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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of Penn State men's hockey. This evening, the Nittany Lions take on Bentley.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There's no "I" in team, which is a concept goaltender Matthew Skoff is quick to recognize.
This season, Skoff has led his team to three victories, two draws and one loss. He has stopped 163 shots and allows an average of only 1.96 goals per game.
Even with his impressive play, the junior credits his two 2014-'15 Big Ten weekly honors, the second of which came following this past weekend's performance, to the entire team.
"I think it's indicative of how well the team's playing right now," Skoff said of his third star honor. "The team is playing really well. When individuals on a team have success it's more or less likely because the team is playing really well."
Through the first six games, the Lions have scored 25 goals and allowed only 12. The team is a cumulative plus-35, and 14 different Lions have found the back of the net.
Penn State is clicking.
"I think everyone believes in each other a lot more," explained the goalie. "Everyone came back basically. We are playing well, and I think the reason being is last year we really started picking up at the end of the year."
"Then this year, I think we're kind of rolling into the next season. Right now, we're taking it one game at a time, and it's worked so far. We just have to keep that attitude."
Skoff's team mentality was a driving force in his offseason preparations.
The junior took all the necessary steps to put himself in a position to succeed by both working with the team's strength coach throughout the summer months and by attending an NHL development camp with the San Jose Sharks.
"He obviously put in the work both physically and mentally to be able to play at a very high level out of the gates," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "We're very happy to see that. We're not at all surprised to see it because of how he ended up last year but very happy to see it."
Despite his efforts this summer, Skoff feels there is always room for improvement.
"Every summer I try to prepare the same way, no matter what," the goalie said. "We all had a good summer. A lot of us stayed back here and worked with each other, but I'm not going to say I'm playing outstanding. I can always get better and the same with the team."
Looking forward, Penn State (3-1-2) is ready to take on Bentley (3-2-0) this Thursday.
The game, which comes just four days after their last contest, gives the Lions a limited amount of preparation time. Nevertheless, the Blue and White are on a roll, and they want to keep things moving.
"I think the team's playing well, and I think when you're playing well it's important to get more and more games under your belt," Skoff said. "Hopefully, like I said earlier, we're just going to hopefully keep this rolling because the more and more games you play, the more and more you get comfortable with each other."
Bentley is fresh off an away sweep of Rensselaer, where the team scored a total of nine goals and held RPI to only two.
Even with Penn State's early offensive explosion, the team knows these games will be hard fought.
"I know they score a lot of goals," said Gadowsky. "They don't necessarily pepper the net, but they score a lot of goals. We're scoring quite a few ourselves. I think we're right around four, and they're at 3.8, something like that. They're just behind us. So they score a lot of goals and they just swept RPI at RPI, which is a tough place to play. I know they're playing very well right now."
Knowing Bentley's strengths will help the Lions in their final home series of the fall semester.
"They had some good teams the past couple of years, so we're not going to take them lightly," Skoff said of Bentley. "We're going to treat it like every other game. We're going to come in and do our best to put up a W."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the clock wound down and the horn sounded Sunday afternoon, the Penn State men's ice hockey team jumped onto the ice in celebration.
The Lions had not only just emerged victoriously over Holy Cross, but they also earned their first series sweep at Pegula Ice Arena.
Friday night, the Lions (3-1-2) came away with a 3-1 win over the Crusaders (1-4-1). Following a day of rest, the Blue and White turned in an even more dominant performance in the second game, defeating Holy Cross, 7-1.
"Both of these, we came into the third in a tight game and ended up pulling away," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I thought that's a big step. Obviously, you don't get a grade for mental toughness on two games alone, but it certainly is a nice step to show the guys they can have confidence and they can do it."
Over the course of the weekend, the Lions saw goals from seven different student-athletes. Casey Bailey, Eric Scheid and Scott Conway accounted for six of the 10 goals scored.
"They don't write up how the goal is on the score sheet, so pretty much just getting your name on there is good, but I think having those pretty ones definitely gives you confidence," Bailey said following Sunday's game. "I think, for our line, that was a full line goal. It gives our line confidence. I mean, obviously to get that one off Conway's back is huge for him, and Loik's power play goal was probably a good step in the right direction."
Richard - No Goal
Even with an array of scoring, the Lions had a tough break Friday evening.
As the first period was coming to an end, Dylan Richard made a beautiful play, kept his focus on the net and beat the Crusaders' goalie, appearing to break up the scoreless game.
