Getting To Know Penn State Hockey Transfer Clayton Phillips
Penn State men’s hockey secured a talented crop of freshmen headlined by Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Kevin Wall, but Guy Gadowsky also dipped into the transfer market to make some additions to his team ahead of the 2019-20 season. Veteran defenseman Clayton Phillips is the most prominent of the team’s incoming transfers.
Phillips’ name was linked with Penn State throughout the summer, but his move to Hockey Valley from Minnesota finally became official on September 11. DK Pittsburgh Sports reported that the defenseman enrolled at Penn State in August with the expectation of sitting out this season, but Phillips was granted a transfer exemption and will be able to take the ice starting this season.
“I really can’t give enough praise to the coaches and the compliance office here at Penn State,” Phillips said. “They took care of everything behind the scenes.”
“Our compliance office deserves all the credit. They shouldered all the work,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said at his team’s media day. “They did an unbelievable job. They really could not have been more responsive and better to work with. We’re really thrilled to get Clayton Phillips.”
As far as Phillips’ on-ice game is concerned, there’s a lot to be thrilled about. He was drafted in the third round (No. 93 overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, in no small part thanks to his elite skating ability and knack for advancing the puck up the ice.
Gadowsky showed some early confidence in his new blueliner by deploying him on Penn State’s top power play unit in its 5-0 exhibition win over the University of Ottawa. Phillips quarterbacked a unit with the Nittany Lions’ top three forwards — Alex Limoges, Evan Barratt, and Liam Folkes — up front and Aarne Talvitie at the bumper position in the high slot.
“He’s an elite-skating defenseman, and he moves pucks,” Gadowsky said. “He fits extremely well with what we do, and we’re thrilled to have him. Clayton took a little bit of a leap of faith with Penn State, which is where he wanted to be.”
Being a Penguins draft pick has given Phillips the opportunity to cross paths with a couple Nittany Lions over the years. Chase Berger signed a contract with Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate during the offseason, but he was also invited to the Pens’ development camp in 2017 — Phillips’ first as a member of the organization.
Brandon Biro was invited to skate at Pittsburgh’s development camp this offseason, giving Phillips a nice introduction to one of his new Hockey Valley teammates.
“I met Chase when he came into camp two or three years ago. He was obviously captain here last year, and he’s a really nice kid,” Phillips said. “It was nice to meet Biro at this camp this year. He was really nice about texting me throughout the summer and was really helpful.”
Phillips spent the first season-and-a-half of his college hockey career with Minnesota — one of Penn State’s six Big Ten foes — after joining the team midway through the 2017-18 season. The Golden Gophers haven’t found success at Pegula Ice Arena during that time. In fact, they’ve lost all six of their games at Penn State during the past two seasons.
Naturally, Phillips’ memories of Pegula Ice Arena aren’t the fondest.
“I haven’t won a game here with Minnesota,” he said. “That kind of sticks out.”
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