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Chase Berger: One Of Penn State Hockey’s First Heroes

Penn State men’s hockey said goodbye to its senior class of 2019 when the season ended in the Big Ten championship game.

Among the six departing Nittany Lions is one of the most impactful and important players in the program’s admittedly-short history: Chase Berger. Before I get into the impact Berger had on this team, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the rest of his senior class. Kevin Kerr, Alec Marsh, Derian Hamilton, Ludvig Larsson, and Chris Funkey all deserve credit for their contributions to the game of hockey at Penn State.

But Berger stands out among the rest for a number of reasons.


On the ice, Chase Berger was a pillar of consistency. Perhaps most impressively, he never missed a game in four seasons as a Nittany Lion.

The newest Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin is currently the only Penn State player never to miss a game during his entire four-year career. He was good enough never to be a healthy scratch, disciplined enough to never get suspended, and durable enough to stay healthy and in the lineup. Berger’s durability might be among his most impressive attributes, especially considering his style of play.

“That’s tough to do, especially for someone who plays as hard as he does,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said after Berger crossed the 100-game milestone last season. “He’s anything but a perimeter player; he’s involved in every faceoff battle — he plays as well on the defensive side of the puck as he does on the offensive side of the puck.”

It’s not like Berger played barely well enough to stay in the lineup every night, either. He was always one of the most productive, efficient players on the team throughout his career, and his career point totals confirm that. His 118 points and 51 goals are both the second-most in program history.

Berger also owns his fair share of program records, including most shots on goal (477) and most power-play goals (13), a record he shares with Casey Bailey.

Speaking of special teams, Berger filled every possible role he could for Penn State. He appeared on the power play enough to tie Bailey’s record, but he also did the dirty work defensively by killing penalties. Part of why Chase Berger is so special on the ice is the fact that he’s a five-tool player.

Though Berger’s time lacing up his skates and taking the ice of Pegula Ice Arena might be over, his hockey career sure isn’t. The center signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate last week, and he scored his first professional goal in just his second game with the Baby Pens.


While Berger’s on-ice contributions left a tangible mark on Penn State’s hockey program, his overall impact extends far beyond the numbers and records he accumulated over the past four years.

Not many players receive the honor of being a two-year captain, but Berger wore an “A” on his sweater as a junior before donning the “C” as team captain this season. His leadership rubbed off on some of his teammates, including alternate captain Kevin Kerr.

“[Berger]’s an incredible leader,” Kerr said. “I talked to him a lot, picked some things up in terms of what to do and what not to do [as a captain]. I’ve learned from guys like Chase and coach [Gadowsky] and past leaders to try and implement that into what I do this year.”

Guy Gadowsky has raved about Berger’s off-ice intangibles — including his leadership skills, representation in the classroom, and work ethic in the classroom — countless times over the past few seasons.

The center earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in each of the past three seasons, and he was named a Big Ten distinguished scholar in his sophomore and junior years. Berger was also Penn State’s sportsmanship honoree in the Big Ten’s postseason awards.

Gadowsky was asked if he thought Berger had the potential to be a leader as a freshman before the Nittany Lions’ final home series of the 2018-19 regular season. His answer was simple: “Yeah.”

Unlike some of his predecessors, Berger wasn’t a vocal leader. Instead, he elected to lead by example with his work ethic and excellent people skills.

“His family, it’s an all-world class family. [Berger becoming a captain] wasn’t surprising at all,” Gadowsky said. “Chase leads in more of a thoughtful, intellectual way. He’s got his own, unique style of leadership — he leads by example and takes pride in what he does, and he’s really good at dealing with people.”


As the reality of the Nittany Lions’ season ending set in, one thing became abundantly clear to me. Penn State isn’t just losing a great hockey player — it’s losing a special, one-of-a-kind person with Berger’s departure.

If there’s any silver lining in Berger’s departure, Penn State won’t miss out on the Berger family intangibles for long. Christian Berger is a left-shot defenseman currently committed to the Nittany Lions, and he’s slated to join the team this upcoming season.

While we wait for Christian’s arrival in Hockey Valley, there’s only one thing left to say: Thank you, Chase.

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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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