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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 return to Pegula Ice Arena to open their series against Ohio State.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a famous girl in Ruby slippers once said, "There's no place like home." After a stretch of over two months on the road, the Nittany Lions will finally make their way back to Pegula Ice Arena this weekend, more than ready to play at home.
"We're really excited to be back at Pegula," said senior defenseman Nate Jensen. "Our fans are awesome. They give us a boost every game, so we're excited to show our fans that we're ready to be back home and hopefully win some games."
This return to University Park marks the beginning of a six-game homestand for the Blue and White. The team will play seven of their next eight on home ice, a place where it has been dominant this season.
In just six games at Pegula thus far, the Nittany Lions have posted a 5-0-1 record and have outscored their opponents 25-9. The team will look to continue its home success and snap its two-game skid this weekend as it returns to Big Ten play with a series against Ohio State.
Penn State (9-6-2) has faced the Buckeyes (6-9-2) five times over the course of the past two seasons, so the Lions are very familiar with their Big Ten opponent. They know this series will consist of tough, competitive hockey.
"Ohio State is a great team," Jensen said. "Every team in the Big Ten plays really well. We're going to have to come out, compete very hard and play Penn State hockey by doing the little things right to get a victory."
A win is exactly what the Nittany Lions need following their less than stellar performance in the Three Rivers Classic a little over a week ago. Coming off two tough losses to Robert Morris and Western Michigan, the Blue and White are looking to bounce back against OSU.
In order to do that, the team has been working hard day in and day out to return to the level of play it competed at before the holiday break.
"We've been working our legs a lot," Jensen explained. "I mean we had some competitive issues during the Three Rivers Classic. We've been doing a lot of battles and been competing a lot in practice. I think we've been doing really well with that and improving."
A major factor that will also be of great help to the Blue and White this weekend is a healthy roster. With the exception of two forwards, the entire team has been taking part in practice, a sign Penn State is almost back at full strength.
After weeks, and even months, of nagging injuries, the Nittany Lions will take the ice Friday with their depth intact.
"Having guys back is going to help us a lot," said Jensen. "We're getting a lot of our top forwards back, and all our D are back. The depth is there. Everyone is practicing really hard to get in the lineup, and that's just going to up everyone's level of game."
The Lions will take the ice for the first of their two games against Ohio State at Pegula Ice Arena Friday at 7 p.m. The teams will then faceoff again Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
However, for the first time since Halloween, Penn State will have the crowd on its side. The Nittany Lions will finally be home.
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are returning home to Happy Valley healthy and hungry.
Following a 4-1 setback to Western Michigan (7-9-2, 2-6-2-2 NCHC) in the Three Rivers Classic consolation contest Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, No. 20 Penn State (9-6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) took little time to board the bus and depart for University Park.
The reason? Penn State's last home game came all the way back on Oct. 31 in a 3-2 win over Bentley.
After nine straight games away from Pegula Ice Arena, the Nittany Lions will be homesick no longer. In fact, ten of Penn State's next 13 games will be played at the friendly confines of Pegula.
"We absolutely love playing at Pegula," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "We just love it. We love the atmosphere in Pegula. We love the support of the student body. Really, it is the best in the world. It's incredibly motivating to play in front of them. We look forward so much to every game there. We're very much looking forward to getting home."
However, the Nittany Lions aren't just returning home. Rather, they are headed back the healthiest they've been all season.
Not only did six-foot-five sophomore forward Zach Saar return to the lineup following offseason hip surgery, but junior defenseman Connor Varley also played for the first time since Oct. 31.
"They're massive players," said junior forward Curtis Loik who scored the Lions' lone goal against Western Michigan. "Varley's a great puck-moving d-man, and Saar loves hitting the body and can shoot the puck like an NHL player. With those guys back and Scheid coming back soon, we're going to be very dynamic and beat some big teams down the road."
Forward Eric Scheid has been out with an upper body injury since Nov. 21, but is expected to return soon.
Saar underwent hip surgery on Aug. 7, and for the past four months he has spent countless hours recovering. After making his season debut against Robert Morris on Monday night, and playing against Western Michigan, the physical forward is excited to be back.
"I'm very happy to be back," said Saar. "It's been a really long four months, but I'm very sensitive to the fact that the boys were all pulling the same way as a team."
Plus, he feels lucky that the majority of his season will be in front of the home crowd at Pegula Ice Arena.
"It's such an advantage," said Saar. "The comfort of Pegula, as well. Road trips are tough. Luckily I get to reap the benefits of being back...the [home] crowd is an extra man on the ice for us."
Having a healthy lineup is integral to future success this season, and after two straight losses, Gadowsky knows the returns of Saar, Varley and eventually Scheid will help.
"I thought both Saar and Varley played good games," said Gadowsky. "I thought they played well. That's encouraging, but today it's hard to say that anybody was spectacular. So I'm not going to say they were spectacular. But, to get them some time, looking forward we finally get back home after a long, long time off. To have a healthier lineup with guys that got back and played well, that's a positive way of looking at it."
Next up for the hungry Nittany Lions is a home series against Big Ten rival Ohio State on Jan. 9-10 at Pegula Ice Arena.
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sometimes fights fall short of delivering that knockout punch.
Such was the case for No. 20 Penn State (9-5-2, 3-1-0 Big Ten), who fell to intrastate foe No. 19 Robert Morris (12-2-3, 9-2-3 Atlantic Hockey), 4-2, in the opening round of the third annual Three Rivers Classic Monday night at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Junior forward Casey Bailey lifted the puck over the blocker side of Colonial net minder Terry Shafer and into the back of the net at the 18:11 mark in the third period to cut the Robert Morris lead to 3-2, but the late offensive attack wasn't enough to advance to the championship game.
There was no scoring from either team in the first period thanks to stellar play between the pipes by sophomore net minder Eamon McAdam. Making his sixth start of the season, the New York Islander draftee made nine saves in the opening twenty minutes.
McAdam showed great poise and vision, seeing shots through traffic from the point, as well as protecting the crease by making big stops up close. He made 29 saves on the night to keep the Blue and White close.
"He played very strong," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I thought Eamon battled hard and made some great saves."
Following a full recovery from offseason hip surgery, Zach Saar made his first start of the season against the Colonials. Gadowsky slowly worked the junior forward into the game, but Saar made the most of his ice time by playing physical, aggressive hockey and skating well.
"I thought he was physical. I thought he got some good shots on net," said Gadowsky on the return of Saar. "He looked pretty comfortable out there. We did bring him along pretty slowly. We don't necessarily want to throw him to the wolves. This is his first game, but I thought he handled himself very well."
The return of Saar does a lot for this team moving forward.
"Obviously him standing on the blue line during the national anthem does something for us," said Gadowsky. "He's a big, big boy who has a reputation, and he brings a bit of a different element to us."
In the second period, the difference was a borderline five-minute major penalty and game misconduct as a result of a Nate Jensen contact to the head in the neutral zone at the 13:28 mark. In Gadowsky's mind, the questionable call determined the final outcome.
"It was a 0-0 game. I thought it was a great hockey game," said Gadowsky. "That [penalty] was the game. We watched it over and over, and we were going to tell Nate Jensen to make that exact play, the exact same way every single time."
With Robert Morris on the five-minute man-advantage, the Colonials took a 1-0 lead after defenseman Tyson Wilson fed forward Brady Ferguson in the high slot. Ferguson then ripped a hard wrist shot that snuck underneath McAdam's glove to give the Colonials the lead at 14:11.
Just 30 seconds later, Robert Morris took a two-goal lead when forward Brandon Denham led defenseman John Rey to the top of the right circle. Rey then fired a shot past McAdam at 14:41 for the Colonials' second power play goal of the game.
The Nittany Lions entered the locker room down 2-1, however, following Scott Conway's fourth goal of the season. Conway won the draw back to Curtis Loik, who's shot was blocked and traveled to Dylan Richard in the slot. Richard's wrist shot ricocheted off bodies and trickled right to Conway in front, who subsequently buried the biscuit.
As a result of the efficient offensive play, the line of Loik, Conway and Richard saw more ice time as the game progressed.
"They scored a goal for us, and we are starting to come along," said Gadowsky. "I thought everyone took a little while to get the rust off, but they did in a hurry. I thought Conway looked really good. They are three excellent hockey players. We expected them to play well."
The Colonials took a 3-1 lead at the 4:36 mark in the third period when defenseman Chase Golightly's shot from the point was deflected in by the stick of forward Daniel Leavens who shaded McAdam's vision in front.
The line of David Goodwin, Taylor Holstrom and Bailey applied some serious offensive pressure in the third period, but Shafer was a brick wall in net for the Colonials, who saved 35 shots on the night.
Forward Zac Lynch sealed the victory for the Colonials when he scored an empty-net goal on a shot from his own blue line, in front of the Robert Morris bench.
Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions will face off against Western Michigan at 4:30 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center as part of the Three Rivers Classic consolation game. The Broncos fell to No. 17 Colgate late Monday afternoon, and Gadowsky says his team is ready to get back on track.
