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Freshman Feature: Kohler Continues Community Involvement

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a young athlete playing junior hockey with the Oakville Blades in Ontario, Canada, it's hard to imagine freshman forward Sean Kohler had time to do anything but train. However, years of prioritizing community involvement outside of hockey led to attention from the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and at the end of the 2014-15 season Kohler was named the OJHL Humanitarian of the Year.

Kohler has been involved in numerous community service activities, both by his own initiative and through the Oakville Blades organization. Kohler, along with his family, traveled to sub-Saharan Africa with the Me to We/Free the Children program. There they constructed schools for local communities. At the end of the 2014-15 season, Kohler once again took flight with the same program, only this time traveling to northern India.

"[The Oakville Blades organization] believed I had a shot at winning the award, so they nominated me for it," Kohler said. "I wrote a piece on my adventures, on what I had learned. and I was fortunate enough to win, which is a huge honor not only for myself but for my family as well." 

Kohler's family has long emphasized giving back, which has influenced Kohler to be involved in the communities in which he lives. 

"When we can help children in impoverished communities gain an education that they otherwise wouldn't get, it's a very rewarding feeling and it can have a large impact on so many lives," Kohler said. 

At Penn State, community service and involvement is emphasized among all student-athletes. Penn State has a rich history of student-athletes contributing to community service projects and other causes. The men's hockey team specifically reads to children at local schools, are avid THON participants, and even this Sunday will be supporting the Fit-For-Fritz Walk-A-Thon.

"I'm extremely proud of Penn State Athletics' involvement in community service," Kohler said. "THON is obviously an extremely powerful event that I couldn't be more excited to be a part of." 

Kohler has had his own discussions with the veterans on the team about how to be more involved in THON from a men's hockey perspective. He is also excited for the next four years and beyond to become good friends with the Nittany Lions' THON child, Colton Buckley. 

"As a freshman this year I'll probably be in more of an observing role," Kohler said. "I know that in the following years I'll be wanting to take charge and run some of that." 

Even the smallest of events, such as the men's hockey team handing out candy this past Sunday for trick-or-treaters at the Penn State All-Sports Museum, highlight Kohler's day. Seeing smiling children who are excited to see their Nittany Lions is very powerful to Kohler. 

Kohler, who has played in one contest so far this season, at Notre Dame, is eager to continue to contribute to the team both on and off the ice. It's more than just his on-ice performance that is important to Kohler, he wants to do whatever possible to win on the ice as well as become an involved member of the community. 

"I felt great out there and felt I was able to keep up with the speed of the game very well," Kohler said. "It was a confidence booster for sure. I've been working to show what I've got and I'm eager to get in to more games."

Men's Ice Hockey Weekly Check-In

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey is set to continue its 10-game homestand after completing the opening weekend of the stretch with a series sweep against Canisius. Nittany Lion head coach Guy Gadowsky and James Robinson and Denis Smirnov all joined GoPSUSports.com for a weekly check in to recap the weekend and look ahead to the upcoming Niagara series. 

Check out updates from the video sessions below. 
Guy Gadowsky Robinson and Smirnov

Special Teams, Veteran Leadership Essential to Success

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - During No. 19 Penn State's (5-1-1) dominating weekend sweep of Canisius (2-5-1), the Nittany Lions had plenty of opportunities to give their special teams units practice. 

Head coach Guy Gadowsky has said that he wants to curb his team's tendency to take penalties and focus on power play opportunities. During Friday and Saturday's contests, the Nittany Lions had those chances.

In the first game of the weekend, the Nittany Lions had numerous power play opportunities in the first period alone. Canisius racked up five penalties in the first stanza, which resulted in several chances for Penn State. The Lions' three different power play units took care of business, with two Nittany Lion goals scored on the man-advantage during the first period.  

Freshman forward Brandon Biro and sophomore defenseman Vince Pedrie found the back of the net for the Nittany Lions on the power play. Biro's first period power-play goal was his first goal and third point of his collegiate career. Penn State defeated Canisius, 4-1 Friday.

"Vince Pedrie's power-play goal at the end of the period was huge," Gadowsky said. "We were getting a lot of shots but we didn't get a lot for it. I thought that was a really good goal." 

Gadowsky also credited his team's ability to kill a five-minute major penalty in the third period as a strong point for his team.  

On Saturday night, the story of the power play was a little different. While Penn State had nine power play opportunities, they only converted on one, which came in the third period.

Gadowsky pointed out that the strong performances of the night came from two veterans, senior forward and captain David Goodwin, along with sophomore defenseman Kevin Kerr.

Goodwin contributed two assists Saturday night on goals scored by freshman forward Denis Smirnov and sophomore forward Chase Berger. Astute observers will also note that Goodwin initiated a coach's challenge on a potential game-tying goal by Canisius in the third period. 

Goodwin was at the blue line when Canisius crossed into Penn State's zone and alerted senior forward Dylan Richard that the Golden Griffins were offsides. Gadowsky's challenge that followed confirmed what Goodwin saw and the goal was disallowed.

