesday. When the Fullington tour bus
exited Interstate 80 it moved past the Budget Motel, which is owned by Barth
Rubin. Rubin is the man who provided the
financial backing for Franklin's scholarship to play football at East
Franklin recognized Rubin as the man who provided the opportunity to kick-start
his playing and coaching careers. A 1995
graduate from ESU (psychology), Franklin was a four-year letterman at
quarterback and a two-time All-PSAC selection at East Stroudsburg. He set seven
school records as a senior to earn team MVP honors and was a Harlon Hill Trophy
nominee as the NCAA Division II Player of the Year. Among the records he set
were for total offense (3,128 yards), passing yards (2,586) and touchdown
"It's awesome to be home. Since we got
the job, it's been great to be able to get back here on a couple of occasions,"
Franklin said. "I just felt like this
made a lot of sense for the Coaches Caravan to visit. And I thought it would be great for one of
our state institutions and a place I am really proud of. I'm glad that we were able to be here."
Franklin played under legendary head coach Denny Douds, who spent some time
with Franklin on Wednesday during the Caravan stop. Douds has been at ESU for 37 years.
"Denny has been a father figure to me for a very long time," Franklin
said. "Denny has been a mentor as a
father and a mentor professionally."
"The thing that makes James special is his passion for what he does," Douds
said. "He cares so much about everything
In the shadows of Eiler-Martin Stadium, more than 100 Penn State and East
Stroudsburg alums filled Mattioli Recreation Center to hear from Franklin and
the other Penn State head coaches on Wednesday.
"To think 20 years ago that I would be sitting here in this position right now,
I would have had no idea," Franklin said.
"I think what we did do is wake up every single morning and try to be the
best we could possibly be, learn and ask a lot of questions. I've always been a passionate, driven,
Cooper, Gadowsky and Pavlik each took time during their speeches to honor
Franklin during his visit to his alma mater.
"It's really cool to see the imprint Coach Franklin is going to leave on
Pennsylvania football," Cooper said.
At the conclusion of the event, East Stroudsburg
president Marcia Welsh presented Coach Franklin with a resolution of
recognition for his career accomplishments.
The recognition was voted on by the board of governors of the
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
The Coaches Caravan bus paid a visit to Rudy's Tavern in East Stroudsburg
before the group left town. Franklin
treated the group to the infamous pork roll and cheese sandwiches at Rudy's,
one of his college favorites.
Stop No. 16 - Bethlehem (Sands Bethlehem
Nearly 600 fans were treated to a show inside
the Sands Bethlehem Event Center on Wednesday night. For the first time in the Caravan's three-year
history, five head coaches were on stage for the festivities at stop No.
16. After the introductions, Coach
Chambers was the leadoff man to get the crowd fired up.
"I'm saying this right now. This is
going to be the best night of the Caravan," Chambers yelled.
As the crowd rose to its feet, the tunes of Pharrell Williams's "Happy" began
playing. From there, Chambers moved away
from the podium and began dancing to the beat across the stage. The other coaches on stage and the fans in
the crowd erupted.
Chambers is made for the Coaches Caravan setting. He loves interacting with the crowd, and he
has a knack for filling the room with energy every time he steps to the
microphone. The leader of Nittany Lion
basketball spoke about the progress the program made during the 2013-'14
season, including a sweep of Ohio State for the first time since 1998.
Additionally, Chambers said that he lived in Allentown 20 years ago when he
started in the workforce. He was a
medical salesman with his home region being in the Lehigh Valley. Chambers also hinted at a possible Penn State
hoops game in December at the PPL Center in Allentown, which is slated to open
in the fall.
The first speech closed with Chambers urging the crowd to show unrivaled
support for Coach Franklin and the Nittany Lions inside Beaver Stadium.
"Let's make sure Beaver Stadium is packed every single time his team takes the
field in the fall," Chambers said.
With the sports season rapidly coming to a close, the 2014-'15 campaign is just
around the corner. Fan support in Beaver
Stadium provides an atmosphere unlike anything else on campus. The same is true for each venue in Happy
Valley. Success on the field of play is
a byproduct of a number of factors, and the fan atmosphere is a big piece.
