PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Hockey’s Freshman Star Chase Berger Credits Simplicity To Early Success

The preseason was loaded with question marks. Overnight, Penn State men’s hockey felt unrecognizable. Led by Casey Bailey, the class that established the developing program as a noteworthy team on the national scale was history. Its infrastructure of shots-on-goal, lit lamps, and glove saves turned into finalized stat-books and a nostalgic blueprint for future Nittany Lions.

Nine veterans out, eight freshmen in.

College athletes are ticking clocks on borrowed time. We knew that, but somehow prior knowledge didn’t ease transitional anxieties — even if I’d follow Head Coach Guy Gadowsky into battle.

The 2015-16 season is men’s hockey’s first real turning point as an NCAA Division I program. It will either thrive off of youthful vigor or crumble due to inexperience, but it won’t be the same. Although the Nittany Lions have yet to enter Big Ten play, their freshman class is already shutting down preseason doubts with a vengeance. So far in the 4-1-0 season, the youngest class accounts for 24 of the team’s 73 goals.

Last season, Gadowsky held firm that his “shoot first, ask later” coaching philosophy wasn’t just applicable to Bailey. Despite my own skepticisms, he was right. 2015-16 Penn State still crushes opponents in shots-on-goal, but it goes where last season’s Lions often could not. The unrelenting shots are deliberate. They count for something more tangible than potential. Penn State leads the nation in goals

The transitional season feels familiar, even a little sharper, through its first few games. The Roar Zone even has a new C.B.-initialed winger to rely on. With seven points in five games, freshman Chase Berger (St.Louis, Mo.) sits at No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 5 nationally.

A concise Berger credits simplicity for his success. The freshman told Onward State at least three times that he “just wants to win.”

Focused on the short-term, he operates best on a day-by-day mentality. “I don’t think that far ahead. I just want the team to win, and however I can help I will. I want to try to play in all the games, wherever coach sees fit for me there I’ll play. I want to create a role for myself here that I can build on for years to come,” Berger said.

He credits veteran linemates Curtis Loik and Kenny Brooks for setting him up and allowing him to focus on “going to the net and hammering home pucks.” The verb is an undersell — capitalizing on five of 20 shot attempts, Berger is hardly “hammering home pucks.” His shots have purpose, even if they aren’t meticulously planned.

Although his transition from the USHL’s Tri-City Storm to life as a Penn State athlete seems as smooth as his style of play, the platforms are undeniably different. I had a misguided notion that USHL play is preferable (with more time to focus on hockey), but Berger disagreed. His game is best untouched by second-guessing. Shoot first, ask later.

“Juniors [USHL] was hockey all the time. I like it [at Penn State] because you get to focus on hockey, but your life’s more balanced. You feel like a regular student again. If hockey’s going good, it’s good. If hockey’s going bad, it’s still good. Not all of your pressures and anxieties are hockey-related. You can’t be overthinking hockey too much, your mind is on other things too.”

Although his style of play hasn’t changed too much, he noted that “college hockey is a step faster, and guys are a lot stronger. Here, you score on dirtier goals.”

Berger cited the freshman class’ like-minded competitive nature for early success. “What makes us succeed the most is our similar attitudes. We all work hard, we’re not over-confident, we don’t ever get lackadaisical. We feed off each other.”

With three goals and four assists, fellow freshman Alec Marsh is tied with Berger in the Big Ten rankings. Healthy competition seems effective for Penn State in general, considering Loik, Berger, Marsh, Brooks, and David Goodwin lead the Big Ten respectively in scoring.

Penn State and its class of star freshmen are back in action Thursday and Friday night at home against No. 16 St. Lawrence. Berger and his peers have proven they can shine against lesser competition — now it’s time to see how that translates against one of the best goalies in the country.

About the Author

Sara Civian

Sara Civian is one of Onward State's three ridiculously good looking managing editors, a hockey writer at heart, and an Oxford comma Stan. She's a senior majoring in journalism, minoring in history, and living at Bill Pickle's Tap Room. Her favorite pastimes are telling people she's from Boston, watching the Bruins, and meticulously dissecting the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. She's seen Third Eye Blind live 14 times. If you really hate yourself, you can follow her at @SaraCivian or email her at [email protected]

Comments

More by Sara

Penn State Hockey Defenseman Vince Pedrie Signs With New York Rangers

Penn State hockey sophomore defenseman Vince Pedrie will forgo his last two years of college eligibility to sign with the New York Rangers. Pedrie announced his decision via Instagram (what a time to be alive, right?) Monday night.

[Column] Penn State Hockey Became Elite This Season And It’s Just The Beginning

Penn State Ruined College Hockey And It Could Hardly Care

Athletics

Shea Moyer Lifts Penn State Women’s Soccer Past West Virginia 1-0

Sophomore midfielder Shea Moyer scored the game-winning goal in the 80th minute of a rainy season opener at Jeffrey Field.

Penn State Women’s Soccer Poised For Strong 2018 Season

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Student Life

Student Body President Cody Heaton Welcomes Class of 2022 At Convocation

UPUA President Cody Heaton welcomed the incoming Class of 2022 Saturday evening with an inspiring speech.

Start The Semester Off Right With These Welcome Week Activities

Nike Releases New Penn State Sneakers

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Penn State Officially Welcomes Class Of 2022 At Convocation

The Class of 2022 joined the Penn State family Saturday evening at Convocation.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Assessing Penn State’s Front Seven Following Tuesday’s Medical Retirements

Penn State’s defensive line rotation will be shaken up following Ryan Buchholz’s medical retirement from football, while the coaching staff is letting the linebackers duel it out during camp.

Send this to a friend