By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sometimes fights fall short of delivering that knockout punch.
Such was the case for No. 20 Penn State (9-5-2, 3-1-0 Big Ten), who fell to intrastate foe No. 19 Robert Morris (12-2-3, 9-2-3 Atlantic Hockey), 4-2, in the opening round of the third annual Three Rivers Classic Monday night at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Junior forward Casey Bailey lifted the puck over the blocker side of Colonial net minder Terry Shafer and into the back of the net at the 18:11 mark in the third period to cut the Robert Morris lead to 3-2, but the late offensive attack wasn't enough to advance to the championship game.
There was no scoring from either team in the first period thanks to stellar play between the pipes by sophomore net minder Eamon McAdam. Making his sixth start of the season, the New York Islander draftee made nine saves in the opening twenty minutes.
McAdam showed great poise and vision, seeing shots through traffic from the point, as well as protecting the crease by making big stops up close. He made 29 saves on the night to keep the Blue and White close.
"He played very strong," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I thought Eamon battled hard and made some great saves."
Following a full recovery from offseason hip surgery, Zach Saar made his first start of the season against the Colonials. Gadowsky slowly worked the junior forward into the game, but Saar made the most of his ice time by playing physical, aggressive hockey and skating well.
"I thought he was physical. I thought he got some good shots on net," said Gadowsky on the return of Saar. "He looked pretty comfortable out there. We did bring him along pretty slowly. We don't necessarily want to throw him to the wolves. This is his first game, but I thought he handled himself very well."
The return of Saar does a lot for this team moving forward.
"Obviously him standing on the blue line during the national anthem does something for us," said Gadowsky. "He's a big, big boy who has a reputation, and he brings a bit of a different element to us."
In the second period, the difference was a borderline five-minute major penalty and game misconduct as a result of a Nate Jensen contact to the head in the neutral zone at the 13:28 mark. In Gadowsky's mind, the questionable call determined the final outcome.
"It was a 0-0 game. I thought it was a great hockey game," said Gadowsky. "That [penalty] was the game. We watched it over and over, and we were going to tell Nate Jensen to make that exact play, the exact same way every single time."
With Robert Morris on the five-minute man-advantage, the Colonials took a 1-0 lead after defenseman Tyson Wilson fed forward Brady Ferguson in the high slot. Ferguson then ripped a hard wrist shot that snuck underneath McAdam's glove to give the Colonials the lead at 14:11.
Just 30 seconds later, Robert Morris took a two-goal lead when forward Brandon Denham led defenseman John Rey to the top of the right circle. Rey then fired a shot past McAdam at 14:41 for the Colonials' second power play goal of the game.
The Nittany Lions entered the locker room down 2-1, however, following Scott Conway's fourth goal of the season. Conway won the draw back to Curtis Loik, who's shot was blocked and traveled to Dylan Richard in the slot. Richard's wrist shot ricocheted off bodies and trickled right to Conway in front, who subsequently buried the biscuit.
As a result of the efficient offensive play, the line of Loik, Conway and Richard saw more ice time as the game progressed.
"They scored a goal for us, and we are starting to come along," said Gadowsky. "I thought everyone took a little while to get the rust off, but they did in a hurry. I thought Conway looked really good. They are three excellent hockey players. We expected them to play well."
The Colonials took a 3-1 lead at the 4:36 mark in the third period when defenseman Chase Golightly's shot from the point was deflected in by the stick of forward Daniel Leavens who shaded McAdam's vision in front.
The line of David Goodwin, Taylor Holstrom and Bailey applied some serious offensive pressure in the third period, but Shafer was a brick wall in net for the Colonials, who saved 35 shots on the night.
Forward Zac Lynch sealed the victory for the Colonials when he scored an empty-net goal on a shot from his own blue line, in front of the Robert Morris bench.
Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions will face off against Western Michigan at 4:30 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center as part of the Three Rivers Classic consolation game. The Broncos fell to No. 17 Colgate late Monday afternoon, and Gadowsky says his team is ready to get back on track.
