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Penn State Weekly Check In

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey is set to return home from a five-game road stretch, hosting Minnesota in a weekend series Friday and Saturday evening at Pegula Ice Arena. This week, catch up with Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky, as well as Nittany Lions Peyton Jones and Denis Smirnov as they look back at the weekend on the road and preview what's next in Penn State hockey. 

Guy Gadowsky

Jones, Smirnov


Reading Program Builds Community Connection

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Prior to the 2015-16 Penn State men's hockey season, senior forward Ricky DeRosa was inspired to somehow bridge the gap between his team and the local Centre County community.   

In the early beginnings, DeRosa talked about setting up a community service project for the team with Penn State marketing manager Dana Crouse. Inspired by his time volunteering with his Junior hockey teams, DeRosa knew a community outreach program was the way to go.

DeRosa came up with the idea of a reading incentive program for local elementary school students. Spring semester last year, the program was underway after the Nittany Lions paired up with Miss. McCracken's second grade class at Easterly Parkway Elementary.

The point of the reading rewards program is to incentivize students to read at least 20 minutes per night. Students are provided reading logs and encouraged to read as much as possible, then during math time at the end of each month they bring in their reading logs and add up their reading time. 

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"We promote that reading is a cool thing to do," DeRosa said. "Even as student-athletes, there's nothing nerdy about reading."

DeRosa and his teammates usually come to the class on a biweekly basis to read to the students. At the end of the month when the students hit their mark, the Nittany Lions come in to do more than just spend time in the library. 

"When the students hit their goal, which they always do, we as a team go in at the end of the month and that's their incentive," DeRosa said. "We either play floor hockey, have a pizza party, or do play games."

DeRosa said their program is designed to lead up to Read Across America, a day of celebration in the name of reading, which falls annually on the birthday of popular children's author Dr. Seuss, March 2.

To date, DeRosa's idea has grown far beyond the reaches of Penn State hockey, and now more than 13 Penn State Athletic programs have been paired with local elementary classes to promote the reading rewards program. The program encompasses kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms, and is entirely volunteer-based, so any student-athlete can get involved.

DeRosa, who will be graduating in May, has also had to find the next torchbearer for the program.  He found a willing partner in sophomore forward Chase Berger.

"Ricky did most of the leg work," Berger said. "We really want this program to continue once we both leave so I think my goal is to see how Ricky does it, form a good relationship with the teacher and then hopefully I can continue it next year and find someone after me to keep it going." 

In the short amount of time the program has been up and running, Berger has made lots of memories, having been able to see the impact reading rewards has made on students.

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"Those kids love it, they really do," Berger said. "It's so easy to give back to them in that way."

DeRosa and Berger both agreed that one of their favorite memories so far was when sophomore goalie Chris Funkey came along to a classroom. 

"The end of last year Funkey was playing goalie for a floor hockey game," DeRosa said. "Just seeing him having so much fun and all the kids laughing was hilarious. At one point he played chase with them and about 15 or so kids dragged him down, it was great."

Now a year into the program, DeRosa and Berger have been able to reflect on the progress they have made on the students they visit regularly.

"Our team always has fun going into the classrooms," DeRosa said. "It doesn't seem like community service. It's just us going out and having some fun in the community with kids who really look up to you, it's nice when the initial platform we have as student-athletes can be used to benefit the community." 

Penn State Weekly Check In

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a weekend road trip to Minnesota, Penn State men's hockey remains on the road this weekend, traveling to Madison, Wisconsin to close out its five-game road swing. This week, check in with Nittany Lion head coach Guy Gadowsky and goalkeeper Chris Funkey as the two recap the weekend and look ahead to the pair of upcoming outings. 

Puck drop against the Badgers is set for 8 p.m. ET both Friday and Saturday night at the Kohl Center. 

Guy Gadowsky 

Chris Funkey

Weekly Check In: Lions Eager for Minnesota Series

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team is focused on returning to Big Ten play, as the Nittany Lions head to Minnesota this weekend. 

Penn State is coming off a 5-4 loss to Princeton last Saturday in the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff and looking for redemption. Despite the final score, head coach Guy Gadowsky was pleased with the team's overall showing.  

"Offensively the guys played really well, 47 shots, 22 chances," Gadowsky said.

For Gadowsky though, he noted that he focused his Nittany Lions a little too much on the offensive side of things. Although taking his eye off of Penn State's defensive performance, he praised players like freshman defenseman Kris Myllari for standing out as a top performer of the weekend.

"I'll tell you what, Kris Myllari was the best player on the ice Saturday night for sure," Gadowsky said. "He was tremendous."

Myllari blocked eight shots on Saturday and currently has a three-game point streak.

