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Staff Predictions: Penn State Hockey’s Record

The 2014-15 Nittany Lions had their best record ever, posting an 18-14-4 mark in the regular season. Some of the program’s most prolific players have left the program, but the best recruiting class Penn State hockey has ever seen is coming in. Our staff expects that to culminate in another winning record, but time will tell how much (if any) improvement we’ll see.

Doug Leeson: 16-14-6

Out are Bailey, Holstrom, Conway, Musico, Koudys, and Jensen, as well as Eric Scheid for the next six weeks. In are Sturtz, Hamilton, Funkey, and improved depth all around. Will Penn State be better than last season? I highly doubt it.

On offense, at least for the season’s first month and a half, David Goodwin will be the go-to guy to help his line light the lamp. He was more than capable alongside Holstrom and Bailey, Penn State’s highest career scorers, but it’d be a surprise to see him find that level of chemistry right off the bat this year. The defense’s depth is much more impressive than it has ever been in the past. There’s a chance that Canucks draft pick Mike Williamson will see time on the third pairing — that speaks volumes to the blue line’s talent, even if there doesn’t seem to be one Koudys-esque guy who can eat minutes and play every penalty kill.

The team’s roster looks as if it’s built in an opposite way as last year’s, and if Guy Gadowsky can update his coaching system to reflect that, the Lions will be a legitimate threat on the national scene. Penn State was completely top-heavy last year, relying on its top line and top pairing to play big minutes and beat other teams. This year, depth will be the storyline. On a game-to-game basis, Penn State might struggle with its competitive schedule, but this roster seems built for the postseason. Last year’s strategy of “outshoot the opponent 60-20 at the risk of allowing great scoring chances” didn’t get it done in the Big Ten Tournament. This year, with four lines and three pairings that can roll out in front of two experienced goalies, Penn State’s chances to advance through the Big Ten Tournament are better than ever, regardless of how the regular season goes.

Matt Coleman: 22-12-2

The Nittany Lions come in ranked fourth in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches’ Poll, their highest ranking ever. Great things are expected from them, and there are reasons to believe they can accomplish those feats.

Eric Scheid and David Goodwin come in as Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch and will more than likely carry the offense’s high scoring capabilities, especially once Scheid comes back from his offseason injury. Losing Casey Bailey and Taylor Holstrom are big hits to this team, however, it should be able to make up for the losses.

Matthew Skoff, the Nittany Lions’ goaltender, should be able to be as efficient as he was last year. In fact, expect him to be even better. With a proven senior in net for Penn State, it shouldn’t have to worry too much going forward. One of the worst things in hockey is having a high scoring offense, much like the one Gadowsky loves to run, but having a goalkeeper who isn’t consistent. This will not be the case for Penn State. The offense should continue to shine, and with Skoff in net, the defense should be able to hold its own as well.

Penn State will face tough tests again this year in the Big Ten. It is ranked behind Michigan, Minnesota, and Michigan State but ahead of Ohio State and Wisconsin. Every game will be a test for this team, but if it wants to become even more of a nationally recognized program, it’s a test it must undergo. I expect the Nittany Lions to have a very successful season. Expect them to be in the hunt for a Big Ten title much like last year. They may not win it this year, but with a record of 22-12-2, they will take another step toward becoming an even greater program.

Ethan Kasales: 20-11-5

Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions return a mixed bag of proven experience from last season coupled with some young talent eager to play in front of the best student section in college hockey, the Roar Zone. Penn State will certainly need some goal scorers to breakout in hopes of compensating for the loss of 99 combined points from Bailey, Holstrom, and dismissed forward Scott Conway last year.
Junior forward David Goodwin will be asked to put the offense on his back early in the season as the Nittany Lions face a tough test in Notre Dame at Pegula Oct. 17-18. Hopefully when linemate Eric Scheid returns to the lineup, Penn State will have built up some scoring momentum.
I was really impressed with how Gadowsky’s squad battled the Big Ten heavyweights night in and night out last season, picking up a few historic upsets along the way. I expect the Nittany Lions to continue their ascent in 2015-16 with a few hiccups here and there against a bevy of quality opponents. But, the pieces are there for a very successful campaign (perhaps even third in the conference) in the program’s fourth year of Division I hockey.