"This is a big game for us," said Gadowsky. "Obviously we'd love to be playing for the Three Rivers Classic championship, but that's not to be the case. This is still a very big game for us. We are going to prepare just the same as we would with any other opponent."
According to Gadowsky, junior goalie and Pittsburgh-native Matthew Skoff is expected to start in net for the Blue and White in tomorrow's consolation contest.
Recently in Men's Hockey Category
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 2015 just around the corner, the Penn State men's hockey team wants to end 2014 in a positive way. Only two games separate the Lions and the New Year, and they are ready to return to action in the third annual Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center.
This year's tournament will feature the No. 20 Lions, No. 19 Robert Morris, No. 17 Colgate and Western Michigan. The Lions and Colonials have competed in the tournament every year, as both teams hail from Pennsylvania.
The Lions (9-4-2) will first play Robert Morris (11-2-3) Monday at 7:35 p.m. Following the results of the game, as well as the earlier game between Colgate (9-6-1) and Western Michigan (6-8-2), the Lions will then take the ice again Tuesday.
Penn State and Robert Morris have met every season since the Lions made the jump to Division I hockey. Of the four games played between the programs, each team has won two. Robert Morris swept the Lions during the 2012-'13 season, and the Lions took down the Colonials during their two meetings in 2013-'14.
"I think this game is going to be a really fun game to watch," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I think you're going to see two teams that really want to get after it and score goals. It's going to be a very exciting game.
"We've had very good, excellent games in the past. They outshot us with 52 shots one night. We had 60 on them another. I don't know what the outcome of this game will be. I certainly hope that we can put together a good performance."
Currently, Robert Morris leads the NCAA with an average of 4.1 goals scored per game. The team is also atop the shots per game category, coming in second only to the Lions. Penn State is racking up an average of 39.6 shots each game.
Regardless of past meetings, current statistics and rankings, Gadowsky is confident this matchup between two strong offensive teams will result in very entertaining hockey.
With this tournament, the Lions will not only return from a three-week break from game action but also from a holiday break that allowed the team to spend the holidays at home with family. As a result, there were no scheduled practices or workouts.
Gadowsky, however, is not worried. He knows his team is dedicated and committed to Penn State hockey and is confident the Lions will be ready when they lace up their skated Monday night.
"It's all up to them to number one heal because we have a lot of guys that need to heal up, and number two to come back in shape," Gadowsky said of his team. "They've got a bit of homework to do over Christmas, but the most important thing is that they have a great time with their family. If they do that, all the rest will work itself into place."
Playing in Consol Energy Center will mark the second of three visits the Lions will make to NHL arenas this season. In November the blue and white skated in Madison Square Garden, and at the end of January they will head to the Wells Fargo Center.
At each of these venues, the team experiences an outpouring of support, which they do not take for granted.
"It makes me so happy everywhere we go to see such great Penn State support, and Consol is another one of those arenas where we enjoy that," Gadowsky said. "We just feel extremely fortunate, and we just love going on the road and seeing the colors flying. It's just awesome for us, and it gives the guys a big, big boost. The Penn Staters at Consol arena are always a big part of whatever success we have in this tournament."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the first portion of the season comes to a close, the Penn State men's hockey team is happy with the progress it has made.
With a 9-4-2 record, the Lions have already won more games than they did throughout the entirety of last year, and they have solidified their place in Division I hockey.
Even with the success, this team is hungry for more.
"I like where we're at right now, especially with our wins in Wisconsin," said captain Patrick Koudys. "We already have more wins than we had last year overall. I'm definitely happy with the team's progression thus far, but we're still not satisfied. We have to get better and continue this progress."
These early season results have shocked many in the college hockey world, but the Lions knew they would be a force to reckon with this year.
Their offense ranks seventh among Division I schools with an average of 3.47 goals per game, and their power play is fifth in the nation.
