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Nittany Lions Look Back on First Winning Season

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2014-15 Penn State men's hockey season now in the books, the team has a number of accomplishments it can be proud of. In a year the team thought may be free of program firsts, the Nittany Lions certainly had their fair share of new, historical experiences.

The team secured its first winning season, its first national ranking, its first season sweep over a team. The Blue and White downed all of its conference opponents at least once this year, defeated a top-five team and even had two Hobey Baker Award Nominees in Taylor Holstrom and Casey Bailey.

With such monumental achievements throughout the season, it is clear that the future of Penn State hockey is extremely bright. This program will only continue to grow.

"I like the direction we're going," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I think we improved a whole lot last year. I think we improved this year, and I'm optimistic it will continue."

With only eight total wins and three conference victories in 2013-14, the Nittany Lions entered this season expected to finish last in the Big Ten. However, they were ready to prove everyone wrong.

They ended this season 18-15-4, which is more than double the win total Penn State had last year. Furthermore, the team went 10-9-1 in the conference, finishing out the regular season in fourth place and staying in contention for the regular season title until its final weekend series.

Maybe the most talked about aspect of this year's squad was its ability to shoot the puck. The team averaged 39.2 shots per game; however, there were numerous games when it racked up over 50 attempts.

While shooting may have become a major part of Penn State's identity, the Nittany Lions are still in the process of building the program.

"You're never quite done," said Gadowsky. "When will we have the identity that they know what we're all about? I think we're getting there. I don't think we're there yet, but we're getting there."

Unlike last season, Penn State will not return almost its entire roster. Seven seniors, including captain Patrick Koudys, assistant captain Nate Jensen, Jacob Friedman, Max Gardiner, PJ Musico and Peter Sweetland, will all graduate. Additionally, the team will lose its leading scorer in Bailey, who decided to move on to the next stage in his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

These leaders will not be easy for the Nittany Lions to replace, but Penn State still has a number of players key to its identity. People such as David Goodwin and Eric Scheid will be heavily relied upon up front, as will the emerging Scott Conway, while defensemen Luke Juha and Connor Varley will need to secure the blueline.

Even with eight players leaving, the Nittany Lions will still find success come October 2015.

"This is our third year," said Gadowsky. "Everybody that signed up to come on knows that they're going to be relied upon. That's maybe part of the attractiveness to come in. So, if they're going to take full advantage of the opportunity that's been given to them, they know that they're going to have to come in in very good shape because they are going to get the opportunity to contribute at a very high level right off the hop."

This season was certainly a major stepping-stone for a young, emerging program. Success is in the cards for Penn State hockey.

"Hopefully what's next is that we'll continue to cultivate and elevate our culture in terms of work ethic and commitment, what we control," Gadowsky said. "We're not necessarily put our minds set to one specific thing. We have a lot of ideas in our head, fantasies in our head with what is going to happen with this program, and we look forward to all of them. But, we're not picking what's going to happen next. We're just going to continue to build our culture and continue to add on to our foundation, and good things are going to happen."

Casey Bailey: The First Nittany Lion to Sign an NHL Contract

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State men's ice hockey team suited up for its first Division I game in 2012, Casey Bailey was preparing for his first collegiate game. Nevertheless, a lack of experience wouldn't stop the forward from succeeding, and in the second period, the then-freshman scored the first goal in the program's NCAA history.

That day, Bailey etched his name into the Nittany Lions' history book. The forward, however, wasn't finished making history, as he became the program's first player to sign a National Hockey League contract this weekend.

Casey Bailey is now a Toronto Maple Leaf.

"It's an honor," Bailey said of joining the NHL. "I kind of had that in the back of my head coming to this school that that might be a possibility. It's always been a dream of mine to make the NHL, and now that it's all coming to life, it's pretty surreal. It hasn't really hit me yet. I'm excited to get out there."

Bailey is coming off his most successful season with the Nittany Lions. He notched a team-leading 22 goals and 40 points, went plus-11, was a Hobey Baker Award Candidate and was named to the All-Big Ten First team.

His skill had not gone unnoticed by numerous NHL teams and scouts throughout the year. But, when it came time to make a final decision on which team he would sign with, the forward knew Toronto would provide him with the best opportunities.

Now, Bailey is ready to take his play to the next level with one of hockey's oldest organizations.

