Guy Gadowsky is a busy man these days. Of course, given his task, who wouldn’t be? Gadowsky is in the midst of constructing a team that’s transitioning from club to NCAA play for the first time in their history–that’s what the soon-to-be-former Penn State Icers will be doing next season. Before heading off for a recruiting trip that includes stops in the Midwest and Canada, Gadowski sat down with Onward State for another edition of 10 questions.
Onward State: First, coach, how has transition from the NCAA level at Princeton to the club level at Penn State gone, even if it’s only for one season?
Guy Gadowsky: Well it’s certainly quite a move for me and my assisstants who I brought with me from Princeton, they being Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay, as we’ve never seen anything but NCAA hockey. That being said, we are excited to get things going this year, and we are all aware of the great tradition the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) has.
OS: Let’s talk about the ACHA. What are your impressions of it coming in?
GG: To be honest with you, other than knowing the stature and tradition of the league, not much. Competing at the NCAA level at Princeton for so long, I’ve never gotten to see a game or experience the environment. That being said, everything I hear about it tells me it’s a great league to compete in.
OS: In addition to that, Penn State has quite a tradition of its own in the league. What are your goals going into league play?
GG: Obviously, we want to go as far as we can, but we also have to really challenge ourselves and get the style and tempo of play incorporated so that next year when NCAA play comes knocking it won’t be a huge adjustment for the team in a sense of style of play.
OS: Obviously, one of the biggest challenges in converting from club play to NCAA play is recruiting. How has that been going?
GG: Recruiting is going well so far, and that is in large part due to Coach Lindsay and Coach Fisher. They have been on the road more than they’ve been in State College so far, and that has been a huge part of it–plus, we added four transfers this year, which is always a step in the right direction.
OS: Speaking of transfers, what has stood out to you so far personnel-wise during the preseason?
GG: I like where we are right now, but of course we keep improving and keep tweaking things every day. I don’t know if I want to single any of the guys out right now, but being new here, our staff sees every day how the team comes together and hopefully soon we have an established group of leaders when the puck gets ready to drop. We’re also trying every day to get everyone used to the system we want to play here.
OS: What style are you guys trying to bring to the Icers?
GG: Simply put, we want to play tough, up tempo hockey. We want our guys to skate hard, end to end, and move the puck as much as possible to create as many chances as we can, almost like a flurry of chances, each time down the ice. Our guys are beginning to get used to that, and it’s showing in our practices.
OS: Let’s talk about what’s on everyone’s mind, the new arena being funded by alum Terry Pegula.
GG: We can’t wait, it’s going to be awesome. The hockey community here in State College is great, I mean the rink is filled some days from six in the morning until the late hours of the night, it seems, at the Ice Pavillion. We greatly appreciate what Mr. Pegula is doing, and we want to give him the most rocking rink in college hockey.
OS: You mention the hockey community here at Penn State. What are your initial impressions on that?
GG: Frankly, it’s awesome. Walking around campus, I see a lot of Flyers and Penguins jerseys, and now I’m starting to see some Sabres jerseys as well. The guys really love the energy the students bring to them, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to experience it myself.
OS: Final couple of questions. What are your expectations for the Blue White scrimmage Friday night?
GG: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I won’t be at the scrimmage as I’ll be out recruiting, but I expect our guys to go full bore and my assistants will be there to see what our guys have and to evaluate some, and we are also doing a pretty neat thing with bringing some alumni back to coach.
OS: Can you elaborate on that?
Gadowsky: Sure. We’re doing a thing we’ve turned “Honor the Past” where we invited some alumni players and coaches back to be honorary head coaches for the game. Mark Horgas (1975-77 player and 79-80 head coach) and Rick O’Brien (1978-79) will coach one team, and Cliff Graziano (1991-95) will coach the other. It’s a pretty cool thing and I hope the guys like having some of the legends of Icers hockey back to coach them for a day.