By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Scoring five of Penn State's seven goals this weekend, Casey Bailey, Taylor Holstrom and David Goodwin have proven themselves as a force to reckon with for the Nittany Lions. The three have been dominant all year, and they are determined to keep the ball rolling.
Their weekend success led the team to a 2-2 tie and a 5-2 victory against Michigan State, securing the Lions a first place spot in the Big Ten standings.
On Friday, Goodwin produced a third period, tying goal with the help of Bailey and Holstrom to force overtime and later a shootout. Although the Lions (11-7-3, 5-2-1-0 B1G) ultimately fell to the Spartans (7-11-2, 1-3-2-2 B1G) in the shootout, the team rallied back in the second matchup, erasing any doubts about its hunger to win.
The three forwards notched four goals on Saturday with two from Bailey, one from Goodwin and one from Holstrom.
"I thought they could have had a few more," head coach Guy Gadowsky said of the line following Saturday's win. "What'd they have, four I think? Boy, I thought they could have had a few more. They just seem to be clicking. I thought they all worked very hard tonight."
The three have consistently been playing their best hockey. They know what to expect from each other, but most of all they love putting the puck on net. The results are merely a product of their constant efforts.
Bailey is currently tied for second in the nation with 16 goals scored, which has given him much recognition. Nevertheless, he believes his success is a product of the chemistry he has with his linemates. His achievements are directly related to the work he, Holstrom and Goodwin put in on a daily basis.
"It's definitely not me doing all the work," Bailey said. "I think if you look at a lot of my goals, kind of like the empty netter right there, without these two guys battling, without the whole team, the defense are involved as well. So it's definitely a team credit."
Also a major factor in Saturday's victory was goaltender Matthew Skoff, who came up with 28 saves. His play sparked the team's confidence, and his performance marked a big bounce back after his previous two starts.
The junior's comfort in the net only grew as he watched the team's top line steal the show.
"These guys have clicked since the beginning of last year," said Skoff. "It's fun to watch, and I know when they're on the ice it's something where I can enjoy watching what they do in the other end. Obviously, they've been scoring so it helps whoever is in the net out."
Bailey, Holstrom and Goodwin are looking to continue their success, especially in Big Ten play. They are ready to face whatever challenges opposing teams throw their way.
"Certainly they're on a roll right now," Gadowsky said of the forwards. "All three of them seem to have synergy with each other. All three of them are working very, very hard away from the puck, and I think that's sort of started by Taylor Holstrom right from day one of training camp. He set a real high standard, real high bar in terms of work ethic, and I think those two have matched his work ethic. I think you're seeing really good things happen."
With their success, including the line's impressive showing against Michigan State, comes some jokes and friendly competition, which only makes playing together more fun for the three.
"Goodwin was telling me I stole it from him," said Bailey when discussing his second goal on Saturday. "But I just think I'm a little hungrier than him."
"I'm just doing what I can," Goodwin joked back, "to not let Casey Bailey outscore me at this homestand."
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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 14 goals and eight assists in 19 games this season, Casey Bailey has emerged as one of Penn State hockey's offensive leaders; however his value as a member of the Nittany Lions goes far beyond his ability to score.
Bailey puts his heart and soul into every second he is on the ice, every shift he gets to play. His game has never looked stronger or more consistent, a result of his commitment to the program.
"The better hockey he plays, especially away from the puck, it seems the more goals he scores, and his conditioning right now is at the highest level it's been," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "And that's by far. That's easy. I think that helps. The better condition he's in, it allows him to play better hockey away from the puck. Anytime you're playing good hockey, it seems you get more chances. That's what's happening to him."
With his increased success, Bailey is quick to acknowledge his linemates, Taylor Holstrom and David Goodwin. The three have played together all season, and they are by far Penn State's most productive line, accounting for 60 of the Lions' points.
"I think a lot of credit goes to my linemates Holstrom and Goodwin there," Bailey said. "I think, you know, unless they're not passing to me, they're opening up space for me. So a lot of credit goes to them and the rest of the team. I think when we're playing our best hockey and I'm kind of doing the small things to help us play our team game, that's when I'm doing my best and scoring the goals."
Bailey's goal scoring is what he is most recognized for, but the junior is not only successful when the puck is on his stick. He constantly battles in the defensive zone. He forechecks at every opportunity and drives the net.
The forward truly has a hockey sense and knows exactly what he need to do in order to be a smart player.
"I'm constantly trying to read where the puck is about to be," said Bailey. "I'm trying to get lost, especially in the offensive zone, obviously. I have confidence in my linemates to find me. They're constantly looking for me in the zone, and I'm trying to do the same when I have the puck. I think they're distracting the other guys with their speed and skill, and it's leaving space for me."
At the conclusion of last season, Bailey started to show glimpses of his abilities. It has been no surprise to Gadowsky and the rest of the coaching staff that he has dominated this year.
This weekend, Bailey and the Lions will welcome Michigan State to Happy Valley. The Blue and White were winless against the Spartans last season, with four hard-fought games, but the team is expecting better results now. Penn State is an improved team.
"I think that we've showed at times that we are very much improved, and it's a matter of playing our game," said Gadowsky. "We know the preparation that we need and the mindset that we need to play our game, to have our best performance, our best chance at a positive result. It's a matter of doing it.
"I know their scores. I know their record, things like that, but I don't know how much maybe they're improved as well. I think it just comes down to I know what happened here last year. I know the games that we played in. They were all very, very close. The coaching staff, we're sort of hungry on this one to see where we're at and see if we did improve."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a shaky start to his Penn State career, sophomore goalie Eamon McAdam has worked hard to prove himself this season. With his first four wins as a Nittany Lion and his first victory at Pegula Ice Arena now under his belt, McAdam is ready to keep rolling with his team, contributing in any ways he can.
Following the goalie's winless freshman season, he evaluated his game and his habits. McAdam knew he needed to make a change in order to compete with the best. It was time to step up.
"At the end of last year, I kind of looked back and really noticed that I was working hard at times, but it wasn't an all the time thing," said McAdam. "One of the biggest parts of being a pro is really coming out and working every time you're on the ice. I think that's pretty much been my biggest change, just battling at every turn, every play."
McAdam's fight and determination to compete to the best of his abilities have not gone unnoticed. Earlier in the season he was in net when the Nittany Lions defeated then-No. 4 UMass-Lowell on the road, and this past weekend he helped lead his team to a commanding win over Ohio State.
The sophomore's efforts against the Buckeye's resulted in his first Big Ten weekly honor as he was named the conference's third star. Although recognition is wonderful and appreciated, McAdam believes there are more important things to focus on right now, like helping his team succeed.
"You have to take it in stride and not let it go to your head," said the sophomore of the honor. "It's cool to experience, and maybe later down the line it's something neat to have on your resume. For now though, it's just another day."
Through seven appearances and six starts this year, McAdam has posted a .918 save percentage and is allowing an average of 2.77 goals. These numbers are very telling of how far he has progressed in a year, as last season he finished with a save percentage of .882 and a goals allowed average of 4.09.
His improvements have allowed for increased depth at the goalie position for the Blue and White, as McAdam splits times with goalies Matthew Skoff and PJ Musico. With such competition to start, goaltending can be mentally challenging, but McAdam doesn't find it difficult to stay positive with teammates like Skoff and Musico by his side.
"You need to be able to take things in stride more as a goalie than any other position," McAdam said. "It's more of a mental battle than any other position. You need to be able to stay even-keeled and not ride a roller coaster of emotions, otherwise your play is going to reflect it.
"It also helps that Skoff, PJ and I are all so close. Honestly, if one of those guys is starting, it's not like it's a challenge for me to cheer them on. I really enjoy having them as teammates, and when they're succeeding and the team is winning, that's really all I can ask for. It's great when I'm in there, but also it's great to be a part of when they're in."
Looking ahead to this weekend, McAdam is hoping to get back in net against Michigan State. He, as well as all of his teammates, love the atmosphere at Pegula Ice Arena, but they love it even more when the Roar Zone is filled to capacity with Penn State students screaming loudly.
After playing a home series without them, McAdam and the Lions are looking forward to the having the students back where they belong.
"It's nice that we filled the building still and sold those seats last weekend, but it's a completely different atmosphere when you've got the students back there," McAdam explained. "They're loud and they're into it. They're rowdy. They have signs, and they're banging on the glass, kind of getting into the other team's head. It's just a whole other animal. It's really cool, and I'm really excited to have them back."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the heartbreak of Friday's 5-4 overtime loss still fresh in its mind, the Penn State men's hockey team hit the ice Saturday hungry and determined to win. With a crowd of 5,898 on its side cheering loudly, the Nittany Lions battled back to dominate Ohio State, 4-1, in the second meeting, splitting the series with the Buckeyes.
Leading the way to a Blue and White victory was goaltender Eamon McAdam, who stopped 35 of 36 Ohio State shots, including a shorthanded breakaway attempt in the final seven minutes of the game. That save in particular allowed the Lions to maintain control.
As the Ohio State (7-10-2, 2-3-0 B1G) player moved in, McAdam poke checked him and waited for the shot. The skater tried to go five hole, but the Penn State (10-7-2, 4-2-0 B1G) goalie easily made the stop.
"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and getting some wins under my belt really helped out," said McAdam. "We need to get the team to start rolling here. You can really feed off the energy from wins like this. I just want to be as much a part of that as I can."
The appearance marked the sophomore's sixth start of the season. He has split time with goalie Matthew Skoff, who has hit a bit of a rough patch as of late.
In his last two appearances, the most recent of which was Friday, Skoff has been pulled. The junior allowed three goals against the Buckeyes, leading to a goalie change that sparked the team's impressive comeback. Even with his recent struggles, head coach Guy Gadowsky knows what Skoff is capable of accomplishing, and for that reason he is still as confident in the goalie as ever.
"I'm not worried about Matt Skoff," Gadowsky said. "I really am not. He's a mentally tough kid. He's a great athlete, and I haven't looked at the goals to tell you what was his fault and what wasn't. But I'm not worried about him. I know the guys are going to battle their butts off for him because of what he does for them. This isn't a rarity. Every great goaltender goes through a couple games like this. I'm not worried about him one bit."
After Skoff left Friday's game the team battled in the third period to erase a four-goal deficit. Fronting the comeback was junior forward Casey Bailey, who notched three goals, and his first career hat trick, to force overtime.
Bailey, a Hobey Baker award nominee, leads the Lions with 22 points. He is among the nation's leading scorers and is tied for third in goals score with 14. The forward's overall dominance on the ice is something his coach has expected.
"I don't think really anybody's surprised because he's done that in the British Colombia Junior Hockey League," Gadowsky said of Bailey. "He's done it in the USHL, and we've seen it in the last half of last year. I think there's reason that when he increased his strength and conditioning so much this summer and was really committed to it, I think that took him to a bit of another level, and that's what you're seeing."
With Bailey leading the way, Penn State's offense has really taken off. The team scored eight goals in just four periods this weekend. Bailey notched three, David Goodwin and Eric Scheid both scored twice and Curtis Loik tallied a goal as well. This increased offense is something the Lions will try to use to their advantage in the coming weeks, as they continue play at home.
The Blue and White were welcomed back to Hockey Valley by the Penn State faithful this weekend after 70 days away. With six of their next seven games at Pegula Ice Arena, the team is looking forward to feeding off the crowd's energy, much as it did against the Buckeyes.
"Any time you can look up and see filled seats and know that everybody's there to support you and is cheering you on, it's huge," McAdam said. "I think it gets in the opponents' heads as much as it boosts our confidence. If we score a goal like we did late in the first there and it gets loud, it just kind of brings a whole other element to the game like the whole seventh man on the ice in our favor. I think it's really huge."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of Penn State men's hockey. This evening, the Nittany Lions return to Pegula Ice Arena to open their series against Ohio State.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a famous girl in Ruby slippers once said, "There's no place like home." After a stretch of over two months on the road, the Nittany Lions will finally make their way back to Pegula Ice Arena this weekend, more than ready to play at home.
"We're really excited to be back at Pegula," said senior defenseman Nate Jensen. "Our fans are awesome. They give us a boost every game, so we're excited to show our fans that we're ready to be back home and hopefully win some games."
This return to University Park marks the beginning of a six-game homestand for the Blue and White. The team will play seven of their next eight on home ice, a place where it has been dominant this season.
In just six games at Pegula thus far, the Nittany Lions have posted a 5-0-1 record and have outscored their opponents 25-9. The team will look to continue its home success and snap its two-game skid this weekend as it returns to Big Ten play with a series against Ohio State.