Senior Taylor Holstrom and junior Casey Bailey are both tied for 13th in the nation in scoring. Both forwards have racked up 18 points thus far.
"I know some people weren't expecting us to be this high up this early, but we expected it," Koudys said. "We knew last year was a lot of firsts, a lot of new things for us, but we got mostly everyone back. We had a few additions with three great freshmen, so I'm not surprised by any means, but like I said, we're definitely not satisfied."
Not only are the Lions having overall success, but they are also playing well in conference games. A split with Michigan and a road sweep of Wisconsin have left the Lions at 3-1-0 in the Big Ten.
The three wins match the number of conference wins the Lions had throughout all of the 2013-'14 season. Currently, the team sits at first place in the Big Ten Conference, which is exactly where it wants to be.
"Our strong point is just when we are playing our game," Koudys said. "When we do that, we're a tough team to play against, and I think that shows with our wins this year. Those come when we're playing our game and doing well, but I think inconsistency is something we need to take out of our game. We need to be more consistent in doing those things that make us great every day and every game."
Ending this first half on such a high note keeps the Blue and White motivated and focused as they begin an extended break. The team will not dress for a game again until after Christmas.
The time off is something the Lions and head coach Guy Gadowsky are welcoming with open arms.
"Not often do you get a sweep on the road and be happy that you can't get right back to playing because obviously those were two pretty consistent games for us, with two great results," Gadowsky said. "Normally, you want to keep riding that wave, but for us we have so many injuries to key people that we're very welcome to have a break and heal up."
With this break, Gadowsky is stressing his team to finish the academic semester strong. Practices are optional this week, allowing the student-athletes ample time to study for finals.
Even with the absence of mandatory practices, Gadowsky knows his team's character. He knows he can depend on them to balance studying and working out.
His team will be ready to pick up right where it left off.
"With their strength as a team, a lot of the improvements made were because we have very high quality guys that are committed to Penn State University, committed to the hockey program, committed to themselves as athletes," Gadowsky said. "That doesn't change because we don't have a mandatory practice. I don't have any concerns about that. I really believe in the quality and leadership in our locker room."
NEW YORK - Penn State fans will be in for a treat on Jan. 30, 2016 when the Nittany Lion men's hockey and basketball teams compete in a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden against Michigan.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany confirmed the hockey-hoops doubleheader announcement on Tuesday evening inside MSG. Additionally, the conference announced that the 2018 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament would be played in Madison Square Garden (Feb. 28-March 4).
Attendees at the press conference included ESPN's Jay Bilas and Andy Katz, ABC/ESPN's John Saunders and Big Ten hockey alums and current New York Rangers Carl Hagelin (Michigan) and Derek Stepan (Wisconsin).
Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour was in attendance at the press conference and was thrilled with the news for two of Penn State's teams.
"It has been a great day in New York, and I think this is a really exciting announcement for Penn State, Penn State Men's Basketball and Penn State Hockey," said Barbour. "Any time the Penn State nation has the opportunity to come to New York is always an exciting time. And the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden is something I think our student-athletes will really enjoy, as will our community."
The marquee along 7th Avenue outside of Madison Square Garden was lit with Big Ten signage as the press conference took place. The Big Ten is thrilled to make a new home inside Madison Square Garden, and it will be an exciting opportunity for the approximately 32,000 Penn State alums in the New York City metro area to see Penn State teams in action at "The World's Most Famous Arena".
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "Firsts" have been a theme for the Penn State men's hockey team over the past few years. This weekend's trip to Wisconsin was no exception.
The Lions crossed another accomplishment off their list, completing their first Big Ten sweep on the road after taking down the Badgers, 5-2 and 4-2, Friday and Saturday nights.
"That's something that we didn't know when we'd be fortunate to have that experience," head coach Guy Gadowsky said regarding the two victories. "It probably happened a lot sooner than anybody would have expected, and to get it against a program like Wisconsin that's just so successful and has such great tradition, it feels really great.
