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Learning Experience or Not, Lions Want to Win

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team fell twice to the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers over the weekend - but not without a fight.

Guy Gadowsky's squad battled back from a three-goal deficit Friday night and forced overtime after trailing late in Saturday night's contest, showing the level of desire they have to win as the regular season draws to a close.

On Friday night, the two teams met for the first time since opening the Big Ten season against one another 13 weeks ago. The Badgers came out with a strong and caught the Nittany Lions on their heels early.

Wisconsin took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission, but then the Blue and White woke up in the third period and outworked Wisconsin in the third period.

"We've gotten the confidence that we can compete with anybody," forward Casey Bailey said after the game on Friday night. "I think we really feel like we're going to start winning these games. We're in all these [games] with the No. 1 and No. 5 teams in the nation, all these top ten team and all these great teams in our conference. We're disappointed that we aren't getting the win because that's what we're looking for."

The Nittany Lions looked to have renewed energy as the final 20 minutes got started. They scored a goal just over eight minutes into the third stanza, then again with one minute remaining to make it 3-2. The energy inside Pegula Ice Arena was palpable and Penn State looked poised to make one final push to force an overtime period.

This is the maturity the coaching staff has been seeing over the second half of the season. The team never once called it quits and figured they would get after it the next night; the Nittany Lions buckled down and got back into the game.

The storyline was similar Saturday night; only this time Penn State, in their freshly pressed camouflage sweaters, was the team setting the tone early. The puck dropped to start the first period and the Nittany Lions took it right at the Badgers. The defensemen were aggressive and kept pucks in the offensive zone, while the forwards continued to look to shoot and score.

Sophomore Matt Skoff got the start in net and looked composed as ever as he turned away shot after shot. The Nittany Lions trailed the Badgers after two periods, however, but the game was far from over. Penn State had outshot Wisconsin 32-19 through two periods and was a missed opportunity away heading to the third period tied.

As the third period got started, the Nittany Lions' desire was clear and the team found a way to knot the score with less than three minutes left. Kenny Brooks put one on net and it beat Joel Rumpel, the Big Ten's leader in nearly every goaltending category.

The game was headed to overtime in Hockey Valley.


Again, this is the maturity and desire Gadowsky has come to expect from this young Nittany Lion team shone through, but the Badgers earned when they converted on a 2-on-1 with just 20 seconds left in the overtime period.

"Obviously, it's a tough loss," Brooks said after Saturday nights' game. "I thought overall we played a very good game as a team, and that's the frustrating part that we lost when we did that. We played well as a team and we are taking steps forward. These are a good team and we just need to be better at pulling out wins when we're in close games."

It was another great learning experience for a young Penn State program, as the team once again proved they can play with just about anybody. As the season comes to a close, it's just one more thing this group of players can be proud about.

"I think that we are at a point where it's not only about playing well," said Gadowsky, "we want to take the very next step and win these type of games. We've played really well and if this was the first time we played really well against a top-five team we would probably be thrilled. But we've played really well against No. 1 Minnesota. We played really well against No. 2 Boston College and we've had these experiences and to take the next step we just need to close them out.

"We are proud of the stages that we've gone through this season and how far we have come as a team. This is just another [learning experience] for this program."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

LIVE BLOG: Men's Hockey hosts No. 5 Wisconsin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the Penn State men's hockey contest against No. 5 Wisconsin on Saturday, March 8 inside Pegula Ice Arena. 

BLOG: McDonagh Reflects On Penn State Career

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use the #PennState or #HockeyValley and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.

 

GAME BLOG: Men's Hockey hosts Wisconsin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the Penn State men's hockey contest against No. 5 Wisconsin on Friday, March 7 inside Pegula Ice Arena. 

BLOG: What to Watch  |  BLOG: McDonagh Reflects On Penn State Career

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use the #PennState or #HockeyValley and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.


 

What To Watch: Penn State host No. 5 Wisconsin

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team will play their third straight ranked opponent this weekend at Pegula Ice Arena, as No. 5 Wisconsin makes its first visit to Happy Valley for hockey. The Nittany Lions enter with a 6-22-2 overall record, while the Badgers are 19-9-2 in 2013-14.

BLOG: McDonagh Reflects On Penn State Career

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Pregame Reading
What To Watch - Penn State

Finish Strong: Penn State will play its final four games of the regular season inside of Pegula Ice Arena, starting tonight vs. Wisconsin. The No. 5 Badgers mark the third straight ranked opponent for Penn State and will be the sixth ranked opponent to enter Pegula this season. The Lions opened the inaugural season of Big Ten play at Wisconsin, losing 7-1 and 4-3, respectively.

Making Musico: It had been 370 days since PJ Musico led the Nittany Lions out of the tunnel as the starting goaltender. He did so at Minnesota on March 1 and led the Lions in a gritty effort versus the No. 2 Gophers. The junior made 35 saves in the team's 2-1 loss in his first start since Feb. 24, 2013 at Wisconsin. Musico has now appeared in five games and made 61 saves on the season.