Moments later, the officials reviewed the call, disallowed the goal and sent Richard to the box for goaltender interference.
"That was a weird play, but I guess I got it around our blue line," explained Richard. "It was nice back pressure by Rick [DeRosa] and Scooter [Conway] there. I mean, I just chipped it by the D-man, made a slip passed him, opened the net and tucked it around the goalie.
"I didn't think I interfered with him enough to cause a penalty and disallow the goal, but I know that's a point of emphasis this year with the refs. It's a tough break, but we managed. I was just laughing because it's a tough break and you can't do much about it."
Gadowsky's thoughts on the disallowed goal were clear. The coach was very animated when discussing the play with the referees as he tried to understand why his team was suddenly on the penalty kill for what he believed to be a beautiful play.
"The explanation was that right now in the NCAA, a point of emphasis is goaltender interference," Gadowsky said. "The explanation was that Dylan Richard interfered with the goaltender. I don't agree with that at all, and I'm very anxious to see what the league says about it after they see the tape. To me, that was probably the prettiest goal we've scored all year."
Conway - First NCAA Goal
Quickly skating into the offensive zone during the third period of Sunday afternoon's game, Scott Conway had the puck on his stick and determination on his side.
The forward, who had already notched two assists, was hungry for his first collegiate goal.
He skated at the defender, pushing the puck left while moving right, and then took off toward the Holy Cross net. Conway placed the puck perfectly in the upper corner, giving Penn State a four-goal lead.
"I remember getting the pass from [Eric] Scheid as I tried to split the D there," explained Conway. "I didn't quite do it, so I just tried to beat the guy so I could just try to push it forward. Then he got confused, I think, and couldn't find the puck.
"I ended up on the puck side. The goalie slid over a little too far, so I brought it back to the other side and luckily it went in."
Mere minutes later, the freshman buried a second goal on the power play, sealing Holy Cross's fate and the series sweep.
In a game filled with impressive goal scoring by all, Conway's first NCAA goal did not disappoint.
"That was actually a big time goal," said Gadowsky. "He's got such quick hands and a real hunger to score. You saw it on that play. That was a big time goal."
Conway turned in a four-point performance in the series' second game, giving Penn State fans a glimpse of his skill level and hockey sense.
Friedman - First Goal Against an NCAA Team
Senior Jacob Friedman laced up his skates and took the ice Sunday for his first game of the season.
He was sure to make the most of his ice time.
Just over two minutes after celebrating Conway's tally, fans in Pegula Ice Arena once again rose to their feet to applaud another goal, Friedman's first against an NCAA Division I team.
"You can't find a better locker room guy, and I think there's not a guy on the team that doesn't love him," said Bailey of his teammate. "I think when you see a guy like that who is always working hard, he does everything the coach asks and he finally gets one in after all these years of trying. I think he's had all the opportunities, plays well, and I think it gets the guys excited for sure."
Friedman's last Nittany Lion goal came during the 2012-'13 season. Last year, he posted two assists.
Holding the puck Friedman scored with in his hands, Gadowsky could not say enough about the team's excitement for the senior.
"It's not often the bench goes nuts in a 5-1, 6-1 game, but the bench was so pumped for him," Gadowsky said. "He is just such a tremendous teammate and such a tremendous person. I guarantee every guy on the team was so excited for him, more than even when they score themselves.
"The whole team was just so pumped that he scored. He's such a great person. He's such a great teammate. That was awesome to see."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Pressure is nothing new for David Goodwin.
Ending last season second in scoring for the Nittany Lions, the sophomore knows expectations for this season are high, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm looked upon to put the puck in the net and to help other people put the puck in the net," the forward said. "I think there's always, at whatever level or whatever age I am, there's going to be pressure, but I like it. I like being one of the guys that's looked upon. Hopefully I can have another good year."
To prepare for his second year donning the Blue and White, the sophomore put forth the extra effort during the offseason, working on the little things that will help to further elevate his level of play.
With four points in four game this season, Goodwin has not disappointed.
"My conditioning was probably my biggest thing," said Goodwin of what he needed to improve. "Obviously with playing consistently, you need to be at your best shape you can, so that was a big point of emphasis for me and on my shot.
"I want to be able to score from further out. I feel like I'm pretty good around the net, making quick plays and banging home rebounds, but I want to be able to score from father out and hopefully get a few more."
The forward will look to add to his scoring this weekend, as the team returns home to take on Holy Cross.
Playing at Pegula Ice Arena brings excitement to the entire program, student-athletes and coaches alike, and it seems to add an extra spark to Goodwin's game. Of his 18 points last season, 11 were earned at home in front of Penn State fans.
This year is no different, as the sophomore has already racked up two goals and two assists while playing in Happy Valley.
"All those points have come from playing here at Pegula, so I love playing here," Goodwin said. "There's no secret. Last year, a good chunk of my points came from playing here in front of our fans.
"I just think trying to be consistent, whether it be at home or on the road, just trying to play consistently and just being a good linemate and trying to make plays out there is the key."
Friday, Sunday Holy Cross Series
As Goodwin and the Nittany Lions (1-1-2) prepare to take on Holy Cross (1-2-1), they know they have to account for an unusual schedule.
Instead of the typical Friday and Saturday evening games, the two teams will face off on Friday night and Sunday afternoon due to Penn State's home football game.
"We actually offered a Thursday, Friday scenario, and Holy Cross, under the reason of academics, wanted it to be a Friday, Sunday," explained head coach Guy Gadowsky. "They actually made the move."
While the Lions are looking to bounce back from their draw and loss in Alaska, the Crusaders are looking to build off last weekend's success. Holy Cross is fresh off its series with AIC, games in which the team went 1-0-1.
To succeed this weekend, the Lions will not only need to battle through these losses, but they will also need to stay confident, composed and mentally tough.
"There are certain things that we do that are our objectives that when it comes down to the most crucial times, we have to know 100 percent that those things are going to happen," Gadowsky said. "Right now, and I'm not going to go into the people that aren't there yet, but quite honestly that's not happening at the most crucial times.
"We're doing them for a longer period of time, but when it matters most we have to know 100 percent that those objectives are gong to be met. Right now, they're not, so it's not just a matter of winning. I think it's really coming up with a plan that in those crucial times X, Y and Z are absolutely going to happen."
Even with some of the team's mental blocks, Goodwin knows he and his teammates can overcome the issues with time. The Lions are hopeful they can begin taking the necessary steps this weekend.
"I think the confidence is there," said Goodwin. "It's just mental toughness, and those few little mistakes can creep up whenever. I just think it's something we're going to work on, and I'm sure we'll get better."
The Lions and the Crusaders will open their series 7 p.m. Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions arrived in Fairbanks last Wednesday, after traveling 4,160 miles, ready to compete in the Brice Goal Rush tournament against Alaska Anchorage and Alaska for the first time in program history.
Friday night, Penn State (1-1-2) and Alaska Anchorage (3-0-1) reached a 3-3 tie following overtime, and after allowing two third-period goals in the final minutes of Saturday's game, the Lions were defeated, 4-3, by Alaska (4-0).
Although the team made the 4,160 mile journey back home with a tie and its first loss of the season in hand, head coach Guy Gadowsky is happy with the overall effort.
"For the most part, I thought we performed well," Gadowsky said. "We were ahead in the third both nights. In one we let them come back, and in the other game we lost. That's certainly a maturation process that we have to go through, but I'm very optimistic that we'll get it quickly because we had to go through that last year."
Moving forward, the Lions will need to dig deep and find ways to hold off the opposition in the final minutes of play, which is a not a new concept for the team.
"I thought we played pretty well until the last five, ten minutes of both games," said senior Max Gardiner. "We have to find a way to win those games. Come Big Ten play, we're going to be playing good teams every night. Those are the types of games we're going to be in. To be successful in the Big Ten, we're going to have to find a way to win those games."
While the results were not what the Lions were striving toward, the team once again found success on the power play. The Blue and White scored three goals with the man advantage throughout the course of the weekend, two against Alaska Anchorage and one against Alaska.
The team also received its first five-minute power play, which it took full advantage of.
"I think one of the goals is to always score on a five-minute major," Gadowsky said. "That's the first five-minute major power play that we've had. We've given up eight. When you get a five-minute power play, it certainly looks good.
"I think it's a little bit of a factor of we're focused more on it than we were last year because we're further in our process, and I think we're putting ourselves in better positions by just making better decision all around. We're on the power play instead of killing, which is very much opposite last year."
Gardiner, who had not recorded a point since November of last year, scored the Lion's goal on the five-minute penalty.
