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Nittany Lions Closes Out Regular Season In Style

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions wrapped up their regular season with a 4-2 Big Ten victory over Ohio State on a special day for the men in blue and white and their lone senior, Mike McDonagh.

It was a sellout crowd and the energy was high in Pegula Ice Arena and head coach Guy Gadowsky's squad was hungry for a win after falling in the series opener. They scored two early goals and with the Buckeyes on their heels, never took their foot off the gas.

On the day the Nittany Lions were celebrating the career of McDonagh, the team captured the energy of the senior forward and left everything on the ice. One of those players, in particular, was Nate Jensen.

Over the weekend the defenseman made his first appearance on the ice since suffering an injury in early February. He scored the first goal of the game, and assisted on two others, marking his first career three-point game.

"He played well and it's very tough to be out [injured] that long and come back like that," Gadowsky said. "Tonight he was skating hard. [He had] a tremendous goal, and a couple of nice assists to go with it. He was making very calm passes right on the tape and it's great to have him back."

After looking tentative in the series opener - his first night back in 42 days - it was clear that Jensen found his swagger and helped lift the Nittany Lions to a win in the regular season finale.

"I got my touch back," Jensen said. "I got my confidence back [on Saturday]. The game was a lot slower for me tonight and it just felt good out there.

"There was just a buzz in the locker room before the game. You knew the guys are ready to play and we were going to come out flying. As soon as the puck dropped, I knew we were going to win that game."

Throughout the game, Penn State was clearly setting the tone and keeping their speed up. They manufactured strong offensive possessions and were putting pucks on sticks with their passes, a recipe for success for any hockey team.

It's small things like passing crisply that the team has been working on throughout the year and developing as a part of their game. Captain Tommy Olczyk knows how hard his team has had to work to earn a win like this, and he couldn't be more proud.

"It's [winning as a young program] isn't easy and our guys have done a good job of keeping each other focused this season," said Olczyk. "Thankfully you don't have to have a letter on your chest to be a leader. [Patrick] Koudys and [Matthew] Skoff have been two of the more vocal guys and we need guys like that. We have learned a lot from up to this point and I believe we can play with anyone. We've proved that to ourselves and moving forward that will be a big key."

Along with Jensen, the Nittany Lions got goals from Curtis Loik, Olczyk, and Taylor Holstrom. It was a complete team effort to earn the victory, and it sets the Nittany Lions up for a good week of practice before the Big Ten Tournament this weekend. According to Gadowsky, however, the whole season has set the team up for success next weekend, not just this one game.

"In my mind, [the win over Ohio State] is not what is spring-boarding us," he said. "The future success that we have comes from a lot of hard lessons and was a lot of hard work along the way that's helped us improve."

As we close the doors on the 2013-14 regular season, the progress and improvements made by this team have tremendous. The Nittany Lions have improved day-by-day, and it's fitting they end with a win.

"I think it's a fitting ending because of how far we have come," Gadowsky said. "We have improved in a lot of areas and this was a great win for us. It's also very fitting for McDonagh to go out a winner. He's a great guy who has meant so much to this program and I'm really happy for him."

They now turn their attention to Michigan, as they prepare for their first round game in the 2014 Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament in St. Paul, Minn.

"We're still trying to improve every day," Gadowsky said. "We have three more practices to improve before we head to the Big Ten Tournament. We feel good about ourselves and it's nice to have a good result and a fairly good performance going into the postseason."



LIVE BLOG: Men's Hockey hosts Ohio State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on for the Penn State men's hockey contest against Ohio State on Saturday, March 15 inside Pegula Ice Arena. 

BLOG: Memorable First Season Inside the Cathedral on Curtin

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use the #PennState or #HockeyValley and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.


LIVE BLOG: Men's Hockey hosts Ohio State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on for the Penn State men's hockey contest against Ohio State on Friday, March 14 inside Pegula Ice Arena. 

BLOG: Memorable First Season Inside the Cathedral on Curtin

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the last time this season, the Penn State men's hockey team will lace up their skates, tape up their sticks, and take the ice inside Pegula Ice Arena.  

Pegula has been called the Cathedral On Curtain, a premiere college hockey facility, and lastly, but most importantly, a home.

A home for a team and a community alike.

The 200,000 square-foot, 6,000 seat arena with state-of-the-art amenities has become a pillar in the State College community and given an advantage to a very young program looking to change the landscape of college hockey. Terry Pegula, the arenas namesake, wanted the loudest arena in the country and he got it.

