By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer DETROIT, Mich. - As the horn signifying the end of the game sounded, the Penn State men's hockey team found itself in an undesirable position. After putting up a valiant effort, the fourth-seeded Nittany Lions were defeated by fifth-seeded Ohio State, 3-1, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
In what seemed to be the snap of a finger, the team's season suddenly ended. Nevertheless, this squad has much to be proud of after what was accomplished during the season. The Lions exceeded expectations and put together a historic season filled with wins over every conference opponent, a season sweep and even national rankings.
Although the sting of the loss to the Buckeyes (14-18-3, 8-11-1 B1G) may take some time to heal, Penn State (18-15-4, 10-9-1 B1G) clearly gave its heart and soul this season. No one can ask for anything more than that.
"It's been an honor to play for Penn State and build a foundation here," said an emotional Max Gardiner. "Something I'm going to miss, for sure, but the program's in great hands from the coaching staff down. There are some great leaders going into next year in that locker room. There are a lot of good things to look forward to for the program."
The senior forward scored Penn State's only goal in the quarterfinal appearance during the second. He fired off a shot that went in over the right shoulder of the Buckeye goalie. It bounced in and out of the net so quickly that there was some initial confusion before the goal horn echoed through Joe Louis Arena.
At the time, the tally cut the Buckeye's lead in half, bringing the score to 2-1. However, a breakaway goal with exactly one minute remaining in the period helped Ohio State regain a two-goal lead.
The Nittany Lions were unable to recover.
"Actually, Tommy Olczyk made a real nice play there," Gardiner said of his goal. "He picked off a pass and made a nice pass to me. And Zach [Saar] kind of drew the "D" over, drove hard doing that, and kind of gave me an opening to let one go. Luckily enough it went in."
Penn State was held to only 32 shots in the game, a total less than its 39.4 shots per game season average. Much of the lack of offense can be attributed to the multiple team injuries, as Taylor Holstrom and a few other Lions skated through pain to make one final appearance in Blue and White.
During the game, the team battled injuries to its defensemen as well. Senior Nate Jensen left the game for a few minutes after being kneed but came back to play out the remainder of his final game as a Nittany Lion. Sophomore Mike Williamson, however, left the game with an injury. He did not return.
"We have a pretty significant part of our offense that was really struggling to play, a couple of our players, and I don't think we had the speed that we normally have to jump on pucks and try to get second and third chances," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I think they did a really good job of keeping us away from second and third chances. Credit their "D". It's a total team effort by them, but they did a very good job at that. We weren't able to really generate much."
A first-round tournament elimination is not the way any team wants to finish out its season. Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions have a bright future ahead of them.
This is not an end. It's only the beginning for this young program.
"It's going to continue to rise, I believe," Gardiner said. "Like I said, it's in great hands, great leadership. They're going to continue to build it next year and for many years to come. I think there's going to be a lot of success in Penn State hockey."
"I think we have to look back at the season as a whole," added Gadowsky. "I think we made a lot of great strides in a lot of areas of the program. Like I said, I think the whole team, especially the seniors, should be very proud of that."
DETROIT, Mich. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions will face Ohio State in the first round of this year's Big Ten Tournament. The game is set to begin at 4:30 p.m.
Live Blog Men's Hockey B1G Tournament Blog - Penn State vs. Ohio State
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the Penn State men's hockey team, it's time
for a fresh start, a clean slate. What the Nittany Lions accomplished earlier
this season is no longer of importance. It's time for the Big Ten Tournament,
and every team has an even chance. Anything can happen in the playoffs.
The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions (18-14-4, 10-9-1 B1G) will face fifth-seeded
Ohio State (13-8-3, 8-11-1 B1G) Thursday. The team's spot in the bracket was finalized
following its two losses against Minnesota last weekend; however, those loses
are in the past. The Blue and White are only focused on the future.
"Literally two seconds after the game Saturday it was playoff time," head coach
Guy Gadowsky. "What happened Friday didn't matter. What happened Saturday
didn't matter. In fact, what happened this year didn't matter. I think down the
road, a lot of the guys are going to look back at this with incredibly pride on
what they accomplished. But as of right now, all they're thinking is it's
After such a successful regular season, the team is headed into the tournament
with confidence. The Lions know what they are capable of, and it's only a
matter of playing their best brand of hockey.