"This is a big game for us," said Gadowsky. "Obviously we'd love to be playing for the Three Rivers Classic championship, but that's not to be the case. This is still a very big game for us. We are going to prepare just the same as we would with any other opponent."
According to Gadowsky, junior goalie and Pittsburgh-native Matthew Skoff is expected to start in net for the Blue and White in tomorrow's consolation contest.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 2015 just around the corner, the Penn State men's hockey team wants to end 2014 in a positive way. Only two games separate the Lions and the New Year, and they are ready to return to action in the third annual Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center.
This year's tournament will feature the No. 20 Lions, No. 19 Robert Morris, No. 17 Colgate and Western Michigan. The Lions and Colonials have competed in the tournament every year, as both teams hail from Pennsylvania.
The Lions (9-4-2) will first play Robert Morris (11-2-3) Monday at 7:35 p.m. Following the results of the game, as well as the earlier game between Colgate (9-6-1) and Western Michigan (6-8-2), the Lions will then take the ice again Tuesday.
Penn State and Robert Morris have met every season since the Lions made the jump to Division I hockey. Of the four games played between the programs, each team has won two. Robert Morris swept the Lions during the 2012-'13 season, and the Lions took down the Colonials during their two meetings in 2013-'14.
"I think this game is going to be a really fun game to watch," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I think you're going to see two teams that really want to get after it and score goals. It's going to be a very exciting game.
"We've had very good, excellent games in the past. They outshot us with 52 shots one night. We had 60 on them another. I don't know what the outcome of this game will be. I certainly hope that we can put together a good performance."
Currently, Robert Morris leads the NCAA with an average of 4.1 goals scored per game. The team is also atop the shots per game category, coming in second only to the Lions. Penn State is racking up an average of 39.6 shots each game.
Regardless of past meetings, current statistics and rankings, Gadowsky is confident this matchup between two strong offensive teams will result in very entertaining hockey.
With this tournament, the Lions will not only return from a three-week break from game action but also from a holiday break that allowed the team to spend the holidays at home with family. As a result, there were no scheduled practices or workouts.
Gadowsky, however, is not worried. He knows his team is dedicated and committed to Penn State hockey and is confident the Lions will be ready when they lace up their skated Monday night.
"It's all up to them to number one heal because we have a lot of guys that need to heal up, and number two to come back in shape," Gadowsky said of his team. "They've got a bit of homework to do over Christmas, but the most important thing is that they have a great time with their family. If they do that, all the rest will work itself into place."
Playing in Consol Energy Center will mark the second of three visits the Lions will make to NHL arenas this season. In November the blue and white skated in Madison Square Garden, and at the end of January they will head to the Wells Fargo Center.
At each of these venues, the team experiences an outpouring of support, which they do not take for granted.
"It makes me so happy everywhere we go to see such great Penn State support, and Consol is another one of those arenas where we enjoy that," Gadowsky said. "We just feel extremely fortunate, and we just love going on the road and seeing the colors flying. It's just awesome for us, and it gives the guys a big, big boost. The Penn Staters at Consol arena are always a big part of whatever success we have in this tournament."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the first portion of the season comes to a close, the Penn State men's hockey team is happy with the progress it has made.
With a 9-4-2 record, the Lions have already won more games than they did throughout the entirety of last year, and they have solidified their place in Division I hockey.
Even with the success, this team is hungry for more.
"I like where we're at right now, especially with our wins in Wisconsin," said captain Patrick Koudys. "We already have more wins than we had last year overall. I'm definitely happy with the team's progression thus far, but we're still not satisfied. We have to get better and continue this progress."
These early season results have shocked many in the college hockey world, but the Lions knew they would be a force to reckon with this year.
Their offense ranks seventh among Division I schools with an average of 3.47 goals per game, and their power play is fifth in the nation.
Senior Taylor Holstrom and junior Casey Bailey are both tied for 13th in the nation in scoring. Both forwards have racked up 18 points thus far.
"I know some people weren't expecting us to be this high up this early, but we expected it," Koudys said. "We knew last year was a lot of firsts, a lot of new things for us, but we got mostly everyone back. We had a few additions with three great freshmen, so I'm not surprised by any means, but like I said, we're definitely not satisfied."
Not only are the Lions having overall success, but they are also playing well in conference games. A split with Michigan and a road sweep of Wisconsin have left the Lions at 3-1-0 in the Big Ten.
The three wins match the number of conference wins the Lions had throughout all of the 2013-'14 season. Currently, the team sits at first place in the Big Ten Conference, which is exactly where it wants to be.
