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PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team continues their homestand this
week against UMass Lowell, starting on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. The Nittany
Lions (3-3-1) will look to remain unbeaten at home when they welcome the River
Hawks (6-4-0) of the Hockey East Conference to Pegula Ice Arena.
VIDEO: Weekly Practice Update | BLOG: Nittany Lions Preparing for Stiff Test at Home
The Blue and White won their lone contest last weekend, claiming a 2-1 victory over Sacred Heart, behind a pair of first period goals. Luke Juha and Ricky DeRosa both tallied goals for the Blue and White.
Tonight's matchup will be the first in school history and mark the first ranked opponent faced inside of Pegula Ice Arena. The River Hawks enter ranked 13th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and 16th in the USCHO.com poll.
What To Watch For - Penn State
1. Penn State will look to get on the scoreboard quickly against tonight against UMass Lowell. The Nittany Lions have scored in the first period in three of their last four contests, including both goals in their 2-1 victory over Sacred Heart last Friday.
2. All three of sophomore Luke Juha's goals have come on the power play this season. The defenseman ranks 11th in the NCAA in power play goals scored. He is tied for the team lead in goals (3) with sophomore Eric Schied and points (5) with freshman David Goodwin.
3. Olczyk extended his point streak to three games against Sacred Heart last week with an assist on eventual game winning goal. It is the longest point streak of his collegiate career and he has registered a point in four of the team's last five games. The assist snapped a streak of five straight points (3G, 2A) scored on the road. Olczyk hadn't registered a point at home since Dec. 15, 2012 against Robert Morris in Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
What To Watch For - UMass-Lowell
1. The River Hawks are playing their third game in six days when they take the ice on Thursday, falling to Northeastern, 4-2, on Saturday, Nov.11 at home before posting a 2-1 victory at Princeton on Tuesday, Nov. 12. UMass Lowell will have also played seven of their last nine games on the road at the conclusion of this week's two game series.
2. The power play has really been working for the River Hawks lately, with their last five goals all coming with the man advantage. After starting the season 2-of-31 (.064), UML has scored on nine of their last 21 opportunities on the power play (.428), dating back to a 2-1 victory at Michigan on Oct. 26. UMass Lowell has scored two power play goals in each of their last three games.
3. Both River Hawk goaltenders rank among the national leaders in save percentage. Sophomore Connor Hellebuyck and senior Doug Carr have each stopped 92 percent of the shots they have faced. The duo has helped UML post one of the top-10 scoring defenses in the country at 2.20 goals allowed per game.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky knows all about the UMass-Lowell River Hawks, the Nittany Lions opponent this weekend.
He knows they started the season ranked No.1.
He knows about the huge win they posted at then-No. 4 Michigan and how effective they have been on the power play.
He knows the coaching staff has a knack for putting together a solid roster year after year.
Gadowsky and his team are well aware that this will be the toughest opponent they have faced in the early going of the 2013 season.
But they aren't changing the brand of hockey they want to play for any opponent.
"They are a great opponent," Gadowsky said. "The coaching staff does an awesome job and they've had a ton of success. They were the preseason No. 1 team and they've had big wins against good Big Ten opponents. They're an excellent opponent. It's a great opportunity for us to find out where we're at."
Gadowsky and his team aren't throwing out the game plan, the practice strategy or their goals for this game. Instead, they have continued to work on building the right foundation going forward in 2013-14.
The Nittany Lions are still looking for the right line combinations. They're still focusing on getting their power play to an elite level. And while they continue to work on those areas in practice, they know they have to start getting them down pat on game day.
"We were hoping that we would have maybe one thing to be addressing this week going into [our game against] UMass-Lowell.," Gadowsky said. "That's sort of what we were hoping, but there is a number of things that we're working on, which isn't a great feeling.
"We would rather be lot more systematic in building certain blocks to the foundation one at a time. We don't feel that we have established a good foundation in a number of areas, but we're still working on it."
The Nittany Lions are entering their weekend showdown against No. 11 UMass-Lowell after winning their last two games. They defeated Sacred Heart, 2-1, at home after topping Robert Morris, 5-4, in Pittsburgh. Add in the success they had last season against Big Ten opponents like Ohio State and Wisconsin, and suddenly the team no one expected to be competitive can start turning heads.
Wins like the 3-2 overtime game against Wisconsin to end last year and the 5-3 win over Ohio State last December have given this team the confidence they needed to prepare for a team like the River Hawks.