Penn State is not ready for the season to end, and these athletes are going to
battle for victories one game at a time and come out strong for this final push.
"You want to leave it all out there," said junior forward Casey Bailey. "You've
got seniors that this is their last chance. They came here to play for a
program that everybody said was going to lose. To be able to go out there and
win and to have that possibility of picking up the Big Ten playoff championship
your second season and your third season as a Division I team is a huge
accomplishment. It's something we'd love to do."
Gadowsky Named B1G Coach of the Year
In addition to preparing for the tournament, the team had a major
accomplishment to take pride in this week as the conference named Gadowsky the
Big Ten Coach of the Year.
In just its third season as a Division I program, Gadowsky led the Nittany
Lions to a winning record. The team more than doubled its win total from last
season, showing how quickly the program has grown.
"It's great for this program," said Gadowsky of the honor. "I mean that
award is really for when players exceed expectations. But, I think in this case
it goes even further. It's not just about that. I think it's a lot about the
atmosphere we have in the building, how well the ticket sales went, just a
number of things. This is a program award."
While many questioned the legitimacy of Penn State hockey last season, there
were signs that this team would accomplish large feats. The team's first round
victory over Michigan in the 2013-14 Big Ten Tournament is merely one of those
With a presence like Gadowsky on the bench, the team is more than capable of continuing
its success for years to come.
McAdam Gets the Nod
Sophomore Eamon McAdam will mind the crease for Nittany Lions in the
Thursday's first-round matchup. McAdam posted a .911 save percentage during his
11 games played and earned a 5-3-1 record during the regular season.
Furthermore, the sophomore is the Lions' lone goaltender to defeat Ohio State
this season. McAdam was in net for the team's 5-1 victory over the Buckeyes, a
game in which he made 35 stops.
"We've had a very nice home-ice advantage here at Pegula Ice Arena," said
Gadowsky. "This game is not going to be at Pegula, and between the three, [McAdam]
has by far the highest winning percentage away from Pegula Ice Arena. That's
another reason. He also actually if you look at it both in conference and
overall play does have the highest winning percentage, along with highest save
"I feel that he's actually probably faced the toughest opponents when you look
at goals per game. I mean he played Michigan three times. He's played
Minnesota. So, when you look at the opponents he's played, that he is our only
goaltender that's played more games away than home, he's probably more prepared
for this experience."
Scouting the Buckeyes
This season, Penn State fell in three of the four games it played Ohio
State. The team was swept when it traveled to Columbus and split the series
played in Hockey Valley.
Nevertheless, the Blue and White are not focused on what happened this season,
instead preparing mentally and physically for what will happen Thursday at 4:30
"It's not like we come in very, very confident and this is how's it's going
to go and this is what we have to do," said Gadowksy. "I don't think either
coaching staff feels that. But, I certainly give them a ton of credit and Coach
Rohlik in terms of the discipline his team here has shown in this stretch. I
think they've gone the last ten they've only lost three, last eight they've
only lost two. I think their discipline has been a big part of that, and we
certainly respect that. But, looking back at the season series between us, you
really can't say this is what to expect. This is what we have to do. So, I
think it makes it fun."
If the Nittany Lions want to succeed, they will have to find a way to end the
Buckeyes' recent success. The team will need to shut down Ohio State's leading
scorer Tanner Fritz, who had 26 points in the regular season, and find ways to
get the puck by goalie Christian Frey. Frey has played in seven games against
Penn State, posting a .936 save percentage and a 2.55 goals allowed average
against the Blue and White.
Additionally, the Buckeyes have experience on their side. Although the Nittany
Lions advanced to the semifinals in last year's tournament, Ohio State made it
to the championship game. The Buckeyes eventually fell to Wisconsin in
overtime, but they know what it takes to get to the finals.
"We're going to have to win three games to win the Big Ten, and I think it
doesn't really matter who we're playing," Bailey said. "If we play our style of
hockey, Penn State hockey, we can beat anybody. As long as we stick to our
game, we're not really worried about who we're playing against."
