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Sept. 26, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State women's hockey team held media day at Pegula Ice Arena on Thursday afternoon. GoPSUsports.com provides video from the press conferences and a transcript.
Head coach Josh Brandwene, sophomore forward Shannon Yoxheimer (Jackson, Mich.), senior goaltender Nicole Paniccia (Oakville, Ont.) and Jill Holdcroft (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.) all answered questions from the media.
Read GoPSUsports.com's Sights & Sounds from Women's Hockey Media Day.
Josh Brandwene Press Conference
Student-Athlete Press Conference
One-On-One With Nicole Paniccia
Head Coach Josh Brandwene Transcript
Q: Being a Penn State graduate, and been a part of this University at different parts of your life, how special is this for you? How special was the first skate for you?
A: Yeah, a number of things were really special for me. Great question, I appreciate it. The first skate was really neat. First and foremost, for Joe Battista to have an opportunity to step on that ice with this being a dream of his, that's my former coach, for 30 years was really neat to be a part of. Coach Gadowsky and his family, for me and my wife Leona who I met at Penn State, and we got engaged at center ice at Greenberg and my daughter, Sophie, who's 9, who is a skater as well. To be out there at that moment in late August was really neat. For me, for as many times as I've been a part of rink plans and virtual tours and construction tours and being a part of the facility even up to a day or two or couple of days before it was finished we got the certificate of occupancy and moved in, I gotta tell ya, turning down University knowing I was making a right hand turn for the first time into this parking lot, my heart was racing. Like it really hasn't been since I was a player despite the number of times I've been in the building. So it's been really special to move in to the facility as us as coaches as well.
Q: Have you noticed any difference in recruiting now that you have a finished product to show high school kids?
A: The facility coming on board has been huge for recruiting. Really right from day one. Between rink plans, virtual tours, construction tours, it's been a difference maker for us already. I think the crew we have here now speaks for that in terms of the youth, the talent, the great students we have here right now, this group that just joined us this fall. Really pleased with everything. But certainly moving forward it's a game changer on a whole other level with folks being able to come in and see the finished product for themselves. So it's been fun to watch that unfold.
Q: With the captains and the assistant captains what is that makes those kids stand out with leadership and with Lindsay Reihl, as a defenseman, what does she bring to the team that you can't quantify?
Really good question, I think overall we're really pleased with our leadership group. What I love about it is their diverse personalities. They all lead in their own way, they all lead by example, they work hard, they work hard in the classroom, they work hard on the ice. And then we have folks who are a little more quiet, a little more into the one-on-one conversation peer to peer with players. And we got others who are really powerfully emotional and very vocal and you need a little bit of both because everybody on the team has different personalities and are going to respond and connect with different people in a different way. So I feel really good about the job the leadership group has done, excited to have Jordin Pardoski as a part of that as well. For any of you who have been to any of our games you know you can't come to women's hockey game without hearing her both in terms of the example she sets with firing up the team, and how she communicates on the ice. She's a standard setter in terms of on ice communication and it makes a difference in her play and it makes a difference in everyone else's play. And you know, you referenced Lindsay as well. Just a quintessential Penn Stater. Phenomenal student, she is so experienced with the number of years she's been here and she brings a real calm and just a way about her, that I think that just calms everybody down. So she's instrumental in our success in those immeasurable ways that you talked about.
Q: Last year your team was heavy with freshmen, took a lot of lumps last year, how much did that mature your team and how much are you hoping that has an impact this season?
A: Also a great question, everything we did last year, all the challenges we faced, all the adversity that we dealt with has made this group incredibly resilient and incredibly gritty. That's to their credit as individual student athletes and collectively as a team. And this the is the next step in the process. We're still young, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us. We feel like we have something to prove this year. But again, we're still young so we got nothing to lose. It's the greater place in sports to be in when you're hungry, you got that look, you got something to prove, nothing to lose. And we really can't wait to get started.
Q: Coaching such a young team, there are a lot of different aspects, both challenges and excitements as well because you're not sure who's going to step up? Can you just talk a little about that?
A: Sure, I think one of the biggest challenges is, and I'm excited about this, is our schedule this year. Like I said earlier, we have a great league schedule and that will always be the case every year, developing rivalries with those opponents and I love everything about our non-conference schedule. We're going to get tested by great competition every single day that we step on the ice, and that's a real opportunity that stands in front of us. In terms of the things that I love, this group is just so coachable. They work hard, they listen, and they make us fun for us as a coaching staff to come to the rink every day.
Q: How nice is it to return such a significant portion of your production from last year?
A: It's huge. You can even see the elements of that in training camp right now, in terms of our learning curve and the pace in which we're able to do things. They have been great in terms as we're going over stuff, if a new player has a question, we're not answering it, they're answering it. That's exactly what I was hoping for going into a second season. You see it every day at the rink.
Q: You had six one-goal losses last year as a team what improvements have you made in the offseason to win those tight games?
A: The fact that we were there, in those games, with so many close contests last year, to me, was a very "pay it forward" thing. And we're looking to get better defensively, we're looking to get better offensively, we want to improve and get better every day and build upon the opportunity we had last year to be competitive and take it to the next level.
Q: With Nicole back in goal this year after the year she had ways she can improve might not be obvious to everyone, but as a coach, when she comes back this year what will you be looking for out of her just in ways she can improve and just be a better goalie this year...
A: She's such a fantastic person and an incredible athlete. As I've said, going back to last year, great player even better person. She works so hard at her craft in terms of her goaltending, she is never satisfied. She has a tremendous work ethic, she's always looking to make whatever little improvements she can. Certainly her results last year speak for themselves, in terms of not only what she did statistically for us, but the leadership and experience she provided as a veteran at the division 1 level on a young team. So she's just great to work with.
Q: Now that you've had a few practices under your belt, and you're able to look at the freshman first hand, what do you see from them, how are they fitting in, what do you expect from them?
A: Love the way they're fitting in and first and foremost, the credit for how well they're fitting in goes in part to them, they're hard working, they're humble, they're great players, they're all former leaders on their high school team so they understand what it means to be a young player. They understand what it means to come in and work hard. And then so much of the credit goes to our veterans. They've taken them under their wing. They've made it a welcoming environment for them, and that's something you just can't put a price tag on in terms of the team chemistry that we have and so, it really allows the whole group to flourish when everybody works together and everybody striving for common goals. And I'm so pleased to what they bring to the table. They have a fabulous hockey IQ, they're all incredibly smart players and their work ethic, just like everyone else in this program is absolutely through the roof.
Q: What kind of things are you expecting from Jill Holdcroft, a local girl?
A: Anybody who's seen Jill play knows she only has one speed, and that's GO in caps lock. So she's fabulous in terms of her energy, she blocks shots, she kills pentalties, she's a fun hockey player to watch. Certainly the added bonus of her tied to the local community I think is really something special, especially with her family's tie to Penn State Hockey and her dad. But, she just brings tremendous energy and she puts fan in the stands too because she knows so many people here in State College, we marvel at the stories. You know, we'll have players get on a CATA bus with her, and she knows 10, 15-20 people when she gets on the bus. Some of our folks are from out of town just shake their head at how many folks Jill Holdcroft knows. But first and foremost, it's about her as a player and her as a student, and she just brings tremendous energy for us at both ends of the ice, and that's something that's a great contributor to our team.