"It was a beautiful goal, and it's funny because he was playing extremely well, very well in his own end," Gadowsky said of Gardiner. "He made really good decisions, so to see him score a goal, and such a beauty, was really great."
Bailey and Scheid Return to Alaska
While this trip was the first to Alaska for the majority of the Lions, Casey Bailey, an Alaska native, and Eric Scheid, a former student-athlete at Alaska Anchorage, both made their returns to the state.
Even with the bit of added pressure, both forwards did their best to contribute.
"I actually thought they both played very well," Gadowsky said. "Casey scored, and Eric Scheid led our team in shots Friday night. I thought both of them played extremely well."
Against his former team, Scheid won eight of his nine faceoffs and tallied six shots. His lone goal of the weekend came the following night when the team took on the Nanooks.
Bailey, who had the opportunity to play in front of his family and friends, scored Friday night, which allowed him to settle in and focus on the games at hand.
"It was definitely a lot of fun," Bailey said of playing in his home state. "It was a little bit nerve wracking the first night, but I think after the first period or so I calmed down. I was excited to be able to see all my family and friends. They were pretty enthusiastic about being able to watch me play, so it was a good weekend."
Friday evening also marked a scary experience for the Lions, especially for defenseman David Thompson. With 3:32 left in the overtime period against Alaska Anchorage, Thompson required medical assistance for an abdominal laceration and was ultimately take off the ice on a stretcher.
Luckily, the defenseman's injury could have been much worse. Thompson was taken to the local hospital for stiches, but Gadowsky is confident he will be back on the ice shortly.
"Yeah, he's going to be great," said Gadowsky of Thompson. "He's going to be fine. They took really good care of him. It was scary at the start, and we took every precaution, but he's going to be back at 100 percent very soon."
When not at the rink, the team made the most of exploring Alaska and experiencing all Fairbanks had to offer.
The Lions took a trip to Eielson Air Force Base and were given a private tour by Penn State hockey alumnus Maj. Joe Bassett.
"I think every one of our student-athletes won't forget their Alaskan experience," Gadowsky said. "I think it opened their eyes a little bit. I think it was different.
"We had a chance to meet one of our hockey alumni that works as a fighter pilot at Eielson Air Force Base, which was a great experience. Overall, obviously we would have loved to have won, but the overall experience I think was excellent."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Casey Bailey has recorded his fair share of program firsts since arriving at Penn State. The forward scored the Nittany Lion's first goal at the NCAA level in 2012, played in the first game at Pegula Ice Arena in 2013 and just recorded the team's first shootout goal this past weekend.
While Bailey seems to have a knack for carving his way into the Penn State hockey history books, he will be one of the few Nittany Lions to not experience the trip to Alaska as a first this weekend because for Bailey, traveling to Alaska means heading home.
"I actually found out freshman year," said the Alaska-native regarding the team's trip. "I was talking to Billy [Downey], who does a lot of our scheduling, and I knew they were looking forward to getting into one of those Alaska tournaments.
"I was pushing for the Anchorage one because I'd much rather play in my hometown rather than a neighboring city, but I think I was honestly excited. I told my parents about it when it was further down the road, but now that it's here it's definitely really exciting."
Living in Anchorage, Bailey grew up religiously watching college hockey, paying particular attention to the Alaskan teams. Now, the forward has the opportunity to see both Alaska Anchorage and Alaska in action again, this time as the competition.
"I know they're both pretty good teams," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I know for UAF, they've got a really good team right now. They just beat Wisconsin. This is a year for them that they feel really positive about.
"Their captain, he had the opportunity to sign last year and didn't. He's an excellent defensemen. I mean they've got a very good team. We're going to play in a great hockey environment. Time difference is a factor, but it'll be a great experience."
No stranger to the four-hour time difference, Bailey has been helping his team prepare for the trip, giving them tips based off his travel experiences. Following Saturday's win over UConn, the forward addressed the Lions explaining the importance of proper rest leading up to the extensive journey.
The team then left State College Tuesday afternoon following practice and bused to Newark before hopping on a plane to Seattle early Wednesday morning. The Blue-and-White concluded their trip with one final flight from Seattle to Fairbanks.
"I was kind of just focusing on making sure that we be professionals about it," Bailey explained of his presentation to the team. "We don't need to look for an excuse to play bad over the weekend, so I don't want them to be using the long flight, the long travel as an excuse. I think we'll be fine. I honestly think it's not a huge deal. I think we're getting there in plenty of time to be ready for it. I just think as long as we have the right mindset we'll be good."
Despite the travel, both Bailey and Gadowsky know this Alaskan experience will be extremely positive for Penn State.
Gadowsky is also expecting an incredible playing environment.
"It is a fun experience because the people there have been great, just so great," Gadowsky explained of Fairbanks. "The community there is just awesome, and in that way I think it's very similar to what we have at Penn State. The community has really rallied behind the team, and that I find really, really fun. We have a lot of great friends there so it'll be nice to see a lot of people."
Although the visiting team, Penn State will be well represented in Fairbanks as Bailey's family and friends will be in attendance, watching him play live in Alaska for the first time in six or seven years. The junior is anticipating upwards of 50 people making the trek from Anchorage.
"Fortunately, my parents get to make the trip to Penn State quite often, more than you'd expect, but a lot of close family friends and relatives are actually getting the opportunity to come watch me play," said Bailey. "They rarely ever get the opportunity, so it's definitely exciting. I have some friends coming, family friends, all kinds of different people coming to watch. It's definitely going to be a big stage for me personally, but I think we're all looking forward to it."
The Nittany Lions take on Alaska Anchorage Friday night at 9:07 p.m. ET, when Bailey will try to knock out whatever other program firsts he can in front of his closest friends and family.
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - From the drop of the puck to the final sound of the horn, Penn State (1-0-1) played a complete 60 minutes of sound, physical hockey en route to a commanding 7-1 victory over UConn (1-0-1) Saturday afternoon at Pegula Ice Arena.
The Blue and White third line of David Goodwin, Taylor Holstrom and Casey Bailey combined for four goals and five assists, Jonathan Milley maintained his physicality and goaltender Matthew Skoff made 28 saves to lead the charge for the Nittany Lions.
"I would like to think that what you saw tonight is going to be a lot more indicative of what you see the rest of the year," said head coach Guy Gadowsky.
Thanks in large part to the stellar play of Skoff and the penalty killing units in front of him, the Nittany Lions warded off a five-on-three penalty kill in the first 10 minutes of play to alter momentum in their favor.
"I think that [penalty kill] changed the game for us," said Bailey who tallied a goal and two assists. "Getting that right off the start...with big blocks from a lot of players and Skoff stood on his head there in the first ten minutes. A different outcome for that first ten minutes could've changed the game for sure."
The smart and patient play of the Penn State penalty killing units during the two-man disadvantage kept UConn off of the scoreboard, but it was the performance of Skoff that Gadowsky believes made all the difference.
"The kill was the key," said Gadowsky. "If you're going to have a good penalty kill though, your goaltender has to be your best killer, and he certainly was. It's tough though to kill a five-on-three and a five-minute major. It's tiring and it's tough. I think the guys deserve a ton of credit for that. Skoffer definitely led the way."
Despite committing six penalties of their own, the Nittany Lions registered a shorthanded goal via a blistering top shelf wrist shot from Taylor Holstrom and a power play goal from Jonathan Milley as part of a five-goal second period.
"It's a backbreaker for the other team, especially when they have that many power play opportunities and can't put one in, and then we go down and get a shorty," said Holstrom who finished with two goals and an assist. "It feels good."
According to Gadowsky, the play of Holstrom during Friday night's tie prompted his big Saturday afternoon on the stat sheet.
"There is such a thing as the hockey gods," said Gadowsky. "And with Taylor Holstrom, he really was the best forward [Friday] night all around. His commitment to back checking yesterday was great.... Often when you have someone who is that committed to the team goals with things that don't show up on the score sheet, often they get rewarded. So it was great to see him and his line have a tremendous game tonight."
Similar words can be said for Milley, whose physical play on both sides of the puck energized Penn State's play in both contests against UConn.
"It's something that we've been waiting for," said Gadowsky on Milley's execution on the ice. "He has a history of being a dominant player.... This is the most healthy he's been in four or five years. Along with our trainer Justin Rogers and our strength coach Cam Davidson, the three of them worked extremely hard this summer. The difference in him physically is huge. He dropped his body fat tremendously. He really improved in his cardio and his mobility, and you can definitely see a difference out there, and we'd like to see a lot more of it."
Next up, the Nittany Lions travel to Fairbanks, Alaska, for the Brice Goal Rush for a game against Alaska Anchorage on Oct. 17 and a contest versus Alaska Nanooks on Oct. 18.