Graduate Transfer Ludvig Larsson Brings Leadership, Versatility To Penn State Hockey

Penn State men’s hockey fans have witnessed plenty of “firsts” in the six years since the program’s inception in 2012. The team won its first game on October 13, 2012, opened its brand new arena with a victory one year later, and lifted its first Big Ten trophy in March 2017.

New center Ludvig Larsson represents two more “firsts” with his arrival in Hockey Valley for the 2018-19 season.

Larsson is the first player to use the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule to spend his final season of eligibility with Guy Gadowsky’s program. He picked Penn State over a host of other top teams in college hockey, including Providence, Northeastern, and Minnesota-Duluth — last season’s national champion.

Additionally, he’s the first player from Sweden to play for the Nittany Lions. Most of the program’s players have come from the United States and Canada, but Larsson is one of six European players in program history, and one of five on this year’s roster along with Nikita Pavlychev (Russia), Denis Smirnov (Russia), Aarne Talvitie (Finland), and Oskar Autio (Finland).

The strongest part of Ludvig Larsson’s game is easily his skill in the faceoff dot. 

Larsson doesn’t take the fact that he’s Penn State’s first Swedish player lightly, and he quickly fell in love with the university after beginning his final season of NCAA eligibility.

“It’s exciting being the first,” Larsson said. “It’s not often you can be the first of something, so I’m obviously excited to represent Sweden.”

“Hopefully, I make a good impression on Penn State’s program so they can bring in more Swedes after I leave.”

The center spent his first three years of NCAA eligibility at Merrimack and began his Penn State career on a line with alternate captain Brandon Biro and junior Nate Sucese. Larsson’s line started in the Nittany Lions’ 3-2 victory in an exhibition game against Brock University Saturday.

Larsson said he’s developed an effective chemistry with his new linemates, who spent a ton of time on the ice together throughout their first two seasons in Hockey Valley.

“[Playing with Biro and Sucese] has been going very well,” he said prior to the exhibition game. “We have some really good chemistry. We’ve been practicing very well, so I’m excited to see how we’ll play in game situations.”

Larsson scored 13 goals for Merrimack last season to finish tied for the team lead with New Jersey Devils prospect Brett Seney. 

The strongest part of Larsson’s game was on full display throughout that 3-2 victory over Brock. He finished the game 16-for-19 on faceoffs after finishing last season No. 14 in college hockey with a .583 win percentage. His addition brings a much-needed specialist to Penn State’s center corps, which finished last season with a .482 win percentage on draws.

Although he has plenty of natural centers to work with, head coach Guy Gadowsky felt the addition of a player like Larsson was necessary because of his skill in the dot and goal-scoring ability.

“We do have a lot of centers, but if you’re going to play that position, you better win draws,” Gadowsky said. “Quite honestly, we didn’t do a very good job of that last year. [Larsson] is excellent on faceoffs, and besides that, he led [Merrimack] in goals. We lost Andrew Sturtz, so he basically fixes two problems at once.”

Sophomore Evan Barratt sees Larsson as a leader among the team’s group of centers, despite the fact that this is the Swede’s first season in Hockey Valley.

“It’s definitely nice to have an older guy that’s played his fair share of games in college,” Barratt said. “Him and Chase [Berger] have played a lot of games in college. They’ve been through it, they kind of know what to expect, so it’s nice to have those guys up the middle and bounce ideas off each other.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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