‘Penn State Philosophy’ Leads To Men’s Hockey’s Nation-Leading Offense
Penn State hockey scored an outstanding 3.2 goals per game last season. It was a full-goal improvement over the previous year’s 2.2, but it’s ludicrous to think that the goals per game will keep increasing at that rate — or is it?
The 2015-16 Nittany Lions have scored 28 goals through five games. That’s 5.6 per game. That figure leads the nation, and the two closest teams are Massachusetts and Michigan. Tied for second in the nation in points is Penn State senior Curtis Loik with ten in five games. Four players are tied at No. 19 with seven points in five games, while David Glen still cracks the top 80 with five points despite only playing three games. Last year’s team only saw three point-per game players, so it’d be a shock to see these types of numbers continue. Even so, it’s been a dream start to the season for Penn State. Any team could’ve started off the season this way — why was it the boys from Hockey Valley?
“It’s how you get a team to operate on a philosophy in the same way, and it’s difficult,” Head Coach Guy Gadowsky said at his weekly media availability. “The better and better you get, even if the other team knows you’re gonna run a certain play, if you run it really well, it doesn’t matter. ‘We ran two plays all year and we ran them better than anyone else’ — We like to think in those terms, we don’t play on trick plays or surprise attacks, it’s basically a philosophy of Penn State hockey and how we play. We like to think that we’re hard to play against.”
He went on to name a few of the players who have been impressing him thus far. Surprisingly, the newest class of players is the one that has made the biggest impact, as two freshmen (Chase Berger and Alec Marsh) are tied for second on the team in points.
“It’s nice,” Gadowsky said. “We certainly didn’t go into [the season] thinking this was what we’re gonna do, no, I think we’ve been very surprised by the offensive output of some of our freshmen, and give them credit and guys like Curtis Loik, David Glen, Kenny Brooks, Tommy Olczyk, the seniors are doing a good job too. Right now, it just seems to be clicking. We didn’t expect it, it’s a nice surprise.”
“When we knew we were gonna lose Casey Bailey, it’s tough to think we were gonna have a forward come in and lead our team with 100 shots but we certainly knew we had a guy [Vince Pedrie] coming in on the back that loves to shoot the puck, and that’s great. I think that’s how you generate a lot of offense. He’s exactly as advertised,” he added.
Goal scoring goes beyond its own statistic, however. Penn State has attempted 399 total shots in this young season, 221 of which were on goal (79.8 and 44.2 per game, respectively). Pedrie has ignored his label as a defenseman and leads the team with 39 total shots attempted. Last season, Gadowsky’s team led its opponents in shots on goal by a margin of 1,425 to 1,205. This year, it’s 221 to 132. When the Big Ten schedule comes around, that margin will shrink — but not neccesarily by a lot, because if Penn State hockey can do one thing, it’s shoot the damn puck. Most teams emphasize a defense-first, built-from-the-net-out roster, but Gadowsky grew up with his coaching style.
“[I just have] a belief of how important [shooting] is. I’m from Edmonton, they had a couple teams that liked to shoot the puck, they were pretty successful. Go back to your roots, you know.”