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Penn State Hockey Adds Defenseman Clayton Phillips To Roster Via Transfer

Penn State men’s hockey bolstered its defensive depth by adding Clayton Phillips as a transfer from the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Phillips was granted an NCAA transfer exception and will be immediately eligible to play for the Nittany Lions.

Phillips was selected No. 93 overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 NHL Draft. He appeared in 45 games for the Golden Gophers over his freshman and sophomore seasons of college, including 34 in the 2018-19 season, and scored a goal and nine assists over that time. He’ll wear No. 18 for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State has been linked with Phillips, who told TribLive that he was looking for a fresh start over the summer, for a while now. The smooth-skating defenseman was listed as a Penn State player at Da Beauty League, which is an informal summer league that active NHL players participate in. DK Pittsburgh Sports also reported that Phillips enrolled at Penn State on August 13 with the expectation that he’d have to sit out a year.

Before joining Minnesota in 2017-18, Phillips played for the USHL’s Fargo Force and Muskegon Lumberjacks. Penn State’s newest defenseman initially wasn’t supposed to start his college hockey career until last season, and one of his junior coaches said making the jump up was harmful to his development.

“In my opinion, this is another unfortunate example of a player entering big-time college hockey before they are physically ready and, more important, mentally ready to compete against men and handle the demands on and off the ice,” Fargo Force general manager Cary Eades, who served as head coach of the team for four seasons, said.

Now that Phillips’ transfer is official, Penn State now has seven NHL Draft picks on its roster. Nikita Pavlychev (Pittsburgh Penguins), Evan Barratt (Chicago Blackhawks), Cole Hults (Los Angeles Kings), Denis Smirnov (Colorado Avalanche), Aarne Talvitie (New Jersey Devils), and Kevin Wall (Carolina Hurricanes) are the other Nittany Lions whose NHL rights are secured. Only three Penn State players — Barratt, Max Gardiner (No. 74 overall, 2010), and Eamon McAdam (No. 70 overall, 2013) — were selected earlier than Phillips in the NHL Draft.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail, death threats, and your vote for the best chicken parm in State College to [email protected]


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