"You guys create more passion and more pride than any other University in the
world," Gadowsky said.
In true hockey player form, Gadowsky closed out the speech at his final stop in
the Caravan by ripping out his front tooth and screaming into the microphone.
"Get to Beaver Stadium and rock that joint!" Gadowsky said.
Coach Franklin walked to the podium to a standing ovation.
"Now that is a hockey coach!" Franklin said.
It's rare to get the head coaches of football, men's basketball, men's hockey,
baseball and men's volleyball in the same room.
The fans inside Sands enjoyed an evening of entertaining speeches. The coaches feed off of a great crowd, and
the Lehigh Valley fans were superb.
"The pride and passion within the Penn State fan base in unbelievable,"
Franklin said. "All the success we are
having is a credit to you."
The 17th and final stop of the 2014 Coaches Caravan will take place on Thursday
evening at Penn State Behrend in Erie.
Day I - 165 miles
Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles
Day V - 245 miles
Day VI - 267 miles
Day VII - 130 miles
Day VIII - 261 miles
Total - 1,760 miles
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Williamsport Photo Gallery | Wilkes-Barre
Photo Gallery | Coaches Caravan Registration
WILKES-BARRE - The final leg of the 2014 Penn State Coaches Caravan
kicked off with a sold out lunch stop in Williamsport and a dinner event in
Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday.
Week three will feature a new lineup of Penn State head coaches joining James
Franklin on the road. Baseball's Rob
Cooper, men's hockey's Guy Gadowsky and men's volleyball's Mark Pavlik boarded
the modified Fullington bus on Tuesday morning when it rolled out of the Bryce
Jordan Center parking lot shortly after 9:30 a.m. Take a look through highlights of day seven
on the Penn State Coaches Caravan.
Stop No. 13 - Williamsport (Pennsylvania
College of Technology)
A sold out crowd of
270 Penn State fans filled the Field House on the Pennsylvania College of
Technology campus for the first of five stops during week three. What makes the Caravan so unique is the
variety of head coaches who entertain the crowds. With the addition of Cooper, Gadowsky and
Pavlik to kick off this week, nine head coaches have now been a part of the 13
Fresh off leading the Nittany Lion men's volleyball team to a 25-7 overall mark
and a spot in the NCAA semifinals, Pavlik is on the Caravan for the
third-straight year. The men's
volleyball squad battled eventual national champion Loyola to a 3-2 setback on
Loyola's home floor during the semifinals.
That being said, Pavlik has firsthand experience of what a home crowd
advantage can do for a team. He can
relate to Franklin's vision of a sold out stadium during every home game.
"I know what a great home crowd can do for a team. We experienced it," Pavlik said. "A sold out venue makes it so much more of a
challenge for an away team."
Cooper, who finished up his first full season as head coach of the Nittany Lion
baseball team on Saturday, addressed the sold out crowd following Pavlik. The Lions made significant progress from 2013
to 2014, and Cooper is excited for what is ahead.
"Being a part of the Penn State family is unbelievable," Cooper said. "This coaching fraternity is an amazing thing
to be a part of."
It was fitting for Cooper's first stop to be in the home of the Little League
World Series. Cooper joked with the
crowd that his two young sons both asked him immediately after being hired at
Penn State if they could attend a game at the Little League World Series in
"Here we are in the epicenter of youth baseball," Cooper said. "You know what it is like to be a part of a
championship event...There are good things ahead (at Penn State)."
Gadowsky stepped to the microphone following Cooper. Still fired up after his first season of
leading the Nittany Lions inside Pegula Ice Arena, Gadowsky could not be more
appreciative of what the fan base does for the men's hockey program.
"The atmosphere you created in Pegula made me a cool dad again (with my kids),"
"The best part about Pegula is that it takes a little piece of Beaver Stadium
and puts a roof over it," Gadowsky said.
"It's awesome. I love being in
there...The reason it is so addictive is because of Nittany Nation."