Penn State (9-6-2) has faced the Buckeyes (6-9-2) five times over the course of the past two seasons, so the Lions are very familiar with their Big Ten opponent. They know this series will consist of tough, competitive hockey.
"Ohio State is a great team," Jensen said. "Every team in the Big Ten plays really well. We're going to have to come out, compete very hard and play Penn State hockey by doing the little things right to get a victory."
A win is exactly what the Nittany Lions need following their less than stellar performance in the Three Rivers Classic a little over a week ago. Coming off two tough losses to Robert Morris and Western Michigan, the Blue and White are looking to bounce back against OSU.
In order to do that, the team has been working hard day in and day out to return to the level of play it competed at before the holiday break.
"We've been working our legs a lot," Jensen explained. "I mean we had some competitive issues during the Three Rivers Classic. We've been doing a lot of battles and been competing a lot in practice. I think we've been doing really well with that and improving."
A major factor that will also be of great help to the Blue and White this weekend is a healthy roster. With the exception of two forwards, the entire team has been taking part in practice, a sign Penn State is almost back at full strength.
After weeks, and even months, of nagging injuries, the Nittany Lions will take the ice Friday with their depth intact.
"Having guys back is going to help us a lot," said Jensen. "We're getting a lot of our top forwards back, and all our D are back. The depth is there. Everyone is practicing really hard to get in the lineup, and that's just going to up everyone's level of game."
The Lions will take the ice for the first of their two games against Ohio State at Pegula Ice Arena Friday at 7 p.m. The teams will then faceoff again Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
However, for the first time since Halloween, Penn State will have the crowd on its side. The Nittany Lions will finally be home.
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are returning home to Happy Valley healthy and hungry.
Following a 4-1 setback to Western Michigan (7-9-2, 2-6-2-2 NCHC) in the Three Rivers Classic consolation contest Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, No. 20 Penn State (9-6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) took little time to board the bus and depart for University Park.
The reason? Penn State's last home game came all the way back on Oct. 31 in a 3-2 win over Bentley.
After nine straight games away from Pegula Ice Arena, the Nittany Lions will be homesick no longer. In fact, ten of Penn State's next 13 games will be played at the friendly confines of Pegula.
"We absolutely love playing at Pegula," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "We just love it. We love the atmosphere in Pegula. We love the support of the student body. Really, it is the best in the world. It's incredibly motivating to play in front of them. We look forward so much to every game there. We're very much looking forward to getting home."
However, the Nittany Lions aren't just returning home. Rather, they are headed back the healthiest they've been all season.
Not only did six-foot-five sophomore forward Zach Saar return to the lineup following offseason hip surgery, but junior defenseman Connor Varley also played for the first time since Oct. 31.
"They're massive players," said junior forward Curtis Loik who scored the Lions' lone goal against Western Michigan. "Varley's a great puck-moving d-man, and Saar loves hitting the body and can shoot the puck like an NHL player. With those guys back and Scheid coming back soon, we're going to be very dynamic and beat some big teams down the road."
Forward Eric Scheid has been out with an upper body injury since Nov. 21, but is expected to return soon.
Saar underwent hip surgery on Aug. 7, and for the past four months he has spent countless hours recovering. After making his season debut against Robert Morris on Monday night, and playing against Western Michigan, the physical forward is excited to be back.
"I'm very happy to be back," said Saar. "It's been a really long four months, but I'm very sensitive to the fact that the boys were all pulling the same way as a team."
Plus, he feels lucky that the majority of his season will be in front of the home crowd at Pegula Ice Arena.
"It's such an advantage," said Saar. "The comfort of Pegula, as well. Road trips are tough. Luckily I get to reap the benefits of being back...the [home] crowd is an extra man on the ice for us."
Having a healthy lineup is integral to future success this season, and after two straight losses, Gadowsky knows the returns of Saar, Varley and eventually Scheid will help.
"I thought both Saar and Varley played good games," said Gadowsky. "I thought they played well. That's encouraging, but today it's hard to say that anybody was spectacular. So I'm not going to say they were spectacular. But, to get them some time, looking forward we finally get back home after a long, long time off. To have a healthier lineup with guys that got back and played well, that's a positive way of looking at it."
Next up for the hungry Nittany Lions is a home series against Big Ten rival Ohio State on Jan. 9-10 at Pegula Ice Arena.