In David Goodwin, A Young Program Has Found Its Face
The most iconic teams always have a front-man. Penn State’s National Champion women’s volleyball teams had Micha Hancock, the last three football seasons were headed by Christian Hackenberg, and last year’s fun-at-times basketball team had DJ Newbill. There are a few players under consideration to be Penn State hockey’s star in the public eye, but its most consistent top-liner looks like the one.
David Goodwin, barring unforeseen catastrophe, will be the leading scorer in Penn State hockey history by the end of the season. Points aren’t a decisive indication a player’s impact, but they certainly help. Leading the program in scoring is obviously Casey Bailey with 80 points (and a nice goal for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies the other day), and Goodwin is right behind him with 73 points and at least 14 games plus another season to add to his total. Bailey and Goodwin’s former linemate Taylor Holstrom is third in program history with 67 points, and current redshirt senior Eric Scheid is right behind him with 63.
A mix of talent and circumstance is leading Goodwin to history for a growing program in which his role can’t be understated. Casey Bailey had the scoring profile and physical tools to leave for the NHL after his junior year, so he did. Goodwin’s freshman year coincided with the Penn State’s first year in the Big Ten and at Pegula Ice Arena, and with his known potential (118 points in 179 USHL games), the stage was set for Goodwin to simultaneously earn respect for his team and himself.
Penn State’s debut season in a major hockey conference went for the most part as expected. The new program went 8-26-2 and Goodwin was second on the team with only 18 points in 34 games. Scheid led the team with 20 points and Holstrom had 17, so at first glance it looked like the Nittany Lions forwards of the future would be those three undersized and fast skaters.
Of course, we know what happened last season. Scheid was given the reins of the second line, where he battled injuries but showed flashes of greatness when given the opportunity. On the top line, Goodwin flew under the radar as he helped Holstrom and Bailey dominate their oppositions and earn the program’s first Hobey Baker nominations. Bailey erupted for 40 points and consequently a professional career, while Goodwin poised himself as the leading returning scorer in the Big Ten.
Before the current season, the team voted for David Glen as its captain and Luke Juha and David Thompson as alternates. Once again, Goodwin flew under the radar as questions arose about who his new linemates would be. He spent all of last season on the top line, so he was expected to carry a similar weight as Penn State tried to build upon its first above-.500 season. Goodwin retained his top-line left wing spot and Glen was named to the center, then freshman Andrew Sturtz claimed the starting right wing position after a wealth of graduating forwards. The trio found immediate chemistry before head coach Guy Gadowsky shook up the lines in the middle of the season, placing Goodwin with Scheid and Dylan Richard. Recently, Gadowsky undid his switch and the original top line is currently reunited. For Goodwin, the reunion went completely smoothly.
“It took a period or so [to regain chemistry] but we were practicing all week with those lines,” Goodwin said. “I think everyone’s pretty happy about the change, Glen and Sturtz, it just seemed like what was best for the team was to shake it up a little bit.”
“We complement each other really well, I’m able to find Sturtz really well and he can kinda fly around and create scoring opportunities, Glen’s great on the faceoffs, and we all battle well together.”
Unlike last year’s top line of two small playmakers and one big scorer, this year’s unit is more of a mixed bag. Goodwin is still the small, fast, tough winger he’s always been, but now he has two-way forward David Glen centering him and Sturtz, whose all-around talent resulted in a team-leading 11 goals. Unsurprisingly, Goodwin’s high hockey IQ translates to an awareness of his linemates’ different styles in the last two seasons.
“I would say the overall chemistry on the line [is similar], just a lot of reading off each other, we really understand each other’s games,” Goodwin said. “But as specific individuals, not so much.”
In a program full of change, where roster turnover has been heavy and program records change seemingly every week, there’s been one resounding constant: the energy and intelligence of the Roar Zone. North Dakota, currently ranked No. 2 in the USCHO Poll, is the only program with more home wins than Penn State in the last two seasons. It’s not a coincidence that the Nittany Lions are 24-5-4 in Pegula Ice Arena over that span, compared to 6-9-2 on the road.
“It definitely helps,” Goodwin said. “There’s no denying home-ice advantage is huge. I just think so much of it is the Roar Zone and the energy they bring. As far as my individual transition from juniors to college, playing at home is great. It’s easier on the body and it’s a little more fun too.”
Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the Roar Zone won’t be in attendance for this weekend’s series at Ohio State — the team that knocked Penn State out of last year’s Big Ten Tournament in the first round. An eight-point weekend is nigh impossible, but if or when those eight points come, the next milestone in Goodwin’s hockey journey will be reached. The program stresses a team identity and unity that Goodwin certainly buys into. But a young team getting closer and closer to becoming a national menace needs a face, and this one might just have it in David Goodwin.