The Penn State ice hockey team continues to gain momentum with recruits, as evidenced by the program’s first 2013 recruit, defenseman Connor Varley.
Varley spent the 2010-11 season in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, a year he felt was necessary to his long term development as a hockey player.
“I had a great year, I thought it was my best year of hockey, I got a lot better offensively and defensively as well, I was really happy with it,” said the 5-foot-11 defenseman. “It was a big jump from prep school to juniors, the BCHL is one of the top leagues in Canada, there was a bit of an adjustment period it was a lot more physically and faster.”
Varley went on to score nine goals and add 20 assists in 60 games to rank second on the team in points for defenseman, with 29. The Lansdale, Pa. native spent a year at The Northwood School, a prep school in Lake Placid, N.Y., before heading to juniors last season.
“It was a good hockey decision, I liked the prep school lifestyle, the schedule was a lot easier with set practice times and a set study time at night, it kind of mirrored college. It was a good choice academically and athletically.”
After his successful season with Alberni Valley, the Des Moines Buccaneers selected Varley in the 5th round of the United State Hockey League draft in May.
“I went out to Iowa for a tryout a few weeks ago, they want me to step in immediately and be a top-four guy,” said the 195-pound righty. “They only have one returning defenseman, while I haven’t played in the USHL I can still add some experience, and the coaches want me to step in immediately and start being a leader.”
Varley admittedly thinks there will be a bit of an adjustment period going between leagues, the 19-year-old feels he can step up to the task – all while improving his game for the college level.
After speaking with the Penn State coaching staff while they were at Princeton, contact continued after the change between schools. Varley was speaking with coach Fisher before coming up to visit the campus, a trip that turned out to be a dealmaker.
“I went up and spoke with all of the coaches. I loved the campus, loved what I heard from coach Gadowsky and just felt very comfortable there.
“They showed me the layout of the rink, it is just unbelievable, and playing in the Big Ten as well, I think it will be the best league in the country. Great coaching at a great school in a great facility against top-notch competition, I really liked everything they had to offer.”
Though Varley will not be coming to campus for two seasons, he will be a part of the first Penn State hockey team to compete in Big Ten conference play starting in 2013-14. Even though there is still a while between now and the time Varley steps on campus, the d-man couldn’t be happier to have committed.
“Its really nice to know where you are going to college, especially this early in the game. While it is exciting, there is still a lot of work ahead of me, I'm ready for the challenges that the future brings.”