No. 1 Minnesota (12-5-3 B1G)
Points Leader: Mike Reilly, 42 points Leading Goal Scorer: Kyle Rau, 19 goals Assists Leader: Mike Reilly, 36 assists
Heading into the tournament, Minnesota is fresh off its sweep of the Nittany
Lions and its second-straight Big Ten Conference Title. The Gophers also nabbed
all three conference weekly honors, as Hudson Fashing was named First Star,
Kyle Rau grabbed the Second Star and Adam Wilcox secured the Third Star. In
addition to these honors, Minnesota's Mike Reilly was named the Big Ten
Defensive Player of the year and a All-Big Ten First Team selection. The No.
1-seeded Gophers will play their first game of the tournament Friday afternoon,
taking on the winner of the Penn State/Ohio State matchup.
No. 2 Michigan State (11-7-2 B1G)
Points Leader: Matt Berry, 28 points Leading Goal Scorer: Michael Ferrantino, 12 goals Assists Leader: Matt Berry, 17 assists
Like Minnesota, the second-seed Spartans earned a bye in the first round of the
tournament. They secured their spot in the bracket with a split last weekend
against Michigan. Michigan State has won four of its last five games, all of
which were backstopped by goaltender Jake Hildebrand. This week, Hildebrand was
named the Big Ten Player of the Year, Big Ten Goaltender of the Year and an
All-Big Ten First Team selection. He has played in all 34 games for the
Spartans and leads the league with a .930 save percentage and a 2.12 goals
Splitting its final series of the season, Michigan earned the No. 3 seed in the
tournament for the second consecutive year. The Wolverines had a bit of a messy
end to the season, falling in three of their final four. However, with numerous
offense weapons, such as Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Dylan Larkin, and the
Big Ten Scoring Champion, Zach Hyman, this team is sure to bounce back. Michigan
will take on Wisconsin Friday night at 8 p.m.
No. 4 Penn State (10-9-1 B1G)
Points Leader: Casey Bailey, 40 points Leading Goal Scorer: Casey Bailey, 22 goals Assists Leader: Taylor Holstrom, 26 assists
The Nittany Lions had a disappointing end to the regular season, falling to
Minnesota last Friday and Saturday. Nevertheless, the Lions are moving ahead,
getting ready to face Ohio State. The team will look to its points and
goals leader, Bailey, on Thursday. The junior has four goals and an assist
against the Buckeyes this year. This week, Bailey was named an All-Big Ten
First Team selection, and freshman Scott Conway was named an All-Big Ten
Freshman selection. Bailey, Conway and the rest of the Lions will take the ice
Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
No. 5 Ohio State (8-11-1 B1G)
Points Leader: Tanner Fritz, 26 points Leading Goal Scorer: Anthony Greco, 15 goals Assists Leader: Tanner Fritz, 15 assists
The Buckeyes ended their season in Madison, taking five of the six possible Big
Ten points against Wisconsin. Now, they will face Penn State, a team they swept
at the end of February. Furthermore, Ohio State has only lost three of its last
ten games, which gives them confidence moving into the postseason. Following
the end of the regular season, Matthew Weis was named to the All-Big Ten
Freshman team. The Buckeyes are set to play the Nittany Lions Thursday
afternoon at 4:30 p.m.
No. 6 Wisconsin (2-15-3 B1G) Points Leader: Grant Besse, 22 points Leading Goal Scorer: Grant Besse, 11 goals Assists Leader: Joseph LaBate, 12 assists
The Badgers are coming off of a tough season. Having only won four total games,
two of which were conference matchups, the team is certainly entering the Big
Ten Tournament as the underdog. However, Wisconsin has huge potential and it
has shown glimpses of that throughout the year. The team took down then-No. 5
Michigan Tech in January and tied then-No. 2 Boston University the following
week. They can play and keep up with the best in the country when it is least
expected. The Badgers will take the ice Thursday at 8.pm. to face Michigan.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four teams. Three points. One Big Ten Regular Season
With one final weekend series separating the Penn State men's hockey team and
the Big Ten Tournament, it's safe to say the Nittany Lions have yet to play two
games this season as important as those upcoming against Minnesota.
