Following a first-round playoff exit in the British Columbia Hockey League, 2014 Cochrane (AB) forward James Robinson decided the time was right to commit to Penn State’s fledgling hockey program.
Robinson scored nine goals and dished 33 assists in 2012-13.
Despite not having seen the campus at the time of his commitment, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder felt a strong connection with the Nittany Lions.
“I still haven’t gone on my fly down to Penn State, but I felt I’d done enough research on it myself,” said Robinson. “Talking with Coach Gadowsky and Coach Fisher, I liked both of their philosophies with the way they coach the game.
“When I met with both of them in person, they really stressed the academics of the school and how good it was. A combination of that and Coach Gadowsky’s track record making weaker teams into stronger teams helped out. His resume really did it for me.”
Once Penn State came on his radar as a serious contender for his services, Robinson started paying closer attention to the team’s first season as an NCAA Division I program.
“One game that stood out in my mind is their last game of the year against Wisconsin when they won in overtime,” recalled Robinson. “Watching that game, Penn State was a tough team - a good, honest team. That win really stood out.”
The 2012-13 season was Robinson’s first full season playing juniors in Canada, and he had a successful campaign with the Langley Rivermen. As a rookie, the forward had nine goals and 33 assists in 55 games, good for third on the team and fifth in the league in points amongst first-year players.
“Obviously the first 20 games or so it was a learning curve for me, trying to get my feet wet and accustomed to the speed of the league,” admitted Robinson. “I was going up against bigger and stronger opponents, too. For the last 35 games I really picked it up and was a point-per-game player through that stretch.”
Classifying himself as an all-around forward, Robinson was on the ice in all situations for Langley, spending time on both the penalty kill and the power play.
Robinson was captain of the Edge School as a 12th grader.
“In our defensive zone I like to take care of my own end first, blocking shots and finishing my checks,” said Robinson. “In the offensive zone I definitely consider myself a playmaker. If I can find guys open in the slot that’s what I like to do. I consider myself a leader in the dressing room. I was awarded assistant captain and wore the ‘A’ on my jersey in my rookie year, so that was pretty important to me.”
Robinson was teammates with fellow 2014 commit Bo Pellah for the first 14 games of the season before Pellah was traded to Alberni Valley, and had some glowing remarks about his future teammate.
“He’s a great guy, and an unbelievable defenseman,” remarked Robinson. “His vision and the way he sees the ice are unbelieveable. He’s got great hands and is a great skater. He’s definitely an offensive-defenseman, but in the d-zone he does what he has to do to keep it out of our net.”
Now back at home in Alberta, Robinson is focused on adding some muscle to his frame while working out at his high school and continuing to improve on the ice.
“I’m working out at the Edge School. They’ve got a really good training facility,” said Robinson. “I think if I can get if I can get bigger and stronger put on a few more pounds I think that’ll go a long way in my game. With more strength the speed and quickness of your shot increases, hopefully my speed increases too.
“I’m also coaching a group of little guys in their spring league, and also just helping out on my buddy’s farm here and there.”
With one season of juniors left before he heads to State College, the 18-year-old Robinson is excited of what his future holds.
“It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Robinson. “It was always in the back of my mind not being committed, not having that scholarship. Now I’m pretty comfortable. It’s a nice feeling to have.
“I’m really excited about the Big Ten. There are well-known schools throughout. Having the Big Ten Network covering the games is also a great bonus. I’m excited.”