The No.11 ranked Nittany Lions are gearing up for their last home series of the season this weekend against No.16 Wisconsin. This will be the last time the five seniors on the team will lace up for a collegiate hockey game at Pegula — and they’re the first class to spend all four years at the arena.
“We needed the guys that had been told ‘Why would you go to Penn State? You’re going to lose for four years.’ It was the guys that believed a lot in themselves, as well as in Penn State, that weren’t bothered by that challenge. In fact, they embraced it,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I hope we never give that attitude up because it’s great to have guys like that as our seniors.”
Although Saturday night may be emotional, Penn State (20-8-2, 9-6-1 B1G) isn’t looking past Friday night and its tough opponent in Wisconsin (18-11-1, 11-5-0 B1G). The Nittany Lions currently sit in third place in the Big Ten conference, just five points behind Wisconsin. A pair of wins this weekend would leapfrog Penn State over Wisconsin into second place and a first round bye in the Big Ten tournament. With aspirations of making the program’s first ever NCAA tournament, this series could prove to be vital for the Nittany Lions.
“I’m thinking about Friday right now. As I prepare for Saturday’s game there might be a part of me that will realize it’s my last time playing at Pegula. It’ll be very tough to leave this place, but it will be a lot easier if we are leaving after going to the NCAA tournament,” senior captain David Goodwin said. “That really is our focus and we know that if we get a couple of wins this weekend that will help us.”
They may be too laser-focused on Wisconsin to reminisce about their years here at Penn State, but we wanted to reflect on this year’s senior class and how they’ve helped pave the way for the program’s most successful season to date.
You can’t understate captain David Goodwin’s influence both on and off the ice. He’s the all-time leading scorer in Penn State history with 121 points (41 G, 80 A) and he’s brought a tremendous amount of leadership that has allowed younger players to transition easily to the college level. Goodwin is up for the senior CLASS award for his community service efforts among other things. In a way, his personality translates to his style of play — he’s been an absolute assist machine over the years with impeccable ice vision.
Here’s a look back at his first collegiate goal (if you tear up, don’t worry it is completely normal):
In his four years at Penn State, Saar has notched 28 points (14 G, 14 A). The 6-foot-6 forward is known for using his size and physical playing style to make things happen.
Oh, and you definitely do not want to fight him…
Saar is gonna kill you ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/C6AwxxacJS
— The Roar Zone (@TheRoarZone) December 3, 2016
“If there’s one guy you don’t want to play against on our team, it’s Ricky. Guys hate playing against him, so we love having him on the team.” When the coach says it, you know it must be true. Mic him up for a game, and you’ll see why.
Anyone can score, but DeRosa’s chippy personality will be irreplaceable for Penn State — and it’s quite the legacy. “He’s just…so annoying out there,” Andrew Sturtz confirmed. In his four years as a Nittany Lion, the alternate captain notched 39 points (18 G, 21 A).
In his four years at Penn State, the 6-foot-2 defenseman has noticed 22 points (5 G, 17 A) but has been more known for his bruising hits on opposing teams. Thompson is also an alternate captain this season. He recently gave back to the Penn State community by cutting his flow for THON.
In his four years at Penn State, Richard has notched 73 points (28 G, 45 A). The 6-foot-1 forward came back mid-February to finish out his senior year after an injury that had him out for a few games. He’s proved pretty clutch in tough games — two goals in a tie with Notre Dame and one in the season opener upset of St. Lawrence stick out. This was fun, too: