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Koudys, Jensen, Glen: Trio of Leaders for Penn State Hockey

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10321310.jpegBy Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Wearing the "C" or "A" in hockey means something much more significant than donning an extra letter on the front of a jersey. These letters represent ideals such as leadership, experience, strength and dedication.

As announced in June, defenseman Patrick Koudys will serve as captain this season for Penn State, while defenseman Nate Jensen and forward David Glen will both reprise their assistant captains roles.

Leadership

The three Penn State hockey captains were chosen based on a team vote at the conclusion of the Spring 2014 semester. The results were then taken to the coaching staff to both approve the team's selections and finalize the decision.

"It's a huge honor," said Koudys of his captaincy. "We had a great bunch of guys, so it's obviously a nice thing when a lot of the guys think that about you, but we've got a lot of guys who are in the locker room leading, so it's kind of easy for me.

During the 2013-'14 run, the Ontario-native blocked a team-high 79 shots and was one of only four Nittany Lions to compete in all 36 games. The 6-foot-3 defenseman also recorded a career-high eight points, tallying two goals and six assists on the season.

While this may be Koudys' first year as a captain for the Blue and White, two veterans join him. This season will mark Jensen's third and Glen's second consecutive year as assistant captains.

Glen and Jensen both appeared in 32 and 28 games, respectively. Jensen's eight missed games were all due to injury. The defenseman totaled 10 points with a career-high three goals, one of which was the first ever scored at Pegula Ice Arena.

"I lead by example," said Jensen. "I go out there every day and work hard, and hopefully the younger guys follow me, see what I do. "

Three of Glen's four absences can be attributed to the bone marrow donation procedure he underwent in late January and early February. Throughout his 32 games, the forward accumulated a plus-three rating, earning him recognition as the sole Lion with a positive mark.

All three are ready to work together and help their team continue on the path of success this season.

"Koudys is our captain this year, and he does a great job," said Jensen. "He leads by example, and he has a voice to him too. Glen and I are just his disciples. We help him out whenever we can. Since he's still kind of new, we fill him in on some stuff, but we all work as a team really well. I think that's what makes our captains really great."

Responsibilities


As a captain, there are a number of added responsibilities, one of which includes coordinating schedules with all student-athletes on the 27-man roster.

"I think a main part of it is organization," Koudys said. "I have to try to organize 26 guys and myself to be doing the same thing, whether it's on the ice or off the ice, especially now when the coaches aren't allowed on the ice. I try to get practices going and things like that, but like I said, we've got a great group of guys so I wouldn't say it's difficult by any means. Everyone's doing the right thing and trying to get better out there, so it's pretty easy for me."

Although the Penn State squad is mostly comprised of upperclassmen veterans, the captains still act as mentors. Koudys, Jensen and Glen are all people the rest of the team, including the three freshmen, can look to for guidance and advice.

"We kind of take care of the freshmen a little bit more," Jensen explained. "If they have any questions, we help them out. Other than that, if any of the guys have some questions outside the rink, or needs someone to talk to, we're always there. We're just kind of a big brother to lean on."

2014-'15 Expectations

With eight seniors, nine juniors and seven sophomores on the roster, 24 of the 27 student-athletes are returning members, which not only gives the Lions an added edge but also leadership that expands far past the three captains.

"Our whole senior class, and then even the juniors, we've got a lot of older guys," said Koudys. "Everyone is kind of a leader in their own way, whether it's on the ice or in the classroom. I think if you look around the room, everyone has certain qualities that you try to do and try to beat, and if everyone is doing that, we're doing just fine."

With the majority of last year's team still intact, the dynamic finish to the 2013-14 year and a thrilling performance in the Big Ten Tournament is still fresh in the minds of the Lions. Penn State hockey and its captains are ready to pick up where it left off.

"We need to build off last year," Koudys said. "I think we grew as a team, so we need to continue from where we finished and come back this year at that spot or better. I feel like we're in better shape than last year. Guys are working really hard right now, and I expect to win more games and go from there."

"With everyone coming back, we're looking to make some noise this year," added Jensen. "I'm not going to say a Big Ten Championship, but I don't think we're far from it. I think we're going to have a great year." 

One Team, One Family

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While most Penn State fans were basking in a football victory last weekend, the men's ice hockey team had someone more special to celebrate, Colton Buckley. Buckley, the team's THON child, not only turned eight this past Saturday, but he also got to see his "big brothers" for the first time since officially beating cancer.

Tucked back behind Jeffery Field, the team hosted a post-game birthday and cancer-free tailgate for the 8-year-old, complete with cake, singing, presents and party masks.

"He got cancer free recently, which is huge," said sophomore forward Ricky DeRosa. "Everybody was so excited for him and everything. He was actually the THON child at the football game today, so we figured they were coming up here, which gave us a great opportunity to have a little birthday party tailgate for him."

Buckley's nomination to serve as an honorary captain for a football game this year put the tailgate plan into motion. His mother, Nicole, originally tried to schedule the appearance for the annual THON football game, but after all spots were filled, she quickly realized the home opener would be a great second option.