"I saw an opportunity there to start my NHL career," he said regarding Toronto. "I had a nice chat with Brendan Shanahan, and I liked what he was saying about what they have coming in the future and what he saw in me as a player and it's similarities to how I see myself as a player. So, going from there, it's an Original Six. It's Toronto. It's awesome. I'm so honored and excited for the opportunity."

Even with Bailey's success at Penn State, he knows he will need to step up and put in a new level of dedication and effort to his training. He's hungry for this experience.

"Wherever they put me, wherever they can need me, I'm there to learn," Bailey said. "I'm there to learn. It's going to be a great group of guys. It's going to be a huge learning experience for me to see what I need to do this summer to prepare. So, wherever they need me, they put me, I'll be grateful."

Choosing to sign with the Maple Leafs means the forward will forgo his senior year at Penn State. The decision was bitter sweet as it means he will not have one final year to play as a Nittany Lion.

Bailey will miss the weekend games in Pegula, the students and the support. However, most of all, he will miss his the team, the guys who were willing to join a program that was slated to consistently lose.

Together, he and his teammates defied the odds and have already created a solid foundation for Penn State hockey. They've built a program.

"I have a great bond with, you know I had a class of ten plus guys with me, and just those guys and the seniors leaving this year and even the sophomores that have come in," said Bailey. "Just the guys and Pegula and the fan base and just the student body. I bleed Blue and White, and I plan to come back and finish my degree at some point. I'll definitely probably miss the guys the most."

Bailey leaves the program as the all-time leader in goals with 45, as well as in points with 80. He has left his mark on this program, loving every minute of the time he represented Penn State on the ice.

"It's incredible," he said of the university. "I mean the support the school and everybody has behind the hockey program, it's just going to keep rising. I hope I can stay a part of it in some way, and I hope that I left a good impression on everybody."

Gardiner Scores Lions' Lone Goal in B1G Tournament Loss

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
DETROIT, Mich. - As the horn signifying the end of the game sounded, the Penn State men's hockey team found itself in an undesirable position. After putting up a valiant effort, the fourth-seeded Nittany Lions were defeated by fifth-seeded Ohio State, 3-1, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

In what seemed to be the snap of a finger, the team's season suddenly ended. Nevertheless, this squad has much to be proud of after what was accomplished during the season. The Lions exceeded expectations and put together a historic season filled with wins over every conference opponent, a season sweep and even national rankings.

Although the sting of the loss to the Buckeyes (14-18-3, 8-11-1 B1G) may take some time to heal, Penn State (18-15-4, 10-9-1 B1G) clearly gave its heart and soul this season. No one can ask for anything more than that.   

"It's been an honor to play for Penn State and build a foundation here," said an emotional Max Gardiner. "Something I'm going to miss, for sure, but the program's in great hands from the coaching staff down. There are some great leaders going into next year in that locker room. There are a lot of good things to look forward to for the program."

The senior forward scored Penn State's only goal in the quarterfinal appearance during the second. He fired off a shot that went in over the right shoulder of the Buckeye goalie. It bounced in and out of the net so quickly that there was some initial confusion before the goal horn echoed through Joe Louis Arena.

At the time, the tally cut the Buckeye's lead in half, bringing the score to 2-1. However, a breakaway goal with exactly one minute remaining in the period helped Ohio State regain a two-goal lead.

The Nittany Lions were unable to recover.

"Actually, Tommy Olczyk made a real nice play there," Gardiner said of his goal. "He picked off a pass and made a nice pass to me. And Zach [Saar] kind of drew the "D" over, drove hard doing that, and kind of gave me an opening to let one go. Luckily enough it went in."

Penn State was held to only 32 shots in the game, a total less than its 39.4 shots per game season average. Much of the lack of offense can be attributed to the multiple team injuries, as Taylor Holstrom and a few other Lions skated through pain to make one final appearance in Blue and White.

During the game, the team battled injuries to its defensemen as well. Senior Nate Jensen left the game for a few minutes after being kneed but came back to play out the remainder of his final game as a Nittany Lion. Sophomore Mike Williamson, however, left the game with an injury. He did not return.

"We have a pretty significant part of our offense that was really struggling to play, a couple of our players, and I don't think we had the speed that we normally have to jump on pucks and try to get second and third chances," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I think they did a really good job of keeping us away from second and third chances. Credit their "D". It's a total team effort by them, but they did a very good job at that. We weren't able to really generate much."

A first-round tournament elimination is not the way any team wants to finish out its season. Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions have a bright future ahead of them.

