By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State men's hockey team prepared for
its final regular-season series against Ohio State, it knew the importance the
outcome would have on the overall season. With two weekends left before the Big
Ten Tournament, winning conference matchups is crucial.
Every team is looking for points. Every team is hungry for victories.
However, the results of the weekend were not what the Nittany Lions had hoped
for, as the team was swept on the road for the second time this month. Both
Friday and Saturday nights, the Buckeyes (11-17-2, 6-10-0 B1G) downed the Blue
and White (16-12-4, 8-7-1 B1G), 5-3.
think our biggest problem this weekend is we kind of got away from our game,"
said sophomore Mike Williamson. "We started off having pretty good first and
second periods but then ended up leaving the game we've been having success
with. That ended up coming back to haunt us toward the end of the games and
cost us two wins."
Although the Nittany Lions went up early Friday night with a Tommy Olczyk goal
30 seconds into the game, the team struggled to maintain a lead as Ohio State notched
three unanswered tallies. Dylan Richard scored Penn State's second goal, cutting
the deficit to one, but the Buckeyes answered with two more in the third
period. Penn State was unable to recover.
Working to put Friday night behind them, the Nittany Lions took the ice
Saturday ready to get to work. Surprisingly, much of the crowd was on their
side, as the Roar Zone made the trip from Hockey Valley to Ohio. The presence
of Penn State's student body in enemy territory helped the Blue and White
"The Roar Zone coming all the way to Ohio to watch us play on the road is
another reason why they're the best student section in college hockey,"
Williamson said. "They allow us to gain some energy in an opponent's building,
which is a pretty rare thing. They're always loud and rowdy. It really helps us
light a fire in our game."
Penn State started strong, scoring twice in the first period. Casey Bailey put
away his 21st goal of the season, and Taylor Holstrom nabbed his seventh. At
the end of the opening 20 minutes, the Nittany Lions had a 2-1 lead over the
Ohio State tied the game on a power play goal in the second, but less than three
minutes later, Williamson grabbed his first goal of the season to put the Lions
on top once again.
"Obviously, that's an exciting time, scoring a goal," Williamson said.
"Basically, I was just putting the puck on net and there was a lot of traffic
in front. Our forwards did a great job getting in the goalie's way, and it
ended up going in."
Things were looking up for the team as it sustained the lead. Unfortunately,
that positivity abruptly came to an end.
Holstrom, who has been a major leader for this Penn State team, left the ice
with an injury. His absence was very noticeable, as the Blue and White seemed
to break down without the senior in the game.
"He's obviously a key asset to our team's success," Williamson said of Holstrom.
"He's a great player who really brings an aggressive attitude that rubs off on
the whole team. So, losing a guy like that has a big impact, but we can't let
it affect us in the sense that we've got playoffs coming up. We need to be
mentally tough and make sure that we maintain a high level of play without him
if he's not able to go."
Following Holstrom's departure, the Buckeyes tacked on three goals in just over
four minutes, sealing the Lions' fate.
Leaving Ohio with two losses in hand was the exact opposite of what the Nittany
Lions wanted. Nevertheless, the team knows staying positive at this point in
the season is a must.
Penn State needs to leave the series behind and focus on the two upcoming
"It's something that as a hockey player you kind of learn to do," Williamson
said. "You're going to have bad weekends, bad games, bad shifts, whatever the
case is. It's just about being able to cancel out the past. You have to use it
as a learning tool as opposed to a negative influence.
"We're just going to look toward Michigan and Minnesota to finish off the
season as a good stepping-stone to playoffs. It's going to be two good weekends
of hockey, which will prepare us for the level of hockey that we need to have
going into the Big Ten Tournament."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Earlier this season, a lack of defensive scoring
was a bit of a concern, but the Penn State men's hockey team remained confident
in its blueliners. They continued to contribute in other ways, day in and day
out. The scoring would come.
Now, the team's defensemen have recorded at least a point in 11 of the last 12
games. This Nittany Lion defense is clicking.