"I just love the atmosphere here," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "We have the greatest student body in the world and they're incredible. I give all of our supporters a lot of credit this past weekend, with spring break and no students, I thought they did a great job of filling the arena.

"I just love the atmosphere in Pegula Ice Arena. Our fans are tremendous. I know it gives our players a lot of motivation to play in front of a passionate fan base. I know they love playing here."

Gadowsky and his team fell in love early with the facilities of Pegula Ice Arena. It gave them a clear advantage over opponents in their training, studies and practice time.

"This beautiful facility that we are able to train in, it's wonderful," Gadowsky said. "Everything is easily accessible right from our locker room. We have a great strength and conditioning room and training facilities that our players take advantage of daily. It makes it convenient for them to take advantage and it is something that can only help our program grow. The fact that the location is right in the middle of campus is tremendous for everyone."

In a year filled with outstanding moments, to pick just a few was hard. The clear place to start is opening night.

The hockey team got their season started in front of a sellout crowd on Oct. 11 agaisnt Army. The sellout was the first of 15 so far this season and the Nittany Lions earned their first win of the season, beating the Knights, 4-1. It was the beginning of a unique relationship between State College, a building, and their team.

After the game, the talk of the town was the excitement around this new team and this new arena.

In a season of firsts, Penn State's Big Ten opener came in the form of No. 1 Minnesota. Part of the hype around this season was the formation of the Big Ten hockey conference, which allowed the Nittany Lions to play some of the iconic college hockey programs. It was also the first time Hockey Valley would get a chance to see a top ranked team live. The Nittany Lions gave them everything they had, falling 3-2 on the opening game of the weekend.

The program and fans were now even more hungry for a Big Ten win and they got it just 26 days after their meeting with Minnesota. Then-no. 10 Michigan entered Pegula Ice Arena and won 7-3 in the series opener, but the second game was all Penn State.

The Lions score three times in the first period and Matthew Skoff made 32 saves to earn their first Big Ten win in shutout fashion. The arena erupted as the final horn sounded and the team reveled in the moment. It was fitting that the first Big Ten win came inside the Cathedral on Curtin. Skoff played exceptionally well in the contest to post the first Penn State shutout in the arena.

Maybe the most memorable part of this season, however, isn't a single moment. The memory is still fresh as Penn State wraps up the 20-game home slate. This season has been one memorable moment after another.

As the season comes to an end, Pegula Ice Arena ends its inaugural season. The huge moments that have come out of this season will without a doubt go a long way in shaping this program and signals the beginning of what is sure to be a long-lasting, historic building.

Penn State will open the final home series of the season on Friday, March 14 against Big Ten rival Ohio State. Game time is set for 7 p.m. on Friday night and 3 p.m. on Saturday.

"We have been improving a ton," Gadowsky said. "I think the guys all know it, the staff certainly recognizes it and this is a fun place to play. So I certainly would like to play a few more before going into the Big Ten Tournament. We are looking forward to this weekend one game at a time but we know it's been a heck of a year for us."



VIDEO: Practice Update - March 11

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team was on the ice for practice on Tuesday (March 11) after dropping a pair of games at No. 5 Wisconsin over the weekend. The Nittany Lions fell by scores of 4-2 and 3-2 in overtime and will host Ohio State on the final weekend of the regular season with a 6-24-2 overall record.

On Tuesday, we caught up with head coach Guy Gadowsky and senior Mike McDonagh to talk about the final home series of the season, senior weekend and what the team needs to do to find success against the Buckeyes this weekend.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky

Forward Mike McDonagh



Learning Experience or Not, Lions Want to Win

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team fell twice to the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers over the weekend - but not without a fight.

Guy Gadowsky's squad battled back from a three-goal deficit Friday night and forced overtime after trailing late in Saturday night's contest, showing the level of desire they have to win as the regular season draws to a close.

On Friday night, the two teams met for the first time since opening the Big Ten season against one another 13 weeks ago. The Badgers came out with a strong and caught the Nittany Lions on their heels early.

Wisconsin took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission, but then the Blue and White woke up in the third period and outworked Wisconsin in the third period.

"We've gotten the confidence that we can compete with anybody," forward Casey Bailey said after the game on Friday night. "I think we really feel like we're going to start winning these games. We're in all these [games] with the No. 1 and No. 5 teams in the nation, all these top ten team and all these great teams in our conference. We're disappointed that we aren't getting the win because that's what we're looking for."

The Nittany Lions looked to have renewed energy as the final 20 minutes got started. They scored a goal just over eight minutes into the third stanza, then again with one minute remaining to make it 3-2. The energy inside Pegula Ice Arena was palpable and Penn State looked poised to make one final push to force an overtime period.

This is the maturity the coaching staff has been seeing over the second half of the season. The team never once called it quits and figured they would get after it the next night; the Nittany Lions buckled down and got back into the game.

The storyline was similar Saturday night; only this time Penn State, in their freshly pressed camouflage sweaters, was the team setting the tone early. The puck dropped to start the first period and the Nittany Lions took it right at the Badgers. The defensemen were aggressive and kept pucks in the offensive zone, while the forwards continued to look to shoot and score.

Sophomore Matt Skoff got the start in net and looked composed as ever as he turned away shot after shot. The Nittany Lions trailed the Badgers after two periods, however, but the game was far from over. Penn State had outshot Wisconsin 32-19 through two periods and was a missed opportunity away heading to the third period tied.

As the third period got started, the Nittany Lions' desire was clear and the team found a way to knot the score with less than three minutes left. Kenny Brooks put one on net and it beat Joel Rumpel, the Big Ten's leader in nearly every goaltending category.

The game was headed to overtime in Hockey Valley.

Again, this is the maturity and desire Gadowsky has come to expect from this young Nittany Lion team shone through, but the Badgers earned when they converted on a 2-on-1 with just 20 seconds left in the overtime period.

"Obviously, it's a tough loss," Brooks said after Saturday nights' game. "I thought overall we played a very good game as a team, and that's the frustrating part that we lost when we did that. We played well as a team and we are taking steps forward. These are a good team and we just need to be better at pulling out wins when we're in close games."

It was another great learning experience for a young Penn State program, as the team once again proved they can play with just about anybody. As the season comes to a close, it's just one more thing this group of players can be proud about.

"I think that we are at a point where it's not only about playing well," said Gadowsky, "we want to take the very next step and win these type of games. We've played really well and if this was the first time we played really well against a top-five team we would probably be thrilled. But we've played really well against No. 1 Minnesota. We played really well against No. 2 Boston College and we've had these experiences and to take the next step we just need to close them out.

"We are proud of the stages that we've gone through this season and how far we have come as a team. This is just another [learning experience] for this program."



LIVE BLOG: Men's Hockey hosts No. 5 Wisconsin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on for the Penn State men's hockey contest against No. 5 Wisconsin on Saturday, March 8 inside Pegula Ice Arena. 

BLOG: McDonagh Reflects On Penn State Career

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use the #PennState or #HockeyValley and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.


GAME BLOG: Men's Hockey hosts Wisconsin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on for the Penn State men's hockey contest against No. 5 Wisconsin on Friday, March 7 inside Pegula Ice Arena. 

BLOG: What to Watch  |  BLOG: McDonagh Reflects On Penn State Career

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use the #PennState or #HockeyValley and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.


What To Watch: Penn State host No. 5 Wisconsin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team will play their third straight ranked opponent this weekend at Pegula Ice Arena, as No. 5 Wisconsin makes its first visit to Happy Valley for hockey. The Nittany Lions enter with a 6-22-2 overall record, while the Badgers are 19-9-2 in 2013-14.

BLOG: McDonagh Reflects On Penn State Career

Pregame Reading
What To Watch - Penn State

Finish Strong: Penn State will play its final four games of the regular season inside of Pegula Ice Arena, starting tonight vs. Wisconsin. The No. 5 Badgers mark the third straight ranked opponent for Penn State and will be the sixth ranked opponent to enter Pegula this season. The Lions opened the inaugural season of Big Ten play at Wisconsin, losing 7-1 and 4-3, respectively.

Making Musico: It had been 370 days since PJ Musico led the Nittany Lions out of the tunnel as the starting goaltender. He did so at Minnesota on March 1 and led the Lions in a gritty effort versus the No. 2 Gophers. The junior made 35 saves in the team's 2-1 loss in his first start since Feb. 24, 2013 at Wisconsin. Musico has now appeared in five games and made 61 saves on the season.

Getting Off the Scheid: Eric Scheid continues to lead the Nittany Lions in points and goals this season, but the sophomore hasn't scored in five games. His last point came against Michigan State in a 2-2 tie, which gave him a three-game points streak at the time. On the season, Scheid has 19 points on 11 goals and eight assists.

What To Watch - Wisconsin

Welcome to Happy Valley: Wisconsin will be playing their fifth and sixth games vs. Penn State this weekend, but will be making their first trip to the University Park campus. Penn State took one of two games last season and dropped both meetings in Madison this season.

Rumpel-stiltskin: He might not be spinning straw into goal, but junior goaltender Joel Rumpel good as gold in net for the Badgers. He leads the the Big Ten with a .786 winning percentage (16-4-1), 1.83 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. He also went 5-1-1 with a 1.42 goals-against average, .954 save percentage and one shutout in February.

Closing on the Road: Wisconsin will close out the regular season with four straight road contests, at Penn State and at Michigan State. The Badgers are 2-7-1 on the road this season after posting the third-best road record in the country last year at 8-2-4. UW is 1-1-1 on the road in its last three games, including a victory at Ohio State on Feb. 15 in UW's last road contest. UW has been outscored 37-20 on the road this season



McDonagh Reflects On Penn State Career

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Penn State takes the ice this weekend for a showdown with No. 5 Wisconsin, it will be the team's second to last home series and it will mean we're just one week away from the end of a historic season for the men's hockey program.

For forward Mike McDonagh, however, it's just another step in a long hockey journey.

McDonagh, the team's lone senior, has been a part of Penn State hockey for four years. Prior to joining coach Guy Gadowsky's squad, he was a member of Penn State's club team, the Icers. During his time with the Icers, he was a force, playing 61 games and collecting 47 points.

Then, the announcement came that Penn State was adding an NCAA Division I team, and the Wilmington, Mass., native knew he wanted to be a part of the historic beginning. 

"I've played hockey my whole life...and I figured I might as well pursue the dream of playing at the highest level possible," McDonagh said. "That's always been a dream for everyone that's played hockey. So when I got that opportunity, I decided to go for it."

McDonagh has always faced the challenge of trying out for the Nittany Lions. Each season he laced up his skates, he knew he had to prove that he belonged and that he could thrive. When the hard work paid off, the reward of playing Division I hockey was all he could ask for.

"It was awesome," McDonagh said. "The first year when [coach] Gadowsky was here was a club year, and it was a tryout year for myself, and I had no clue if I would be on the team or not my junior year. When he brought me into the office and told me [I made the team] I don't think I said anything back to him. I just sat there, so appreciative of the opportunity. I was definitely pumped."

In his first season as a Division I hockey player, McDonagh was solid. He assisted on nine goals and contributed a three game point-streak. He was the type of player that brought the same enthusiasm and intensity to every practice and left everything on the ice.

He also brought a different kind of enthusiasm to the team. McDonagh, as all of his teammates will say, is a jokester and a "goofball." He's the kind of guy people gravitate to, and feel comfortable around.

"It's very stressful," the senior said. "Our practices are hard. We're always concentrated on trying to win games and competing at the highest level, so you need that break in between sometimes. I just try to go in there and get a laugh out of the guys sometimes."

During this season, he has been the ultimate teammate, while contributing as a solid forward to Gadowsky's squad.

"You just love being around him," Gadowsky said. "He's a guy you love being around, and you can't have enough of those guys on your team.

"I love him because of the kind of guy he is. He is such a great guy. He's got tremendous work ethic; he's extremely intelligent; his teammates love him; he always gives you a great effort and he is always positive. I love having him on the team."

He is, as his bench boss says, one of the team's top players for a shootout and a gritty type of forward. McDonagh isn't afraid to step in front of a shot, or crash the net to score a goal. His enthusiasm carries over from practice perfectly into the game, and the rest of his teammates feed off of it.

As McDonagh's Penn State career comes to an end, the Nittany Lion isn't looking too far beyond each game. He has treasured the last two years as a Division I player, and knows he is a huge part of this young program. When the idea of a legacy comes up, the senior knows what kind of player he was for Penn State.

"Definitely a guy the younger guys could look up to just for the hard work on and off the ice," McDonagh said. "I might not have had as much skill as those guys, so in order to compete with them I had to work really hard. I think the guys can look at that and follow that lead, as well."

His coach couldn't agree more.

"Yeah, he will be our first senior class in Pegula Ice Arena and in the Big Ten era," Gadowsky said. "He will go down in history as someone special and that's good because he's a great guy. He has done everything we've asked of him and he deserves it."