Penn State Hockey Enters A Post McAdam-Skoff Era
Few things are more unsettling in hockey than an upcoming season with an unfamiliar goalie. Goalies hold a leadership role comparable to that of a quarterback’s. With less than three weeks until Penn State’s season opener, it’s time to face reality — Eamon McAdam and Matt Skoff aren’t coming back.
I have to admit, coach Guy Gadowsky’s goalie rotation grew on me by the end of the season. What I once considered a hinderance to one goalie’s development, I now look back on as a necessary approach and a way to give each goalie essential breaks. College hockey has a long season filled with back-to-back games — the potential for burnout is high.
The realization dawns on me at the start of a new era. Gadowsky was adamant about his two-goalie structure last season, never once doubting it or indicating he’d change it — even after rough games. This leads me to believe he’s partial to the system in general, not just because McAdam and Skoff fit it well. Could we see more of the same this season?
If we do, it will be called the Funkey-Jones rotation, which is actually reason enough for Gadowsky to at least consider it. If we don’t, Chris Funkey and Peyton Jones will have to battle for the number one spot.
Funkey boasts experience between Penn State’s pipes. The 5’10, 175 lbs. sophomore played a total of 71:03 minutes as a Nittany Lion across a span of four games: Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, then Michigan again. Although he played for less than 15 minutes during the first two (13:12 against Notre Dame, 10:45 against MIchigan), he stopped a total of 4 shots and didn’t allow any goals. The biggest case for Funkey might be his 33:22 minutes in the Wisconsin game. His showing landed him our coveted Player of the Game award. Through the ~half hour, he posted 13 saves and allowed 0 goals in a comeback effort that fell short due to offensive woes. If this spurt of time is any indication, Penn State need not worry about its goalie. The issue here is in the “if” — he just hasn’t played enough for any proclamation of certainty. There’s not even enough here to make stats like save percentage meaningful. He allowed two goals in 13:44 during his second meeting with Michigan, but the team was already struggling and this was merely a symptom of that — not a cause.
We know even less about Jones. The 6’4, 210 lbs. freshman spent 2014-16 on the USHL’s Lincoln Stars. In the 2015-16 season, he racked up 2030 minutes of playing time (35 games, 19 wins 11 losses) for a .922 save percentage. You can look at all the stats in the world, but the transition from the USHL to #CawlidgeHockey changes players. Under Gadowsky’s leadership, I only imagine Jones will grow and improve. But you never know.
I’m not a huge fan of making predictions, but if you forced me to tell you what I think will happen, I’d say Gadowsky starts Funkey at first then transitions into a two-goalie rotation. No matter what happens, it’ll be fun to watch two promising goaltenders develop.