"I would like to think the Big Ten teams we played last year and had success against turned out to be huge for our program, but no one expected anything from us," Godowsky said. "Right now, because of the early success we had people are looking at us to see if we're a legitimate contender."
For the players on the team, they also feel more confident after having success against big time opponents last season. The Nittany Lions feel that they can compete with anyone, but they understand the importance of building the right foundation and sticking with it.
"For me personally, I think it gives us confidence," forward David Glen said. "We proved that we can play at that level and that we can compete with the best teams. If we stick to our foundation and game-plan, we can play with those teams and it does give us confidence going into a game against a team like UMass-Lowell."
The team had a good week of practice, and although it's a shorter week, the players feel good about where they are at entering Thursday and Friday night's games.
"We're working on what we need to improve and fine tuning what we do well," forward Dylan Richard said. "We're not changing anything. We're going to play our game and we're going to focus on doing that better than anyone else."
Gadowsky and his team are ready for the challenge UMass presents. They continue to work hard at all aspects of their game and are focused on improving every night. They have to stay out of the penalty box and play tough, hardnosed hockey.
"We're really hungry to get tested like we will this week," Gadowsky said. "We want to find out where we are at, because this is a legitimate, marquee team. If we have success, I'm not talking on the scoreboard, but on certain items that we control, whether we win or lose, if we can have success in those areas I think that will give us a lot of confidence."
The River Hawks are in town for a two-game series starting Thursday night, marking the third and fourth games the River Hawks have played in six nights.
This is the first time the two programs are squaring off at the Division I level. The puck drops at 7 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday night in Pegula Ice Arena.
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team was on the ice for practice on
Tuesday (Nov. 12) and enter the week with a 3-3-1 overall mark after claiming a
2-1 victory over Sacred Heart last Friday night inside Pegula Ice Arena.
On Tuesday, we caught up with head coach Guy Gadowsky and forward David Glen after practice to talk about their upcoming matchup with UMass-Lowell, the team's improvements and the growth of the team through the first month of the season with the voice of Penn State men's hockey, Brian Tripp.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky
-- NITTANY LIONS--
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team has a new points leader after Friday night's 2-1 win over Scared Heart.
Although he has the bragging rights on the team right now, he won't make a big fuss about it. That's not the type of player Luke Juha is.
The quiet, steady defenseman has been a key player early for the Nittany Lions and is setting himself up for a breakout season.
"I don't think any time a defensemen is leading the team in goals or [points], it's normal," Juha said after the game. "I'm just happy to be able to contribute."
The Mississauga, Ontario native got the Nittany Lions going early against Sacred Heart when his slap-shot deflected off the pads of Pioneers' goalkeeper Alex Vazzano and bounced into the net just 3:51 into the first period.
It was the beginning of what would be a solid day.
During the game, the sophomore defender continued to establish himself as one of the best player on the ice. He was physical, smart, and displayed incredible awareness - specifically on a crucial play in the second period.
With the Lions leading, 2-0, Sacred Heart came driving down the ice and ripped a shot on net. Goalkeeper Matthew Skoff turned the shot away, but the puck bounced back and slid towards the open net. Juha stepped in at the last second and stopped the puck to preserve the lead.
"That's somebody who is just doing his job; had my back on that play," Skoff said after the game. "I definitely owe him one."
During a play that was very frantic for the both Nittany Lions and the Pioneers, Juha remained calm and simply did his job.
"It's a classic story about being at the right place at the right time," Juha said. "I was just in front of the net, saw the puck trickle behind Skoff and I just took it out. It's pretty instinctive"
Performances and plays like that, however, have started to become the norm for the 5-foot-11 defensemen. As his coach Guy Gadowsky says, Juha is a "cerebral" player who is very well aware of what is happening around him.
"Luke is a very heads up guy, both with the puck on his stick and when he doesn't have the puck," Gadowsky said. "He's just a very smart hockey player and I think he could read what was happening [when he saved the shot].
"He looked so calm. That was what sort of surprised me, because it seemed to be very frantic everywhere else. He was the guy that went and got the puck out of the net and he looked like the calmest guy on the ice. That's pretty typical for him. He's a very cerebral player, very smart, and made a huge play there."
The defenseman has already tripled his goal total from last season and he's doing it with style. His play from the blue line has been exceptional. He is ripping shot after shot -- a team leading 18 -- leading to goals for himself and rebound opportunities for his teammates.
On the defensive end of the ice, he doesn't shy away from contact and has been a problem for opposing teams to get by. He's physical in the corners, limiting the opportunities for centering passes, and he protects the front of the net very well.
