UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey is headed to its first NCAA Tournament, set to meet Union in the opening game of the Midwest Regional Saturday, March 25 at at 4:30 p.m. in Cincinnati, Ohio. In preparation for the historic event, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky met with members of the media to preview the upcoming trip to U.S. Bank Arena.
Check out a few updates from the afternoon media session.
Enjoying the Moment
Gadowsky noted that as much of a business trip as the NCAA Tournament will be, the Nittany Lions will still take some time to savor the opportunity.
"I will tell you that it is really hard to get there, we know that, and we're going to enjoy it," Gadowsky said. "It's a business trip but we're going to enjoy it because we know how hard it is to get there."
For Gadowsky, the key to keeping the balance between business and enjoyment all comes down to easing the mindset into different ends of the spectrum.
"So today was a little light and lighthearted, but we're getting to work on Wednesday and I think that's what you have to do," Gadowsky said. "They are very tired right now and we have to let them rest and enjoy it, but then we're getting back to it."
An MVP Of The Weekend
Fresh off the program's first conference tournament title, the Nittany Lions emerged from the three-day event, that concluded with back-to-back marathon outings in double overtime wins against top-seeded Minnesota (4-3) and Wisconsin (2-1), with yet another opportunity to make history.
Since earning the program's first NCAA berth on Sunday, the Nittany Lions have hit the ice baths to soothe sore bodies. Still in awe of his team's ability to play essentially more than four games in the short stretch, Gadowsky noted that credit is due to Nittany Lion performance enhancement coach Cam Davidson.
"Cam Davidson was an MVP of that weekend for sure," Gadowsky said. "So we have a ton of faith in him, I know he'll have them ready to go by the weekend."
Making an Impact
By this point in the season, it's easy to see how much of an impact Penn State's newest Nittany Lions have had this season, as Gadowsky pointed to key weekend contributions from Liam Folkes, Brandon Biro and Peyton Jones. Gadowsky also reiterated his point from earlier this season, that the team isn't looking at the newcomers like freshmen anymore.
"They've exceeded all of our expectations and again, I think just the upperclassmen have really taken them in and made them feel comfortable," Gadowsky said. "Obviously there are no freshmen now and because of that I give a lot of credit to the upperclassmen, to make them, bring them along so quickly."
Foundation in Work
Ethic and Commitment
Since arriving on campus, Gadowsky and his staff set out with the top priority to construct a solid foundation the program could continue to build on as it develops. Within the foundation are principles of work ethic and commitment, two things that Gadowsky noted have been embedded in the program since day one - and not just day one of the 2016-17 season.
"That's something that has been started for five years, it's nothing that just comes around this year," Godowsky said. "So the work ethic that you see, especially in a double overtime game is a result of that, not anything that the coaching staff has done this week or this year."
Quick Thoughts on Union
With familiarity with the program, Gadowsky noted that what he's most impressed with when it comes to Union is their work ethic and grit.
"The coaching staff has done a really tremendous job bringing in really quality, hard working players," Gadowsky said. "So now that they are getting so many high-end scorers, that's what making them extremely dangerous."
Making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last eight seasons, the No. 2 seed Dutchmen are coming off of a 4-1 loss to Cornell in ECAC semifinals last weekend, which snapped a seven-game win streak.
Mike Vecchione and Spencer Foo are atop the team standings in scoring with Vecchione earning ECAC Hockey Player of the Year honors as Union's all-time leading scorer.Reach Arielle at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent