Just six days after securing their first NCAA Division I victory, Guy Gadowsky and the Penn State men’s hockey team hit the road for the first true away contests of the season, taking on Buffalo State on Friday night before heading to Rochester to take on RIT on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions men's hockey team will be hitting the road for the first time this season.
The coaching staff was thrilled with the overtime victory over American International on Saturday, and the subsequent week of practice has been a positive one. That said, the team is still extremely green and adjusting to the jump in competition, so the focus hasn’t strayed past themselves.
“We are so young and so new that for quite some time we are going to be worrying about ourselves, not the opponent,” admitted Gadowsky on Thursday. “We've got a lot of work to do - we're very happy with the start we've has - but 99 percent of our focus will be on us.”
Travelling to Buffalo to take on the Division III Bengals tonight - who are opening their season against the Nittany Lions - the men’s team will be looking to string together back-to-back wins. Looking forward to Saturday, Division I opponent RIT will be an immense step up for the newly minted NCAA outfit - the Tigers knocked off Michigan in Ann Arbor last weekend and received votes in the latest poll.
“The pace of the game against RIT is going to be a lot quicker than any we ever played before here at Penn State,” said Gadowsky. “Not necessarily the speed of the actual players, its more the speed of the game - quicker passes, just in general it's going to be a step up. We have to practice at a high tempo, but until we actually face an opponent like that trying to duplicate it is very hard.”
Over the first few weeks of the season, Gadowsky and the coaching staff have been impressed with one line in particular, composed purely of first-year college students.
“That one line, David Glen's line with Kenny Brooks and Curtis Loik, was by far the best line over the weekend,” praised Gadowsky. “They were fantastic, one thing I like about that line in particular is they don't have to score to be effective, they control the puck so well.
“They all have a great work ethic, great commitment to the game, we were really anxious to see them skate together. That was culminated in David’s two goals on Saturday, including the overtime winner, which was a great effort by all three.”
Juha has impressed thus far in his first season on campus.
-Penn State will be playing against a sold-out crowd on Saturday night in Rochester, as the Blue Cross Arena has sold out of tickets - capacity for ice hockey is 11,200 on-lookers.
-Gadowsky wasn’t happy with the quantity of shots his team gave up this past weekend (64 total), but praised the play of freshman defenseman Luke Juha, Mark Yanis and Joseph Lordo.
-The second-year head coach couldn’t have been happier with the turnouts this past weekend. “I'm thrilled with the response we got from the student body, the alumni, and the community when we went to Wilkes Barre,” said Gadowsky.
-The goaltender situation is far from settled, so look to see two different goaltenders this weekend - most likely freshman Matt Skoff and PJ Musico - in an order yet to be determined. Gadowksy was pleased with Skoff’s performance in his first NCAA game.
“I love his practice habits, he’s an extremely hard worker, a great kid, a very athletic guy, and he's going to be a great Division I goaltender for us. I think it is tough for him for a guy who hasn't played a minute of college hockey to have been thrown into this program's first Division I game last week.”