PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Hockey Freshman Denis Smirnov Already Capturing National Attention

No. 10 Penn State hockey is off to its best start in program history. The Nittany Lions (9-1-1) success has been in large part due to tremendous depth and an elusive mix of veteran and youthful talent. Of the 27 names on the roster this season, arguably no one has been more impressive so far than freshman forward Denis Smirnov.

“I worked really hard this summer, so when I came here it just made it easier playing with great teammates. It’s hard not to score when you are playing with these guys,” Smirnov said.

The 19 year old Russia native currently leads the team in points with five goals and 12 assists. He’s clearly had a fast start to the season, notching a point in every game this year except for one. His 17 points are tied for sixth-most in the country and most among freshman. Smirnov was awarded the Big Ten Second Star of the Week following his back to back three point games against Niagara.

At 5’10”, 185 lbs, Smirnov relies on his speed, agility, and shiftiness to evade defenders and make exceptional plays. Whenever he steps onto the ice, he always seems to be at the heart of the action. I legitimately get excited whenever I see number 25 jump over the boards for a line change because I know something positive is going to happen.

For me, Smirnov passes the eye test too and feels like the complete package. He has an affinity for both scoring and setting up his teammates. His feather soft hands coupled with  a seemingly unparalleled ice vision has led to 12 assists this season, which ranks second in the country. When Smirnov is paired with senior captain David Goodwin, Penn State has one of the most lethal combinations in all of college hockey. They play a similar brand of hockey and always seem to know where the other one is on the ice at all times.

During the third period of the second Niagara game, the duo got together for a nice sauce and snipe social on Penn State’s last goal of the night:

“I use my vision well to find my teammates. I try to battle when I can and get as many pucks on net as possible,” Smirnov said.

Besides the obvious talent, one of things I love most about Denis Smirnov is his name. Smirnov…what a name for a collegiate hockey player. The line in Herb Brooks’ famous speech “You were born to be a hockey player” could not apply more here. So Russian, so electric. It’s only a matter of time before the Roar Zone starts making a drinking game out of it, and we’ve already seen some posters.

About the Author

Matt Castle

Matt is a junior Journalism major with a business minor from the great state of Massachusetts. He will be moving into a new apartment soon to make room for his fifth Lombardy trophy. His extremely unbiased top five athletes of all time include Tom Brady, Isaiah Thomas, Andrew Benintendi, David Pastrnak, and Diego Fagundez. If you really hate yourself, you can follow him @whitecastle22 or email him at [email protected]


More by Matt

James Franklin Discusses Depth And Program Stability After Tuesday’s Practice

James Franklin touched on a number of topics after Tuesday evening’s practice. Most notably, Penn State’s head man opined on his team’s depth, along with comments regarding his brand new contract extension.

ESPN Ranks Saquon Barkley Fourth-Best Player In College Football

Penn State Men’s Lacrosse To Host Towson In NCAA Tournament Opener


Max Sauve Commits To Penn State Hockey

Sauve originally committed to Vermont in 2015, but flipped to Penn State at the eleventh hour and will join the Nittany Lions next season.

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Evaluating Tony Carr’s Performance At The 2018 NBA Draft Combine

Penn State Hockey Commit Evan Bell Wins Clark Cup With USHL’s Fargo Force

Student Life

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Career Services To Launch Integrated Career Management & Recruiting Platform

Penn State Esports Wins Tespa Collegiate Hearthstone Championship

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.

Penn State Names Guadagnino Vice President For Administration

Guadagnino will continue to provide legal advice as associate general counsel in addition to his duties as vice president.

As Disciplinary Hearing Opens, Expert Says Baldwin Failed To Properly Represent Ex-Penn State Administrators

A Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board hearing began on Tuesday in Pittsburgh for former Penn State general counsel Cynthia Baldwin, who is accused of violating rules of professional conduct in her representation of former university administrators during the Jerry Sandusky investigation.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Send this to a friend