As for Minnesota, the Nittany Lions faced the Gophers four times last season, amassing a 2-2 record, including a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory in Hockey Valley last January. Gadowsky is looking forward to the challenging weekend the Nittany Lions have ahead of them, hoping to use this weekend to get back to the team's early season success. 

"Every team goes through ups and downs, every team does," Gadowsky said. "There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about what's going on right now, even with the results."

Penn State will travel to Minnesota for back-to-back outings against the Golden Gophers beginning Friday, Feb. 3 before wrapping up Saturday, Feb. 4. 

SAAB Hosts Lip Sync Battle to Benefit THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Filling the HUB-Robeson Center Freeman Auditorium with Penn State students and Nittany Lion student-athletes, the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) hosted its second annual lip sync battle Wednesday evening.

In a full for the kids effort, the annual event benefits THON, Penn State's Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon to support pediatric cancer.

Featuring musical lip syncing acts from 11 different Penn State Athletics programs, months worth of planning and preparation finally came together in an energetic evening for a tremendous cause.

"I think it just bring out more of the sense of community that we really already have in athletics," track and field sophomore and lead event coordinator Tess Kearns said. "We're so strong all together but to be able to something for THON and see the impact that it's making every year - if we could just raise that number even a little bit on final reveal, that would be all the difference."

From lip sync covers ranging from Justin Beiber mixes to Beyoncé, Sia and School of Rock, the event, which was open to all to attend, brought laughs throughout the night with guest judges featuring director of student-athlete welfare and development Liz Johnson, director of Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, John Affleck and Penn State Blue Band drum major Jimmy Frisbie. 

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Penn State women's volleyball highlighted early with their Justin Beiber mix, followed up with women's soccer's rendition of Sia's "Chandelier" midway through the program. 

"SAAB THON is my favorite thing in the world," said SAAB THON chair Angela Widlacki, a member of the Nittany Lion women's soccer team. "Being able to come out here and see this huge crowd, it means so much to us and I know it meant a lot to our family the Messina's." 

Men's hockey and defending SAAB lip sync battle champion wrestling closed out the evening lip syncing to a pair of movie tunes featuring "Zach's song" from School of Rock and "Breaking Free" from High School Musical. 


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With the final scores tallied, the panel of judges voted Penn State women's soccer duo of Widlacki and Liisi Vink-Lainas in the top spot this year to earn the golden microphone. Men's hockey finished second, while wrestling claimed the third-place finish.

By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky is stressing a back to basics mentality as it preps for a trip to Philadelphia for the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff against Princeton. 

"This is all about us getting back to being who we are," Gadowsky said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing, that's how I feel."

Gadowsky, who was the head coach at Princeton from 2004-2011, is determined to get the Nittany Lions back on track after a tough showdown with Ohio State at home this past weekend. The Nittany Lions tied the Buckeyes on Friday night, but lost the shootout, before falling 6-3 on Saturday night. 

The Nittany Lions have compiled an impressive 16-3-2 record this season though, something Gadowsky said shouldn't be overlooked. 

"This doesn't, to me, negate what this team has done this year at all," Gadowsky said of the Ohio State series. 

Gadowsky is hopeful that his team has rested up this week and is prepared for a single game against Princeton, in Penn State's fifth consecutive appearance at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. Despite some minor improvements, Gadowsky emphasized this weekend will be all about getting back to the simple roots of Penn State Hockey.

"It's easy to think of the last game you played, but if you look at it as a whole this is a very special season they have going," Gadowsky said. "They've got to look at it that way." 

Catch up with Penn State's David Goodwin as he looks toward this weekend's Princeton matchup.  

Nittany Lions Look to Bounce Back

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9642371.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 1 Penn State men's hockey (16-3-2, 5-2-1-0 Big Ten) put fourth an unrelenting effort on Friday night, hosting No. 11 Ohio State (12-4-6, 3-2-1-1 Big Ten) in an electric white out atmosphere at Pegula Ice Arena.

The Nittany Lions came out of regulation with a tie, and overtime wasn't enough to break the deadlock. Though the Nittany Lions lost in the seventh round of the shootout 2-1, they earned a point in the Big Ten standings.

In Saturday night's rematch against the Buckeyes, Penn State jumped out of the starting blocks quickly, scoring the first goal of the night. Senior defenseman David Thompson found the back of the net for the Nittany Lions less than three minutes into the first period. Sophomore forward Chase Berger and senior forward David Goodwin provided the assists.  

The Buckeyes scored two unanswered goals to end the first period with a 2-1 lead. With the long change of the second period, those in attendance for Penn State's sellout crowd were treated to a back-and-fourth battle for puck possession. After giving up a third goal to the Buckeyes, freshman defenseman Kris Myllari netted Penn State's second goal of the night. Sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz scored his 15th goal of the season, which was the final tally of the period. The Nittany Lions went into the intermission tied at three goals each.

