Recently in Men's Hockey Category
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 12 Penn State men's hockey (9-1-1) head coach Guy Gadowsky said last Monday that possible changes to the lineup against Alaska Anchorage (1-9-0) could be coming. Gadowsky followed through and switched up both the offense and defense.
Freshman forward Nate Sucese, who has had success so far this season playing on a line with sophomores Andrew Sturtz and Chase Berger, was playing with some new faces this weekend. Sucese skated alongside the two tallest members of the team, freshman Nikita Pavlychev and senior Zach Saar Saturday night.
"I liked it a lot," Sucese said of playing with different line mates. "[Saar] creates space out there, being so big, and same with [Pavlychev]. They're just such hard nose players so they're easy to play with."
Sucese had two goals and an assist in Saturday night's career-high effort.
Also on offense, Gadowsky was happy with the performance of the line consisting of Berger, freshman Brandon Biro, and senior David Goodwin.
"I don't think Berger ended up on the score sheet but he had a lot of shots and a lot of quality, grade-A opportunities," Gadowsky said. "I actually thought that line played very well."
Several other Nittany Lions got into the lineup on offense this weekend including sophomore forward Matt Mendelson.
On defense, the pairing of sophomore Vince Pedrie and junior Erik Autio remained unchanged, but fans did see a new defensive set with sophomore Derian Hamilton playing alongside freshman James Gobetz.
The Nittany Lions played all weekend without star forward, sophomore Andrew Sturtz, who was out due to a lower body injury. Gadowsky was pleased with the team's performance without Sturtz, saying that it's a testament to their talent and work ethic that they can still be a powerful team without one of their most consistent forwards.
The Nittany Lions are now on a nine-game unbeaten streak after sweeping Alaska Anchorage this weekend at Pegula Ice Arena.
Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey offense has been on fire recently, thanks in part to two freshmen on the two top lines.
Freshman forward Denis Smirnov, who thus far has played on a line with senior forwards Dylan Richard and David Goodwin, has contributed five goals and 10 assists in nine games. The trio has combined for 10 goals and 22 assists.
Freshman forward Nate Sucese has skated with sophomore forwards Chase Berger and Andrew Sturtz. This line has also contributed on the scoresheet, with Sucese producing four goals and two assists through nine games. Sturtz and Berger combined have 11 goals and six assists.
"I think we're all kind of alike and we have a lot of skill," Sucese said of his line mates. "Chase and I love to pass, we have a passing mentality and Sturtz, being a goal scorer, it's worked out well for us so far."
Similarities in style of play are essential for line mates to mesh and be efficient on the ice, but it also comes down to building chemistry.
"We're getting better every game," Smirnov said. "Playing with those two guys, with their experience and how many games they've played, they've helped me a lot."
Playing with more experienced line mates, both Sucese and Smirnov have learned a lot about how to play the type of hockey needed for both team and individual success at the collegiate level.
Sucese explained that Berger and Sturtz have taught him to take the season one game at a time, and to focus on one opponent at a time.
"They've taught me to come in to the rink with an optimistic mind," Sucese said. "It's really helped me as the year's gone on."
Smirnov said that aside from game preparedness, Richard and Goodwin have emphasized being mentally sharp for every practice, and to take advantage of every opportunity to get better individually.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky has noticed the two lines and the success they've had so far this season, but isn't afraid to possibly mix things up in the coming weeks.
"We might tinker with the lines a little bit to try some things out in the next couple weeks so that we have an idea if we're forced to change down the road," Gadowsky said. "There's a few lines that are playing well but we might change things up just to see how other lines work."
Both Sucese and Smirnov aren't worried about the possibility of playing with new line mates, they both emphasized that if they continue to put in the necessary work that they'll hopefully blend well with whatever line mates they're paired with.
"I just think I've got to play my own game," Sucese said. "Whatever line I'm on if I bring what I can do to the line I think we'll be successful."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four different Nittany Lions scored during No. 14 Penn State's (7-1-1) Thursday night win over visiting Niagara (0-7-2), but the highlight of the evening came from sophomore Chris Funkey's performance in net.
Earning his first start between the pipes, Funkey started the night on a strong note. In the first period he made eight saves and in the second period stopped seven shots.
