While the allure of Penn State finally having a Division I ice hockey team is attracting bigger name recruits than in previous years, the season of club hockey that must be played in 2011-12 was always going to hinder the type of talent that could be brought in right away.
This couldn’t have been clearer in the case of Zach Hyman, the 2011 Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year, and Princeton commit until he learned of Guy Gadowsky’s plans to take the Penn State job. Hyman, a fifth-round pick of the NHL’s Florida Panthers in 2010, chose to reopen his recruitment after Gadowsky left, leaving the 18-year-old to pick from any of the top schools in the country.
Penn State was an option Hyman explored, citing his connection with Gadowsky, but in the end a higher power intervened.
“Florida has a lot of say in where I end up, so even though I really like coach Gadowsky, that year of club hockey coming up this season, Florida doesn’t want me to take that year and not play at the highest level,” said Hyman, who scored 42 goals in 43 games this past season for the Hamilton Red Wings. “They want me to get into a college and play Division I hockey, so as much as I respect coach Gadowsky and would have loved to play for him, it isn’t going to work out with Penn State.”
That’s some pretty high praise from a kid who is possibly looking at a future NHL career, and speaks volumes to the caliber of recruits Gadowsky can reach. It is this continuing flow of positive reaction to Penn State’s newest head coach that inevitably points to success down the road.
Unfortunately for Penn State fans, the 6-foot-2 forward has already made his decision and chose to play his college hockey at Big Ten rival Michigan, ensuring he will play against the coach who originally recruited him down the road.
Putting it all together
There are nine players committed to play hockey at Penn State come the fall, including two players Gadowsky snagged after being hired, in defenseman Brandon Russo and goaltender P.J. Musico. We’re going to give you the rundown of each recruit, who they are, where they are from, and what they did in their last season before coming to Penn State. There is a trend towards players who score a lot of goals, and given Gadowsky’s super offensive philosophy, he is looking to mold these players to keep lighting the lamp at the next level.
Chris Lewis - Covington, N.Y. - Previous club: Boston Bulldogs (Atlantic Junior Hockey League)
- Lewis was second in the AJHL last season with 92 points, finishing eight points behind his teammate for the league lead. He netted 34 goals and dished 58 assists.
Matt Veniot - Virginia Beach, Va. - Previous Club: Walpole Express (Atlantic Junior Hockey League)
- Venoit finished 11th in the same AJHL with 50 points but lead his team, scoring 19 goals to go along with 31 assists.
Josh Daley - Pittsburgh, Pa. - Previous Club: Waywayseecappo Wolverines (Manitoba Junior Hockey League)
- Coming off back-to-back 50 point seasons in Canada, the Pittsburgh native scored 31 goals this past season, finishing sixth in the MJHL.
Jake Friedman - West Bloomfield, Mi. - Previous club: South Shore Kings (Eastern Junior Hockey League)
- Friedman finished 6th in the EJHL scoring race, recording 26 goals and 35 assists.
Dan Meiselman - Winnetka, Il. - Previous club: Capital District Selects (Eastern Junior Hockey League)
- The 6-foot-2, 205 pound Meiselman was traded six games into last season, but still managed 38 total points between the two teams, scoring 24 goals with 14 assists.
Forrest Dell Evergreen, Co. - Previous club: New York Apple Core (Eastern Junior Hockey League)
- After spending a couple of season in Canada, Dell moved east and was second in his team in scoring with 39 points, potting 17 goals in addition to 22 assists in 36 games.
Brandon Russo - Fairfield, Conn. - Previous club: Indiana Ice (United States Hockey League)
- Russo spend his time split between two Tier-1 junior clubs in the USHL for 2010-11, but managed to score 24 points from his point position, good for 15th in the league amongst defenseman.
Pete Sweetland - Newtown, Pa. - Previous club: Green Mountain Glades (Eastern Junior Hockey League)
- The Pa. native scored three goals and helped on 21 others, giving him 24 points on the season and tying him for 14th in the EJHL among fellow defenseman.
P.J. Musico - Orange, Calif. - Previous club: Flin Flon Bombers (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League)
- The California bred goalie made his way up to Saskatchewan for 2010-11, and was a workhorse leading the SJHL in minutes played, saves, and shutouts, amassing a 23-24-0 record, a 3.27 goals against average, and a .913 save percentage.
Tim Carr - Pine Bush, N.Y. - Previous club: New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (Eastern Junior Hockey League)
- Carr spent the season splitting time with Boston College commit Brian Billet, but still managed a 15-2-1 record, with a 2.40 goals against average, and a .917 save percentage, on his New Hampshire team that won the EJHL championship.