Getting Off the Scheid: Eric Scheid continues to lead the Nittany Lions in points and goals this season, but the sophomore hasn't scored in five games. His last point came against Michigan State in a 2-2 tie, which gave him a three-game points streak at the time. On the season, Scheid has 19 points on 11 goals and eight assists.

What To Watch - Wisconsin

Welcome to Happy Valley: Wisconsin will be playing their fifth and sixth games vs. Penn State this weekend, but will be making their first trip to the University Park campus. Penn State took one of two games last season and dropped both meetings in Madison this season.

Rumpel-stiltskin: He might not be spinning straw into goal, but junior goaltender Joel Rumpel good as gold in net for the Badgers. He leads the the Big Ten with a .786 winning percentage (16-4-1), 1.83 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. He also went 5-1-1 with a 1.42 goals-against average, .954 save percentage and one shutout in February.

Closing on the Road: Wisconsin will close out the regular season with four straight road contests, at Penn State and at Michigan State. The Badgers are 2-7-1 on the road this season after posting the third-best road record in the country last year at 8-2-4. UW is 1-1-1 on the road in its last three games, including a victory at Ohio State on Feb. 15 in UW's last road contest. UW has been outscored 37-20 on the road this season

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

McDonagh Reflects On Penn State Career

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Penn State takes the ice this weekend for a showdown with No. 5 Wisconsin, it will be the team's second to last home series and it will mean we're just one week away from the end of a historic season for the men's hockey program.

For forward Mike McDonagh, however, it's just another step in a long hockey journey.

McDonagh, the team's lone senior, has been a part of Penn State hockey for four years. Prior to joining coach Guy Gadowsky's squad, he was a member of Penn State's club team, the Icers. During his time with the Icers, he was a force, playing 61 games and collecting 47 points.

Then, the announcement came that Penn State was adding an NCAA Division I team, and the Wilmington, Mass., native knew he wanted to be a part of the historic beginning. 

"I've played hockey my whole life...and I figured I might as well pursue the dream of playing at the highest level possible," McDonagh said. "That's always been a dream for everyone that's played hockey. So when I got that opportunity, I decided to go for it."

McDonagh has always faced the challenge of trying out for the Nittany Lions. Each season he laced up his skates, he knew he had to prove that he belonged and that he could thrive. When the hard work paid off, the reward of playing Division I hockey was all he could ask for.


"It was awesome," McDonagh said. "The first year when [coach] Gadowsky was here was a club year, and it was a tryout year for myself, and I had no clue if I would be on the team or not my junior year. When he brought me into the office and told me [I made the team] I don't think I said anything back to him. I just sat there, so appreciative of the opportunity. I was definitely pumped."

In his first season as a Division I hockey player, McDonagh was solid. He assisted on nine goals and contributed a three game point-streak. He was the type of player that brought the same enthusiasm and intensity to every practice and left everything on the ice.

He also brought a different kind of enthusiasm to the team. McDonagh, as all of his teammates will say, is a jokester and a "goofball." He's the kind of guy people gravitate to, and feel comfortable around.

"It's very stressful," the senior said. "Our practices are hard. We're always concentrated on trying to win games and competing at the highest level, so you need that break in between sometimes. I just try to go in there and get a laugh out of the guys sometimes."

During this season, he has been the ultimate teammate, while contributing as a solid forward to Gadowsky's squad.

"You just love being around him," Gadowsky said. "He's a guy you love being around, and you can't have enough of those guys on your team.

"I love him because of the kind of guy he is. He is such a great guy. He's got tremendous work ethic; he's extremely intelligent; his teammates love him; he always gives you a great effort and he is always positive. I love having him on the team."

He is, as his bench boss says, one of the team's top players for a shootout and a gritty type of forward. McDonagh isn't afraid to step in front of a shot, or crash the net to score a goal. His enthusiasm carries over from practice perfectly into the game, and the rest of his teammates feed off of it.

As McDonagh's Penn State career comes to an end, the Nittany Lion isn't looking too far beyond each game. He has treasured the last two years as a Division I player, and knows he is a huge part of this young program. When the idea of a legacy comes up, the senior knows what kind of player he was for Penn State.

"Definitely a guy the younger guys could look up to just for the hard work on and off the ice," McDonagh said. "I might not have had as much skill as those guys, so in order to compete with them I had to work really hard. I think the guys can look at that and follow that lead, as well."

His coach couldn't agree more.

"Yeah, he will be our first senior class in Pegula Ice Arena and in the Big Ten era," Gadowsky said. "He will go down in history as someone special and that's good because he's a great guy. He has done everything we've asked of him and he deserves it."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

VIDEO: Practice Update - March 4

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team was on the ice for practice on Tuesday (March 4) after dropping a pair of games at No. Minnesota over the weekend. The Nittany Lions fell by scores of 5-1 and 2-1 and return home for the final two weeks of the regular season with a 6-22-2 overall record.

On Tuesday, we caught up with head coach Guy Gadowsky and sophomore Mark Yanis to talk about the series at Minnesota, returning home for the final two regular season weekends and how the team is doing late in the season with the voice of Penn State men's hockey, Brian Tripp.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky


Defenseman Mark Yanis

--NITTANY LIONS--

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--