2014-15 Penn State Men’s Hockey Preview
After a long offseason, Penn State is ready to begin its second season as a member of the Big Ten Hockey Conference. Last year’s team posted a 8-26-2 record, and reached the Big Ten Tournament semifinal. Two players from last year’s roster are gone, but three more were added.
The Nittany Lions are starting the season much more comfortably than last year, and are looking to make a name for themselves in college hockey. Sixteen out of 36 games were decided by one goal (Penn State was 5-11 in those games), so the veteran team should be able to improve in that department.
Important offseason news included the announcement that the captain’s ‘C’ was removed from Tommy Olczyk’s jersey and passed on to Patrick Koudys in a unanimous team vote, while David Glen and Nate Jensen will retain their alternate captain roles. Defenseman Luke Juha was named to the Big Ten Players to Watch list. Also, Zach Saar will be out until around Christmastime recovering from a late-summer surgery. Otherwise, the entire team is 100 percent healthy.
With the coaching staff entering its third season and 24 of 27 players returning a year older, watch out for the 2014-15 Penn State Nittany Lions:
Head Coach Guy Gadowsky, Assistant Coach Keith Fisher, Assistant Coach Matt Lindsay
David Glen (A), Max Gardiner, Taylor Holstrom, Jacob Friedman, Tommy Olczyk, Eric Scheid, Casey Bailey, Kenny Brooks, Curtis Loik, Jonathan Milley, Ricky DeRosa, David Goodwin, Dylan Richard, Zach Saar, Scott Conway, James Robinson
Patrick Koudys (C), Nate Jensen (A), Peter Sweetland, Luke Juha, Connor Varley, David Thompson, Mike Williamson, Erik Autio
PJ Musico, Matt Skoff, Eamon McAdam
Players to watch
David Glen — Reprising his role as an alternate captain, junior Glen will be a key cog in the Nittany Lions’ offense. Primarily centering his line last season, Glen led the team in faceoff percentage as well as plus/minus. Gadowsky has already announced he’ll be starting the season on a line with Curtis Loik and Kenny Brooks, which should prove to be one of the grittiest lines in the Big Ten. One of the league’s true class acts, Glen will again be a very important player under Gadowsky.
Eric Scheid — Scheid, currently a redshirt junior, led the team last season in goals (11) and points (20) in 36 games. After starting his career at Alaska-Anchorage, Scheid took a year off from college to hone his game in the USHL, then came to Penn State. Look for him to again be a catalyst in the Nittany Lions’ offense.
Scott Conway — The freshman from England has an impressive past in junior hockey. Conway finished third in scoring in the USHL with 68 points last year, while leading his team to the league championship. For comparison, no other current Nittany Lion with USHL experience ever totaled 68 points in a season. If Conway can continue his offensive prowess, the sky’s the limit for the talented new player.
Patrick Koudys — Named Penn State’s newest captain in June, Patrick Koudys is looking to finish his college career on a high note. The Washington Capitals’ 2011 draft pick was awarded the Nittany Lions’ Top Defenseman and Player’s Player awards last season, and will be looking to add to his impressive résumé as a redshirt senior. Arguably the most important piece of Penn State’s blue line, look for Koudys to lead by example with his physical, shut-down defense.
Erik Autio — Penn State’s only freshman defenseman could quietly have a huge season this year. Hailing from Espoo, Finland, Autio played in the SM-liiga’s junior affiliate, as well as for the Finnish junior national team. International play is an immeasurable benefit for a young player like Autio, and his game speaks for itself. A small, smart, puck-moving defenseman, Autio may end up being one of the team’s better two-way defensemen.
Matt Skoff — Already announced as the team’s starting goalie, the reigning team MVP has only gotten better. Skoff, a junior, attended the San Jose Sharks’ development camp over the summer, training with NHL-quality players. Coming off a season where he posted solid stats (2.95 GAA, .906 SV%, 8-13-2), Skoff and his veteran defense should be better than ever.
Home games: UConn, Holy Cross, Bentley, Ohio State, Michigan State, Northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan
Away games: Alaska Anchorage, Alaska, UMass-Lowell, Michigan, Cornell, Wisconsin, Robert Morris, Colgate or Western Michigan, Vermont, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota
The non-conference schedule is certainly not as daunting as last season. Last year, the Nittany Lions played a pair against powerhouses such as UMass-Lowell, Boston College, and eventual champion Union. This year, Penn State takes on UMass-Lowell again, but the River Hawks should be the toughest opponent by far. The Nittany Lions will also travel to Alaska for the first time during the second week of the season.
Penn State will play in three NHL venues: Consol Energy Center against Robert Morris and Colgate or Western Michigan in the Three Rivers Classic, the Wells Fargo Center against Vermont, and Madison Square Garden against Cornell.
Finally, the team will play 20 Big Ten games, with four games against each of the other five teams. Worth noting is the fact that every team makes the postseason tournament in Big Ten hockey, where last season the last-seeded Nittany Lions upset the punching bag Michigan Wolverines.
You can view the full schedule here.