"The guys should be proud of themselves, and the program should be proud of itself. It certainly is an indication of the entire program, the university, administration, the student body and fans. It's a great credit to the whole program."
According to freshman James Robinson, sweeping teams on the road has been a major goal repeatedly discussed this year. The fact that this objective was accomplished against a Big Ten team made it even more satisfying for the squad.
Robinson had a large part in both wins, playing an excellent brand of hockey and being rewarded with his first and second NCAA goals.
His first career goal, an unassisted breakaway, gave the Lions (9-4-2, 3-1-0) a two-goal lead during Friday's game with the Badgers (1-10-1, 0-2-0).
"Their forward passed it up to their D-man," Robinson recounted. "He was my guy, so I headed out to the point. The puck bounced over his stick, and I was able to beat him to it. I went down on a partial breakaway and just took a quick shot that got over the goalie's glove."
The Alberta-native has appeared in 12 of the team's 15 games this season and is already making a strong impression.
According to Gadowsky, Robinson makes the team more confident through his dedication and work ethic. In his eyes, the freshman played his best hockey of the year during these two games.
"He'll block shots with his chest," Gadowsky said about Robinson. "He'll backcheck when his lungs are burning. He's tough to play against. He goes hard to the net. He just does a lot of things that make him very difficult to play against."
Robinson was not the only Albertan to make a substantial impact in Madison, as both David Glen and Dylan Richard returned to the lineup.
Glen and Richard had three and two points on the weekend, respectively, but their presence on the ice was far more valuable to the Lions. Both forwards bring unparalleled energy and skill to the team, which was missed during their absences.
"They both ended up with a goal on Friday night, but if they hadn't had any points at all they still would have been very, very valuable," Gadowsky said. "Both those guys are such character guys. They both play to win, not for stats. They both are extremely difficult to play against. They bring a lot of identity, and I thought the boost that they gave us coming back in the lineup was just huge."
Glen was ecstatic to contribute to the team's scoring, but he knows scoring is not the only contribution he makes to the Lions day in and day out.
"It's obviously nice whenever you can make an impact for the team," Glen said. "I try to make impacts in other ways, but it's just nice to have an opportunity to get on the scoreboard and that sort of thing. I'm glad to be back and glad to help out on the ice."
Following this series, the Blue and White have some much needed time off. With a lengthy list of injuries still affecting the team, the three-week break will help to rejuvenate the Lions.
Nevertheless, even with the time off, ending on such a high note will only increase the team's confidence, making it that much more dangerous.
"I feel like since we've had such a successful first half, it just makes the guys that much hungrier and eager to get back out on the ice, continue with our success and see where the year can take us," Robinson said. "I feel like we have a great team this year, and we can do some serious damage this year in the NCAA. I know everyone's excited to see what the rest of the year has in store."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A little over seven months ago, the Penn State men's hockey team battled Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal game.
The Lions hoped for a victory to ensure the continuation of their season but instead fell to the Badgers, 2-1, and watched on as their former opponent ultimately became the Big Ten champions.
These two programs will meet once again this weekend, but the Badgers now have a very different identity. While the Lions returned nearly their entire roster this season, Wisconsin worked to fill massive holes left behind by their previous senior class.
Even with this new look, Penn State is prepared for another round of intense, gritty Big Ten hockey with the Badgers.
"They're an extremely talented group that has just found some success, so they're definitely going to be ready to go," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I certainly don't expect we overlook them at all. They're Wisconsin, but at the same time I understand we're facing a dangerous group that's just starting to get some confidence. That sometimes is the most energetic group."
Wisconsin (1-8-1) is fresh off its first win of the season, a 5-3 victory over Ferris State, while the Lions (7-4-2) are looking to snap their first losing streak of the year.
With some major lessons learned through their losses to Michigan and Cornell, the Blue and White are working toward making corrections that will lead to more positive outcomes.
"We've been trying to hit the transition faster, but we still need to improve on limiting the odds, making bad decisions on pinches and stuff like that," junior Luke Juha said of the Penn State defense. "Just the little things, we have to clean up, but I think as a whole we've been a little more consistent. We're excited for Friday and Saturday."
It's no secret the Lions have been bitten by the injury bug as of late, especially at the forward position, which has undoubtedly made their most recent stretch of games even tougher.
In their last two outings, the Lions have been held to one goal, which is quite unusual for the team that's averaging 3.3 goals per game. This weekend, however, the Lions will get some relief as David Glen and Dylan Richard return to the lineup.
"Richard and Glen are going to play," said Gadowsky. "That's huge for us to get them back for a number of reasons. One is the faceoff circle, which we struggled with on Saturday."
Prior to their injuries, Richard notched seven points in eight games, while Glen tallied three points in his seven appearances. Gadowsky considers both individuals "identity guys" and believes they can and will give the team's offense a much-needed boost.
Despite these returns, the Blue and White will still be without defenseman Connor Varley and forwards Eric Scheid, Jonathan Milley and Zach Saar.
Saar, who has yet to play a game for Penn State this year due to an offseason surgery, is making strides in his recovery and is now practicing with the team.
"He looks good out there," Gadowsky said of the forward. "His wind is not there at all. He's really struggling with the conditioning aspect of it, as you'd expect, but he's just got such a presence. His skills are great. I mean he shoots the puck so effortlessly. To us, he looks really good."
As the healthy members of the team prepare for this weekend's series, they do so expecting a challenge. Instead of focusing on Wisconsin and what to expect from the Badgers, the Blue and White have been working diligently on their own identity, electing to refine their own talents instead.
"We don't try to change our game for anybody," said Juha. "We're just going to go out there, try to make the A+ backchecks, no odds, and play our game. Wisconsin is going to be a great team. I don't expect them to be any different than they were last year."
The Lions are 1-6 against the Badgers since the 2012-'13 season, and they are ready for that record to improve.
Not only is the team searching for improvement, but it also wants to conclude the first half of its season on a high note.
"If we can get through this and have success," said Gadowsky, "I think it's going to be a tremendous boost."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday night, 15,027 fans piled into Madison Square Garden. Some donned blue, while others dressed in red.
This crowd, however, was not in attendance to support the usual home team New York Rangers. Instead, it settled in to watch the Penn State men's ice hockey team take on Cornell in the Frozen Apple.
"I thought it was great for Penn State," head coach Guy Gadowsky said of game. "We have 100,000 at Beaver Stadium at 3:30, and then we had thousands at Madison Square Garden at 8:00. I think it's a tribute to Penn State and how well they support our sports teams. It was a great environment, a tremendous arena and a great experience."
Despite a solid performance, Cornell defeated the Lions, 3-1, after an empty-net goal sealed their fate in the final minutes of play.
Penn State (7-4-2) maintained the advantage in shots throughout the game, outshooting Cornell (4-4-1), 38-25. The opportunities were present, but a stellar performance by goalie Mitch Gillam took away the Lions' chance at victory.
"I actually thought we had a pretty good performance," said Gadowsky. "We came out well right from the start, had some good opportunities and were able to sneak one by their goaltender. They are a very tough team to play against. You have to work very hard to create opportunities. I thought we did. I thought we moved the puck very well from our back end. I thought we didn't give much at all.
"We gave up five shots in the first. In the second, I don't think we had our best period, but I thought we played tough. In the third, we probably created our most offensive chances. In the end we turned the puck over high and worked hard to get back, but one of our defenders caught an edge and fell. That was enough for them to take advantage of it, but all in all pretty good performance."
The Lion's lone goal came from sophomore forward David Goodwin at 9:11 in the first period. The goal marked his fifth of the year, and once again highlighted the dominance of his line, which also features senior Taylor Holstrom and junior Casey Bailey.