Currently, the team sits in fourth place among the conference standings;
however, it is only three points behind Michigan State, the first place team.
Sandwiched between Penn State and the Spartans are Minnesota and Michigan. Both
second-place teams currently have 33 points.
To make matters even more interesting, these top four programs will all face
each other this weekend as the Lions take on the Gophers and Michigan State
goes head to head with Michigan.
Anything is possible this weekend. Big Ten hockey is unpredictable.
"We have an opportunity to for sure put ourselves in a bye situation, but we
could also even win the league this year," said forward Casey Bailey. "To be
able to accomplish that in our second year in the league would be something
we'd love to do. We're just going to take it one game at a time."
In order to attain either of those feats, this series with Minnesota is crucial
for the Blue and White. With two wins, the Lions have a chance to either steal
the No. 1 seed in the tournament or claim the No. 2 spot. The top two teams in
the conference secure a bye on the opening day of the tournament.
The Nittany Lions are playing for a top spot and that bye.
"It kind of has a playoff mentality toward the games," Bailey said. "You're not
necessarily playing for your life, but you're playing for where you're going to
sit in the tournament. You could either be getting some rest that first night
or you could be playing. A lot is on the line, and I think we're looking
forward to the opportunity. It's pretty exciting that two wins this weekend
could possibly give us the win and for sure give us the bye."
For Penn State (18-12-4, 10-7-1 B1G) to grab that top spot, it needs to sweep
No. 15 Minnesota (19-12-3, 10-5-3 B1G). Two victories would give the Lions 37
points, but they would still need luck on their side. Even if the Blue and White
earn six additional points, winning the league and earning the No. 1 seed would
come down to the series between the Spartans and Wolverines.
Michigan State must lose and win a shootout against Michigan for the Lions to
have any chance at grabbing the top seed. If that scenario occurred, the
Spartans would finish with 35 points, and Michigan would finish with 37. Penn
State would win the tiebreaker with the Wolverines, thanks to a winning record
over its biggest conference rival.
"We're just trying to approach this like any other weekend," said captain
Patrick Koudys. "We've had a good week of practice, and we just need to
mentally stay focused. It was kind of nice this week we had spring break so we
could focus a little more on hockey. It's a big weekend for us, and we're ready
No matter what the results are in East Lansing and Ann Arbor, if the Nittany
Lions come away with two wins or a win and shootout victory, the No. 2 spot
will be theirs for the taking.
It will all come down to the team's performance in Minneapolis.
"We know we're going into a big ice surface in Minnesota," Bailey said. "It's
tough to win in anybody else's arena, but I think after how we played this past
weekend again Michigan, we're going in with a lot of confidence. Everything is
on the table, so we're really looking forward to seeing what we can do."
In the last meeting between Penn State and Minnesota, the two teams split. The
Blue and White fell, 2-1, on Friday night but rebounded and downed the Gophers,
4-3, in overtime the following evening.
The victory marked the first time in program history that the Nittany Lions
defeated Minnesota. They know they can compete with the Gophers, and they're
ready to play their best version of Penn State hockey at Mariucci Arena come
"I feel like they're not too difficult to play against, but it's hard to beat
them," Koudys said of Minnesota. "That kind of contradicts itself a little bit,
but they're definitely a good team. They have been for years, and they're known
for being a great team. I think when we did beat them, we were doing what makes
us great. When we did those things the right way, we were able to beat them."
Knowing what's at stake, Penn State is prepared to battle for sixty minutes.
These games have a bigger, more significant meaning. No one on the team is
taking that lightly.
"It's not just another two games," Koudys said. "This is it. If we win these
two games, we get something more than just two wins. We're excited about that.
I know I'm really excited, and we just want to get down there and do well."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the last time this season, the Penn State
men's hockey team skated over to the Roar Zone, arms around each other, and
sang the alma matter after a victory. With two wins over No. 16 Michigan,
arguably the team's biggest rival, the Nittany Lions could not be happier with
their final weekend in Pegula Ice Arena.