Kerr contributed one goal, which was the Nittany Lion's first of the game. Gadowsky praised Kerr's consistency and decision-making in the postgame press conference. Kerr's sound fundamentals often overshadow his playmaking ability, which Gadowsky said opponents might sometimes overlook.

"I love watching him, which is probably bad because I get caught watching him instead of focusing on what I'm supposed to do," Gadowsky said. "You just can't take your eyes of off him."

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey is back at home continuing its10-game homestand with its second consecutive outing against Canisius Saturday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena. 

Welcome back to our live blog coverage for the entire 2016-17 Penn State men's hockey season. Follow along for exclusive updates and content. 

Live Blog Men's Hockey Live Blog - Penn State vs. Canisius (10/29/2016)
 
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey has returned from the road, set to open a 10-game homestand beginning with a two-game series against Canisius beginning Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena. 

Welcome back to our live blog coverage for the entire 2016-17 Penn State men's hockey season. Follow along for exclusive updates and content. 


Live Blog No. 19 Penn State vs. Canisius
 

Freshman Feature: Gobetz & Company Stay on Track

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a huge weekend at Notre Dame with Penn State coming out victorious on Saturday, the Nittany Lions went back to work Monday afternoon at Pegula Ice Arena. 

There was a lot of enthusiasm over the win, but for the Nittany Lions it's time to focus on the next game at hand. 

"I think we enjoyed it for a few days," freshman defenseman James Gobetz said. "Obviously it was a big weekend for us and a big weekend for Penn State, but when we got back to the rink for practice it was all business." 

Gobetz, a native of St. James, New York, is no stranger to hard work. He spent three seasons at Salisbury School between 2012 and 2015, where during the same time the Crimson Knights won three New England Prep School Championships. 

Gobetz said his time at Salisbury really changed him and made him more mature, but also taught him valuable lessons about hockey that still apply today. 

"The mental aspect of the game," Gobetz said. "Your mental preparation on and off the ice, they go hand in hand. Your on ice performance is going to be affected by how you get ready for the game." 

He explained that learning how to balance the demands of hockey while at Salisbury prepared him to be a student-athlete in college, especially after spending the 2015-16 season with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL.

"Some of us didn't go to school when we were there so we had a lot of free time to hang out," Gobetz said. "Being around the guys all the time, it's really like a brotherhood, and I'm thankful for that experience." 

The transition from Salisbury to the UHSL was a unique one, and Gobetz had to adjust to the quicker speed of play in the USHL.

"Once I got a little experience in the first two weeks I got used to it," Gobetz said.

Gobetz appeared in 52 games for Des Moines, where he had five goals and five assists. 

Now at Penn State, Gobetz has learned a lot in just the few months he's been in Hockey Valley. 

Playing with fellow freshman Kris Myllari on defense has allowed Gobetz to develop alongside another classmate, which had helped both players.

"I think we move the puck pretty well together," Gobetz said.  "We try to play solid defense on our end and try to get the puck up to the forwards and let them do what they do."

Gobetz also noted that head coach Guy Gadowsky keeps the team focused on performing it's best, but he also creates an environment conducive to success off the ice. 

"[Gadowsky has] taught us a lot about being where you're at and loving what you do," Gobetz said. "You have to love being with the guys and working hard and enjoying every minute."

Nittany Lions Ready for 10-Game Homestand

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team (3-1-1) won't have to set foot on a plane or bus en route to an away game until January 2017, thanks to the remaining five series' of the fall semester taking place at Pegula Ice Arena.

Road games provide bonding opportunities for the team, allowing student-athletes to get to know one another away from the familiar environment of State College. Such road contests, especially early on in a season, test the team's mental toughness.

"You deal with different beds, different rinks, different locker rooms, different itineraries," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I like doing that early because you sort of get trained in the fact that you can't worry about what you can't control."

Gadowsky then noted that the upcoming stretch of home games keeps his players focused when in Hockey Valley.

Penn State will open a stretch of more than 30 days at home in Happy Valley, beginning with Canisius Friday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29. After spending the entire month of November at home in the friendly confines of Pegula Ice Arena, the Nittany Lions will close out the homestand with the first two Big Ten games of the season, welcoming Michigan Thursday, Dec. 1 and Friday, Dec. 2. The conference opener against the Wolverines Thursday evening will broadcast live on ESPNU.

As a contrast to numerous road series', the comforts of home at Pegula are nice: familiar facilities, familiar faces, and a home ice advantage that stems from the backing of the best student section in the country.

The Roar Zone, recently named by ESPN's John Buccigross as one of the top student sections in the country, consistently makes Pegula's atmosphere one of the most feared by visiting team goaltenders. At the same time, it provides an overwhelming sense of welcome for the Nittany Lions. The backing of a home crowd, with the volume overwhelming opponents unfamiliar to such intensity, makes Pegula a dangerous place for visiting teams.

"There's no better place to play," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "We love it, the guys love it, they're looking forward to it, so are the coaches, it's a great thing." 

A familiar game day routine is also important for the Nittany Lions. Since they aren't faced with unfamiliar venues, the pregame activities of sewer ball and stick taping can go uninterrupted. 

With 10 home contests between now and winter break, the Nittany Lions are eager to use the time at home to their advantage.

VIDEO: Men's Ice Hockey Weekly Check In

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky took time to recap last weekend's trip to Notre Dame, while also previewing the next few weeks at home. Nittany Lions Trevor Hamilton, Andrew Sturtz and Dylan Richard also took time to review the week and look ahead. 

Check out the updates from each session below. 

Guy Gadowsky

Hamilton, Sturtz, Richard

Freshmen Making an Impact on the Road

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - It was a power play goal that put Penn State (3-1-1) on the board in the first period Friday night at No.3/4 Notre Dame (3-2-1-). Freshman forward Nikita Pavlychev secured the puck off a deflection from sophomore forward Chase Berger and found the back of the net, giving the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead.

It was an outstanding play by the 6-foot-7 freshman, who has said before he wants to be known for something other than his size and physicality.

During Friday night's matchup, fellow freshman forward Denis Smirnov continued to put in the hard work and got the assist on two Dylan Richard goals in the second period.

The Nittany Lions tied the game with the Fighting Irish, 3-3. 

"We didn't have our best game Friday but we certainly came away from it knowing that we can play with Notre Dame," head coach Guy Gadowsky said.  "That gave us a lot of confidence, including all of our freshmen."

Saturday's game saw further progress by the freshmen class, who took what they saw during Friday's contest and applied it to the second showdown of the weekend.

Following a goal from forward James Robinson, freshman forward Nate Sucese gave the Nittany Lions the 2-1 lead, scoring at the beginning of the third period. Despite the Irish tying the game, the Nittany Lions were confident heading into overtime. 

A goal from sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz, assisted by two freshmen, secured Penn State's 3-2 overtime win. Forward Denis Smirnov and goaltender Peyton Jones were credited with the assists.

Jones, in addition to his assist, had an outstanding weekend between the pipes. The Langhorne, Pennsylvania native made 30 saves Friday, including several clutch saves during overtime. Again facing down a relentless Notre Dame offense on Saturday, Jones made 26 saves.

"[Peyton Jones] played extremely calm, that was a huge save [in overtime]," Gadowsky said following Friday's game. "If you watch him nothing bothers him and I think that is a tremendous quality in a goalie."

The Nittany Lions have grown significantly as a team in just the three road contests so far this season. Now Penn State comes home for five home series before seeing a road matchup again in January.

Freshman Feature: Gober a Determined Forward

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When he walked into the Bloomington Thunder locker room for the first time in 2014, freshman forward Blake Gober expected to see a familiar number on the back of his jersey. Growing up wearing the No. 19, Gober was thrown a curve ball when the Thunder assigned him No. 23. 

Gober was playing on the inaugural Thunder team during the 2014-15 season, which was an opportunity he had worked relentlessly for.

"I was never drafted into the USHL and I went to a bunch of camps and never made a team," Gober said.

Gober played during the 2013-14 season for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League, before the opportunity arose to try out for the newest USHL team. 

The 5-foot-8 forward played more than 100 games for the Thunder throughout the two seasons he spent in Bloomington, Illinois. The Thunder named him an assistant captain during his second campaign. While in Bloomington, Gober found the found the back of the net 22 times and provided 25 assists, making his way on to the score sheet in more than 40 percent of the Thunder's games.

Gober also brings a physical aspect to the ice, having recorded 191 penalty minutes in the USHL.

Since USHL teams initially overlooked him, Gober committed himself to improving on the ice and being an adaptive member of whichever team he is on. He explained that he becomes whatever kind of player the team needs at the time, which is a characteristic that he credits to his success.

"I've changed the way I play over time," Gober said. "I do what is needed for the team."

As part of his evolving style, Gober has looked up to many professional hockey players over the years, taking aspects of their game and molding them to his own. Two of his favorite players are Steve Yzerman and Mike Modano, both known for their consistency and leadership. 

As a child, Gober admired Yzerman, the Detroit Red Wings captain and three-time Stanley Cup Champion, which is why he wore No. 19 throughout youth hockey. He now wears No. 23 for the Nittany Lions. 

Gober, a native of Colleyville, Texas, started watching the Dallas Stars after he started playing hockey, which began with a video game.

"I started because my buddy got a video game on his computer and asked me if I wanted to play hockey," Gober said. "He quit a week later but I stuck with it."

Gober grew up watching Modano play for his hometown Stars. He explained that when the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999, Texas saw a surge in young hockey players, including Gober, who laced up his first pair of skates when he was five.

"When I first started, hockey wasn't very big down there," Gober said. "I think there was only one AAA team that traveled all over and played against other teams. Then when I was growing up I was on a team that went to a national championship, it's growing a lot now."

Gober is already making a name for himself in collegiate hockey. He scored an empty net goal in his first appearance for the Nittany Lions, a win over St. Lawrence.

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