He's also become a huge contributor on the power play; all three of his goals this season have come with the man advantage. With one of the more powerful shots on the team, it only makes sense this defenseman would be taking more and more with each game. He's already on pace to shatter the 33 shots he took last season for the Nittany Lions.
The nicest part about the play of Juha, however, has been the fact that he's on the ice. The Nittany Lions lost the defensemen for the final 18 games of last season due to injury. He's healthy now and has been letting everyone see what type of player he is.
Penn State is back at home Thursday and Friday night when they host No. 12 UMass-Lowell. This will be the first time the two programs have played each other at the Division I level. The puck will drop at 7 p.m. on both nights.
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team opens a five game homestand
tonight (Fri., Nov. 8) against Sacred Heart. The Nittany Lions (2-3-1) will
look to remain unbeaten at home when they welcome the Pioneers (2-5-0) of the
Atlantic Hockey League to Pegula Ice Arena.
VIDEO: Weekly Practice Update | BLOG: Lions Focusing on Little Things
The Blue and White won their lone contest last weekend, claiming a 5-4 victory at Robert Morris, and will be playing just their third home game since the season began on Oct. 11.
Tonight's matchup will be the second in school history, with Penn State claiming a 6-3 decision at Sacred Heart last season. Six different players recorded goals in the game for the Nittany Lions and PJ Musico got the victory in net.
Last season's meeting featured nine goals - all scored at even strength - with Michael McDonagh logging a team-best three points on three assists. Michael Longo, Max Gardiner, Jonathan Milley, Nate Jenson, Mark Yanis and Curtis Loik each found the back of the net, with Jensen and Yanis each adding assists. Joseph Lordo added a pair of assists, as well.
What To Watch For - Penn State
1. Head coach Guy Gadowsky wants to see his team put together a full three periods of complete hockey and that will start with staying out of the penalty box. The Lions rank second in the country in penalty minutes (22.3 mpg), which is a number that Gadowsky wants to see diminish. On the flip side of that, Penn State has killed off 29 of their 35 penalties, scoring two shorthanded goals in the process.
2. Penn State is one of 30 teams to register a shorthanded goal in 2013-14 and is among 17 teams that have two-or-more goals while playing a man down. Curtis Loik and Tommy Olczyk are among the 30 players to have registered shorthanded goals this season.
3. Olczyk has scored in two straight games entering Friday's contest vs. the Pioneers. It is the second time in his career he has registered points in back-to-back games, with the other coming in 2012-13 when he had an assist vs. Vermont on Jan. 19 and followed that with a goal at Michigan State on Jan. 25. He has registered his last five points (3G, 2A) on the road, after opening his career with a pair of goals at home.
What To Watch For - Sacred Heart
1. After posting a 2-30-4 record in 2012-13, the Pioneers sent waves through the collegiate hockey world when they defeated preseason No. 1 UMass-Lowell to open the 2013-14 campaign and are 2-5-0 entering tonight's contest. Drew George netted a pair of goals vs. UML, notching the game winner just one minute after the River Hawks tied the game in the third period, and goaltender Alex Vazzano made 35 saves.
2. After his two-goal performance in the season opener, George has found the back of the net once more to lead the team with three goals. The junior has netted 22 goals in his career, which are tied for tops on the active list with Brian Sheehan.
3. The Pioneers are being outscored in every period this season, but draw closest in the second period. Sacred Heart is being outscored 10-5 in the opening period, 9-5 in the second stanza and 8-2 during the final 20 minutes.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every week at his Tuesday press conference Guy Gadowsky makes something clear to the media in attendance: he wants to see his team put together a solid three periods of hockey.
He wants to see his guys to dominate in the faceoff circle, on the power play and play the brand of hockey he knows his players are capable of playing.
Through the first six games of 2013, the Nittany Lions have had several bright spots. Transfer student Eric Scheid is leading the team in goals. Freshman forward David Goodwin has played exceptionally well and displayed tremendous vision. Matt Skoff is coming off a career performance in front of his home crowd.
But through all that, Gadowsky says he has yet to see a his team play well in every phase of the game for a full three periods. That's the goal for the team and their coach entering their Friday, Nov. 8 contest with Sacred Heart.
"We need to put together a complete game. We really do," Gadowsky said. "We haven't put together a game yet. We've had great goaltending. We've had successful power-plays. We've had great penalty killing. We have to put together a game with all cylinders firing. We have not done that yet and that's something I would like to see."