Coach Franklin headlined the 13th stop with the final speech of the
afternoon. The fan response to his
message has been superb during all three weeks, and Tuesday's lunch was no
"This has been great getting out here on the road and connecting with as many
people as possible," Franklin said.
The bus moved east across the state to Wilkes-Barre for the first evening stop
of the final leg.
Stop No. 14 - Wilkes-Barre (Genetti
Hotel & Conference Center)
The second stop of
the day took place inside Genetti Hotel & Conference Center downtown
Wilkes-Barre. Nearly 400 enthusiastic
fans filled the Grand Ballroom on Tuesday night. Luzerne County is home to more than 8,500 passionate
Penn State alums.
Wilkes-Barre will forever have a place in Penn State hockey history. Coach Gadowsky led the Nittany Lions to their
first victory as a Division I program on Oct. 13, 2012 against American
International. David Glen's goal 38
seconds into overtime sealed the first win.
That game took place inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre.
"Forever, this place will have a soft place in my heart," Gadowsky said.
In 2013-'14, Gadowsky led the Nittany Lions to three victories over Michigan
and one over Ohio State during the inaugural season of Big Ten hockey. The fans inside the room on Tuesday are
excited about Penn State hockey's future, and Gadowsky's peers are tremendously
impressed with the progress the program has made in such a short period of
"These coaches are ordinary people who do extraordinary things with their
programs," Pavlik said.
"To compete in this conference, we need all of your support," Gadowsky said.
The fan base plays a paramount role in supporting all of Penn State's
teams. Pavlik, Cooper and Gadowsky each
reminded the fans in attendance of what a full Beaver Stadium every Saturday in
the fall does for their programs. The
atmosphere inside Beaver Stadium during a game before a sold out crowd speaks
for itself. The same is true for Pegula
Ice Arena, Rec Hall and Medlar Field, in the case of the other coaches on the
Caravan Tuesday night.
That being said, the Coaches Caravan is an opportunity for the coaches to not
only talk about their programs, it is a way to say thank you to the fans for
their support. Like Coach Franklin has
said throughout the Caravan, the people make Penn State special.
"Penn State is like a community...It gives us an opportunity to interact with
you," Franklin said.
Franklin took time to recognize offensive coordinator and tight ends coach John
Donovan and passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne, who
were in the Wilkes-Barre area recruiting on Tuesday and stopped by the event to
say hello to the fans.
The Caravan rolls into Coach Franklin's alma mater, East Stroudsburg, on
Wednesday for lunch before an evening reception at the Sands in Bethlehem.
Day I - 165 miles
Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles
Day V - 245 miles
Day VI - 267 miles
Day VII - 130 miles
Total - 1,499 miles
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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Not much has changed for men's hockey head
coach Guy Gadowsky since the season ended. With the first season of Big Ten play
under the program's belt, Gadowsky's demeanor and energy hasn't changed, nor has
his level of excitement about the direction of the Nittany Lions' program.
Simply put, Gadowsky is anxious to start next season, and he's hungry for wins.
There were no "what ifs" when the bench boss reflected on the
2013-14 campaign, only "we did" and "we are." Since the season ended for the
men in blue and white, Gadowsky has had a chance to sit in his office at Pegula
Ice Arena and think about the moments and the plays that defined his second
season at the helm of the Nittany Lions.
Although the season is technically over, Gadowsky knows it never
really ends. There are still objectives, and dreams to pursue, and a team to
get ready for another long season just a few months away.
GoPSUsports.com caught up with the head coach to talk about the
season that was, and the future that is.
Battling The Best
On April 14, USCHO.com released their final poll for the 2013-14 season.
Of the 20 teams ranked in the poll, the Nittany Lions played eight of them,
including four of the top five. The tough schedule was a key component of their
growth, and is something Gadowsky thinks will help prepare them for next
"This was our second year of Division I hockey and we played a
tough, tough schedule," said Gadowsky. "The first year we played a smattering of
games all over the board. Obviously, it wasn't our goal to play the second toughest
strength of schedule in the nation this year. It just happened to worked out
like that. It wasn't by design, but I think we learned a lot, and I think we
really benefited from it.
"You can look at the games we played against the Big Ten- Minnesota was ranked
No. 1 all year long - and team's like Boston College, who was a top-two team
when we played them, and Union, who won the National Championship."
Penn State will need to continue to grow as a program considering the Big Ten
Conference won't get any easier. The strength of the 2013-14 schedule will be
extremely beneficial to the program as they move forward.
Focusing on Hockey
There were a lot of firsts for the Nittany
Lions this season. Whether it was the first Big Ten season, the first of
several games against ranked opponents, or the first season in Pegula Ice
Arena, these players were still settling in and trying to refine their game
under a bright spotlight.
Now that the Big Ten, ranked opponents, and Pegula Ice Arena are the norm, it
will be nice to just focus on playing hockey and getting down the game plan from
week to week.
"We are looking forward to playing at more consistent level earlier
[next season]," Gadowsky said. "We had to get used to a new building. We moved
into the building, had to learn how everything worked, and we had to get ready
for opening [night]. There was a lot of buzz around it [the building] and that might
sound simple but it was a little distracting. We are very hungry [for next
season] and know we have to be ready to play a much more consistent hockey
right off the bat."
Pegula Ice Arena is one of many advantages for the Nittany Lions
and now that one season in the building under their belt, it is all about
hockey from here on out.
Respecting the Process
Because of all of his experiences, Gadowsky knows exactly what goes
into building a contender and contending in a tough conference. He has been
through it before at previous coaching stops and he's pleased with the progress
he has seen from his Nittany Lions.
"We have a long, long way to go and we will always have it in our
minds that we need to continue to build our foundation," Gadowsky said. "That's
very important to us. We respect the process; we also understand how important
"We will always be cultivating the foundation of this program and
making sure that we improve. That is what has made us good in the first place. That
had to do with [our players and coaches] pulling the same way and that takes
constant cultivation. It's not just like, 'okay we did that, now let's move on.'
That's always going to be a focus."
Building a program takes time and effort. Gadowsky knows that all
too well, and all signs point that this Penn State team is heading in the right
Fan Base Connection
It's no secret that Pegula Ice Arena is a state-of-the-art arena
with top-of-the-line fans. The arena sold out 17 of their 18 home games and
every opponent commented on the exceptional supporters that fill the arena. The
fans are what drove the team this year and Gadowsky said throughout the season
that he believes they are the best fans in college hockey.
"It is fun to play in Pegula, I can't tell you that," said
Gadowsky. "Playing games here is a blast and it's motivating, it's the most fun
I have ever had coaching. I just love seeing the students dance, and dressed up
and the amount of energy they bring. We love it and it is a big part of what
makes Penn State such a great experience. You see it in other Big Ten venues,
as well, but I'm optimistic that Penn State will be known for its fan base. I
sure there is no better student body."
The connection between the team and their diehards is outstanding.
Before, during, and after every game these guys know they have the support of their
fans through it all. The fans inspire excellence from the team, and the team wants
to give those fans an excellent product on the ice.
Taking Momentum Into Next
The 2014-15 season can't come fast enough for Gadowsky and his
team. They are just six months away from the opening of the 2014-15 season in
Pegula Ice Arena, and the energy around the program is still very high.
Before our chat ended with Gadowsky, we asked the coach to reflect on the
season and where he thought Penn State hockey was as a program.
"We are thrilled with the improvement we made last season," Gadowsky
said. "We're really happy with the vast improvement that we had from the start
of the year. It was a unique year; it was a really fun year. We moved into
Pegula Ice Arena, opened the building with a win and started play in a new conference.
There are a lot of things that were new and exciting, but at the same time it
was a challenge to make sure we stayed focused on what we had to do.
"We're thrilled with the improvements we've made, but are looking
forward to being 100 percent hockey moving forward."
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At his final press conference of the season,
it was easy to hear the excitement in Guy Gadowsky's voice when the Penn State
head coach talked about the group of players returning to the ice for the men's
hockey program next season.