"I think it comes with
confidence," said junior Luke Juha. "The forwards are doing a great job of
passing to us when we're open, and we're trying to play a forward game. We're
trying to move it to the forwards and make good passes for them to do their
thing. We love shooting the puck as a team, and I think we've just been doing a
better job of getting pucks through and making good decisions in the O-zone."
Juha leads defensemen on the team in points with 14 this season. He scored two
goals, the most recent of which was the game winner against Minnesota on
Saturday, and has 12 assists.
The junior is not afraid to join the offensive rush. In fact, doing just that
is a big part of his game.
"I used to be a forward, and I transitioned to defense when I was a little
older," Juha said. "I think it's important to get some offense and stay in the
game offensively as a defenseman because you just play a more aggressive game,
and I think as a whole, you play a better game."
Juha is not the only blueliner helping on the offensive side of the game. Erik
Autio has nine points this season, and Connor Varley and Nate Jensen both have
Varley is also plus-11, which is the best plus/minus rating among the team's
defensemen. It's also one of the best on the team. His efforts this season have
been another reason for this successful defense.
"Just doing things hard, making a lot harder play, I think that's something I
talked about with the coaches after last season where my plus/minus wasn't very
good," said Varley. "So, I think just focusing on that and moving the pucks
quick and making strong, hard, smart plays has been key."
In addition to joining the rush, another factor contributing to the defense's
success is the D-pairings. At this point in the season, the majority of these
parings are set and stable.
The players know their partners, know their tendencies and know what to expect.
"It helps with being familiar, and it's good to have some chemistry with
whoever you're playing with," said Varley. "In my case, I've been playing with
Nate [Jensen] for the last couple months here, and it's been going really well.
We both like to skate, move the puck and play in their end as much as possible."
This weekend, the Nittany Lions defense looks to continue its dominant play
against Ohio State. The Buckeyes (9-17-2, 4-10-0 B1G) have speed, which is an
aspect Penn State (16-10-4, 8-5-1 B1G) is prepared for.
With such few games remaining, this matchup is very important. The Lions know
what is at stake.
"We have to be aware," said Varley. "They have some pretty fast forwards, so
keep our feet moving, but other than that just make hard plays, play strong and
try and generate some offense when we get the chance."
Playing on the road has not been overly successful for the Lions, who are 4-5-0
away from Pegula Ice Arena. Nevertheless, the team is ready to focus on playing
its game, playing Penn State hockey.
"I think we just have to be ready to play a hard game for 60 minutes," said
Juha. "I think every team lacks that sometimes, and I think we've struggled a
little bit more with that on the road. Being focused from the drop of the puck
to the second period because we've had weak second periods this year. I'm not
really sure why, but we just have to be focused and ready to go every shift."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a disappointing Friday night loss to No.
15 Minnesota, the Penn State men's hockey team knew winning Saturday's game was
a necessity. With such few series remaining in the regular season, the Nittany
Lions wanted to get back on track, break their three-game losing streak and get
their first program win against the Gophers.
The Blue and White immediately put the 2-1 loss behind them and began focusing
on the task ahead. The Gophers (17-10-3, 8-3-3 B1G) had not been beaten in
seven games, but a few Penn State (16-10-4, 8-5-1 B1G) adjustments and one
hard-fought rematch was about to change that.
Penn State downed the Gophers, 4-3, in thrilling fashion with an overtime, power
The Nittany Lions struck first when Curtis Loik capitalized on the man
advantage seven minutes into the game. Five minutes later, they extended their
lead to two after Scott Conway, who assisted Loik's tally, scored a
highlight-reel goal, the first of two on the night for the freshman.
"I think that might have been his best
all-around game, and that was a big, big, big time goal," said head coach Guy
Gadowsky of Conway. "The first one of his was just big time. The second one was
nice too, but he really played one heck of a hockey game. He's a confident kid,
and he was just so obviously not satisfied to just be on the same ice. He
played to win that game."
The strong play from Conway was exactly what Gadowsky was looking for after
benching the forward last weekend against Michigan State. With some time to
think, Conway knew he needed to refocus.
The changes he made led him to a plus-two, three-point night.
"I think Coach made a good decision putting me in the stands," said Conway. "I
took a step back and just thought about stuff, what I should be doing and what
I shouldn't be doing. That mainly brought my focus to these games, and I tried
to do my best."
Although the Lions maintained a lead throughout the majority of the game,
Minnesota refused to go down easily. The Gophers battled back and scored their
third and tying goal in the final minute of the play.
While the goal was disappointing, Gadowsky and the Lions remained confident.
The team had played a strong game, and it was ready to continue on. For the
Nittany Lions, this was a must win.
Not even two minutes into the overtime, Minnesota took a penalty. Luke Juha got
the puck and stuck to the Penn State hockey mentality.
The defenseman shot the puck.
"Minnesota was all over us for a little while there," said Juha. "They had a
bunch of momentum, and we got a power play. So, we knew we had to capitalize on
that to get three points. [Casey] Bailey got it on the far wall and passed it
to me. I had tons of time and was looking for sticks."
With David Glen screening the Gopher's goalie, the puck found its way into the
back of the net. With the win, Penn State officially beat every team in the Big
Ten Conference this season.
As for Juha, Gadowsky was thankful to have him in the lineup. The blueliner was
questionable for this matchup against Minnesota after an injury sidelined him
for much of the week.
"He had a lower body injury that kept him off the ice until Thursday actually,"
Gadowsky explained. "It's funny because we had a discussion after Thursday's
practice, and we were touch and go whether we would have him play. Good thing
While the win was important,
the team also played for more than itself this weekend.
With THON in full swing across the street in the Bryce Jordan Center, the
Nittany Lions wanted to be victorious for the kids, for every child and family
that has dealt with the effects of pediatric cancer.
"As hockey players, you have to battle through injuries sometimes," Juha said.
"It was a little tougher for me. I didn't feel like I had a full stride. But,
at the end of the day, especially on THON weekend, these kids battle so hard,
and I think for this weekend we did the same thing. We're lucky that we got a win
at the end of the day. So, it's a great weekend for us. THON is such an
inspirational thing for our school, and it's an uplifting event. After this,
we're going to go practice our Pep Rally dance and hopefully win that too."
Merely hours later, they did just that. Men's hockey was crowned the THON 2015
Pep Rally champions, raking in its second win of the night and making the
weekend one to remember for the entire team.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Just hours after knocking off No. 15 Minnesota in Pegula Ice Arena, the Nittany
Lion men's hockey team won the annual THON Pep Rally dance competition. Take a
look at the winning dance.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Tonight, the Nittany Lions will close their series against the University of Minnesota. The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
Live Blog Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Minnesota (2/21)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Tonight, the Nittany Lions will open their series against the University of Minnesota. The game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Live Blog Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Minnesota (2/20)
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team loves playing
in Pegula Ice Arena. Head coach Guy Gadowsky talks about the building and the
energetic crowds after every game in Hockey Valley, and the team's 10-1-3 home
record speaks for itself.
Yet, the Nittany Lions do not take all the credit for their dominance on home
ice. The support the student section gives each and every weekend motivates
them to play their best hockey. In a way, the Roar Zone gives the Blue and
White an extra edge, an extra advantage.
amazing," said forward Curtis Loik of the atmosphere. "It's why I came here.
When you first see this place and you see what Pegula built and the
infrastructure and the whole Roar Zone, it's unbelievable to play in. They're
loud, and they motivate us to get going. If we're down, they bring us up."
The Roar Zone, which many believe to be the pride and joy of Pegula Ice Arena,
is always filled when the Lions are in town. The students cheer, make signs,
dress up and are constantly involved with every aspect of the game.
The Penn State student body is a source of inspiration for the hockey team, as
it constantly feeds of the section's energy.
think every game they've gotten better with the chants, even Wisconsin when
they had that massive banner," Loik said. "You know, that's exciting to come
out and see that. It just fires us up."
