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Lions Dominate in First Series Sweep at Pegula

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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."

Men's Hockey Blog - PSU vs. Holy Cross (10/26)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of Penn State men's hockey. This afternoon, the Nittany Lions close their series against Holy Cross.


Live Blog Penn State Men's Hockey Blog - vs. Holy Cross (10/26/14)
 

Men's Hockey Blog - PSU vs. Holy Cross (10/24)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Tonight, the Nittany Lions open their series with Holy Cross at Pegula Ice Arena.

Live Blog Penn State Men's Hockey Blog - vs. Holy Cross (10/24/14)
 

Goodwin and the Lions Look to Bounce Back at Pegula

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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.

PSU_HolyCross_Graphic.jpg The added day of rest in this series may be a blessing in disguise for the Lions, who have recently been battling a string of injuries, the most serious of which include the laceration David Thompson sustained in Alaska and a back injury that will leave Jonathan Milley out indefinitely.

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.

Nittany Lions Draw and Fall to Alaskan Teams in Brice Goal Rush

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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."

Thompson Injury

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."

Alaskan Adventures

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."

Alaska Trip Marks Homecoming for Bailey

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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.

Nittany Lions Freeze Huskies in Series Finale, 7-1

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10428492.jpegBy 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.

Lions Rally Late to Tie UConn in Season Opener

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With just under a minute left in the third period of the season opener, the Nittany Lions found themselves trailing UConn, 2-1, in front of the 6,017 fans in attendance at Pegula Ice Arena.

Goalie Matthew Skoff quickly skated off the ice, an extra attacker taking his place, and Penn State made one final push to even the score. As the clock wound down to 48 seconds, the Lions accomplished their mission. David Goodwin found the back of the Huskies' net, forcing an overtime battle.

"I was just kind of there, just kind of whacking and grinding there in front," Goodwin explained. "Honestly, I saw the Roar Zone put their hands up before anything. I saw that and then I put my hands up, and I scored. It was a good sequence of events, but I think [Casey] Bailey shot it and hit [Dylan] Richard's chest. Then [Taylor] Holstrom took it to the net."

Although the game ultimately ended in a 2-2 tie following overtime and an exhibition shootout, head coach Guy Gadowsky had a number of positives to take away from the matchup.

Surprisingly, he also had another list of program "firsts" to add to the Penn State hockey history books.

"Positives would be we scored a shootout goal, which we hadn't in the past," said Gadowsky. "We scored a penalty shot goal, which we hadn't in the past. We came back and scored with 43 seconds, whatever it was, to come back and tie a game. Those are all positives."

The penalty shot, taken by Tommy Olczyk, and the shootout goal, scored by Bailey, both were defining moments for not only the game, but also for the program.

Last season, Penn State's lone penalty shot opportunity was also awarded to Olczyk in a game against Boston College. While he was unable to beat the goalie in that situation, he made his efforts count during the second period Friday night and tallied Penn State's first penalty shot goal.

"I'm definitely not known for my goal scoring, but it's nice to get one there in the way that it happened," said Olczyk. "I'd been in that situation before. The one against BC I was a lot more nervous, so this one I didn't really have any nerves. I just went for it."

Another first, Bailey's shootout goal, ended Penn State's 0-9 shootout attempt streak.

Gadowsky credits much of the team's late-game success to Penn State's student section, which remained lively and active throughout the game, making its presence known.

"You know what, boy the student body was awesome tonight," said Gadowsky following the game. "I actually think they had a lot to do with us tying it up late, which was nice to see. I thought we played really well in the first and didn't have the same jump in the second, but in the end, I mean came back in the third when we were down, pulled the goalie. I think, as I said, the student body deserves a lot of credit for that. They helped a ton."

The Nittany Lions and Huskies will conclude their two-game series Saturday at 3 p.m. at Pegula Ice Arena.

Men's Hockey Blog - PSU vs. UConn (10/10)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions open their season at home against UConn.

Live Blog Penn State Men's Hockey Blog - vs. UConn (10/10/14)
 

Nittany Lions Set to Open 2014-'15 Season

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team is set to open its season at 7 p.m. Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena against the University of Connecticut. The Huskies currently hold a 2-0 series advantage over the Lions, which is a statistic Penn State hopes to even up with this weekend's home series.

Limited Practice Time

The Lions had their first official practice of the season Saturday morning, allowing very little time to prepare for the Oct. 10 season opener. Regardless, the team worked hard during both this first week with the coaches, as well as during captain's practices over the course of the past month.

Prior to the start of official practice, the Penn State coaching staff was limited to just eight hours a week on the ice with the team, meaning much of the practice planning landed on the shoulders of captains Patrick Koudys, Nate Jensen and David Glen.

"We had 30 minutes four times a week, so the captains were responsible," explained head coach Guy Gadowsky. "They'd warm up the team, and I don't know what they did. That was up to them. We'd come on and run what we went over the meeting before. Then we'd get off the ice, and it was up to them again."

Despite the time restraints, Gadowsky made the most of the time he had with his team, touching on all aspects of the game as quickly as possible. This approach has changed now that timing is no longer an issue.

This week, Gadowsky chose to focus on parts of the game the team has struggled with in the past. Addressing those specific issues will help the Lions become a better, harder team to play against.

While the team may not feel as prepared as they would like for this opening series, one thing is certain. Penn State is much further ahead than they were October of last year.

"I think part of that is just that there's a lot less newness to what we're doing," Gadowsky said. "We've been in the building. We didn't have to move in the building. There's not a lot of fanfare in terms of this is the first ever game in Pegula, so I think our focus is a lot more in the present, which is a good thing.

"Last year, was tremendously fun. We're very grateful to go through that experience, but I think it's probably easier to stay in the present this year. That's one factor. The other factor is we have a lot of returning players that are already familiar with what we do, so we're trying to get the three new guys acclimated, but as a whole, we're in a much better place."

The number of returning student-athletes is something Jensen also believes will greatly benefit the Lions. The team chemistry is already present, and everyone is ready to pick up where they left off.

"It feels like the end of last year," the defenseman said. "We have pretty much the whole team back. We have a couple new guys that are just getting used to the system. They're stepping in right away, but it pretty much feels like we're coming in from last year."


Taking on UConn

The Lions and the Huskies met for the first time during the 2012-'13 season, Penn State's first as a Division I hockey program. Although the Lions were swept during the series, it is clear that they are now a much more mature, experienced team.

Nevertheless, Gadowsky still believes the major focus needs to be on his team, as opposed to scouting the Huskies, in order to properly prepare.

"We still have so much of us that we're not going to waste any time," explained the head coach. "We were even asked if we want tape. We do not. We are focusing on us solely."

Even with the main focus on Penn State, Gadowsky knows this UConn team will be much different than the one he and the Lions faced merely two years ago.

The Huskies are set to begin their second season under head coach Mike Cavanaugh and their first season in Hockey East.

"I think he'll do a tremendous job there in his second year," Gadowsky said of Cavanaugh. "You're going to start to maybe see a little more of his personal identity. By only graduating four and bringing in nine, it sort of looks like to me that they're probably moving in a new direction."


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Loik, Glen, Brooks

Preparing for Friday, the Penn State coaching staff has decided lines for the 7 p.m. puck drop; however, only one of these lines is completely set in stone.

Forwards Curtis Loik, Glen and Kenny Brooks have played on a line many times before, and Gadowsky is confident they will be successful again this season.

"That line sort of automatically seemed to have synergy from day one," explained Gadowsky. "We always toy with moving them apart and getting other things going, but they somehow seem to gravitate together."

Gadowsky expects this line in particular to be "incredibly difficult to play against" and is ready to see what they can do against the Huskies this weekend.

Return to Pegula

With the season's start comes taking the ice at Pegula Ice Arena once again and competing in front of the student section, which the team and coaches cannot wait to do again.

"This is the best rink in college hockey," said Jensen. "These guys are just awesome and so loud and just so energetic. I can't wait to step on the ice."

Student season tickets sold out within just minutes this year, meaning the students are ready to pack into the Roar Zone, to cheer loudly for their team, but most importantly, to watch Penn State hockey again.

"Every time the game ends, it's so much fun with the student section that we just can't wait to play again," said Gadowsky. "It's finally here."