P.J. Musico Wins Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award
The day before the NCAA Championships in Boston, the Hockey Commissioners Association named Penn State goalie P.J. Musico the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award, in honor of former Army forward Derek Hines who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005. The award is given to “a fearless leader and beloved fan favorite who always places his team first.” Musico is the first goalie to win the award since it was first inaugurated in 2007.
Earlier in the season, after a particularly strong stretch of games from Musico, coach Guy Gadowsky acknowledged that although he’s typically looked at as the third-string goalie, his importance to the team can’t be overstated.
“A coach from the [Pittsburgh Penguins] told me there was a player who might not have played for the AHL team, but having him around made everyone else play better,” he explained. “That’s P.J. to us.”
A telling example of Musico’s importance came in his team’s late-January series against Northern Michigan. Matt Skoff started in net in the first game and Eamon McAdam started the second, but both were pulled in favor of Musico after allowing three-goal deficits. Once Gadowsky put Musico in the crease, the Nittany Lions turned their game around — Musico stopped 28 of 30 shots across the two games, while his offense scored nine goals to earn a regulation win and a tie.
“I couldn’t be more honored to have been selected as the recipient of the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award,” Musico told Penn State Athletics. “I have always taken an amazing amount of pride in the qualities that he represented. Leadership, character and selflessness are only a few of the characteristics that Derek stood for. These qualities are what I aim to exhibit on a daily basis, not only in athletics, but my career and life in general.”
The senior recorded career-highs in saves, save percentage, and goals-against average, and was also named as an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention — despite being the alleged third-string netminder. It was a great season for Musico, and the recognition is well-deserved.