At the game, Buckley was brought down to the field of Beaver Stadium, rushed around from place to place, introduced to countless people and even featured on the video boards. The overall experience was something new for him, but throughout the entirety of the day, Buckley knew he had his post-game party with the team, his extended family, to be even more excited about.

"Colton is our THON child," said newly appointed captain Patrick Koudys. "Some of the guys who were here before me know him a little bit better than I do, but he's a great kid. We love his family. He's always around the rink. He's got his own stall in the locker room. I mean, he puts a smile on all of our faces whenever we see him, so it's great to have him and great to be able to celebrate his birthday with him."

After quickly unwrapping and assembling his present from the hockey team, a new Nerf gun, Buckley got to work, using sophomore Dylan Richard as a human target. The scene of the 8-year-old laughing and playing with 27 of his favorite people highlighted the importance of his bond with the team and of his journey to beating pediatric cancer.

"I look at it as relief because he's not going to the hospital every single month anymore," explained Denny Buckley, Colton's father. "You try to believe the doctors that he's cancer free, and it's not going to come back. When he was on treatment and in treatment, there was such a high risk.

"Anything can really be bad like a virus or any kind of illness because he had no immune system when he was on treatment. That was our biggest worry, and now he's back to pretty much himself again, being crazy like he is."

"It's more stress now, too," added Nicole Buckley. "You don't have that blanket, that cushion anymore. I mean, we still go to the doctors every month, but you don't have that treatment. You know, the chemotherapy keeps it away. Now that's all gone, and his whole body is basically starting over. It's relief, but it's stress as well."

The connection between the Buckley family and the hockey team is incredibly special to both parties. They are family now and will continue to be there for each other throughout each and every step of Colton's journey.

As the festivities wrapped up, Buckley's father asked him to name his favorite hockey team. The answer was simple and came to the birthday boy in a matter of seconds. Penn State.

"I honestly cannot even put it in words," said Denny Buckley of his family's relationship with the hockey team. "It means way too much to try and put it into words. They could have just looked at Colton as their THON kid and done things with him here and there, but they've been so much more than that.

"We consider them family and vice versa. When we come up here, we say we're coming up to see family. We feel at home when we're here, and he absolutely loves these guys. That in itself says everything. They're family to us."

Barbour Eager to Lead Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.

Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.

"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."

A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.

Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.

"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.

Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.

"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."

Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.

"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."

Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.

"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."


"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."

"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."


Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.

"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.

 


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Looking Back at the Top Events from 2013-'14

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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 season.


Men's Hockey: Oct. 11, 2013 - Penn State 4, Army 1 (First Game in Pegula)

HKY_Pegula_First Game.jpgIt 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)

FB_Robinson Michigan.jpegDown 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 was over.

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 line.

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 14-yard gain.

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 clock.

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)

WVB_Title.jpegPenn 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 it 2-1.

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 total sets.


 
Men's Basketball: Jan. 29, 2014 - Penn State 71, Ohio State 70 (Value City Arena)

MBB_Newbill_Craft copy.jpgThe 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 play.

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 seconds.

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 floor.

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)

WBB_Big Ten.jpegTo 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 respectively.

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

WR_Title.jpegPenn 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

FEN_Title.jpegNo 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 (156 victories).

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.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Pegula Ice Arena Playing Surface Set for Year Two

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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.







Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Coaches Caravan Day VIII - East Stroudsburg & Lehigh Valley

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VIDEO: Highlights from Williamsport & Wilkes-Barre

East Stroudsburg Photo Gallery | Lehigh Valley Photo Gallery | Coaches Caravan Registration


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 Stroudsburg University)


 
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 Stroudsburg.

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 passes (19).

"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."

caravan_esu_1.jpgFranklin 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 he does."

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, motivated guy."

caravan_esu_2.jpgCooper, 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.

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Stop No. 16 - Bethlehem (Sands Bethlehem Event Center)


 
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.

caravan_lv_1.jpgChambers 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.

caravan_lv_2.jpgIn 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.  



Miles Traveled:
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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Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Coaches Caravan Day VII - Williamsport & Wilkes-Barre

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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 total stops.

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."

williamsport_1.jpg 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 August.

"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)," Gadowsky joked.

"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."

williamsport_2.jpgCoach 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 exception.

"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.

wilkesbarre_2.jpgIn 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 time.

"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.

wilkesbarre_1.jpgFranklin 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.
    



Miles Traveled:
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

caravan bus_williamsport.jpg

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Gadowsky Sees Improvement at Season's End

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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 season.

"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.

Olczyk-Tommy (3).jpegNow 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 it is.

"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 direction.

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.

Goal_Celebration_Opening_Night_A-13-Army-MS_1919-1.jpg"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 Season
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."

--NITTANY LIONS--

Nittany Lions' Return Strong Nucleus

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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 season.

"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 forward.

"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 lot, too."

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."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

VIDEO: Postseason Press Conference - Players

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UNIVERSITY 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.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--