It's a strong group, one now filled with experience, desire and
plenty of talent. Outside of senior Mike McDonagh, Gadowsky and his coaching
staff expect to have back all 26 of the Nittany Lions with remaining
eligibility and they believe they are set to build off their strong 2013
"We lose a tremendous person in Mike McDonagh, but we don't have significant
other losses," Gadowsky said. "I think that's encouraging. If we continue to
improve individually and as a team, I think it's very safe to say that we should
only expect to get better."
Ask any one of the Nittany Lions, be it a player or coach, and they will tell
you the experiences they took away from this season will be part of what goes
into the preparations for next season and the next 10 seasons.
Whether it is working hard against a team like No. 1 Minnesota or battling
ranked opponent after ranked opponent, the Nittany Lions went through a lot of
growing pains over the past two seasons and that will only help them moving
"The biggest thing for us is to keep those lessons in mind," sophomore
netminder Matt Skoff said. "It's good that over 90 percent of the team is
coming back with those lessons learned. I think that when you have so many guys
coming back the only way we can go from here is up."
Part of the key for the Nittany Lions heading into next season is to remember
how hard they worked this season. The last few games Penn State played this year
- a 4-2 win over Ohio State and a 2-1 double overtime win over Michigan - will
be on the minds of the players as they start to cool down from this season and
prepare for next.
"From the beginning, we didn't know what to expect entering a new league with
such historic programs," Skoff said. "Now we know that we can play against all
of them, we can compete; we can beat them on a night-to-night basis. I think
that is what we have to prove next year. We proved at the end of the year that
we can compete with anyone at the most important time of the year."
The core of the team is what defines Gadowsky's unit. Part of what makes them
special is the leadership the men in blue and white discovered over the season.
Student-athletes like Skoff, Tommy Olczyk, Nate Jensen, and David Glen all now
know what it takes to be successful at this level. They have been through the
ups-and-downs of a rigorous season and are now prepared to take them on again.
"At any level of hockey, experience counts for so much," Olczyk said. "Having guys
on your team that have found a way to win big games, and just win games in
general is big in college hockey. Whether they are conference or non-conference
games, they are all still really important. Having a lot of guys in the locker
room that know how to win is very key and experience and chemistry count for a
With that experience, and the knowledge of how of how to prepare and compete,
the Nittany Lions are armed with lessons learned. Those lessons will help them
against the elite teams on their schedule next season, including the Big Ten
opponents they will see on a yearly basis.
"We played ranked teams like UMass Lowell, Union, Boston College in our
[non-conference games], and we were able to compete with those teams," Olczyk
said. "So I think that gives us a great piece of mind moving into next year and
the [results] we had in Big Ten play were very positive and something to build
on moving forward."
It won't be long before Hockey Valley is piling back into Pegula Ice Arena to
watch the Nittany Lions once again. The foundation is being built, and the
right pieces are in place. The Nittany Lions' nucleus is strong and ready for
whatever challenges may come.
"We still have a long way to go, but I feel it's a great start," Gadowsky said.
"I thought the guys proved [they could be competitive] when they really played
their game. When we perform at a high level we can go blow-for-blow with the
best teams in the nation and that was extremely encouraging for our team and
our coaching staff."
PARK, Pa.- With their season wrapping up after an exciting trip to the Big Ten
Tournament in St. Paul, Minn. the Penn State men's hockey program met with the
media to wrap up the 2013-14 season. We caught up with some players and asked
them about the season and what their success can do heading into the offseason.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off their double-overtime
win over No. 12 Michigan to open the Big
Ten Men's Hockey Tournament, the Penn State men's hockey team is now set to
square off against No. 6 Wisconsin in the semifinals today at 3 p.m.
The sixth-seeded Nittany Lions enter the game with a record of 8-25-2, while
the second-seeded Badgers enter the game with a 22-10-2 record. The game will be
aired on the Big Ten Network.
What To Watch - Penn State
Shutdown Skoff: In yesterday's
win, sophomore goalkeeper Matt Skoff played lights out for the Nittany Lions
against the Wolverines, stopping a career-high 52 shots while keeping Michigan
off the scoreboard for the game's final 41 minutes. In three starts against the
Badgers, Skoff has recorded 86 saves - including 26 in an overtime loss the
last time these two teams met on March 8.
