Yesterday, the Penn State Men’s Hockey Team (@PennStateMHKY) and head coach, Guy Gadowsky, hosted their first media day as a Division-I team, where they discussed everything from the team’s first varsity practice to their first NCAA season opener this Friday, a home game against American International. Naturally, much of the conversation was geared toward the Nittany Lions’ transition from a club to a first-time Division-I team.
The players were an early focus, and Gadowsky fielded several questions regarding how they were selected. He explained that last year’s club season was essentially a tryout for the players that wanted to play D-I this season. 16 players from last year ended up making the cut, while the remaining 11 spots were filled with recruits who, in Gadowsky’s words, were the best student-athletes that fit the program — guys that add size up front, have high hockey IQs, and can get up the ice and score goals.
Speaking on the type of players he looks for, Gadowsky explained that he wanted to find quality individuals that understood what Penn State is all about, players that could appreciate the excellent education, the passion of the student body, and the opportunity to be a part of something special. One of those players is Tommy Olczyk, described by Gadowsky as a 4.0 student that happens to “shoot the puck very well”, does a lot of little things and has a great work ethic.
Olczyk, a team captain this year, also spoke, explaining that it was never one of his original goals to be captain, but was humbled and honored to be named to the position.
Gadowsky also answered questions regarding the team’s schedule, which includes a mix of club and NCAA teams. He highlighted tough matchups against D-I Union — which made the “Frozen Four” last year — and away games at Michigan State and Wisconsin. Michigan State and Wisconsin will of course be Penn State’s rivals for Big Ten Hockey’s inaugural season in 2013-2014, and this season’s matchups with both teams will provide a preview for what will come in subsequent years.
Gadowsky did not offer any expectations since the team has yet to play a game, but stated that he is excited for this first year schedule, daunting as it is. He said will not be judging the team’s performance in wins and losses but rather on progress and improvements throughout the season.
“You could have great success and achieve great strides that might not show up on the score but are going to be huge for the success that we have years down the road,” said Gadowsky.
This Friday’s game against American International — incidentally, a team that Gadowsky helped beat as a coach for Princeton — will certainly be the first step of many toward the future success of Penn State Hockey.