"We're not looking for a hero in our locker room," Sturtz said. "We're looking for 28 guys to pull together and I think that's what's going to take us very far."

While Ohio State capitalized three times in the third period, head coach Guy Gadowsky pointed out some positives from the weekend, especially the performance of Myllari. 

"I thought it was fitting that he scored a goal because I thought he was tremendous all week and I thought yesterday he was, especially defensively, fantastic," Gadowsky said. "He blocked big-time shots, and he made really good reads in the defensive zone." 

Gadowsky said it's encouraging when players like Myllari, who put fourth so much time and effort, are rewarded during games. Another player working on finding success on the score sheet is freshman forward Brett Murray.

Gadowsky said he felt Murray raised his level of competition against Ohio State, when compared to his debut in last weekend's series against Michigan State.

"I think he's slowly getting it," Gadowsky said. "Again, it's tough to come in midseason. I think a lot of our freshmen have improved a lot and he hasn't had the same opportunity for a number of games." 

As for the Nittany Lions, they'll use this weekend's results of a draw and a loss as learning tools for the remainder of the regular season and in to the Big Ten playoff campaign.   

"This has been not a great weekend for us, that's going to happen, there's probably going to be others," Gadowsky said. "We're still having a great season and we're moving forward and I think individuals have to face that as well."

Men's Hockey Live Blog vs. Ohio St. (1/21/2017)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Top-ranked men's hockey returns to action, set to meet Ohio State in the final outing of the weekend. The Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes will close out the two-game series Saturday, Jan. 21 with a 7 p.m. matchup at Pegula Ice Arena. Follow along for in-game updates and exclusive content.
Live Blog Men's Hockey Live Blog vs. Ohio St. (1/21/2017)
 

Men's Hockey Live Blog vs. Ohio St. (1/20/2017)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Top-ranked men's hockey is back in action, set to meet Ohio State on the ice for the second time in a two week stretch. The Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes will open the two-game series Friday, Jan. 20 with a 7 p.m. matchup at Pegula Ice Arena.

Follow along for in-game updates and exclusive content as the Nittany Lions look for fourth consecutive win. 


Live Blog Men's Hockey Live Blog vs. Ohio St. (1/20/2017)
 

Murray Transitioning to College Hockey

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Until the summer of 2016, Penn State hockey freshman forward Brett Murray was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, having grown up in the Toronto suburb of Bolton, Ontario. However, his allegiances realigned when the Buffalo Sabres drafted him in the fourth round, with the 99th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"Growing up I was a big Leafs fan," Murray said. "My dad, my whole family pretty much were Leafs fans, but that changed after the draft."

Murray joined the Nittany Lions during winter break, making this the first time a Nittany Lion has joined the program midseason. Murray started out the 2016-17 season with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, where he played in 27 games and scored seven goals.

"With team success comes individual success," Murray said. "So trying to better the team and playing for the team would help myself as a player, which is what I was trying to do at Youngstown so I could grow and work up to Penn State."

Murray said that despite knowing he would be leaving the Phantoms' program midseason, he wanted to stay in the moment with Youngstown and contribute in any way possible, all while developing as in individual player.

"I was very surprised when I came to Penn State, all the guys were very welcoming," Murray said. "Right away I was part of the team. The first practice was a little different, just being with a new team and coaching staff but it didn't take very long to feel comfortable." 

Murray said he is already receiving feedback from head coach Guy Gadowsky on what areas of improvement he should focus on and how to use his 6-foot-5-inch frame on the ice, but for now, it has been all about adjusting to how Penn State hockey works.

Murray traveled with the team to Ohio State earlier this month, but made his on-ice debut for the Blue and White last Friday, when the then-fourth-ranked Nittany Lions hosted Michigan State. He earned the assist on freshman forward Liam Folkes' goal during the second period of Penn State's 5-2 win over the Spartans.

Although Murray didn't play in the second game of the Michigan State series, he is eager to continue to contribute in the coming weekends. He emphasized that there's still plenty of room for him to grow as a player and a team contributor. 

Having experienced a few games with the Lions, either watching or playing, the 18-year-old has observed a few things about his new team.

"I think Penn State prides itself on being one of the best back-checking teams in the country," Murray said. "When we do it's a quick transition, so once you are back on defense being able to two-way transition quickly, get on the offensive side of the puck and create chances. At the same time always having support in the back so we don't give up odd-man rushes."

Murray concluded noting his eagerness to get back out in a Penn State sweater and see more ice time, possibly this weekend when Penn State hosts Ohio State. Earlier this month, the Nittany Lions earned a split during their road series with the Buckeyes.

"I'm just trying to get better day in and day out, and contribute where needed," Murray said. "When it's my time, I want to be ready." 

@GOPSUSPORTS

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