This weekend as Minnesota comes into town, however, the student section's makeup
may look a bit different. With THON, and 46 hours of dancing, taking place
across the street in the Bryce Jordan Center, many students will be unable to
attend the games.
Nevertheless, that does not
mean their tickets will go unused. Instead of empty seats, the Roar Zone will
be filled with THON families. The students decided to donate their tickets to
those affected by pediatric cancer.
Following the games, the Nittany Lions will also be joining the Penn State
student body, and their THON child Colton Buckley, over in the BJC. The men's
hockey team has been heavily involved with THON since before its days as a DI
I think, falls in love with Penn State in their own ways, and really for me,
THON was just so amazing," said Gadowsky. "I personally believe it's the best
thing that any university does. It's such a great cause. You know, everybody
talks about the passion of our student body, our alumni, our supporters, and I
think THON builds a lot of that."
The Lions will take part in the annual Pep Rally, showing off their dance moves
to all in attendance at THON, but they understand the bigger picture. They want
to do all they can for the kids.
"Colton, our THON child, he's been around us for a few years now," Loik said.
"He's such an inspiration to us. To have someone of that character and what
he's been through around us, it really make you think how much we have to
appreciate. Coming up, it's going to be a lot of fun, and it's a big weekend for
Before the excitement of THON can begin for the men's hockey team, it will have
to face No. 15 Minnesota. The Lions (15-9-4, 7-4-1 B1G) are looking to snap their two game
losing streak, while the Gophers (16-9-3, 7-2-3 B1G) want to keep their dominant play
"I think last weekend will tell you all you need to know," Gadowsky said of the
Gophers, who most recently swept Michigan. "The team that's scoring more goal
than anybody in the NCAA they held to two goals on the weekend. They held them
to, I believe, 49 shots. So, defensively they had a tremendous weekend. They're
very tough to play against. On the other hand, they scored eight goals.
"You are going to see high-quality hockey. You're also going to see pretty
hockey, and you're going to see fast hockey. So, to give you a preview in terms
of what we're looking at, you can't say we're going to stop this line because
they're very deep. We can't say if we just don't take any penalties we're going
to be ok. They are really deep. They are very skilled at every position.
They're going to come at you with speed and with skill, and you have to beat
them with good hockey."
Even if the Roar Zone does not take on its usual composition this weekend, the
Nittany Lions will feel the support. The students have strengthened the team
time and time again, but now the team will look for inspiration in the young
fans, like Colton Buckley, who are in attendance.
Penn State is playing for more than just itself this weekend. The Lions are
playing for the kids.
"It's amazing what those kids do, and they deserve everything in the world,"
said Loik. "To give a few tickets away to these special people, it'll inspire
us even more. Even if the Roar Zone's not as full, those families coming to
those games, we play for them. We play for what they've been through."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Leaving the confines of Pegula Ice Arena for the
first time in over a month, the Penn State men's hockey team hit the road for a
series against Michigan State. The Nittany Lions were confident and ready to
play as they arrived in East Lansing looking to lengthen their eight-game
That confidence, however, was not enough as the team was swept for the first
time this season.
The Spartans had every answer Friday night, blanking Penn State, 3-0. Despite a
strong final push, the Lions (15-9-4, 7-4-1-0 B1G) also found themselves on the
losing side Saturday. Michigan State (12-12-2, 6-4-2-2 B1G) grabbed its second
win of the weekend by a final score of 3-2.
"Friday, we just had a mental lapse," said defenseman David Thompson. "We just
didn't play our game. We knew we were really disappointed with the way we came
out and played on Friday. We knew we had to get back to doing the things that
made us successful through this point in the season. So, Saturday we just
focused on playing Penn State hockey again."
Prior to this weekend, Penn State averaged 41.6 shots per game, a much higher
statistic than the 28 shots it managed Friday night. The performance marked
only the fourth time this season the Lions were outshot by their opponent, and
it was the first time the team was shut out.