"Our strong point is just when we are playing our game," Koudys said. "When we do that, we're a tough team to play against, and I think that shows with our wins this year. Those come when we're playing our game and doing well, but I think inconsistency is something we need to take out of our game. We need to be more consistent in doing those things that make us great every day and every game."
Ending this first half on such a high note keeps the Blue and White motivated and focused as they begin an extended break. The team will not dress for a game again until after Christmas.
The time off is something the Lions and head coach Guy Gadowsky are welcoming with open arms.
"Not often do you get a sweep on the road and be happy that you can't get right back to playing because obviously those were two pretty consistent games for us, with two great results," Gadowsky said. "Normally, you want to keep riding that wave, but for us we have so many injuries to key people that we're very welcome to have a break and heal up."
With this break, Gadowsky is stressing his team to finish the academic semester strong. Practices are optional this week, allowing the student-athletes ample time to study for finals.
Even with the absence of mandatory practices, Gadowsky knows his team's character. He knows he can depend on them to balance studying and working out.
His team will be ready to pick up right where it left off.
"With their strength as a team, a lot of the improvements made were because we have very high quality guys that are committed to Penn State University, committed to the hockey program, committed to themselves as athletes," Gadowsky said. "That doesn't change because we don't have a mandatory practice. I don't have any concerns about that. I really believe in the quality and leadership in our locker room."
NEW YORK - Penn State fans will be in for a treat on Jan. 30, 2016 when the Nittany Lion men's hockey and basketball teams compete in a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden against Michigan.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany confirmed the hockey-hoops doubleheader announcement on Tuesday evening inside MSG. Additionally, the conference announced that the 2018 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament would be played in Madison Square Garden (Feb. 28-March 4).
Attendees at the press conference included ESPN's Jay Bilas and Andy Katz, ABC/ESPN's John Saunders and Big Ten hockey alums and current New York Rangers Carl Hagelin (Michigan) and Derek Stepan (Wisconsin).
Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour was in attendance at the press conference and was thrilled with the news for two of Penn State's teams.
"It has been a great day in New York, and I think this is a really exciting announcement for Penn State, Penn State Men's Basketball and Penn State Hockey," said Barbour. "Any time the Penn State nation has the opportunity to come to New York is always an exciting time. And the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden is something I think our student-athletes will really enjoy, as will our community."
The marquee along 7th Avenue outside of Madison Square Garden was lit with Big Ten signage as the press conference took place. The Big Ten is thrilled to make a new home inside Madison Square Garden, and it will be an exciting opportunity for the approximately 32,000 Penn State alums in the New York City metro area to see Penn State teams in action at "The World's Most Famous Arena".
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "Firsts" have been a theme for the Penn State men's hockey team over the past few years. This weekend's trip to Wisconsin was no exception.
The Lions crossed another accomplishment off their list, completing their first Big Ten sweep on the road after taking down the Badgers, 5-2 and 4-2, Friday and Saturday nights.
"That's something that we didn't know when we'd be fortunate to have that experience," head coach Guy Gadowsky said regarding the two victories. "It probably happened a lot sooner than anybody would have expected, and to get it against a program like Wisconsin that's just so successful and has such great tradition, it feels really great.
"The guys should be proud of themselves, and the program should be proud of itself. It certainly is an indication of the entire program, the university, administration, the student body and fans. It's a great credit to the whole program."
According to freshman James Robinson, sweeping teams on the road has been a major goal repeatedly discussed this year. The fact that this objective was accomplished against a Big Ten team made it even more satisfying for the squad.
Robinson had a large part in both wins, playing an excellent brand of hockey and being rewarded with his first and second NCAA goals.
His first career goal, an unassisted breakaway, gave the Lions (9-4-2, 3-1-0) a two-goal lead during Friday's game with the Badgers (1-10-1, 0-2-0).
"Their forward passed it up to their D-man," Robinson recounted. "He was my guy, so I headed out to the point. The puck bounced over his stick, and I was able to beat him to it. I went down on a partial breakaway and just took a quick shot that got over the goalie's glove."
The Alberta-native has appeared in 12 of the team's 15 games this season and is already making a strong impression.
According to Gadowsky, Robinson makes the team more confident through his dedication and work ethic. In his eyes, the freshman played his best hockey of the year during these two games.
"He'll block shots with his chest," Gadowsky said about Robinson. "He'll backcheck when his lungs are burning. He's tough to play against. He goes hard to the net. He just does a lot of things that make him very difficult to play against."
Robinson was not the only Albertan to make a substantial impact in Madison, as both David Glen and Dylan Richard returned to the lineup.
