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Changing Of The Leaves: 2015-16 Winter Sports Preview

The leaves are starting to change, and the weather is starting to get colder. That means it’s time for a winter sports preview. With winter sports seasons right around the corner, Penn State athletics has a lot to look forward to this winter. For some, preseason games and workouts (and even some regular season games) have started. Others are getting into early preseason preparations for the upcoming season. Here’s your preview for the 2015-16 winter sports season.

Men’s Hockey

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Penn State men’s hockey looks to improve upon a successful year last year and to establish itself as a national power. (Photo: Alex Robinson)

After a 5-2 defeat of Windsor last Sunday in its one and only exhibition game, Penn State men’s hockey opens its regular season Saturday against Canisius, looking to build off the success of last season. It finished the 2014-15 season with an overall record of 18-15-4 and a 10-9-1 record in the Big Ten. It was an incredibly successful and exciting year for the Nittany Lions, and they look to continue with the excitement this year.

The losses of star players such as Casey Bailey, Taylor Holstrom, and Patrick Koudys may prove costly to the Nittany Lions, however, guys like Eric Scheid, David Goodwin, and captain David Glen should be able to step up and continue the successful shot-heavy offense Guy Gadowsky loves to run.

Penn State comes into the season ranked fourth in the Big Ten, its highest preseason ranking ever. A lot of people see something special in this team. The Nittany Lions have great leadership in Head Coach Guy Gadowsky and captain David Glen. They also have a lot of goal scoring potential in players like Eric Scheid and David Goodwin, who were named Big Ten Players to Watch this season.

Penn State is ready to make a run for national prominence, and this year could be a very special year for it to happen. The seniors on the team this year were the same freshmen who stepped onto the ice for Penn State in its first Division I hockey game. It would be an incredible story line for the Penn State men’s hockey seniors, one of many great story lines that could come from another magical year in Hockey Valley.

Women’s Hockey

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Women’s hockey also looks to build on a positive season. (Photo: Penn State Flickr)

The women’s hockey team already started its season, losing two games to No. 1 Minnesota. It was a tough start for the team, as it always is when playing the top ranked team in the nation, and it doesn’t get much easier with games against Boston University and Union in the coming days.

The Nittany Lions still will try to improve upon their 17-16-4 (9-9-2 CHA) record from last year. The women’s team, much like the men’s team, is entering its fourth season in Division I college hockey. Its winning record from last year was an improvement from the 2013-14 season, where it finished with a 4-29-3 (1-18-1 CHA) record.

There has been exponential growth with this team, and it hopes to continue that growth this year. A difficult start will only challenge the Nittany Lions and hopefully allow them to bring out their best. If it can continue to grow on the momentum of last year, another successful season for Penn State women’s hockey will be ensured.

Wrestling

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Cael Sanderson is a legendary wrestler and wrestling coach who, year in and year out, brings Penn State wrestling to national prominence while claiming multiple national titles. (Photo: Zack Rickens)

Wrestling is a sport which doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves, especially for how successful Penn State wrestling is. Last year, Matt Brown won a National Championship for the Nittany Lions, and has a long list of accomplishments including three All-American awards and multiple championship appearances. He graduated last year, so others will have to step up large to contribute to the list of 30 national titles Penn State wrestling has won, but with Sanderson’s stockpile of talented recruits, the Nittany Lions are more than capable.

Penn State finished with an 11-4 (6-3 B1G) record and continued its success as a wrestling program. The Nittany Lions should be successful again this year, even with a difficult Big Ten schedule ahead of them. They open their season on Nov. 13 against Lock Haven.

There’s not much new anybody can really say about Head Coach Cael Sanderson. He’s a national wrestling legend, and he has brought Penn State wrestling beyond national prominence to national dominance. The Nittany Lions are always feared going into a match. They are fierce, competitive, and dominant. Cael Sanderson ensures this, and he will also ensure another successful season for Penn State wrestling.

Women’s Basketball

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Penn State women’s basketball looks to rebound from a disappointing season last year. (Photo: Zack Rickens)

Penn State women’s basketball finished a disappointing season last year with a 6-24 (3-15, Big Ten) record. Not much is expected this year, but there’s never a better time to show the world what you’ve got than when nobody is expecting it.

The Lady Lions open their season on Nov. 13 against Holy Cross. They’re hoping to have a better season than last year and show some growth in the program. It happened for the women’s hockey team from the 2013-14 season to the 2014-15 season, and it can surely happen with the Lady Lions’ basketball team as well.

Their games bring a lot of excitement to the BJC, and there are some quality Big Ten contests to see this year. After a slow start last year, the Lady Lions were able to pick up their play in conference games and were able to win some games and keep some games close. There is definitely a potential for a successful season from Penn State women’s basketball this year. Finding a good team chemistry early on will be key if it wants to succeed all year — or at least show improvement from last year’s hard-to-watch showings.

Men’s Basketball

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Pat Chambers is optimistic about the Nittany Lions’ chances in the Big Ten this year and looks for a very successful season. (Photo: Morton Lin)

Look out, Penn State. It’s time to talk men’s basketball, and it’s time to get excited about it. No more hopeless optimism about this team. No more doubting this team. It is poised to be a player in the Big Ten Conference.

Head Coach Pat Chambers was optimistic on Media Day, and he had every right to be. He has every right to believe he is doing something special for Penn State men’s basketball because he is doing something special. He has one of the best recruiting classes Penn State has ever seen. He has young talent in Shep Garner and Josh Reaves. He has one of the best shot blockers in the country and Penn State history in Jordan Dickerson. He has leaders who want the young guys to not only do well, but enjoy themselves while helping the team.

The fact of the matter is Penn State men’s basketball is on to something special. Pat Chambers’ recruiting strategies have brought in top talent recruits ready to lead this team to many victories.

The Nittany Lions’ season opens on Nov. 14 against VMI in the Bryce Jordan Center. If you want to see something really special, go see this men’s basketball team. It is ready to take on the Big Ten. Leaders like Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor know how to win in the Big Ten. Yes, Penn State finished with an 18-16 overall record and a 4-14 record in the Big Ten last year, but many of those games were extremely close. This could very well be the year those close losses become wins.

It should be a very exciting winter for Penn State winter sports. With teams ready to rise to national prominence, the Nittany Lions hope to take a successful fall campaign thus far and translate that success into its winter sports.

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About the Author

Matt Coleman

Matt Coleman is a writer for Onward State. His hometown is North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, a little under an hour from Pittsburgh. He is a sophomore majoring in Natural Resource Engineering in Biological Engineering. Please e-mail questions and comments to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @cole_man2.

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