Jacob Abrams: 21-12-3

The Nittany Lions prepare for the upcoming season coming off their best year in program history. Given the program has only been in the Big Ten for a short time, its first winning record is nothing to scoff at.
The fourth-ranked team in the Big Ten Preseason coaches’ poll is expecting big things from the 2015-16 season. Even with the loss of some key players, the talent for the Nittany Lions is good enough to suffice.
David Goodwin will be the leader up front on the first line. As one of the Nittany Lions’ best returning players, Goodwin is poised to continue where he left off last season, when he put up 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points. Goodwin and Eric Scheid will be the duo that head coach Guy Gadowsky can turn to each game.
Penn State enters the 2015-16 season with a respectable schedule. Its non-conference schedule consists of winnable and well matched bouts. The toughest tests for the Nittany Lions this  season will obviously be against its conference opponents. With multiple matchups against Minnesota and Michigan down the stretch, Penn State is presented with a solid schedule that could place this 2015 squad among the top programs in the nation.

Patrick Koerbler: 19-14-3

Penn State hockey is still in its infancy stage, but yet the expectations for the program are as high as ever. The main question heading into this year is evident — where will the scoring coming from? Having to replace forwards Casey Bailey, Taylor Holstrom, and Scott Conway will prove to be a tough test for Guy Gadowsky and the Nittany Lions.
Penn State does return David Goodwin and Eric Scheid (although he’s out for another five weeks), the two main players it’ll depend on for offense this season. Goodwin especially had a strong junior campaign playing alongside Bailey and Holstrom, but now he’ll need to carry more of a load offensively. One player isn’t going to make or break Penn State’s season, but Goodwin will need to take his game to another level if the Nittany Lions want to find success.
Losing a big, powerful presence like Patrick Koudys is a big hit defensively, but Gadowsky will use a smaller, quicker defense to help reinforce the offense. Because of that, Penn State’s goaltender Matthew Skoff will be looked upon to be a consistent performer between the posts.
With programs like Minnesota and Michigan in the Big Ten, it’s doubtful that Penn State will seriously challenge for the Big Ten crown. There’s just too much changeover offensively to expect that this season. Still, the Nittany Lions should once again be competitive, finishing 19-14-3.

Kaitlyn Dividock: 22-11-3

Even though this Penn State team is still in its early stages of Big Ten play, a supportive top-five ranking can build a ton of preseason momentum as their first game approaches.
However, Guy Gadowsky has a ton of talented skates to fill after losing high-scoring forward Casey Bailey to the NHL. What is cause for a sigh of relief is the fact that David Goodwin and Eric Scheid, both recently named Big Ten players to watch, will be returning to the Nittany Lions for the 2015-16 season. Unfortunately, Scheid won’t see the ice for the first six weeks due to a lower-body injury, so depth from the bench will have to step up until his return. With Goodwin’s strong leadership skills coming to the forefront now that he’s an upperclassman, I don’t see Scheid’s absence causing too much of a problem for the team. Not to mention Goodwin netted 15 goals and had 19 assists in his junior year stint. Maybe we’ll see even prettier stats from him this year? I wouldn’t doubt it.
Additionally, Gadowsky seems to be very excited about talented incoming freshman, Andrew Sturtz. After recording 72 points in 58 regular season games, and 22 points in 12 playoffs games in the CCHL, Sturtz was named MVP of the annual tournament. The 21-year-old’s experience will definitely spike positive hype from the team. He’ll be the likely candidate to fill the scoring void left by Scheid.
Penn State has a tough Big Ten schedule with Michigan and Minnesota in the mix, creating doubt for a championship run, but this team will absolutely stir up some excitement in front of a faithful Roar Zone crowd. Pegula Arena is going to be electric, and I can’t wait for Hockey Valley to return.
What’s your prediction? Let us know in the comments below.

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