Penn State Hockey Goalies Feed Off Each Other In Starting Position Competition
In a haze of uncertainty surrounding Penn State hockey’s goalie situation, one thing’s for sure: There’s absolutely no bad blood between Chris Funkey and Peyton Jones in the competition for the starting position.
While Gadowsky, the captains, and the goaltenders themselves said the decision is still up in the air, they all agree the competition has been a healthy, positive learning experience for both young netminders.
Gadowsky constantly describes Funkey as a quintessential team player, and the 5’10, 175 lbs sophomore maintains that maturity even if it means he has to sit on the bench. “If Peyton’s in the net, there’s going to be nobody in Pegula who wants him to succeed more than I do,” he said.
Funkey noted that his relationships with former Penn State goaltenders Eamon McAdam and Matt Skoff helped shape him and he wants to pass it down to Jones. He’s quick to point out Jones’ strengths, too. Despite the freshman’s 6’4 stature, one of his advantages is speed. He grew eight (!) inches in his senior year of high school, so he learned to be quick pre-growth spurt and it stuck with him.
Jones’ sentiments mirror Funkey’s, with a twist of appreciation.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re both battling hard for the starting job. I learn from him, he learns from me,” Jones said. “Right when I came in, [Funkey] told me ‘let me know if you need something, I’m always here for you’ and he is always there.”
Jones said the two often go on the ice early and practice with each other. Both point out room for improvement only visible through a goalie’s eyes. Throughout the offseason, Funkey’s been hitting the weight room and focusing on flexibility. Jones has gained 10 lbs since he arrived on campus in the summer — he’s been working on leg strength and hip mobility.
Gadowsky isn’t looking for a certain style in net this season — he’s focusing on results. “In the goaltending position, we evaluate on numbers: wins and losses, goals against, save percentage, then your work ethic, how you are as a teammate, and how well you represent Penn State.”
It’s obviously difficult to pick a starter based on numbers when the season hasn’t started yet, though. So who’s in net come Sunday’s exhibition? Gadowsky isn’t committed to anything.
“Chris Funkey was brought in here to be a tremendous teammate, a guy who is mentally tough and can come into games — and he’s shown he can do that. Peyton Jones we thought was going to come in and eventually be a starter…but we thought it would happen a year later. Peyton had a tremendous year and he’s proved he is a good starter, and I’m sure he’ll get the opportunity to show us he can do that at this level,” he said.
While Penn State’s starting goalie is still a question mark, at least we know the competition is healthy and Gadowsky still loves the word ‘tremendous.’