Saturday, the Blue and White knew changes had to be made. The Lions needed to
get back to their roots. They needed to play Penn State hockey.
"I think the second game we got back to our game and responded well after how
we played the first night," defensemen Connor Varley said. "We played more in
their end and generated a lot more offense."
The junior opened the scoring for Penn State with a power play goal in the
second period of Saturday's game. Varley's goal continued the recent scoring
trend for the Lions' blueliners.
The defensemen all enjoy the freedom to join the rush when opportunities arise.
Earlier in the year, they were not getting bounces, but as of late the pieces
have fallen into place. The goals are beginning to come.
"Obviously, it's really exciting and unbelievable to have things going our
way," Thompson said of the blueline's offensive production. "We just have to
make sure that we keep doing everything possible, working hard day in and day
out on and off the ice to make sure the success for us continues down the
Even with scoring from a defenseman, the downfall for Penn State on Saturday
was penalties. The Lions were called for seven throughout the game, and MSU capitalized
Late in the third, the Blue and White trailed by two. Forward Casey Bailey
helped bring his team within one with his 20th goal of the season, but the
comeback fell short. Penn State was unable to nab the tying goal in the final
"I think we have to continue to build off last night," Varley said. "We didn't
get the result we wanted, but we played better and got back to our game. So,
we're going to continue to work on our game, play the way that gives us success
and good things will happen."
With a dangerous Minnesota team coming to Hockey Valley this upcoming weekend,
Penn State know its needs to learn from the mistakes made in Michigan. The team
also knows, it needs to keep those games in the past and focus on this next
"We just know that it's behind us at this point," said Thompson. "We're going
to watch some film. We're going to figure out some stuff and what we can do,
but at the end of the day we just need to make sure we're committed. It's a
huge weekend coming up here when it comes to standings and of course our place
in national rankings.
"We know that Minnesota is a great team. They have been for a very long time.
It's going to be a great weekend coming in here, so we need to make sure that
we take some lessons from this past weekend. If we do that, we'll be able to
piece it together."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Many freshmen student-athletes must learn how to
balance college and their teams when first arriving on campus. For Penn State
men's hockey defensemen Erik Autio, however, the process proved even more
difficult as he worked to grow accustomed to not only the university, but also
Now, a month into his second semester as a Nittany Lion, the freshman is
comfortable, and he is slowly starting to feel as though he is home.
"It's going better every day," said Autio. "I feel like I'm getting used to
eating the type of food. Language is a lot better right now than it was when I
got here, so I feel like it's getting better day by day."
One of the biggest changes Autio had to make involved the very thing he moved
to the United States for, ice hockey. Used to playing in bigger rinks, the
defenseman had to buckle down and learn how to maximize his skills on a smaller
"It was a big adjustment for him coming over from Finland," said assistant
coach Keith Fisher. "It's a different game because they play on international
ice over there, so it's a bigger ice surface. So, it was an adjustment to him
for just the speed of the game, and things happen a little bit quicker on NHL
ice surfaces here."
Nevertheless, even with a faster style of hockey, Autio has emerged as one of
the team's best puck movers. He thinks quickly and passes efficiently.
Game in and game out, the freshman is consistently smart with the puck, which
is a quality his coaches and teammates greatly appreciate.
"I feel like that's one of my strong sides of my game, moving the puck well,
giving good passes," said Autio. "That's something I try to do every game, and
I try to help the team out by doing that."
"It's always flat, hard and on the tape, so I know the guys like to receive
it," Fisher added of Autio's passing. "That's why he's so good on the power
play because of how well he passes the puck, and he sees the ice very well, has
a very good feel for the game. He's come a long ways."
Autio has appeared in 25 games for the Lions and is second on the team in
points scored by a defensemen with one goal and seven assists. The freshman's
first collegiate goal came in last Saturday's victory over Wisconsin, and he
was a relieved to finally put one in the back of the net.
"It felt good for sure," Autio said. "I've been waiting for that for such a
long time, and to help the team out with my goal felt good."