Penn State won't hit the road again for over a month, when they open conference play against the Wisconsin Badgers. Until then, the Nittany Lions are enjoying some time on their home ice and are focusing on improving on some of their early season struggles.
Captain Tommy Olcyzk knows his team is capable of winning a lot of games this season. It will take hard work, composure and a lot of heart to get the job done. Olcyzk understands the importance of getting everyone on the same page and working together as a team.
"It's going to take everyone pulling the same way," Olcyzk said. "We have 27 guys pulling on the same rope and we're working on getting everyone pulling in the same direction right now. No one is pulling the opposite direction, we just need to get everyone on the same page.
"The systems we have are relatively simply. Coach wants us to go out there and not think too much. He just wants us to react and play our brand of hockey."
Scheid, a redshirt sophomore, says the team is focused on the little things. They're focused on what they can control and how well they can control them.
"We're making too many little mistakes that are simple," said Scheid. "[We're focused on] getting the pucks behind the defense and getting pucks on net. We just need to take care of the puck, because turnovers have cost us a few goals. I think if we do the little things a little better, get the puck deep, get the puck on net and crash the net, we'll be a lot better."
With just a few weeks left until they open against their first Big Ten opponent of the season, it will be crucial for the players to get down the basics of their game plan and begin putting together a full three periods of hockey.
"As we move forward in the season and get into Big Ten play, we can't be losing the odd-man rush battle," said Olczyk. "We have to keep improving with face offs, on the power play and limit the penalties we are taking or we're going to have a really hard time winning games against good teams."
Olcyzk and his team, however, are ready for the challenge of improving. They had only six days of practice with their coaches prior to the start of the season, but will use an 18-day span that features just two games to work on those little things.
With nearly three weeks of games and practices on their home ice, the Nittany Lions are excited to get back in front of their fans. According to Gadowsky, Pegula Ice Arena has become the ultimate advantage and a comfort zone for his players.
"It's just so much fun playing here that you look forward to it," said Gadowsky. "Ever since that opening night, you really get excited to play here. It's fantastic to be at home and we can't wait to see the crowd again."
The puck will drop at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8 against Sacred Heart, which opens a five game homestnad for the Blue and White.
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team was on the ice for practice on
Tuesday (Nov. 5) and enter the week with a 2-3-1 overall mark after claiming a
5-4 victory over Robert Morris last weekend.
On Tuesday, we caught up with head coach Guy Gadowsky and forward Tommy Olczyk after practice to talk about the team's victory, their improved power play and team leadership with the voice of Penn State men's hockey, Brian Tripp.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a night where Penn State needed to get back in the win column, Matthew Skoff and Casey Bailey both stepped up to lead the Nittany Lions past the Robert Morris Colonials, 5-4, at 84 Lumber Arena.
Bailey led an offensive attack that saw five different Nittany Lions score - their most unique goal scorers in a single game since Nov. 10, 2012 - while Skoff recorded a career high 48 saves in the victory.
Bailey, who ranked second on the team with 14 goals last season, tallied his first goal of the season on Friday night and helped the team get back onto the winning side of things for the first time since a season-opening win over Army on Oct. 11.
"We haven't won since that first game and we had a close game against RIT," Bailey said. "So it feels great to get back in that win column."
Skoff, a native of McKee Rocks, Pa., just a short drive away from Robert Morris, had the home crowd rooting for him as he stopped shot after shot from the Colonials. The sophomore goaltender had played at 84 Lumber Arena before and has now won there at all three levels.
"[Skoff] is a battler and I think the team fells confident with him back there," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Even when things are getting a little hairy, he's such a calm, mentally tough kid that we feel good knowing he is in goal. I'm happy that he able to get this win for our team."
After allowing an early first period power-play goal to the Colonials, Skoff sealed up the goal for the next 30 minutes of ice time, allowing his team to get back into the game.
A sluggish first period from the Nittany Lions was soon forgotten after they outscored RMU, 3-1, in the second period to take a 3-2 lead into the final stanza.
The puck movement was efficiently and Penn State was creating quality scoring chances. It was the most effective the Nittany Lions had looked since on offense since their season opener against Army.
Bailey made scoring and assisting on goals look easy last season and has been playing good hockey for the Nittany Lions this season, but he was unable to find the back of the net through the first 17 periods of the season.
That changed Friday night when he beat RMU goaltender Terry Shafer just five minutes into the third period.
Bailey took a feed from Nate Jensen and ripped a shot on Shafer. The Colonials' goaltender stood tall and turned the shot away. Taylor Holstrom's rebound attempts was turned that away, as well, but the puck found its way back to Bailey.