"Taylor Holstrom had the puck and he skated it into the zone," Goodwin said. "He skated wide, and Casey Bailey and I drove the net. Taylor passed it out front, and really either Casey or I could have put it in, but it just happened to hit my stick. Thankfully I was able to put it in the back of the net."
Holstrom, Bailey and Goodwin all currently lead the Lions in scoring with 18, 16 and 10 points, respectively. This line has been a consistent point of offense for Penn State and continues to rise to the occasion in all situations.
Additionally, Holstrom's assist Saturday brought him to 14 on the year, which ties him for first in the nation in that category.
"Everybody knows how very consistent and successful offensively that line has been," said Gadowsky. "You know other teams are taking notice, and trying to match against them, and they've still been able to chip away every game. I really give them a ton of credit. I really do.
"To score consistently at the DI level is an incredible feat in the best of situations, and right now with us having so many other offensive weapons out, they're easier to key on and have still been able to produce game in and game out."
The success of this line can be attributed to the hard work and effort these forwards put in on a daily basis.
They want to continue helping the team in big ways.
"I think consistency on the individual level has been really important for us," Goodwin explained of his line. "Each of us has been prepared for each game, knowing the importance of each game. That's been big for us, but also the three of us have a lot of synergy. We're definitely jelling right now. The more we play together, the more confident we are and the more we know where each other's going to be on the ice."
Even with the loss, Gadowsky recognizes the effort put in by not only Holstrom, Bailey and Goodwin, but by the entire team. The outcome was certainly not what the team was hoping for, but they played Penn State hockey.
"I thought it was a great experience to compete and play in Madison Square Garden," Gadowsky said. "I think our guys put together a good effort. I can't be disappointed with the effort or the way we played."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State men's hockey team takes the ice Saturday for its game against Cornell, it will once again cross off another program first, playing at Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena.
"We're really excited," said senior captain Patrick Koudys of the opportunity to play in the Frozen Apple. "First off, it's such a huge venue, arguably the biggest venue in the world, but it's going to be probably the biggest venue we've ever played in. To play against a team like Cornell, they're a great team. It's a good hockey program there, so we're just really excited to get to NYC and play some hockey."
Following a disappointing end to their series with Michigan, the Lions spent the week regrouping and getting back to playing their style of hockey.
The team hopes to step into the Frozen Apple looking like the dangerous, skilled squad that took down then-No. 4 UMass Lowell on the road.
"We have a lot of things to improve on, and it's not new things," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "It's refocusing. We focused on a few team aspects that really allowed us to get better and to play great at UMass Lowell, and those things are very difficult to do. They take a lot of effort and a lot of commitment, and if you just relax your focus a little bit, you can be exploited. For us, it's refocusing our commitment in certain areas of our game."
Commitment and putting forth a high level of effort day in and day out are key for the Lions right now as the team battles a number of injuries.
With so many key individuals out of the lineup, the remainder of the team has had to step up and work toward the continuation of positive results.
"It's hockey," said Gadowsky. "Very seldom do you go into a game 100 percent after the first few weekends of the season. Any time you lose a Dylan Richard, a David Glen and an Eric Scheid, and remember we're down Zach Saar as well, at the forward position it's going to hurt. Right now Connor Varley is out for us on D, so it's part of it. Part of improving as a program and getting better is improving your depth, and we have faith in all the people we have on our roster."
The numerous team injuries have forced the Lions to work on filling voids on the team, giving them more experience and adding a new dimension of depth to their squad.
"It obviously sucks that guys are out and guys are injured, but it does give other guys more opportunities to play in spots that they're maybe not normally playing in or to get more time in those situations," Koudys explained. "It's good and it's bad. It's good that guys get to try new thing and play a little more, but then again we do love those guys who are injured. We want them healthy. Right now I think we're all just focusing on what we need to do as a team, and we're looking forward to this weekend."