This is not an end. It's only the beginning for this young program.

"It's going to continue to rise, I believe," Gardiner said. "Like I said, it's in great hands, great leadership. They're going to continue to build it next year and for many years to come. I think there's going to be a lot of success in Penn State hockey."

"I think we have to look back at the season as a whole," added Gadowsky. "I think we made a lot of great strides in a lot of areas of the program. Like I said, I think the whole team, especially the seniors, should be very proud of that."

Men's Hockey B1G Tournament Blog - Penn State vs. Ohio State

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DETROIT, Mich. - Welcome to's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions will face Ohio State in the first round of this year's Big Ten Tournament. The game is set to begin at 4:30 p.m.

Live Blog Men's Hockey B1G Tournament Blog - Penn State vs. Ohio State

Nittany Lions Prepare for B1G Tournament

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the Penn State men's hockey team, it's time for a fresh start, a clean slate. What the Nittany Lions accomplished earlier this season is no longer of importance. It's time for the Big Ten Tournament, and every team has an even chance. Anything can happen in the playoffs.

The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions (18-14-4, 10-9-1 B1G) will face fifth-seeded Ohio State (13-8-3, 8-11-1 B1G) Thursday. The team's spot in the bracket was finalized following its two losses against Minnesota last weekend; however, those loses are in the past. The Blue and White are only focused on the future.

"Literally two seconds after the game Saturday it was playoff time," head coach Guy Gadowsky. "What happened Friday didn't matter. What happened Saturday didn't matter. In fact, what happened this year didn't matter. I think down the road, a lot of the guys are going to look back at this with incredibly pride on what they accomplished. But as of right now, all they're thinking is it's playoff time."

After such a successful regular season, the team is headed into the tournament with confidence. The Lions know what they are capable of, and it's only a matter of playing their best brand of hockey.

Penn State is not ready for the season to end, and these athletes are going to battle for victories one game at a time and come out strong for this final push.

"You want to leave it all out there," said junior forward Casey Bailey. "You've got seniors that this is their last chance. They came here to play for a program that everybody said was going to lose. To be able to go out there and win and to have that possibility of picking up the Big Ten playoff championship your second season and your third season as a Division I team is a huge accomplishment. It's something we'd love to do."

Gadowsky Named B1G Coach of the Year

In addition to preparing for the tournament, the team had a major accomplishment to take pride in this week as the conference named Gadowsky the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

In just its third season as a Division I program, Gadowsky led the Nittany Lions to a winning record. The team more than doubled its win total from last season, showing how quickly the program has grown.

"It's great for this program," said Gadowsky of the honor. "I mean that award is really for when players exceed expectations. But, I think in this case it goes even further. It's not just about that. I think it's a lot about the atmosphere we have in the building, how well the ticket sales went, just a number of things. This is a program award."

While many questioned the legitimacy of Penn State hockey last season, there were signs that this team would accomplish large feats. The team's first round victory over Michigan in the 2013-14 Big Ten Tournament is merely one of those examples.

With a presence like Gadowsky on the bench, the team is more than capable of continuing its success for years to come.

McAdam Gets the Nod

Sophomore Eamon McAdam will mind the crease for Nittany Lions in the Thursday's first-round matchup. McAdam posted a .911 save percentage during his 11 games played and earned a 5-3-1 record during the regular season.

Furthermore, the sophomore is the Lions' lone goaltender to defeat Ohio State this season. McAdam was in net for the team's 5-1 victory over the Buckeyes, a game in which he made 35 stops.

"We've had a very nice home-ice advantage here at Pegula Ice Arena," said Gadowsky. "This game is not going to be at Pegula, and between the three, [McAdam] has by far the highest winning percentage away from Pegula Ice Arena. That's another reason. He also actually if you look at it both in conference and overall play does have the highest winning percentage, along with highest save percentage.

"I feel that he's actually probably faced the toughest opponents when you look at goals per game. I mean he played Michigan three times. He's played Minnesota. So, when you look at the opponents he's played, that he is our only goaltender that's played more games away than home, he's probably more prepared for this experience."

Scouting the Buckeyes

This season, Penn State fell in three of the four games it played Ohio State. The team was swept when it traveled to Columbus and split the series played in Hockey Valley.