This weekend, Autio and the No. 19 Lions (15-7-4) are looking to extend their unbeaten streak
as they travel to take on Michigan State (10-12-2). Penn State and the Spartans met
merely weeks ago in Pegula Ice Arena, where the Lions settled for a Friday
night tie. Michigan State nabbed the extra point in a shootout, but the Blue
and White dominated Saturday's game and came away with a commanding 5-2
These two teams know what to expect from one another and are ready to close out
their regular season matchups.
"It helps because they're fresh in the mind," said Fisher. "You know what they
do. We know what we have to do to counter that to play them, and we feel
comfortable with our game. I think we've played pretty well here over the last
three, four weeks. We just have to kind of sustain our game going into the next
with Michigan State and Minnesota coming in. But, we're excited where we are as
a program, as a team right now."
The Lions are fully aware of the importance of this weekend. Autio and the rest
of the Blue and White know exactly what they have to do.
"Two wins," said Autio. "That's what we need. That's what we're going
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nine goals. Nine different scorers. One season
sweep of Wisconsin.
The Penn State men's hockey team was at it again this past weekend as it
extended its unbeaten streak to eight consecutive games. The Lions continue to
prove themselves dangerous, but more importantly are showing their depth, as
Penn State is a team that sees production from all four lines and defensemen.
Friday night, the Blue and White (15-7-4) downed the Badgers (2-18-4), 5-2,
with goals from Tommy Olczyk, Eric Scheid, David Goodwin, Casey Bailey and
Taylor Holstrom. The following afternoon, Penn State dominated in a 4-1
victory. Not only did forwards Dylan Richard and James Robinson notch tallies
Saturday afternoon, but defensemen Luke Juha and Erik Autio scored their firsts
of the season as well.
"This is our first time all
year that we've had two d-men score in the same game, so that's real nice," head
coach Guy Gadowsky said. "We've talked a lot about how we need other lines
scoring, other than the Holstrom line, to really be able to be effective, and
when you get scoring from the back that's awesome. It's a great weapon to have.
I hope it continues."
Although scoring among the defense has decreased this season compared to last,
the forwards know this team's blueliners can score. In the last two weeks
alone, three defensemen have found the back of the net, another advantage for
the Nittany Lions.
"We always knew they could score," Richard said of the defensemen. "It's just
not getting bounces or guys tipping it or what not, but we always knew they
could score. We have full confidence in them in shooting from the backend, so
it's just a matter of time before they start going in."
Even with the increased scoring among all forwards and defensemen, the Lions'
top line has remained effective. Goodwin, Holstrom and Bailey all notched goals
in the Friday night win and were a combined plus-four in the game.
Bailey recorded three points on the night with two assists and a rocket of a
goal from the slot.
"The line played very well," Gadowsky said. "I really liked how they got things
going with David's [Goodwin] goal. All three of them were buzzing around the
net and had shots, and David was able to clean it up, Taylor [Holstrom] going
hard to the net. But, that was a big time goal by Casey Bailey. That's just a
big time goal, man."
Time and time again, the forwards have been asked how they continue to produce.
No matter what team or line they go up against, Goodwin, Holstrom and Bailey
find ways to produce.
"We all want to be offensive guys, but we know that to get the offense we're
going to have to play both ways," Bailey said. "I think we're getting rewarded
for doing the little things. You know, Holstrom worked his bag off to get that
empty-netter, and Goodwin dove to put that one in. I got my goal without the
line, but I think they gave me plenty of opportunities to put one in while I
was with them. We're very comfortable with each other. We know each of our
With the two wins this weekend, the Lions completed the season sweep of the Badgers.
The accomplishment was no easy feat, and the Blue and White are proud to check
another achievement off their list of firsts.
"I think we caught them at a good time," said Gadowsky. "They're a lot more
talented than their record shows right now, but they're very, very young and I
think everybody knows that. Trust me, they're going to be Wisconsin soon, but
they're young and it sort of goes to show how tough this league is. It is. To
have a sweep of anybody in the Big Ten, you should be proud because that's
really hard to do."