With Saturday quickly approaching, Penn State (7-3-2, 1-1-0 B1G) will continue to prepare for the highly defensive Cornell (3-4-1, 3-3-0 ECAC) team. This season, the Big Red have given up an average of 1.6 goals per game, which is significantly lower than the 3.5 goals per game average the Lions have scored.
Cornell is accustomed to playing low-scoring games, which may call for a bit of an adjustment by Penn State.
"That's really an indication of their team and their team systems and how they play the game," Gadowsky said of Cornell. "Our staff is very familiar with Cornell. They're very, very well coached, and they're a very tough team to play against in the sense that they play a tremendous defensive game. If you're waiting around for them to give you opportunities, it's going to be a long night. You really have to make your own opportunities because they don't give you much at all."
The Frozen Apple between Penn State and Cornell is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Saturday in Madison Square Garden.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for giving thanks, and the Penn
State Athletics would like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal
fans on Thanksgiving.
As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unrivaled support you give every team on campus. Penn State's teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.
As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give them throughout the athletic season.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 10 games under their belt, the Nittany Lions are ready to start the next portion of their season, Big Ten play, against an opponent they have history with, Michigan.
During the teams' last meeting, the Lions defeated Michigan in double overtime and advanced to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. Not only did the Blue and White take down the Wolverines in that specific game, but they also emerged victoriously in three of the five matchups last season.
This year the two teams are ready to rekindle that competitive edge, starting with this weekend's series.
"We don't need any added sense at all," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "This is Michigan. This is the most successful program in college hockey history that we get to compete against, and we do it a Yost Arena, which is a tremendous environment. It's a very tough environment, and it's something I think our guys are now starting to look forward to, so we don't need any added incentive to play the University of Michigan, believe me."
Last season's results are something neither team has forgotten after the offseason months. Penn State remembers victory, while Michigan remembers the pain that came along with defeat.
"Anytime that you develop a history with any team, I think that contributes to it," said Gadowsky. "I know that at media day, some of their reporters already told me, 'Michigan has you circled,' stuff like that, so I can't comment from what they're thinking. From our standpoint, we're excited to play all Big Ten teams. I mean they're all monsters in this game, and a big part of why we come to Penn State is to compete against the very best. Certainly this weekend is the epitome of that."
The Lions are coming into these games with momentum on their side. The team is fresh off its split with UMass Lowell, a series in which forward Casey Bailey tallied three goals and one assist.
Bailey currently leads the team with eight goals and is only one shy of tying the nation's leaders in goals scored. Clearly, the junior has entered this season with big expectations, and thus far, he has been fulfilling them.
"I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates," said Bailey. "Taylor Holstrom is playing incredibly, and David Goodwin has been great. I'm just having a lot of fun playing with my linemates. I think as a team, when you create offense, it really opens up space for other guys. You've got to give a lot credit to everyone on the team. I don't think it's anything personally that I'm doing special. I just think the team's playing well. I'm a shooter and when I get those chances, it's nice when the puck goes in."
Bailey's 54 shots on the season are a team high, and his 12 points having him trailing only Holstrom.
"With Casey, I think his physical strength and conditioning is at a much higher level than it's ever been, I think in his life," Gadowsky said of the junior. "He started this season playing to play good hockey, not playing to score goals.
"He loves scoring goals, and that's part of what makes him a good hockey player. He loves scoring goals in games. He loves scoring goals in practice. He loves scoring goals in street hockey. He just loves scoring goals, but I don't think that's what he's concentrating on. I think he's concentrating on playing good hockey."
With multiple forwards, including Bailey, producing game in and game out, the Lions have an added sense of confidence right now.
The team knows what to expect of Michigan, and the trip could not have come at a better point in the season for Penn State.
"We've played them [Michigan]," Gadowsky said. "We know there are certain things they're going to do that are different from UMass Lowell, but the bulk of this is certainly our preparation and how we play. Really for our program, it's always going to be like that. We really try to just get as good as we possibly can at our game."
The Lions and Wolverines will open their series 7:30 p.m. Friday at Yost Ice Arena.