Nevertheless, the Blue and White are not focused on what happened this season, instead preparing mentally and physically for what will happen Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

"It's not like we come in very, very confident and this is how's it's going to go and this is what we have to do," said Gadowksy. "I don't think either coaching staff feels that. But, I certainly give them a ton of credit and Coach Rohlik in terms of the discipline his team here has shown in this stretch. I think they've gone the last ten they've only lost three, last eight they've only lost two. I think their discipline has been a big part of that, and we certainly respect that. But, looking back at the season series between us, you really can't say this is what to expect. This is what we have to do. So, I think it makes it fun."

If the Nittany Lions want to succeed, they will have to find a way to end the Buckeyes' recent success. The team will need to shut down Ohio State's leading scorer Tanner Fritz, who had 26 points in the regular season, and find ways to get the puck by goalie Christian Frey. Frey has played in seven games against Penn State, posting a .936 save percentage and a 2.55 goals allowed average against the Blue and White.

Additionally, the Buckeyes have experience on their side. Although the Nittany Lions advanced to the semifinals in last year's tournament, Ohio State made it to the championship game. The Buckeyes eventually fell to Wisconsin in overtime, but they know what it takes to get to the finals.

"We're going to have to win three games to win the Big Ten, and I think it doesn't really matter who we're playing," Bailey said. "If we play our style of hockey, Penn State hockey, we can beat anybody. As long as we stick to our game, we're not really worried about who we're playing against."

PreviewGraphic_OhioState_B1G.jpg No. 1 Minnesota (12-5-3 B1G)

Points Leader: Mike Reilly, 42 points
Leading Goal Scorer: Kyle Rau, 19 goals
Assists Leader: Mike Reilly, 36 assists

Heading into the tournament, Minnesota is fresh off its sweep of the Nittany Lions and its second-straight Big Ten Conference Title. The Gophers also nabbed all three conference weekly honors, as Hudson Fashing was named First Star, Kyle Rau grabbed the Second Star and Adam Wilcox secured the Third Star. In addition to these honors, Minnesota's Mike Reilly was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the year and a All-Big Ten First Team selection. The No. 1-seeded Gophers will play their first game of the tournament Friday afternoon, taking on the winner of the Penn State/Ohio State matchup.

No. 2 Michigan State (11-7-2 B1G)

Points Leader: Matt Berry, 28 points
Leading Goal Scorer: Michael Ferrantino, 12 goals
Assists Leader: Matt Berry, 17 assists

Like Minnesota, the second-seed Spartans earned a bye in the first round of the tournament. They secured their spot in the bracket with a split last weekend against Michigan. Michigan State has won four of its last five games, all of which were backstopped by goaltender Jake Hildebrand. This week, Hildebrand was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, Big Ten Goaltender of the Year and an All-Big Ten First Team selection. He has played in all 34 games for the Spartans and leads the league with a .930 save percentage and a 2.12 goals allowed average.

No. 3 Michigan (12-8-0 B1G)

Points Leader: Zach Hyman, 49 points
Leading Goal Scorer: Zach Hyman, 19 goals
Assists Leader: Zach Hyman, 30 assists

Splitting its final series of the season, Michigan earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament for the second consecutive year. The Wolverines had a bit of a messy end to the season, falling in three of their final four. However, with numerous offense weapons, such as Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Dylan Larkin, and the Big Ten Scoring Champion, Zach Hyman, this team is sure to bounce back. Michigan will take on Wisconsin Friday night at 8 p.m.

No. 4 Penn State (10-9-1 B1G)

Points Leader: Casey Bailey, 40 points
Leading Goal Scorer: Casey Bailey, 22 goals
Assists Leader: Taylor Holstrom, 26 assists

The Nittany Lions had a disappointing end to the regular season, falling to Minnesota last Friday and Saturday. Nevertheless, the Lions are moving ahead, getting ready to face Ohio State. The team will look to Bailey, its points and goals leader, Bailey, on Thursday. The junior has four goals and an assist against the Buckeyes this year. This week, Bailey was named an All-Big Ten First Team selection, and freshman Scott Conway was named an All-Big Ten Freshman selection. Bailey, Conway and the rest of the Lions will take the ice Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

No. 5 Ohio State (8-11-1 B1G)

Points Leader: Tanner Fritz, 26 points
Leading Goal Scorer: Anthony Greco, 15 goals
Assists Leader: Tanner Fritz, 15 assists

The Buckeyes ended their season in Madison, taking five of the six possible Big Ten points against Wisconsin. Now, they will face Penn State, a team they swept at the end of February. Furthermore, Ohio State has only lost three of its last ten games, which gives them confidence moving into the postseason. Following the end of the regular season, Matthew Weis was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman team. The Buckeyes are set to play the Nittany Lions Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.