Shoot To Score: Penn State comes into
this game after recording a program-high 65 shots against the Wolverines. Casey
Bailey led the charge with 11 rips on net, while four other Nittany Lions logged
at least four shots of their own. In the four games vs. Wisconsin this season,
Guy Gadowsky's squad improved their shot total game-by-game, putting 43 pucks
on net in their last contest.
Holstrom Hitting A Stride: Redshirt
junior Taylor Holstrom has been very effective as of late for the Nittany
Lions. Over the last two games, the Yorba Linda, Calif., native has two goals
on seven shots, 26 faceoff wins and continues to push the tempo on offense. He
currently is third on the team in points with 17.
What to Watch - Wisconsin
Reliable Rumpel: Joel Rumple has
been the man between the pipes for the Badgers this season and he has not
disappointed. The junior goaltender has led his team to 19 wins this season,
racked up 691 saves, and is second in the Big Ten conference with a .931 save
percentage. In four starts against the
Nittany Lions this season Rumpel has registered 119 saves.
Quick To Assist: The Badgers main
emphasis on offense this season has been their ability to effectively move the
puck and generate scoring chances. They enter the Big Ten semifinal with 200
assists on the season, good for second in the conference behind only
Minnesota's 210. Senior Mark Zengerle is Wisconsin's assist leader with 30 on
Sound Defense: To go along with netminder
Joe Rumpel, the Badger's defense has been a very stingy unit this season. They
enter their contest with Penn State as the second-ranked team defense in the
Big Ten allowing 2.50 goals per game. They are ranked first in the Big Ten in
penalty killing, keeping opposing power play units off the scoreboard 83 percent
of the time.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The regular season has come to an end for
the Penn State men's hockey team, but that doesn't change much for Guy
Gadowsky's team and goalie Matt Skoff. For the men in blue and white, the Big
Ten Tournament is just another opportunity to collect some wins.
Since their win over Ohio State on Saturday night, the Nittany
Lions have been preparing to travel to Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn.,
for the first inaugural Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament. It's a one-and-done situation
for all six teams, and the Nittany Lions will matchup against No. 12 Michigan
in today's opening round.
When postseason action comes around, some teams and players will
change their thinking and start to focus on the tournament as a whole, but not
these Nittany Lions. They are only looking at their contest against the Wolverines.
"We have to just focus on our objectives," Skoff said. "We don't
change the way we play for anyone, so no matter if it was Michigan or any other
team in the Big Ten, we don't change the way we play."
Skoff was echoing the sentiment from his head coach. Penn State has
seen Michigan four times this year, but they are only focused on this matchup.
Skoff hasn't even thought about his shutout against the Wolverines 40 days ago.
Nope, the sophomore goaltender and his team know it's all about this game.
"I'm not even thinking about [the shutout]," Skoff said. "I'm just
worried about keeping them off the scoreboard and doing what I have to do to
help my team win.
"I think you have to take it as just another game. At end of the
day, we're playing Michigan again, so it's nothing out of the ordinary. We've
played them before and we've had early games before, as well, so that's good. It
is a bit of a short week which is a bit out of routine, but I don't think that
will affect us."
Over the course of the season, Skoff has gained the trust of his
head coach and there was no hesitation when Gadowsky and his staff thought
about a starter in net for this weekend. The McKees Rocks, Pa., native has
played well all season and earned the chance to start in net, according to his
"We're going with Matt Skoff," Gadowsky said at his Tuesday press
conference. "We made that determination after the season based on results. As
always, we look at how you are as a teammate, your work ethic, your commitment
to yourself as an athlete, and Penn State University, and our program. But he
also has the results to back up the decision."
Skoff is the only Nittany Lion goalie with a win to his name this
season, and his 572 saves are the most on the team. The sophomore goalie
reiterated how excited but focused he is for this opportunity when he met with
"It's nice to that the coaches have the confidence in me," Skoff
said. "I know it's been a long year; it's been a battle between all three of
us. That being said, I just have to focus on what I have to do to get the team
a win just like any other game that I would start."
