Penn State Men’s Hockey Media Day Recap
Penn State Men’s Hockey held its annual media day Thursday, which can only mean one thing: Hockey Valley action at Pegula is right around the corner.
Coach Guy Gadowsky opened at the podium followed by captains David Goodwin, Ricky DeRosa and James Robinson. They addressed a number of topics including incoming freshmen, season expectations, and the value of leadership amongst the team. Here’s everything you need to know:
Gadowsky Wants To Use Offense To Improve Defense
Penn State hockey has been labeled a prolific scoring team under Gadowsky. Playing this type of style, defensive miscues are bound to happen. Last year, Penn State was tied for No. 6 nationally for average goals per game, but No. 48 for average goals against per game. Gadowsky wants to utilize an improved offense to help out the defense.
“We’re a program that does like to score and we play that way. You don’t want to neglect defense, but sometimes you have to give something back somewhere,” Gadowsky said. “It’s something that we do want to address and get better and better. When we talk about improving our defensive numbers it’s not necessarily because we’re going to give up this less, but it’s going to be that we have the puck more, so we’ll have to defend less. We want to be a better 200-foot team that we have control of the puck more.”
Increased Depth Has Led To Increased Competition
Last year, the hockey team was plagued by the injury in alternate captain James Robinson, who missed all of last season due to a broken collarbone. Depth was such a concern at some points last season that there were games where the team dressed only 10 forwards. With the incoming freshman class, the Lions added some much needed depth to the roster, which in turn has fostered some healthy competition.
“Depth wise, it’s extremely nice in case someone goes down with an injury,” DeRosa said. “Also, it’s just guys pushing each other in practice which makes practice that much better. Everybody’s getting better at the end of the day.”
“It’s been great for the internal competition,” Goodwin said. “At the same time, we know that if there’s injuries or guys aren’t playing well, it’s next man up and we feel confident in everyone.”
Another Season Without A Clear No. 1 At Goalie
The last couple years, Penn State has played musical goaltenders rotating between two, or even three, goalies throughout the season. It seems season’s blueprint is no different with Chris Funkey and Peyton Jones. Gadowsky made it clear that his program doesn’t necessarily look for goalies that play a certain style.
“We evaluate on numbers. Wins and losses, goals against average, save percentage,” Gadowsky said. “Then your work ethic and how you are as a teammate and how well you represent Penn State University.”
However, Gadowsky may have tipped his hand as to who may eventually take the reigns by the end of the season as starting goaltender.
“We don’t have anything that we’re committed to. Chris Funkey was brought in here to be a tremendous teammate, a guy that is really mentally tough and can come into games and he’s shown that he can do that,” Gadowsky said. “Peyton Jones is a guy that we’ve identified early that we thought was going to come in and eventually be a starter. He had a tremendous year last year in the USHL, he proved that he is a very good starter and I’m sure he’ll get the opportunity to show us if he can do that at this level.”
New Captains Are Humbled To Lead The Team
The new captains were picked with plenty of input from the players. Gadowsky spoke highly of the three captains and could see why the players wanted Goodwin, DeRosa, and Robinson to lead the team. The players were very gracious of the opportunity.
“It’s privileged, it’s an honor, I’m very excited and humbled,” Goodwin said. “There’s a little more pressure, but we couldn’t be more proud to lead this great program,”
“It’s a big honor just to be voted by your teammates. Just knowing that they trust you and look up to you,” DeRosa said. “We’re excited to get the season going and lead by example on the ice, in the locker room, off the ice and everything we do.”
Freshman Nikita Pavlychev Has Impressed
The 6’7″ freshman forward from Russia has been turning some heads among the coaches and team in practice. Pavlychev is seen as a smart, hardworking player who’s surprisingly nimble given his tall frame.
“Obviously, it’s very hard to miss him,” Gadowsky said. “He’s a guy that’s worked extremely hard off the ice, works hard on his game and he’s looking pretty comfortable. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how he’s improved his stability on the ice and I think that’s only going to get better.”
“You’d be very surprised. He’s actually very fast,” DeRosa said. “He’s great on his edges and works on it all the time. He’s a very smart hockey player. I know I’m excited to play with him.”
Penn State drops the puck on Sunday, Oct. 2 against Queen’s (Ontario) at 1 p.m. in an international exhibition tilt at Pegula Ice Arena. The regular season starts Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in a home game against St. Lawrence.