No. 6 Wisconsin (2-15-3 B1G)

Points Leader: Grant Besse, 22 points
Leading Goal Scorer: Grant Besse, 11 goals
Assists Leader: Joseph LaBate, 12 assists

The Badgers are coming off of a tough season. Having only won four total games, two of which were conference matchups, the team is certainly entering the Big Ten Tournament as the underdog. However, Wisconsin has huge potential and it has shown glimpses of that throughout the year. The team took down then-No. 5 Michigan Tech in January and tied then-No. 2 Boston University the following week. They can play and keep up with the best in the country when it is least expected. The Badgers will take the ice Thursday at to face Michigan.

2014-15 B1G Hockey Tournament Bracket.jpg

Nittany Lions Head to Minnesota with Much on the Line

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four teams. Three points. One Big Ten Regular Season Champion.

With one final weekend series separating the Penn State men's hockey team and the Big Ten Tournament, it's safe to say the Nittany Lions have yet to play two games this season as important as those upcoming against Minnesota.

Currently, the team sits in fourth place among the conference standings; however, it is only three points behind Michigan State, the first place team. Sandwiched between Penn State and the Spartans are Minnesota and Michigan. Both second-place teams currently have 33 points.

To make matters even more interesting, these top four programs will all face each other this weekend as the Lions take on the Gophers and Michigan State goes head to head with Michigan.

Anything is possible this weekend. Big Ten hockey is unpredictable.

"We have an opportunity to for sure put ourselves in a bye situation, but we could also even win the league this year," said forward Casey Bailey. "To be able to accomplish that in our second year in the league would be something we'd love to do. We're just going to take it one game at a time."

In order to attain either of those feats, this series with Minnesota is crucial for the Blue and White. With two wins, the Lions have a chance to either steal the No. 1 seed in the tournament or claim the No. 2 spot. The top two teams in the conference secure a bye on the opening day of the tournament.

The Nittany Lions are playing for a top spot and that bye.

"It kind of has a playoff mentality toward the games," Bailey said. "You're not necessarily playing for your life, but you're playing for where you're going to sit in the tournament. You could either be getting some rest that first night or you could be playing. A lot is on the line, and I think we're looking forward to the opportunity. It's pretty exciting that two wins this weekend could possibly give us the win and for sure give us the bye."

For Penn State (18-12-4, 10-7-1 B1G) to grab that top spot, it needs to sweep No. 15 Minnesota (19-12-3, 10-5-3 B1G). Two victories would give the Lions 37 points, but they would still need luck on their side. Even if the Blue and White earn six additional points, winning the league and earning the No. 1 seed would come down to the series between the Spartans and Wolverines.

Michigan State must lose and win a shootout against Michigan for the Lions to have any chance at grabbing the top seed. If that scenario occurred, the Spartans would finish with 35 points, and Michigan would finish with 37. Penn State would win the tiebreaker with the Wolverines, thanks to a winning record over its biggest conference rival.

"We're just trying to approach this like any other weekend," said captain Patrick Koudys. "We've had a good week of practice, and we just need to mentally stay focused. It was kind of nice this week we had spring break so we could focus a little more on hockey. It's a big weekend for us, and we're ready to go."

No matter what the results are in East Lansing and Ann Arbor, if the Nittany Lions come away with two wins or a win and shootout victory, the No. 2 spot will be theirs for the taking.

It will all come down to the team's performance in Minneapolis.

"We know we're going into a big ice surface in Minnesota," Bailey said. "It's tough to win in anybody else's arena, but I think after how we played this past weekend again Michigan, we're going in with a lot of confidence. Everything is on the table, so we're really looking forward to seeing what we can do."

In the last meeting between Penn State and Minnesota, the two teams split. The Blue and White fell, 2-1, on Friday night but rebounded and downed the Gophers, 4-3, in overtime the following evening.

The victory marked the first time in program history that the Nittany Lions defeated Minnesota. They know they can compete with the Gophers, and they're ready to play their best version of Penn State hockey at Mariucci Arena come Friday night.

"I feel like they're not too difficult to play against, but it's hard to beat them," Koudys said of Minnesota. "That kind of contradicts itself a little bit, but they're definitely a good team. They have been for years, and they're known for being a great team. I think when we did beat them, we were doing what makes us great. When we did those things the right way, we were able to beat them."