"He was pressing a lot," said Gadowsky. "He had 12 shots on net last game and nothing to show for it. Today their goaltender made two amazing saves on him, but he just kept on battling. I like to see that. He has a lot of perseverance and it paid off."
After seeing Holstrom turned away by Shafer, as well, Bailey gathered in the third PSU chance on the attack and placed a shot high corner, glove side to register his first goal of the season.
"It's a weight off the shoulders for sure," Bailey said after the game. "I was getting a lot of chances at the net and I knew it would come eventually, but to finally put that one in felt great, especially in the situation it was in."
Bailey and his line mates, David Goodwin and Dylan Richard, had excellent chemistry throughout the game. They moved the puck quickly through the zone and controlled corners and the front of the net against the Colonials. The continuity of the three was a huge part of the team's success.
"Goodwin and Richard are both excellent players," Bailey said. "It's a lot of fun to play with them. They have a lot of skill and they tend to find you when you're open, so for a shooter like me, that's all you can ask for."
It was something the Nittany Lions needed at that moment, as well.
Bailey's goal was a critical one for several reasons. First, it gave the Nittany Lions a 4-3 lead over the Colonials. Second, it was the team's second of three power-play goals. Penn State has never scored more than one power-play goal in a game, so to get three in one outing was a huge success for Gadowsky and his team.
"We still have a lot of work to do, we really do," Gadowsky said. "We're not thrilled with some of the things that we can control. We still have a lot of work to do, but It's nice to get a win."
Penn State returns home on Friday, Nov. 8 to host Sacred Heart. The puck drops at 7 p.m. inside Pegula Ice Arena.
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team hit the road today for a 7:05
contest at 84 Lumber Arena against Robert Morris. The Nittany Lions (1-3-1)
will be taking on the Colonials (0-4-1) for the third time in program history in
their only game this week.
Last weekend, Penn State posted a 3-3 tie against RIT at Pegula Ice Arena before falling, 5-2, to Vermont as a part of the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
This will be the first of two trips to the Steel City for the Blue and White, with the team retuning to play in the Three Rivers Classic at the CONSOL Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Robert Morris will oppose the Lions in the opener of the Three Rivers Classic, with the second opponent being either Boston College or Bowling Green.
David Goodwin and Curtis Loik both scored their second goals of the season against RIT on Friday night, while Dylan Richard opened the scoring vs. the Tigers with his first career goal. On Saturday against Vermont, Taylor Holstrom and Tommy Olczyk both netted their first goals of the season, both coming in the first period.
After scoring just two goals in their first two games, Robert Morris has found their offensive stride with three goals in each of their last three goals. The Colonials are searching for their first win of the season, with a tie against Niagara sandwiched in between two loses apiece at Lake Superior State and against Ohio State.
What To Watch For - Penn State
1. This game could be sort of a measuring stick for the Nittany Lions, who met Robert Morris during the first half of their inaugural season in 2012-13, falling 3-2 on the road. After a pair of tough games last weekend, Penn State will look to build some momentum - and take advantage of two games in an 18-day span - when they face the Colonials for the third time in program history.
2. Fifteen of the Nittany Lions 27 games were decided by two or fewer goals in 2012-13, with the squad boasting an 8-7 mark in those contests. This season, Penn State has already played a pair of games decided by two or fewer goals (0-1-1), but should be able to rely on experience in tough situations as the season progresses.
3. It's always nice to play on your home ice in front a passionate fan base, but when Matt Skoff enters the arena on Friday in Pittsburgh he will be playing in familiar territory. His hometown of McKees Rocks, Pa. - a suburb of Pittsburgh - is just a 15-mile drive along the Ohio River from 84 Lumber Arena, which will hopefully provide the Nittany Lions with a solid cheering section.
What To Watch For - Robert Morris
1. After opening the season with a pair of 3-1 road losses to Lake Superior State the Colonials have tallied three goals in each of their last three games. Robert Morris has allowed at least three goals in each game this season, as well, surrendering a season-high five goals last weekend at Ohio State.
2. The second period has been a bugaboo for the Colonials. In the second stanza, Robert Morris has scored twice and allowed 10 goals. In the other two periods, RMU has scored nine goals and allowed only eight.
3. Cody Wydo has registered a team-high three goals on the season and is tied for the team lead with four points. He scored goals in the season opener at Lake Superior State (10/11), against Niagara (10/19) and at Ohio State (10/25). He has notched goals at even strength, short- handed and on the power play. The junior currently ranks fifth in program history with 37 career goals.