By Maria Canales,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky entered the Pegula Ice Arena media room Thursday afternoon, eager to talk about the upcoming season.
Gadowsky started by praising last year's team's efforts, noting the loss of some key players to graduation and NHL contract signing, that has left some holes to be filled this season.
The departure of goaltenders Matthew Skoff and Eamon McAdam has provided an opportunity for sophomore returner Chris Funkey and for a new face, freshman Peyton Jones, to compete for a starting spot between the pipes.
"In the goaltending position we really make it clear that we evaluate on numbers," Gadowsky said. "[We evaluate] on wins and losses, your goals against, your save percentage and then your work ethic, commitment and how you are as a teammate and how well you represent Penn State University."
Both Funkey and Jones have different styles of goaltending. Jones uses his size to his advantage in order to make big saves, Funkey comes out of the net and challenges opposing team's offense more. Both styles are very different but could be useful this season. The ability to switch up styles in net could be crucial down the road.
The Nittany Lions, who have been working out under the direction of their captains, senior forward David Goodwin, senior forward Ricky DeRosa, and junior forward James Robinson, are looking to build off of last season's successes. The upperclassmen, eager to return to the ice at Pegula, are also excited to see the newest members of the team contribute early on.
The freshman class, made up of 10 capable young players, has depth unlike any previous class to sport the Blue and White. The added certainty that comes with having such capable young players is something Goodwin appreciates.
"It's a lot different in practice, there were some games last year where we were dressing 10 forwards," Goodwin said. "Now you look at the board before practice and you have five-plus lines of forwards. I think it's been great for internal competition but also at the same time we know if there's injuries or guys aren't playing well it'll kind of be next man up."
Although the freshman class does make up nearly half the team, Gadowsky emphasized that he will be looking toward the veteran presence on defense to start the season off strong. Returning defensemen like Vince Pedrie, Kevin Kerr, and Erik Autio will be essential to the team's early successes.
The first test of the season for the Nittany Lions is this Sunday, as Penn State hosts Queen's (Ontario) for an exhibition game at 1 p.m.