Knowing what's at stake, Penn State is prepared to battle for sixty minutes.

These games have a bigger, more significant meaning. No one on the team is taking that lightly.

"It's not just another two games," Koudys said. "This is it. If we win these two games, we get something more than just two wins. We're excited about that. I know I'm really excited, and we just want to get down there and do well."

Lions Sweep Michigan in Final Homestand of the Season

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the last time this season, the Penn State men's hockey team skated over to the Roar Zone, arms around each other, and sang the alma matter after a victory. With two wins over No. 16 Michigan, arguably the team's biggest rival, the Nittany Lions could not be happier with their final weekend in Pegula Ice Arena.

Friday, with sophomore Eamon McAdam in net, Penn State (18-12-4, 10-7-1 B1G) downed the Wolverines (19-13-0, 11-7-0 B1G), 6-4. The team made sure to stick to its winning ways in front of PJ Musico, who made the final home start of his career the following afternoon on senior day. Once again the Blue and White emerged victorious, holding on in the final seconds by a score of 4-3.

With the two wins, not only did the senior class finish in Hockey Valley on a high note, but the team also secured its first winning season.

"We certainly didn't think it would happen this quickly, so it's something that feels pretty good," head coach Guy Gadowsky said of the winning record. "I'm really glad that the senior group that is here now got it because a lot of people told them when they were making the decision to come to Penn State that they'd lose for four years. So, to have them be the class that did it feels really good."

The fact that this winning season was finalized after two big performances against Michigan has not gone unnoticed by the team. The Nittany Lions have always found success when facing the Wolverines.

Last season, Penn State knocked the team out of the Big Ten Tournament during the first round, which also ended Michigan's chances to make the NCAA Tournament. Now this season, the Blue and White beat the Wolverines in three out of the four games they've played.

For some reason, the Nittany Lions consistently have Michigan's number.

"We always seem to play our best when we're against them," said captain Patrick Koudys. "I don't know what it is. We just play well. It's great to see PJ [Musico] make all those big saves, especially at the right times. But, we do find success against them, so we've got to just keep rolling with it."

Sophomore David Goodwin, in particular, had a tremendous weekend for the Blue and White. He finished with five points, two goals and three assists, and a plus-four rating. His line was also incredibly successful, racking up 10 points over the two games.

With the absence of Taylor Holstrom due to injury, many wondered if Goodwin and junior Casey Bailey would successfully generate the same amount of offense. Both forwards knew they would need to make some adjustments, but with the addition of Tommy Olczyk, they were confident and ready to take on Michigan.

"Casey Bailey and I talked before the weekend started, and we knew if we were going to have success we were going to have to pick it up a little bit, trying to fill that big hole in the lineup," said Goodwin. "But, Tommy Olczyk was a phenomenal addition to our line. He brought energy and speed, which is what we needed, which is what Holstrom brings for our line. It was a great weekend for our line, and I'm looking forward to building this week in practice with Casey and Tommy."

However, Goodwin credits the dominant play against Michigan to one other aspect, which the entire team can also agree with.

"I just really don't like them," Goodwin said of Michigan. "It really kind of lights a fire under me a little bit. It's just one of those things where they kind of get under my skin a little bit, and I like to retaliate by putting the puck in the net."

Overall, the weekend proved to be a big bounce back for this Penn State squad, which has struggled a bit as of late. The two wins helped boost team confidence and morale. Going into a weekend against Minnesota, positivity is exactly what the Nittany Lions needed.

"This is something that we won't forget," said Gadowsky. "I mean any time that you're able to sweep Michigan is huge. It feels great. I think it is something to look back on down the road and gain a lot of confidence from this. The fact that it happened on senior night, and at a time that we're in the conversation, it becomes an important time for both teams. It feels really good. I feel really good about what the guys were able to accomplish in very meaningful games."

The weekend was an emotional one, especially for the senior class, a group of student-athletes who have done so much for this program. Nevertheless, even with these victories, the entire team knows these next two weeks will be the biggest of them all.

This squad wants to continue to leave its marks on Penn State hockey.

"It was awesome," said Koudys of the sweep. "I mean, even looking back the first game us seniors played here we won and then the last game. So, it's pretty awesome. A lot of emotions in the locker room, that's for sure, but there's still lots to do."

Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/7)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions will close their series against the University of Michigan. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. and marks the team's final time home this season. Seven seniors, including Jake Friedman, Taylor Holstrom, Max Gardiner, Nate Jensen, Patrick Koudys, PJ Musico and Peter Sweetland, will be honored prior to the start.

Live Blog Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/7)

Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/6)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Tonight, the Nittany Lions will open their series with the University of Michigan. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Live Blog Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/6)

Seven Seniors Set to Play Final Home Games

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three years ago, Jacob Friedman, Taylor Holstrom, Nate Jensen, PJ Musico and Peter Sweetland were all playing hockey for Penn State's club team, the Icers. When Max Gardiner arrived the following season, all six student-athletes partook in the team's inaugural Division I season. Last year, with the addition of Patrick Koudys, they dressed for the first season of the Big Ten Conference, the first season in Pegula Ice Arena.

Now, their time at Penn State is coming to a close. This weekend, all seven seniors will see the final home games of their careers as Nittany Lions. Nevertheless, this class is incredibly special to the program. The mark they have left on Penn State Hockey will remain intact forever.

"This was really the first guys that were sort of recruited, and if you remember, when they were recruited, when they committed to us, when they said yes, we weren't even Division I at the time, let alone in a league," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "They said there was going to be a league, but there wasn't. They said there was going to be this beautiful building, but there wasn't. There wasn't even a shovel in the ground.

"These guys, they had to have a lot of faith in Penn State and what this staff was sort of saying would happen. More importantly, they had to have a lot of faith in themselves because we recruited a lot of players. A good portion of those would come back and say, 'Jeez. I just don't want to lose for four years.' These guys never said that. Anybody that came from this class, they never said that."

These athletes didn't come to Happy Valley solely to win. The road ahead was going to be tough, but they wanted to build a program. They wanted to be the foundation of Penn State hockey.

That is exactly what they have done.

This group includes players with tremendous leadership abilities, players with a strong presence both in the locker room and on the ice, players with true character.

"I've learned that you just have to take things as they come and help everyone stay focused on the tasks at hand," said Jensen, the team's assistant captain. "There's always going to be ups and downs. It's not easy, but that's part of hockey and being a leader."

The determination of the senior class is a big part of the reason the Nittany Lions have found what some may call unexpected success this season. Yet, these seven knew there was magic in Hockey Valley. It just had to be uncovered and recognized.

During their time at Penn State, the class has combined for 150 career-points. Holstrom currently leads the way with 67, followed by Gardiner's 28 and Jensen's 26.

Koudys blocked 137 shots for the team in his 68 appearanced. Muscio has registered a .904 career save-percentage, and Friedman and Sweetland have appeared in 41 and 42 games for the Blue and White, respectively.

The class continuously provides depth for the team, but they also add personality.

"Goofballs," said Jensen when describing his fellow seniors. "No, but really, we're a hard working group. We may not be the most skilled class, but we definitely have a lot of heart. We like to lead by example and give it our all every time we're out there."

The final games in Hockey Valley for these seven will not be an easy task. With Michigan coming into town, emotions will be high. The history between Penn State (16-12-4, 8-7-1 B1G) and the Wolverines (19-11-0, 11-5-0 B1G) always drives up the level of play, the level of physicality.

With such few points separating the top four spots in the Big Ten Conference, the Lions know they'll need to dig deep and focus.

"There's definitely a rivalry between Michigan and Penn State that started from last year and earlier this season," Jensen explained. "Our two teams don't like each other. It's definitely going to be good hockey games, and I'm excited. I'm looking forward to the weekend."
Although Friedman, Gardiner, Holstrom, Jensen, Koudys, Musico and Sweetland will all be honored in a senior ceremony this weekend, the seven will have one final series against Minnesota and the Big Ten Tournament to prepare for following the last two games in Pegula Ice Arena.

With such tough weekends ahead, the Nittany Lions know playing their best hockey is even more important now.

"What I like is that we're facing the top two teams going into playoffs," said Gadowsky. "I like that. To face the best going into playoffs I think is a positive experience. You're going to be forced to play at such a high level that I feel that can only help you going into the Big Ten Tournament."

These seven seniors have experienced all the ups and downs of this program.

They played in club games. They played in the first Division I season. They played in Greenberg Ice Pavilion. They played in Pegula Ice Arena.

Most importantly, these seniors gave their hearts and souls to Penn State hockey. That kind of dedication is rare and can never be forgotten.

"I will definitely always remember," said Gadowsky of this class. "Always. Forever."

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