Heading into the third period, the Nittany Lions had a 4-1 lead, thanks in part to two goals from freshman forward Denis Smirnov. The Nittany Lions were confident heading into the final period because of their strong performance both defensively and offensively throughout the night.
Funkey made nine more critical saves during the third period to carry the Lions past the Purple Eagles, making 24 saves total during Thursday's contest. Penn State defeated Niagara, 5-1.
"Awesome," Funkey said of the win. "It was great, I was thrilled with the start. I was really happy that the boys played unbelievable in front of me tonight."
Funkey, whose parents were in town for the game, said his first start is something he definitely won't forget.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky was quick to praise Funkey's performance between the pipes.
"I bet there's hundreds of hockey players that are just thrilled for him right now because of the way he is, just the type of person he is," Gadowsky said. "Everybody was just so happy for him. It was really well earned."
On offense, Smirnov and sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz seemed to make goal after goal both nights. For the weekend, Smirnov had two goals and four assists.
Sturtz, known for his efforts in front of opponent's nets that are methodic with a touch of flare, had three goals during the series.
"I thought he had a great weekend," Gadowsky said of Sturtz. "He was flying all weekend."
Sturtz had 18 goals last season, which led the Nittany Lions. Smirnov had 29 goals in 60 games with the 2015-16 Fargo Force of the USHL.
The Nittany Lions defeated the Purple Eagles 5-1 on Friday.
"I think we're improving, I think we're learning," Gadowsky said. "I think a lot of our new faces have gained a lot of experience in a short time and we've had some very good results. It's just a matter now of continuing to improve."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a young athlete playing junior hockey with the Oakville Blades in Ontario, Canada, it's hard to imagine freshman forward Sean Kohler had time to do anything but train. However, years of prioritizing community involvement outside of hockey led to attention from the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and at the end of the 2014-15 season Kohler was named the OJHL Humanitarian of the Year.
Kohler has been involved in numerous community service activities, both by his own initiative and through the Oakville Blades organization. Kohler, along with his family, traveled to sub-Saharan Africa with the Me to We/Free the Children program. There they constructed schools for local communities. At the end of the 2014-15 season, Kohler once again took flight with the same program, only this time traveling to northern India.
"[The Oakville Blades organization] believed I had a shot at winning the award, so they nominated me for it," Kohler said. "I wrote a piece on my adventures, on what I had learned. and I was fortunate enough to win, which is a huge honor not only for myself but for my family as well."
Kohler's family has long emphasized giving back, which has influenced Kohler to be involved in the communities in which he lives.
"When we can help children in impoverished communities gain an education that they otherwise wouldn't get, it's a very rewarding feeling and it can have a large impact on so many lives," Kohler said.
At Penn State, community service and involvement is emphasized among all student-athletes. Penn State has a rich history of student-athletes contributing to community service projects and other causes. The men's hockey team specifically reads to children at local schools, are avid THON participants, and even this Sunday will be supporting the Fit-For-Fritz Walk-A-Thon.
"I'm extremely proud of Penn State Athletics' involvement in community service," Kohler said. "THON is obviously an extremely powerful event that I couldn't be more excited to be a part of."
Kohler has had his own discussions with the veterans on the team about how to be more involved in THON from a men's hockey perspective. He is also excited for the next four years and beyond to become good friends with the Nittany Lions' THON child, Colton Buckley.
"As a freshman this year I'll probably be in more of an observing role," Kohler said. "I know that in the following years I'll be wanting to take charge and run some of that."
Even the smallest of events, such as the men's hockey team handing out candy this past Sunday for trick-or-treaters at the Penn State All-Sports Museum, highlight Kohler's day. Seeing smiling children who are excited to see their Nittany Lions is very powerful to Kohler.
Kohler, who has played in one contest so far this season, at Notre Dame, is eager to continue to contribute to the team both on and off the ice. It's more than just his on-ice performance that is important to Kohler, he wants to do whatever possible to win on the ice as well as become an involved member of the community."I felt great out there and felt I was able to keep up with the speed of the game very well," Kohler said. "It was a confidence booster for sure. I've been working to show what I've got and I'm eager to get in to more games."
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