One of the x-factors in this game is the experience against
Michigan and the fact that the game is in a National Hockey League arena. Skoff
has experience in these arenas, and although his coach doesn't know if that
affects much, he knows Skoff's overall experience - including in NHL buildings
- can only be helpful for his goalie.
"I don't know [if experience in NHL buildings matters.] I wouldn't
feel any differently if we were playing in a college arena," Gadowsky said. "He
would be our choice regardless of who we are going against.
"I think all his experience helps. I mean [experience in NHL
buildings] will help. He certainly has had that experience, but he has also won
huge games against great opponents. Whether it's Pegula Ice Arena, on the road
or on neutral ice in a NHL building, I think he'll play well."
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions wrapped up their regular season with a
4-2 Big Ten victory over Ohio State on a special day for the men in blue and
white and their lone senior, Mike McDonagh.
It was a
sellout crowd and the energy was high in Pegula Ice Arena and head coach Guy
Gadowsky's squad was hungry for a win after falling in the series opener. They
scored two early goals and with the Buckeyes on their heels, never took their
foot off the gas.
day the Nittany Lions were celebrating the career of McDonagh, the team
captured the energy of the senior forward and left everything on the ice. One
of those players, in particular, was Nate Jensen.
weekend the defenseman made his first appearance on the ice since suffering an injury
in early February. He scored the first goal of the game, and assisted on two
others, marking his first career three-point game.
well and it's very tough to be out [injured] that long and come back like
that," Gadowsky said. "Tonight he was skating hard. [He had] a tremendous goal,
and a couple of nice assists to go with it. He was making very calm passes
right on the tape and it's great to have him back."
looking tentative in the series opener - his first night back in 42 days - it was
clear that Jensen found his swagger and helped lift the Nittany Lions to a win
in the regular season finale.
"I got my touch back," Jensen said. "I got my confidence back [on
Saturday]. The game was a lot slower for me tonight and it just felt good out
"There was just a buzz in the locker room before the game. You knew
the guys are ready to play and we were going to come out flying. As soon as the
puck dropped, I knew we were going to win that game."
Throughout the game, Penn State was clearly setting the tone and
keeping their speed up. They manufactured strong offensive possessions and were
putting pucks on sticks with their passes, a recipe for success for any hockey
It's small things like passing crisply that the team has been
working on throughout the year and developing as a part of their game. Captain
Tommy Olczyk knows how hard his team has had to work to earn a win like this,
and he couldn't be more proud.
"It's [winning as a young program] isn't easy and our guys have
done a good job of keeping each other focused this season," said Olczyk. "Thankfully
you don't have to have a letter on your chest to be a leader. [Patrick] Koudys
and [Matthew] Skoff have been two of the more vocal guys and we need guys like
that. We have learned a lot from up to this point and I believe we can play
with anyone. We've proved that to ourselves and moving forward that will be a
Along with Jensen, the Nittany Lions got goals from Curtis Loik,
Olczyk, and Taylor Holstrom. It was a complete team effort to earn the victory,
and it sets the Nittany Lions up for a good week of practice before the Big Ten
Tournament this weekend. According to Gadowsky, however, the whole season has
set the team up for success next weekend, not just this one game.
"In my mind, [the win over Ohio State] is not what is
spring-boarding us," he said. "The future success that we have comes from a lot
of hard lessons and was a lot of hard work along the way that's helped us
close the doors on the 2013-14 regular season, the progress and improvements
made by this team have tremendous. The Nittany Lions have improved day-by-day,
and it's fitting they end with a win.
it's a fitting ending because of how far we have come," Gadowsky said. "We have
improved in a lot of areas and this was a great win for us. It's also very
fitting for McDonagh to go out a winner. He's a great guy who has meant so much
to this program and I'm really happy for him."
They now turn their attention to Michigan, as they prepare for their first
round game in the 2014 Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament in St. Paul, Minn.
"We're still trying to improve
every day," Gadowsky said. "We have three more practices to improve before we
head to the Big Ten Tournament. We feel good about ourselves and it's nice to
have a good result and a fairly good performance going into the postseason."