Kris Myllari is one of four Nittany Lion freshmen from Ontario, Canada, who are reinforcing the blue-collar culture Guy Gadowsky instilled in the program five years ago.
“Right now, honestly, you know who’s really impressing me with leadership is Kris Myllari,” Gadowsky said Monday. “He inspires you to give more of yourself the team the way he plays.
“The guys, when it’s really evident, that play for the team and don’t talk about it, just go and do it — those are the guys I follow.”
Fellow Ontarians Liam Folkes, Sean Kohler, and spring enrollee Brett Murray round out the most impressive recruiting haul for Gadowsky from said province since he’s been in Happy Valley. Folkes has seen action in 17 games for Penn State, recording eight points (three goals), while Kohler and Murray have each played in two contests apiece.
Despite the Nittany Lions’ 5-4 loss to Princeton last weekend in the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff, Gadowsky highlighted Myllari, whose first-period goal made it 3-2 Penn State, as a major bright spot.
“I’ll tell you what, Kris Myllari was the best player on the ice Saturday night, for sure. He was tremendous,” Gadowsky said.
Myllari, who hails from Kanata, played two seasons with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, where he tallied 34 points (six goals) in 116 games, before settling on State College as the next step in his hockey career. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Myllari mentioned senior David Thompson as having a significant impact on his development, saying he can bounce any question he may have off the veteran defenseman.
Myllari paused for a few moments at Monday’s press conference before picking the food he most misses from home.
“I’m gonna go with a very Canadian answer and say ketchup chips,” he said. “All-dressed are better, though,” sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz chimed in with a grin.
Hockey is in Myllari’s blood. His dad, Roy, laced up his skates for the Tayside Tigers of the British Pro ranks in 1985. You can tell the younger Myllari has a tremendous IQ out on the ice, much like the one-step ahead Folkes. He ran into a few of his future teammates growing up in Ontario, and is rooming with one his first season on campus.
“I played against Sean [Kohler] a bit growing up. I didn’t play against Liam. I’ve gotten to know them and they’re two great guys. Sean’s my roommate and we have a lot of fun.”
Heading into the Minnesota series this Friday and Saturday, Myllari has posted seven points (four goals) in 21 games. He’s been a welcome addition to a Penn State back line that currently ranks 14th in the nation in team defense, surrendering just 2.36 goals per game. The Nittany Lions are also tied with Cornell for the 10th-best penalty killing unit in college hockey (79-of-92).
When you take as many shots as No. 6 Penn State, the NCAA’s top team offense, you need to pay close attention to getting back on defense. Myllari is the type of two-way player the Nittany Lions crave as they ascend to new heights.
Myllari and his teammates hope to get back on track during a huge showdown against the Golden Gophers Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET in Mariucci Arena. The game will be streamed on BTN2Go.