Glen and Richard had three and two points on the weekend, respectively, but their presence on the ice was far more valuable to the Lions. Both forwards bring unparalleled energy and skill to the team, which was missed during their absences.
"They both ended up with a goal on Friday night, but if they hadn't had any points at all they still would have been very, very valuable," Gadowsky said. "Both those guys are such character guys. They both play to win, not for stats. They both are extremely difficult to play against. They bring a lot of identity, and I thought the boost that they gave us coming back in the lineup was just huge."
Glen was ecstatic to contribute to the team's scoring, but he knows scoring is not the only contribution he makes to the Lions day in and day out.
"It's obviously nice whenever you can make an impact for the team," Glen said. "I try to make impacts in other ways, but it's just nice to have an opportunity to get on the scoreboard and that sort of thing. I'm glad to be back and glad to help out on the ice."
Following this series, the Blue and White have some much needed time off. With a lengthy list of injuries still affecting the team, the three-week break will help to rejuvenate the Lions.
Nevertheless, even with the time off, ending on such a high note will only increase the team's confidence, making it that much more dangerous.
"I feel like since we've had such a successful first half, it just makes the guys that much hungrier and eager to get back out on the ice, continue with our success and see where the year can take us," Robinson said. "I feel like we have a great team this year, and we can do some serious damage this year in the NCAA. I know everyone's excited to see what the rest of the year has in store."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A little over seven months ago, the Penn State men's hockey team battled Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal game.
The Lions hoped for a victory to ensure the continuation of their season but instead fell to the Badgers, 2-1, and watched on as their former opponent ultimately became the Big Ten champions.
These two programs will meet once again this weekend, but the Badgers now have a very different identity. While the Lions returned nearly their entire roster this season, Wisconsin worked to fill massive holes left behind by their previous senior class.
Even with this new look, Penn State is prepared for another round of intense, gritty Big Ten hockey with the Badgers.
"They're an extremely talented group that has just found some success, so they're definitely going to be ready to go," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I certainly don't expect we overlook them at all. They're Wisconsin, but at the same time I understand we're facing a dangerous group that's just starting to get some confidence. That sometimes is the most energetic group."
Wisconsin (1-8-1) is fresh off its first win of the season, a 5-3 victory over Ferris State, while the Lions (7-4-2) are looking to snap their first losing streak of the year.
With some major lessons learned through their losses to Michigan and Cornell, the Blue and White are working toward making corrections that will lead to more positive outcomes.
"We've been trying to hit the transition faster, but we still need to improve on limiting the odds, making bad decisions on pinches and stuff like that," junior Luke Juha said of the Penn State defense. "Just the little things, we have to clean up, but I think as a whole we've been a little more consistent. We're excited for Friday and Saturday."
It's no secret the Lions have been bitten by the injury bug as of late, especially at the forward position, which has undoubtedly made their most recent stretch of games even tougher.
In their last two outings, the Lions have been held to one goal, which is quite unusual for the team that's averaging 3.3 goals per game. This weekend, however, the Lions will get some relief as David Glen and Dylan Richard return to the lineup.
"Richard and Glen are going to play," said Gadowsky. "That's huge for us to get them back for a number of reasons. One is the faceoff circle, which we struggled with on Saturday."
Prior to their injuries, Richard notched seven points in eight games, while Glen tallied three points in his seven appearances. Gadowsky considers both individuals "identity guys" and believes they can and will give the team's offense a much-needed boost.
Despite these returns, the Blue and White will still be without defenseman Connor Varley and forwards Eric Scheid, Jonathan Milley and Zach Saar.
Saar, who has yet to play a game for Penn State this year due to an offseason surgery, is making strides in his recovery and is now practicing with the team.
"He looks good out there," Gadowsky said of the forward. "His wind is not there at all. He's really struggling with the conditioning aspect of it, as you'd expect, but he's just got such a presence. His skills are great. I mean he shoots the puck so effortlessly. To us, he looks really good."
As the healthy members of the team prepare for this weekend's series, they do so expecting a challenge. Instead of focusing on Wisconsin and what to expect from the Badgers, the Blue and White have been working diligently on their own identity, electing to refine their own talents instead.
"We don't try to change our game for anybody," said Juha. "We're just going to go out there, try to make the A+ backchecks, no odds, and play our game. Wisconsin is going to be a great team. I don't expect them to be any different than they were last year."
The Lions are 1-6 against the Badgers since the 2012-'13 season, and they are ready for that record to improve.
Not only is the team searching for improvement, but it also wants to conclude the first half of its season on a high note.
"If we can get through this and have success," said Gadowsky, "I think it's going to be a tremendous boost."