Friday, with sophomore Eamon McAdam in net, Penn State (18-12-4, 10-7-1 B1G) downed
the Wolverines (19-13-0, 11-7-0 B1G), 6-4. The team made sure to stick to its
winning ways in front of PJ Musico, who made the final home start of his career
the following afternoon on senior day. Once again the Blue and White emerged
victorious, holding on in the final seconds by a score of 4-3.
With the two wins, not only did the senior class finish in Hockey Valley on a
high note, but the team also secured its first winning season.
"We certainly didn't think it would happen this quickly, so it's
something that feels pretty good," head coach Guy Gadowsky said of the winning
record. "I'm really glad that the senior group that is here now got it because
a lot of people told them when they were making the decision to come to Penn
State that they'd lose for four years. So, to have them be the class that did
it feels really good."
The fact that this winning season was finalized after two big performances
against Michigan has not gone unnoticed by the team. The Nittany Lions have
always found success when facing the Wolverines.
Last season, Penn State knocked the team out of the Big Ten Tournament during
the first round, which also ended Michigan's chances to make the NCAA
Tournament. Now this season, the Blue and White beat the Wolverines in three
out of the four games they've played.
For some reason, the Nittany Lions consistently have Michigan's number.
"We always seem to play our best when we're against them," said captain Patrick
Koudys. "I don't know what it is. We just play well. It's great to see PJ
[Musico] make all those big saves, especially at the right times. But, we do
find success against them, so we've got to just keep rolling with it."
Sophomore David Goodwin, in particular, had a tremendous weekend for the Blue
and White. He finished with five points, two goals and three assists, and a
plus-four rating. His line was also incredibly successful, racking up 10 points
over the two games.
With the absence of Taylor Holstrom due to injury, many wondered if Goodwin and
junior Casey Bailey would successfully generate the same amount of offense.
Both forwards knew they would need to make some adjustments, but with the
addition of Tommy Olczyk, they were confident and ready to take on Michigan.
"Casey Bailey and I talked before the weekend started, and we knew if we were
going to have success we were going to have to pick it up a little bit, trying
to fill that big hole in the lineup," said Goodwin. "But, Tommy Olczyk was a
phenomenal addition to our line. He brought energy and speed, which is what we
needed, which is what Holstrom brings for our line. It was a great weekend for
our line, and I'm looking forward to building this week in practice with Casey
However, Goodwin credits the dominant play against Michigan to one other
aspect, which the entire team can also agree with.
"I just really don't like them," Goodwin said of Michigan. "It really kind of
lights a fire under me a little bit. It's just one of those things where they
kind of get under my skin a little bit, and I like to retaliate by putting the
puck in the net."
Overall, the weekend proved to be a big bounce back for this Penn State squad,
which has struggled a bit as of late. The two wins helped boost team confidence
and morale. Going into a weekend against Minnesota, positivity is exactly what
the Nittany Lions needed.
"This is something that we won't forget," said Gadowsky. "I mean any time
that you're able to sweep Michigan is huge. It feels great. I think it is
something to look back on down the road and gain a lot of confidence from this.
The fact that it happened on senior night, and at a time that we're in the
conversation, it becomes an important time for both teams. It feels really
good. I feel really good about what the guys were able to accomplish in very
The weekend was an emotional one, especially for the senior class, a group of
student-athletes who have done so much for this program. Nevertheless, even
with these victories, the entire team knows these next two weeks will be the
biggest of them all.
This squad wants to continue to leave its marks on Penn State hockey.
"It was awesome," said Koudys of the sweep. "I mean, even looking back the
first game us seniors played here we won and then the last game. So, it's
pretty awesome. A lot of emotions in the locker room, that's for sure, but
there's still lots to do."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions will close their series against the University of Michigan. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. and marks the team's final time home this season. Seven seniors, including Jake Friedman, Taylor Holstrom, Max Gardiner, Nate Jensen, Patrick Koudys, PJ Musico and Peter Sweetland, will be honored prior to the start.
