Hockey Program Proves Success
In one form or another, here’s the question that awaits the Penn State men’s ice hockey team this season:
Head coach Guy Gadowsky and the Nittany Lions have already proven that the program’s success is sustainable, along with the fan support from the university, student body and at-large community.
As evidence, season tickets are again sold out, though you can join the waiting list. Ticket information is available on the team’s website.
Previewing the upcoming season, Gadowsky and the team captains (from left: James Robinson, David Goodwin, Ricky DeRosa) spoke on media day Sept. 29, along with a few other players. This season, the Nittany Lions look to maintain the level of sustained success that’s been a hallmark of the program since it elevated to Division I play a few years ago.
Penn State begins the regular season by hosting St. Lawrence on Oct. 6–7, and then begins Big Ten play with home games against Michigan on Dec. 1–2. Notable non-conference games include road contests at Notre Dame (Oct. 21–22) and home games against Gadowsky’s former team Alaska Anchorage (Nov. 11–12), and Arizona State (Nov. 18–19).
Below is a round-up of quotes from Gadowsky and the players from media day.
GUY GADOWSKY, HEAD COACH
Impressions of captains’ practices: “Players have said they’ve gone well, and we’re allowed to have a few hours on the ice a week, so that’s helpful, as well. We certainly don’t have any complaints. I don’t think you really know until you get into a game, so we’re really looking forward to Sunday (exhibition opener), but every comment you hear from the players and returning guys is that it’s going very well.”
Evaluating goalies this year (with losing last year’s two goaltenders): “It’s a much different situation. But as far as how this program has always done it, we haven’t had anything in mind, in terms of style — that we want this style of goaltender. With the goaltending position, we really make it clear that we evaluate on numbers: on wins and losses, your goals against, your save percentage, and then your work ethic, commitment and how you are as a teammate, and how well you represent Penn State University. That’s how we judge it.”
Excitement level surrounding sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz, who led the team last year with 18 goals as a freshman: “We’re excited just to see him. Andrew Strutz, just seeing him, makes you excited. Honestly. He doesn’t have to score goals to make you excited to see him, he’s that kind of guy. You just love having him in the locker room, the team just can’t wait for him to get back on campus; he’s just such a great person to be around. So he doesn’t have to score to be a huge part of this team, but that being said, a guy who had 18 goals last year as a freshman, that’s an incredible season. He also got a taste of what Cam Davidson (strength and conditioning coach) can do in the weight room, and I think he’s in the best shape of his life. It’s going to be really exciting to see what he does.”
DAVID GOODWIN, SENIOR FORWARD and TEAM CAPTAIN
Impression of James Robinson battling back from last year’s injury, and his mentality while he was out last season: “Jimmy did a great job last year. He was always very positive in the locker room, he was always supportive through the ups and downs of the season, and I think that’s a big reason why we voted him as an assistant captain.”
On being named captain: “It’s a privilege, and it’s an honor. I’m very excited. I’m humbled. It’s a little bit more pressure, but I think I speak for all three of us (Robinson, DeRosa), that we couldn’t be more proud to represent this great program.”
Learning from previous team captains (Tommy Olczyk, David Glen, Patrick Koudys): “Each of us is a little bit different, but I’ve learned a lot from each of them. They all carried themselves in such a professional way. They were always the guys that the team would look to, and they always led by example. I’m going to try and take a little mixture from all three of them and put my own twist on it, and hopefully, the guys will follow.”
ANDREW STURTZ, SOPHOMORE FORWARD
Whether it feels like they’re starting over this year, with all the seniors who graduated: “Not at all, and that’s kudos to our coaching staff. They do such a good job of bringing in character guys. I know we lost a lot of guys like Tommy Olczyk and David Glen, they’re such good guys. But the 10 kids we brought in, they’re unbelievable guys. They fit right into the culture, as guys on the ice and off the ice. It’s a really good thing we’ve got going here.”
On his personality and always feeling positive: “I’m a pretty happy person, and have a pretty happy personality. Very rarely, will you see me come into a room and be upset about anything. I think life is too short. I’m only here for four years, and I’m trying to make the most of it. If you asked me seven years ago if I would ever be at a Division I college playing hockey, I would’ve said ‘no.’ If you would’ve asked me if I would be at a school like Penn State, I probably would’ve said ‘no.’ So I’m going to take advantage of my four years here, and I’m going to make sure every time I walk into a room that I’m in a great mood.”
PEYTON JONES, FRESHMAN GOALTENDER
On his playing style: “I’m a bigger goalie, I’m 6-foot-4, and I grew about 6-8 inches my senior year of high school. I was always a little goalie, so I had to be fast. One advantage I have is that I’m a quicker guy because I had to be before, and then I hit a growth spurt. I’m a big, quick goalie who loves to compete and play the game.”
On something that’s stood out early: “Last year (playing in the USHL), I took one class online each semester, and now I’m taking five classes, in-class. I’d just say the workload and time management is huge, because when I was there, I went to the rink, worked out, practiced and then went home and did whatever I wanted. Now, I wake up, go to class, go to study hall hours, workout, practice, watch video, rehab, all that stuff; so managing time is probably the biggest thing for me.”
Photo courtesy of live.psu.edu