By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hockey parents are no strangers to long hours in the car on the way to hockey practices and games. Freshman defenseman Kris Myllari's parents Roy and Dawn, are no different.
The dedicated pair has been to all three home contests for the Nittany Lions so far this season, including Penn State's win over St. Lawrence last Thursday night.
"They've got a pretty decent drive, so for them to come down was awesome," Myllari said.
The drive from the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, Ontario is no walk in the park. In fact, it takes a little more than seven hours to reach Hockey Valley.
Myllari's parents have been instrumental in their son's success in hockey. Both Roy and Dawn have been a constant support system for their son, helping him navigate the waters of Junior hockey. Myllari most recently played for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL from 2014-16.
Roy, a hockey player himself, played in the Ontario Hockey League and the British Hockey League during the 1980's. He won the 1984 Memorial Cup with the Ottawa 67's.
Myllari's parents have also been very supportive of their son's education, so when the opportunity for Myllari to attend college with a hockey scholarship, the decision was a no-brainer.
"I thought being able to come to a big school like this I'd get a great education and have the resources to become a better hockey player," Myllari said.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky has always been adamant about making his players better on the and preparing them for the professional world once hockey is over.
"Coach has established a great culture," Myllari said. "All the guys he brings in, from the seniors to the freshmen, I think they all get along well and there's a culture that doing well in school is a good thing. The guys on this team compete to do well in school, it's not something they blow off."
Being a well-rounded student-athlete is something not only the hockey program, but also, something all of Penn State Athletics has strived for over the years. Penn State is consistently ranked above the national average when it comes to athlete graduation rates.
Myllari is simply appreciative of the opportunity he has to further his hockey skills alongside his education and isn't something he'll take for granted.
"I think it's very important," Myllari said. "Even if you're fortunate enough to play 20 years of professional hockey you're still going to need a job afterward, so your education is very important."
This weekend, the Nittany Lions travel to Mercyhurst to face off Friday night at 7 p.m."We're going to stick with our game plan," Myllari said. "But just one game, we're just going to leave it all out on the ice, there's nothing you have to say before. Just go, give it all you've got, empty the tank and see what the scoreboard says at the end."