Live Blog Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/7)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Tonight, the Nittany Lions will open their series with the University of Michigan. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Live Blog Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/6)
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three years ago, Jacob Friedman, Taylor
Holstrom, Nate Jensen, PJ Musico and Peter Sweetland were all playing hockey
for Penn State's club team, the Icers. When Max Gardiner arrived the following
season, all six student-athletes partook in the team's inaugural Division I
season. Last year, with the addition of Patrick Koudys, they dressed for the
first season of the Big Ten Conference, the first season in Pegula Ice Arena.
Now, their time at Penn State is coming to a close. This weekend, all seven
seniors will see the final home games of their careers as Nittany Lions.
Nevertheless, this class is incredibly special to the program. The mark they
have left on Penn State hockey will remain intact forever.
"This was really the first guys that were sort of recruited, and if you
remember, when they were recruited, when they committed to us, when they said
yes, we weren't even Division I at the time, let alone in a league," said head
coach Guy Gadowsky. "They said there was going to be a league, but there
wasn't. They said there was going to be this beautiful building, but there
wasn't. There wasn't even a shovel in the ground.
"These guys, they had to have a lot of faith in Penn State and what this staff
was sort of saying would happen. More importantly, they had to have a lot of
faith in themselves because we recruited a lot of players. A good portion of
those would come back and say, 'Jeez. I just don't want to lose for four
years.' These guys never said that. Anybody that came from this class, they
never said that."
These athletes didn't come to Happy Valley solely to win. The road ahead was
going to be tough, but they wanted to build a program. They wanted to be the foundation
of Penn State hockey.
That is exactly what they have done.
This group includes players with tremendous leadership abilities, players with
a strong presence both in the locker room and on the ice, players with true
"I've learned that you just have to take things as they come and help everyone
stay focused on the tasks at hand," said Jensen, the team's assistant captain.
"There's always going to be ups and downs. It's not easy, but that's part of
hockey and being a leader."
The determination of the senior class is a big part of the reason the Nittany
Lions have found what some may call unexpected success this season. Yet, these
seven knew there was magic in Hockey Valley. It just had to be uncovered and
During their time at Penn State, the class has combined for 150 career-points.
Holstrom currently leads the way with 67, followed by Gardiner's 28 and
Koudys blocked 137 shots for the team in his 68 appearances. Muscio has
registered a .904 career save-percentage, and Friedman and Sweetland have
appeared in 41 and 42 games for the Blue and White, respectively.
The class continuously provides depth for the team, but they also add
"Goofballs," said Jensen when describing his fellow seniors. "No, but really,
we're a hard working group. We may not be the most skilled class, but we
definitely have a lot of heart. We like to lead by example and give it our all
every time we're out there."
The final games in Hockey Valley for these seven will not be an easy task. With
Michigan coming into town, emotions will be high. The history between Penn
State (16-12-4, 8-7-1 B1G) and the Wolverines (19-11-0, 11-5-0 B1G) always drives
up the level of play and the level of physicality.
With such few points separating the top four spots in the Big Ten Conference,
the Lions know they'll need to dig deep and focus.
"There's definitely a rivalry between Michigan and Penn State that started from
last year and earlier this season," Jensen explained. "Our two teams don't like
each other. It's definitely going to be good hockey games, and I'm excited. I'm
looking forward to the weekend."
Although Friedman, Gardiner, Holstrom, Jensen, Koudys, Musico and Sweetland
will all be honored in a senior ceremony this weekend, the seven will have one
final series against Minnesota and the Big Ten Tournament to prepare for
following the last two games in Pegula Ice Arena.
With such tough weekends ahead, the Nittany Lions know playing their best hockey is even
more important now.
"What I like is that we're facing the top two teams going into playoffs," said
Gadowsky. "I like that. To face the best going into playoffs I think is a
positive experience. You're going to be forced to play at such a high level
that I feel that can only help you going into the Big Ten Tournament."
These seven seniors have experienced all the ups and downs of this program.
They played in club games. They played in the first Division I season. They
played in Greenberg Ice Pavilion. They played in Pegula Ice Arena.
Most importantly, these seniors gave their hearts and souls to Penn State
hockey. That kind of dedication is rare and can never be forgotten.
"I will definitely always remember," said Gadowsky of this class. "Always.
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."