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Musico Shines In First Start at Minnesota

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - For the first time this season, PJ Musico led the Nittany Lions out of the tunnel and onto the ice. He was making his first start of the season, and he was doing so against the No. 2 team in the nation.

It was bright lights for the goal and Musico answered the call time and time again throughout the game.

Penn State was coming off a 5-1 loss the night before and was anxious to find some momentum early. Luckily for head coach Guy Gadowsky and his squad, Musico was up for the challenge and led the Nittany Lions well.

He stopped 35 of 37 shots, including several key saves to keep the Nittany Lions within striking distance during the third period. Unfortunately, the team fell to the Gophers, 2-1.

Musico, however, had one of the best games of his Penn State career. The junior goaltender has only appeared in five games this season, but is always ready for the challenge. Gadowsky is constantly praising how prepared the netminder is and he showcased his talent on Saturday.

"He's a battler," Gadowsky said of Musico. "The guys play hard for him. He is an absolute battler. I thought he looked great and he made some huge saves and kept us in the game. Then we scored, and I actually thought we sort of tilted the ice a little bit. Minnesota is an excellent hockey team and I am not saying they didn't deserve to win...but I thought we could have won, as well."

The Orange, Calif., native came out strong, making 12 saves in the first period. Every time the Gophers appeared to have an open look on net, Musico would change direction to make the save.

His solid play continued well into the second and third periods before Minnesota took the lead just over six minutes into the final stanza.

"I thought PJ really gave us a chance to win tonight," said Gadowsky. "I'm really proud of how he came in here [Mariucci Arena] in his first start this year, against the second ranked team in the nation and handled himself. I thought he was excellent for us tonight."

The Gophers were the first team to strike Saturday night when they scored just over 13 minutes into the first period. That lead didn't last long, as the Nittany Lions responded quickly when Curtis Loik registered his fifth goal of the season.

Defensemen Connor Varley hit Loik with a long pass and the sophomore snatched the puck and was able to maneuver his way around the Gopher defense to get a good look on net. His wrist shot found the back of the net past Michael Shibrowski to tie the game, 1-1. 

After the Loik goal, Musico was outstanding the rest of the way. The second period went scoreless, thanks in large part to the athleticism of Musico and the tenacity of the Nittany Lions' defense.

As a team, the Nittany Lions backed up their goalie well. They registered 20 blocked shots and continued to keep up the solid pressure on the offensive half of the ice, launching 27 shots. The opportunities were there for Penn State, but the pucks just did not find the back of the net.  

This is the second series this season that the NIitany Lions have battled well against the highly ranked Gophers. The last time these two teams met in Pegula Ice Arena, Penn State lost the first game by just one goal.

Playing hard against the No. 2 team in the nation is an ode to how much this team has grown over the season.


The Nittany Lions are back at home for the final two regular season series of 2013-14. First, No. 6 Wisconsin comes to town on March 7-8 and this team knows that they count on a solid effort in net from whoever leads them out of the tunnel.

"I was really happy tonight," Gadowsky said. "We didn't play our game at times and we were dictated upon a little bit in both games, but we had a tremendous effort tonight. We didn't sit back and we generated more good chances and, at the same time, we limited their chances. I thought we played an excellent hockey game."

 

--NITTNAY LIONS--

Busy March Begins with Two Big Ten Team Titles

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The postseason push for Penn State teams in March is on.

The first weekend of the month kicked off in fine fashion with two teams tallying Big Ten championships to go along with an individual being named the top performer at the Big Ten Men's Swimming & Diving Championships.

In dramatic fashion, the Nittany Lion women's track & field team notched its third conference crown at the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Saturday afternoon.  It all came down to the 4x400-meter relay with the Lions leading Michigan by just half a point heading into the final event.  The Lions stormed to a victory in the relay to seal the title.

"The women were outstanding today," said Director of Track & Field and Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Michigan pressed us hard throughout the weekend, but we kept our composure and competed great. This is a championship win to remember."

Roughly 45 minutes after the women's track & field team was crowned champion, the Lady Lion basketball team finished off a 77-62 triumph over Michigan to clinch a share of its third-straight Big Ten regular season title.  The Lady Lions join Ohio State and Iowa as the only programs to win three or more consecutive Big Ten titles.

"It's the first time in program history that we have won three Big Ten Championships in a row," head coach Coquese Washington said. "When this program has such a storied legacy, to be able to do something that this program hasn't done before, it's pretty hard. The program has accomplished so much and for this class and team to do something that sets them apart, that's really cool."

In the pool, sophomore Shane Ryan capped off a strong outing for the Nittany Lion men's swimming team by becoming the first Penn State men's swimmer to be named Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships on Saturday.  Ryan broke the Big Ten record in the 100m freestyle, topping a mark set by former Northwestern Wildcat and 2012 London Olympics medalist Matt Grevers.  Ryan is the first Nittany Lion to win two individual gold medals at the Big Ten Championships.  His efforts powered the men's team to fifth in the team standings.  The men's team's performance came one week after the Nittany Lion women's swimming & diving team took third at the Big Ten Women's Championships.

With a standout weekend in the books, the Nittany Lions are full steam ahead in postseason mode beginning on Friday when the Lady Lions kick off play as the No. 1 seed at the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis.  Penn State will meet either Northwestern or Ohio State at noon (BTN) on Friday.  The semifinals take place on Saturday, with the tournament final on Sunday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. 

On Saturday, the three-time defending NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team will begin its Big Ten title defense at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.  Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions will look for their fourth-straight Big Ten title over the weekend.  Additionally, seniors Ed Ruth and David Taylor have an opportunity to become Penn State's first four-time Big Ten individual champions.  Junior Matt Brown is the third Nittany Lion in the lineup with a Big Ten individual title.  The Big Ten finals will air live on BTN Sunday at 2 p.m.

There are several marquee events on the horizon following the action this weekend.  The 2014 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is slated to begin on March 13 in Indianapolis.  The Nittany Lion men's hoops team will finish off its regular season this week with games at Northwestern and Minnesota.  The Lions will learn their seed for the tournament on Sunday.

The track and field squads will also be in action during the third weekend in March.  Penn State will travel to Albaquerque for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14-15.

Head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lion football team will wrap up winter conditioning this week in preparation for the start of spring practice on March 17.  The Nittany Lions will practice 15 times before the Blue-White Game on April 12 (1:30 p.m.).

The fourth weekend of March will feature no fewer than six postseason events for Penn State teams.  The No. 1 wrestling team will begin its NCAA title defense on March 20 in Oklahoma City at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships.  The finals will take place on March 22.  The ESPN family of networks will televise all six of the NCAA Wrestling Championships sessions.

In Happy Valley, the women's gymnastics team plays host to the Big Ten Championships in Rec Hall on March 22.  Across campus, the Bryce Jordan Center is slated to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.  Games are slated for 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 23 and 7 p.m. on March 25.

Out of town, the first Big Ten Hockey Tournament will take place in Saint Paul, Minn., beginning on March 20.  The NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships begin on March 20 in Minneapolis, as well.  The Penn State fencing teams also kick of NCAA Championships competition in Columbus on March 20.

The month will wrap up with a weekend featuring the NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, which begin on March 27 in Austin, Texas.  The Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships begin on March 28 in Lincoln, Neb.

With two titles already in hand, it will be a busy month ahead for Penn State teams competing in postseason competition.  Stay tuned for complete coverage of the postseason push on GoPSUsports.com.


Key Dates Ahead in March

March 7 -
Noon (BTN) - Lady Lions vs. Ohio State/Northwestern (Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals - Indianapolis)
March 8 - 11 a.m./6 p.m. - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 9
- 12/2 p.m. (BTN) - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 13-16 - Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament (Indianapolis)
March 14-15 - NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships (Albuquerque, N.M.)
March 17 - First Day of Spring Football
March 20-22 - NCAA Wrestling Championships (Oklahoma City, Okla.); NCAA Fencing Championships (Columbus, Ohio); NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships (Minneapolis, Minn.); Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament (Saint Paul, Minn.)
March 22 - 12/5 p.m. - Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships (University Park, Pa.)
March 23 - 12:30/3 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball First Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 25 - 7 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball Second Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 27-29 - NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships (Austin, Texas)
March 28-29 - Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

What To Watch: Penn State at No. 2 Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team will look to continue their solid play in another Big Ten road test at No. 2 Minnesota this weekend. Penn State's will visit Mariucci Arena for the first time and enter with a 6-20-2 overall record after splitting a road series at Michigan last weekend.

BLOG: Bailey Finding His Stride in February

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Pregame Reading
What To Watch - Penn State

Hanging at Shorty's: Penn State has given their opponents many chances on the power play, but it seems the opponent has afforded the Nittany Lions their own chances, too. Penn State currently leads the Big Ten and ranks tied for 12th nationally with five shorthanded goals this season. Dylan Richard struck with his first shorthanded goal of the season at Michigan last weekend, while David Glen, Taylor Holstrom, Curtis Loik and Tommy Olczyk also have goals while outnumbered on the ice.

Bailey Big in February: Sophomore forward Casey Bailey led the team in scoring last season with 27 points, ranking second on the team in both goals and assists. The 2013-14 season wasn't as kind in the early going, with the Anchorage, Alaska, native registering only four points (2 G, 2 A) in 17 games played. Over the last month, however, Bailey has poured in five goals and added an assist for six points in a seven game span and now ranks sixth on the team with 10 points on the season.

Plummeting Penalties: Penn State ranked second in the NCAA in penalty minutes early on in the season, but since averaging 22.3 penalty minutes per game in their first six games the Nittany Lions have limited their time in the penalty box. The Nittany Lions are spending just 10.3 minutes per game in the box over their last 20 games and in Big Ten play, PSU is averaging just 9.6 penalty minutes per game.

What To Watch - Minnesota

Hello Number Two: Not to be confused with the fictional henchman for Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies, Number 2, the Gophers enter this weekend as the No. 2 ranked team in the NCAA. The Gophers have spent the entire season ranked among the top-5, spending 16 straight weeks at No. 1 before dropping a pair of Big Ten games at Wisconsin on Feb. 6-7. Minnesota has been ranked fifth, third, first and second during the 2013-14 campaign.

Sheer Wil(cox): Sophomore Adam Wilcox has played every minute of every Big Ten game for the Gophers this season - minus the 3:04 of empty net time - and owns a 10-2-2 mark in conference games with a stout 1.70 goals against average. Overall he is 20-4-5 on the season and has started 29 of 30 games for Minnesota. He leads the conference in minutes played (1735:09), wins (20) and shutouts (3), while ranking second in goals against average and third in save percentage.

Relying on Reilly: Minnesota relies on Reilly. All three of them. Connor and Ryan, who are twins, and older brother Mike all hail from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and suit up for the Gophers. All three have all see ice time this season for the Gophers, with Connor missing all of last season due to injury. Mike ranks fifth on the team with 22 points (8 G, 14 A) in 30 games played, while Connor has 10 points (5 G, 5 A) in 26 games. Ryan has skated in five games this season.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Bailey Finding His Stride in February

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Throughout the early parts of the 2013-14 season, there was a question looming at each of head coach Guy Gadowsky's press conferences. It was a question he didn't have the answer for, but it was something that was on his mind.

"When is Casey Bailey going to start scoring?"

Bailey had been such a major contributor during the team's inaugural Division I season, but he never really found that rhythm early in his sophomore campaign.

As a freshman, he was one of only four Nittany Lions to skate in all 27 games, leading the team in points (27), power-play goals (4), and finishing second in goals (14) and assists (13).

Bailey was getting his shots in the games, practicing hard, and playing "his style" of hockey. The results, however, just weren't there.

Then, on Feb. 1 at Ohio State, everything started to change. Bailey found his groove.

"I think he final stopped thinking about scoring goals and was just focused on playing high-quality hockey like he used to," Gadowsky said. "When we first recruited him, what really attracted us to him [Casey] was how hard he worked back-checking, how hard he worked fore-checking and how many battles he won in the corners. He is a very instinctual player...and he does a lot of little things."

Gadowsky also thinks it might be a little divine intervention.

"When you are playing really good, quality hockey like Casey has all season, the hockey gods seem to shine on you," Gadowsky said. "I believe that's what you see now. I think he was pressing so hard thinking he had to score goals early in the year. He is still focused on scoring now, but he's letting them [goals] come to him rather than forcing things."

Over the course of the last month, Bailey's shots started to find the back of the net, while his passes couldn't be crisper and more on point. The Anchorage, Alaska, native started to gel with his line mates and bring out the best in them, too.

"At the beginning of the season, I was just trying to do too much," said Bailey. "I think I really calmed down here in the second half, and I'm finding my stride with new line mates, and I think I'm building confidence each game.

"I kind of just put it [scoring] in the back of my mind and focused on doing the small things. I think when you do the little things, the goals just come a little easier."

Specifically, Bailey has been a key contributor during the month of February. Against then-No. 10 Michigan in Ann Arbor last weekend, the sophomore contributed two goals in Penn State's win over the Wolverines on Friday night.

Those two goals gave him six points in eight games on the month, which more than doubled his season totals entering February. He had two goals and two assist from Oct. 11-Jan. 31, but put up five goals and one assist over the last 27 days, with a chance to add more on Friday at Minnesota.

"I think, and I'm sure Casey would agree, when you start thinking about it [scoring] too much it can be a distraction," forward David Goodwin said. "For Casey, both his goals this weekend were one-timers. He just shot the puck, and that's what Casey does. If he can just shoot the puck with confidence and have some fun out there and let the game come to him, I think that is when he has the most success, and I think we saw that this weekend."

Bailey is currently fifth on the team with ten points and his seven goals tie him for second with Goodwin, and trail only Eric Scheid's 11 goals. The sophomore is not being shy about shooting the puck, either, launching 94 shots to lead the team.

As Penn State prepares to hit the road again this weekend for a showdown with Big Ten leader and No. 2 Minnesota, you can bet the sophomore is anxious to get back on the ice and continue his strong play.

"I just want to bring as much offense as I can to the games," said Bailey. "I'm a shooter. I need to get pucks to the net and I want to get to the net. So I think it's all about doing the little things: getting the pucks behind the defense, getting the pucks to the net and doing those little things. Then the chances will come."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

VIDEO: Practice Update - Feb. 25

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team was on the ice for practice on Tuesday (Feb. 25) after splitting a weekend series at No. 10 Michigan. The Nittany Lions enter the week at 6-20-2 overall after collecting a season split with the Wolverines (2-2-0).

On Tuesday, we caught up with head coach Guy Gadowsky and freshman David Thompson to talk about the series at Michigan, playing in tough environments and the challenges that No. 2 Minnesota will present this weekend at Mariucci Arena with the voice of Penn State men's hockey, Brian Tripp.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky


Defenseman David Thompson


--NITTANY LIONS--

Bailey, Goodwin and Skoff Lead Nittany Lions

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Penn State men's hockey team split their weekend series at No. 10 Michigan over the weekend and it was some familiar faces that led Guy Gadowsky's squad as the Nittany Lions recorded their second conference win of the season.

The five goals the Nittany Lions scored in Friday night's win mark the most scored by a visitor inside Yost Ice Arena this season, which allowed Penn State to become just the third team to walk out of the historic building with a win in 2013-14.

David Goodwin, Casey Bailey and Matthew Skoff all played exceptionally well for the men in blue and white. Goodwin was the star of Friday night's overtime win, scoring two goals, including the game-winner to earn the victory.

"Their defense fumbled it at the blue line and I just tried to be as quick as I could in transition," Goodwin told the Big Ten Network. "I know I would have been kicking myself all night if I passed it to [Zach] Saar and he didn't bury it, so I just shot it and was able to beat the goaltender.

"To be honest, I was thinking shot the whole time," Goodwin said. "Saar is my best friend on the team, and I am confident that he could have scored it, too, but I just took my opportunity."

The goals were the freshman's sixth and seventh of the season, putting him second on the team in points behind only Eric Scheid. Goodwin, as Gadowsky always says, is a very cerebral player who is always looking to make a play for himself or his teammates.

"Give a lot of credit to David [Goodwin], that was a great play on a two-on-one against a good goaltender," Gadowsky told the Big Ten Network. "Give our guys a lot of credit, too. They battling back twice from two goals down. The first time we took the lead was when [Goodwin] put it in the back of the net to end the game."

Along with Goodwin, Bailey made his presence felt over the weekend scoring two goals, as well. The forward has been coming on as of late for the Nittany Lions, registering five points over his last five games.

This is the type of production he and his coaches have been expecting all season after he exploded for 13 goals and 14 assists last season. Bailey expects his recent success on the ice to only be a sign of things to come.

The most impressive Nittany Lion of the weekend, though, might have been the sophomore netminder Skoff. The McKees Rocks, Pa., native has been on a tear as of late, racking up 136 saves over his last five outings, including a 4-0 shutout over Michigan on Feb.8.

Skoff has emerged as the Nittany Lions' leading goaltender over the last few series and he looks to be playing the best hockey of his young career. In Saturday night's game, the sophomore made key save after key save and kept the game much closer than the score appeared.

His ability to recover after the initial shot and slide to make a secondary save has been terrific over the past three weeks. Time and time again, the netminder was asked to make big save after big save and he came through for his teammates more often than not.

His workload has also increased as the Nittany Lions wait for the return of defensemen Nate Jensen and Luke Juha.

The weekend came and went and the Nittany Lions once again earned a victory and the steps the program has taken over the last few series have been crucial to building the foundation.

Penn State now looks forward to a showdown at No. 2 Minnesota.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

What To Watch: Penn State at No. 10 Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team will look to earn their first Big Ten road victory when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on No. 10 Michigan at Yost Ice Arena this weekend. This is Penn State's first visit to the historic hockey venue and the Nittany Lions enter with a 5-19-2 overall record.

BLOG: THON Family Adds Perspective for Nittany Lions

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Pregame Reading
What To Watch - Penn State

First B1G Victory: Penn State claimed their first Big Ten win against the Wolverine on Feb. 8 inside Pegula Ice Arena. It was the first shutout of the season for the Blue and White, who got first period goals from Zach Saar, David Glen and Casey Bailey to skate to an early lead. Ricky DeRosa added a third period marker and Matt Skoff made 32 saves in the victory.

Scheid Among B1G Leaders: Sophomore forward Eric Scheid has lit the lamp 11 times this season and currently ranks tied for fifth in the Big Ten in goals scored. After spending last season at Alaska Anchorage, Scheid has set new career-highs in goals scored and points (19). He is one assist shy of tying in career-high of nine. He leads the team in goals and points, while sitting second on the team in assists (8).

Olczyk and the Olympics: As Tommy Olczyk prepares to take the ice in Ann Arbor for Penn State's first visit to Michigan, his father, Ed, will be providing analysis for NBC's coverage of the USA/Canada semifinal game. The elder Olczyk - who spent 16 seasons in the NHL and played in the for Team USA at the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

What To Watch - Michigan

Tending the Net: Freshman Zach Nagelvoort has started 17 of the Wolverines 26 games this season and leads the team with 10 wins (10-6-2), owning a 2.12 goals against average. He has allowed just 38 goals - 10 of those on the power play - and owns the 13th best save percentage in the NCAA at .930. However, sophomore Steve Racine got both starts in net last weekend vs. No. 2 Minnesota and made 52 saves in two games.

Say Hello to Hyman: Junior Zach Hyman has been a scoring threat for the Wolverines this month, scoring at least one point in four of the tam's five February games. He scored a goal on Saturday and had an assist on Friday vs. Minnesota and netted a pair of goals in the series opener vs. Penn State. He also had a pair of assists on Feb. 1 vs. Wisconsin. The only game he didn't register a point was in the series finale at Penn State - just the second time Michigan was shutout on the season.

Calming Compher: Freshman JT Compher currently leads the team with 26 points and 15 assists and ranks second on the squad in goals (11) and plus/minus (+10). He is one of two players on the Michigan team to own a plus/minus of plus-10 or better and is the only player on the UM roster with double digit goals and assists this season.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

THON Family Adds Perspective for Nittany Lions

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Penn State men's hockey team walked into Pegula Ice Arena their eyes lit up as they took in the spectacle that was the Nittany Lions' new home. But it is nameplate on a locker that reminds the Nittany Lions of how great an opportunity they have on and off the ice.

Pegula Ice Arena is state-of-the-art arena with something for everyone.  Top-of-the-line equipment for top-of-the-line entertainment: a perfect match. 

But, after seeing the steep student section, the community rink, they entered their brand new locker room. Inside their locker room, right between forwards Eric Scheid and Zach Saar they found a locker that belonged to a special Nittany Lion.

You won't find him on the roster and you won't find him on the box score after the games. Nor will you see him chasing down a defender into the corner for a puck. Not yet, at least, because he is a different kind of asset to Guy Gadowsky's team.

He's a player that brings something more unique to the Penn State roster.

The locker belongs to the men's hockey team's THON family and seven-year-old Colton Buckley. A top-of-the-line kid working with a top-of-the-line team: a perfect match.

"He [Colton] is such a cool kid and he is so funny," Gadowsky said. "His family is great and it's really nice for us to be able to be a part of his journey. The guys really look forward to seeing him. They really get what he is going through and they love seeing him."

Colton might not suit up each night for the Blue and White, but he means just as much to the people in Pegula Ice Arena as anyone else on the roster. This weekend, while the team is in Ann Arbor taking on Michigan, Colton is on the lineup card for THON, Penn State's IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.

He making the trek from Reading, Pa. to make his third straight appearance at the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

"He's a great kid and he adds something special to our team," said Gadowsky. "Personally, the thing I was most impressed with at Penn State and what attracted to at Penn State was the passion of this university that people have for this university.

"I didn't understand exactly why and I think that there are a number of reasons, but I got a chance to walk into the Bryce Jordan center during THON last year and that stands out as one of the major reasons. Talk about the hair standing up on your arms. The feeling you get is just so amazing. I personally think THON is responsible for a lot of the extreme passion everyone has at Penn State University."


THON is a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer.  Since 1977, THON has raised more than $101 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

One of those kids is Colton, a six-year-old that is in the midst of a battle with cancer.

It's a fight that has the admiration of Nittany Lions everywhere, including Colton's locker room neighbor, Scheid.

"It's awesome to have Colton around," Scheid said. "Getting to meet him earlier this year was incredible. He is such a strong kid and even though he has been battling cancer, he always has a smile on his face, which I think is awesome. For a kid to go through that much and to always be able to put a smile on and have so much fun is just awesome to see. I 'm just really glad I get to sit next to his stall in the locker room."

The Nittany Lions won't be at THON this weekend; they have a matchup against No. 10 Michigan in Ann Arbor. Although they might be 390 miles away, they will be there in spirit.

Colton and his fight have had a tremendous impact on the team this season. A team that is battling day in and day out to get better watches by as Colton does the same. It's brought Gadowsky's squad and their THON family closer and closer together.

"Colton is an inspiration and such an awesome kid," senior Michael McDonagh said. "Every time he is here he has a huge smile on his face. He's just so joyful. And with his condition, to get up and do that is really inspiring for us. I think we all kind of rally around him at certain times, especially when he is here. We want to get a win for him and just be with him. He's just a light at the end of the tunnel for us."

Although the Nittany Lions would prefer to be by his side at THON, they will still be thinking of Colton as they look for another win against the Wolverines. Colton is just a month away from taking his first few skating lessons, and owes his love for hockey to his Dad and sister.

"I'm really proud to be a part of it in the way that we can," Gadowsky said.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

VIDEO: Practice Update - Feb. 18

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team was on the ice for practice on Tuesday (Feb. 18) after a hard fought weekend series with Michigan State at Pegula Ice Arena last weekend. The Nittany Lions enter the week at 5-19-2 overall after collecting a tie and taking a loss vs. the Spartans.

On Tuesday, we caught up with head coach Guy Gadowsky and freshman Mike Williamson to talk about what they took away from their weekend series with Michigan State, getting early leads in recent games and what the team can carry from their home venue to playing on the road with the voice of Penn State men's hockey, Brian Tripp.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky


Forward Mike Williamson


-- NITTANY LIONS--

Nittany Lions' Defense Strong Against Spartans

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team got a significant boost from their defense over the weekend against Michigan State. Despite not collecting a win this weekend, the defensive play was strong for the Nittany Lions and helped keep them in both games.

Koudys-Patrick (2).jpegGuy Gadowsky's squad was without arguably two of its best defenders in Nate Jensen and Luke Juha. Both suffered injuries against then-No. 10 Michigan last weekend, but the Blue and White, however, were still confident in their abilities to shut down the Spartans attack.

"I thought we played pretty well defensively," Gadowsky said after Saturday night's loss. "We didn't give up a ton of chances and we felt pretty good about that part of our game."

The Nittany Lions left Pegula Ice Arena after what they called a frustrating weekend, but they can feel good about how hard they played the Spartans and how well they played as a team for a full 60 minutes both nights.

Penn State limited Michigan State to just 13 shots Saturday night. That's the lowest total the Nittany Lions have allowed all season and Matt Skoff contributed 11 saves in net, but the offense could only muster just one goal in the defeat.

After the game, Gadowsky was very high on his goaltender. After all, Skoff had made some terrific saves to keep the Nittany Lions ahead throughout the game.

"I thought he [Skoff] played well," Gadowsky said.  "I thought he battled. I thought he was composed. I don't think he let in any of the goals that he shouldn't have. You can't blame him tonight. He had the angle on the first one and it just went off a skate. The other goal was a rebound that they got a stick on before we did. I thought he played well."

The Nittany Lions were quick on the rush out of their defensive zone and they were unbelievably aggressive and relentless when the Spartans tried to attack in their offensive zone.

Penn State relied on guys like Patrick Koudys, Mike Williamson, Connor Varley and Kenny Brooks, a forward playing defense, to step up and contribute to the team's effort at the blue line. Not only did they step up on the back-end, but they also stood tall against a very good Spartan team. 

"I thought Mike [Williamson] played with a lot more composure this weekend," said Gadowsky. "I think he knew that he was going to be counted on more and he really play with a lot more composure.

"I thought Connor [Varley] had a good weekend, as well. I think if both Luke and Nate were not out of the lineup, that would have helped our offense out, but I thought defensively the guys played very well."


It was no surprise to see Brooks listed as a defenseman against Michigan State. The sophomore had stepped in and played that role very well last weekend vs. Michigan and Gadowsky clearly had confidence he would play well again.

After the game, Brooks and Koudys were very complimentary of the play of their forwards, saying their defensive composure helped make their night much easier.


"I think it just shows we have a good backend, but also we have good forwards," Koudys said. "We lost a few guys on the backend and they [the forwards] were back-checking harder. They were helping us out and Skoff has been backing us up the last two games with great efforts. When everyone is doing their part we can play really well."

Offensively, the Penn State defensemen were very effective, as well.

Koudys led all Nittany Lions with four shots and scored the lone goal for Penn State on Saturday night. He fired a wrist shot from the blue line that trickled past Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand just 43 seconds into the game for his second goal of the season.


Gadowsky was not surprised to see Koudys score and set a tone for the Blue and White early. It's something he has come to expect from his big defensemen.

"I thought he [Koudys] made some nice plays and he got a goal," said Gadowsky. "I thought he had some other really good chances that could have gone in. He's just a really good, solid hockey player. He is a great defensive player, but I thought his whole game was pretty good tonight."

The Nittany Lions were led by the men on their blue line this weekend. They still have some kinks to work out as the season progresses, but they will be hungry heading forward as they ended the weekend feeling they let one go.

"We didn't give any ground this weekend," Gadowsky said, "but I think we could have [won] both of these [games]."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--