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April 23, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Defenseman Erik Autio (Espoo, Finland) and forward Scott Conway (Kissimmee, Fla.) will join the Nittany Lion men's hockey team beginning in the 2014-15 season after signing National Letters of Intent, head coach Guy Gadowsky announced Wednesday.
The pair will become the first European-born skaters to play for the Blue and White. A native of Espoo, Finland, Autio's collegiate debut will mark his first time playing for a North American-based team. Conway, who was born in England, currently plays for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League. The duo will join James Robinson, who signed his NLI in November 2013, in this year's class.
"Along with James Robinson, who is an excellent leader and a strong player in all three zones, we have improved our offense, our defense and our character," said Gadowsky. "In 2014-15 we will have increased our competition at every skating position."
A five-foot-10 blueliner, Autio will become the first Nittany Lion who exclusively trained overseas. The three-time assistant captain has played with the Espoo Blues at various junior levels since 2010-11, helping his team claim league championships in 2011 and 2014, and has been a member of the Finnish national team for his age group for several seasons.
The Espoo native, who competed for Finland at both the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and Under-18 Four Nations Tournament, helped lead his country to the bronze medal the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Under-18 Championship in Sochi, Russia. The standout recorded one assist and finished as a team-high plus-six in seven games.
"Erik is an extremely mobile and dependable defenseman who will add consistency to our defense," added Gadowsky, who will enter his third season as Nittany Lion bench boss in 2014-15. "He will greatly enhance our ability to move the puck out of our own end."
Born in England, Conway holds dual citizenship between the country and Canada. In 2012-13, the six-foot forward totaled 54 points (18g, 36a) in 57 games and was named to the North American Hockey League All-Rookie Second Team with the Texas Tornado. The forward is the son of Kevin Conway, who is a member of the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.
"Scott is a very cerebral player with a nose for the net," said Gadowsky. "He will add tremendous hockey IQ and offense to our lineup."
The Nittany Lions, who advanced to the Big Ten semifinals in 2013-14 with a thrilling double-overtime victory against Michigan, will enter their second season in the Big Ten in 2014-15. Last season, Penn State competed against seven NCAA tournament teams, including three Frozen Four squads and both national championship game participants.