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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On Sunday afternoon at Letterman's Sports Bar and Gastro Pub, more than 150 fans packed into the largest room of the restaurant to watch the Penn State men's hockey team learn their fate as part of the NCAA Tournament selection show watch party. The room was filled with community members, the Roar Zone and many more who came out to support the Nittany Lions.
"It's really cool, it was a great turnout," said sophomore defenseman Vince Pedrie. "I can't believe this many people came and it shows the pride we have here in Hockey Valley and what a great fan base to play in front of."
The Nittany Lions, just hours before on Saturday night, secured their first Big Ten Championship, thanks to a 2-1 double overtime win against Wisconsin. Many players were still in awe of what they had accomplished the night before.
"It hasn't [sunk in yet]," Pedrie said. "I was talking to my parents after the game and I couldn't even put it into words, I just kept saying it was incredible. Back-to-back double overtime games, you couldn't have scripted it any better, it really hasn't sunk in yet."
Penn State learned during the selection show it would be heading to Cincinnati for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, facing Union (N.Y.) Saturday in its first appearance in the event in program history. For head coach Guy Gadowsky, Penn State's hard work is paying off with the selection to the tournament.
"It means that we're going in the right direction," Gadowsky said. "It means that this is a great university, that we have a great athletic department and so much support. I tell you what, if I could go back and be a college hockey player this is exactly where I would go."
Gadowsky also gave a shout out to Nittany Lions strength and conditioning coach, Cam Davidson, for preparing his team so well for the grueling games they've had to play over the last few days, and knows his team will be ready come Saturday.
"I'm actually in awe of how they were able to skate at all in the first period let alone in the fifth period," Gadowsky said. "Just a tremendous job."
Gadowsky and company are preparing for yet another challenging game ahead of them against a team they haven't faced before, but Gadowsky is confident in his team's ability to come together and fight for a win.
"You've got to have great goaltending, you have to have great chemistry, you have to have a tremendous work ethic, you have to have great support and a little bit of luck," Gadowsky said. "We'll see if it goes our way."