A Way-Too-Early Look At Penn State Hockey’s 2020-2021 Roster
Penn State men’s hockey is coming off of a season that saw the Nittany Lions win the Big Ten’s regular-season title for the first time in program history. Before its season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the team stood at No. 7 in the country and had its eyes set on the NCAA Tournament.
However, the Nittany Lions still have much to look forward to as they gear up for the 2020-2021 season thanks to a strong up-and-coming roster.
The Nittany Lions’ defense will greatly miss the likes of Peyton Jones and Cole Hults, while their offense will pine for Liam Folkes, Evan Barratt, Nate Sucese, and the many goal-scorers who wrapped up their Penn State careers this season.
Even after losing some big-name talents, Guy Gadowsky will field a roster featuring a combination of key returning stars, new transfers, and eager freshmen.
With that in mind, here’s what we think Penn State men’s hockey’s roster could look like next fall.
Alex Limoges-Aarne Talvitie-Sam Sternschein
After losing six forwards, Alex Limoges, Aarne Talvitie, and Sam Sternschein will be some of the Nittany Lions’ best returning players. The trio combined for 29 goals, 39 assists, and 68 points last season, good for 20% of Penn State’s total points.
Limoges is coming off of an impressive 11-goal, 32-point season. Talvitie, on the other hand, will likely fill in at center, while senior right wing Sternschein will round out the triad. Filled to the brim with experience, this line should be a driving force for Penn State’s attack next season.
Connor McMenamin-Tim Doherty-Kevin Wall
Rising sophomores Kevin Wall and Connor McMenamin will need to step up to fill some big shoes this season. McMenamin finished the 2019-2020 season with 12 points, including the game-winning goals against Michigan State, proving he can step up in big moments. Wall, meanwhile, finished last season with only two goals and seven points.
Graduate transfer Tim Doherty should be a massive addition at center. He scored 37 points (14 goals, 23 assists) in 34 appearances for the Main Black Bears and won 54.4% of his draws last season.
Connor MacEachern-Jared Wescott-Tyler Gratton
Jared Wescott is easily one of the Nittany Lion’s best incoming players. He was consistently one of Sioux Falls’ top performers throughout his two-season junior career. He helped the Stampede win the 2018-19 Clark Cup, awarded to the USHL’s champion, by scoring 20 goals and 25 assists in 66 appearances.
Rising sophomores Tyler Gratton and Connor MacEachern will also need to step up. Gratton is a speedy right winger who finished the season with three goals and three points. While being one of the better hustlers on the team, the forward is known to be one of Penn State’s more energetic players. MacEachern finished freshman season with three goals and 11 points and will hopefully work to build on a successful debut season.
Max Sauvé-Bobby Hampton-Xander Lamppa
Xander Lamppa is also one of Penn State’s best incoming players. Last season, Xander Lamppa led the USHL’s Waterloo Black Hawks with 45 points (15 goals, 30 assists) in 49 games appearances.
Max Suavé is a speedy rising junior who only scored one goal and two points last season. He’s shown flashes of his talent before but will likely become a regular in this year’s lineup with more experience under his belt.
Bobby Hampton, meanwhile, transferred to Penn State after spending the first two seasons of his career with Northeastern but was ineligible to play for the Nittany Lions last season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules. The forward scored five goals in 47 games for his previous team and should be fresh to start the new season after sitting for one year.
Paul DeNaples-Clayton Phillips
Rising junior Paul DeNaples will likely be the Nittany Lions’ lead defensemen for the upcoming season. While being one of the most consistent defensemen in the country, DeNaples finished last season with three goals and 11 points and wrapped up his freshman season as a finalist for the Big Ten’s Defensive Play of the Year after finishing with the best plus-minus rating (+31) in the conference.
Rising senior Clayton Phillips will play his second season at Penn State after transferring from Minnesota. Phillips finished last season with two goals and nine points and should serve as one of the Nittany Lion’s most experienced defensemen.
Mason Snell-Evan Bell
Both of these defensemen should play larger roles for the Nittany Lions this season. Rising senior Evan Bell is coming off of another solid season, finishing with one goal and seven points in 23 games. Mason Snell, meanwhile, finished last season with two goals and four points. The rising sophomore will likely contribute more to the Nittany Lions’ defense this season following a strong showing as a freshman.
Christian Berger-Alex Stevens
Incoming freshman Christian Berger is the younger brother to Chase Berger, one of the greatest players in program history. Berger is joining the Nittany Lions after a strong career in the USHL. He scored five goals and 17 assists for the Omaha Lancers this past season.
Alex Stevens, on the other hand, is coming off of a somewhat slow junior season. After having the best season of his collegiate career in the 2018-2019 season, the defensemen finished with just two goals and three points in 20 games played.
Starter: Oskar Autio
Backup: Liam Soulière
Following the departure of Peyton Jones, Oskar Autio should be a perfect replacement for the longtime goaltender. The rising junior finished last season with a 2-1-1 record, 1.87 GAA, and .930 save percentage. In addition, Autio’s experience playing in the Big Ten will help him adjust to the workload of a starting goalie.
However, don’t count out incoming freshman Liam Soulière. The goaltender was supposed to join the Nittany Lions last season but deferred his offer by a year after Peyton Jones returned for his senior year. Soulière went 26-8-0 and put up excellent goals-against average and save percentage marks of 2.13 and .930, respectively, for the CCHL’s Brockville Braves last season.
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