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Penn State Hockey’s First-Time Players Impress Against Clarkson

No. 10 Penn State men’s hockey opened its season with a resounding sweep of Clarkson at Pegula Ice Arena to secure its first two victories of the season.

Ludvig Larsson, Aarne Talvitie, and Paul DeNaples all made their Penn State debuts over the weekend and impressed against the Golden Knights. Larsson, a graduate transfer who spent the first three years of his college career at Merrimack, had 91 games of NCAA experience under his belt entering this season. Talvitie and DeNaples each made their collegiate debuts Thursday night.

Coach Guy Gadowsky was pleased with his players after last weekend’s sweep.

“Honestly, we don’t have any complaints,” Gadowsky said. “Clarkson’s a really good team, so I’m thrilled to come away with two wins against them. Not a lot to complain about, but even though we won, there are certain things that need work from a team system perspective, but the individuals looked really good.”

Ludvig Larsson made an impression in his first weekend with the Nittany Lions by winning 72.2 percent of faceoffs.

Larsson is still searching for his first NCAA goal, but chipped in two assists and was dominant in the faceoff dot throughout both games against the Golden Knights. He went 26-for-36 in the faceoff dot in both games, including a standout 13-3 record on draws in Friday’s game.

He was flanked by juniors Nate Sucese and Brandon Biro. Biro was thrilled with the Swede’s performance throughout the weekend.

“I thought [Larsson] was fantastic,” Biro said. “It didn’t look like he needed any time to fit in as well. You could tell that he’s played in the league for three years. He just kind of has that presence that he’s in the right spot.”

Meanwhile, Talvitie began his Penn State career on a line with two seniors: captain Chase Berger and Alec Marsh. Marsh left the ice injured during Thursday’s game and was replaced by Adam Pilewicz on the wing.

Talvitie was critical of his opening-night performance, but bounced back to score the game-winning goal Friday night. Gadowsky said Talvitie could become a force once he gets used to the dimensions of North American ice because he has the tools of a quality player.

Talvitie said the biggest differences between college hockey and what he’s used to was the amount of pressure he felt on the puck and the strength of his opponents.

His teammates thought he was excellent in his debut despite his failure to make the scoresheet.

“[Talvitie] did a great job in his first collegiate game,” junior defenseman Kris Myllari said. “It’s a big transition, and I thought he did a great job executing the little things. That’s all you can ask for, and if you do that, the results will come.”

DeNaples didn’t score a point, but finished with a +1 rating and five shot blocks in his first two NCAA games for Penn State.

Paul DeNaples was the only new defenseman to take the ice this weekend, but was steady throughout the series. DeNaples might not be the flashiest defenseman in the world, but he showed off his physical presence and high hockey IQ.

A big part of DeNaples’ strong weekend was how comfortable he looked on the ice — his confidence surprised even Gadowsky.

“I thought [Paul DeNaples] played very physical and very smart,” Gadowsky said following Thursday’s season opener. “He looked a lot more comfortable than I thought he’d be.”

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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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