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10 Questions With Penn State Men’s Hockey Alternate Captain Paul DeNaples

Penn State men’s hockey alternate Captain Paul DeNaples is looking forward to keeping the program going in the right direction this upcoming season.

DeNaples ranks second all-time in the program in plus/minus with a rating of +49 and ranks just outside the top 10 for points by a defenseman with 25. The Moscow, Pa. native skated in all 34 games last season and scored a career-best three goals.

The junior defenseman spoke with Onward State about his first collegiate game in Pegula Ice Arena, his love of the vintage Los Angeles Kings jerseys, and his goals as an alternate captain. 

Onward State: When did you start playing hockey?

Paul DeNaples: I started playing hockey when I was 5 or 6. Me and my brother, who’s a year older than me, we started together, and ever since then, I’m still playing.

It was kind of random, we went to some local AHL Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins games, and me and my brother decided we wanted to play, and then ever since then, it’s probably the only sport I’ve ever played really.

OS: Did you play other sports besides hockey growing up?

PD: I played a little bit of lacrosse, nothing too serious, for two or three years. Other than that nothing else. I feel like a lot of hockey players end up playing lacrosse, too. 

OS: What NHL team did you root for growing up?

PD: I was more of a [Pittsburgh] Penguins fan, but recently I’ve kind of converted over to a [Philadelphia] Flyers fan because a guy I grew up with and played with, and became very close friends with, is on the Flyers right now. 

OS: What is your favorite NHL Jersey?

PD: I think the old school LA Kings jersey, the purple and gold ones, I think those are probably the best NHL jerseys. 

OS: What’s your favorite hockey memory?

PD: I think my favorite memory is playing my first home game at Pegula [Ice Arena]…I think that was something different, playing in front of the crowd. Playing a game where a childhood dream that I always wished I could make come true, did.

I can’t really remember exactly one certain point, but just the student section and the rest of the fans there were just pretty awesome. It was awesome playing in front of your school and having that school support behind you. 

OS: Do you have a favorite place on or around campus?

PD: Honestly I think the only place I really go to on campus is probably the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for church, that’s probably the only place I can think of right now. I honestly just enjoy walking through campus.

I guess that’s the one thing I really miss this year, is actually walking to classes. Some people like the online – I mean, I’d rather honestly get up and get around campus, take a walk every morning and get to class that way.  

OS: How does it feel being an alternate captain this year?

PD: It’s awesome, it’s really humbling to know that my teammates and coaches look at me that way, and hopefully I can do the best I can to keep the program going the right way and have a successful year. Just looking off of mentalities from captain’s last year – Kris Myllari, Liam Folkes, and Brandon Biro, I think I want to be like them.

They were always driving us in the right direction, trying to get us to the place that we wanted to be and we were going that way. Unfortunately with COVID and everything, the season came to a halt so I think my goal is to try and get us back to where we were, go farther. 

OS: Who do you think has influenced you the most throughout your hockey career?

PD: I think it’s my dad. I would not be here without him. Early mornings, putting the extra work in, he’s the one that’s motivated me to do everything I can to get here. Without him, it wouldn’t have happened. 

OS: Finally, per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur what would you be and why?

PD: Velociraptor. 

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About the Author

Acacia Aster Broder

Acacia is a junior from Philadelphia majoring in digital and print journalism with a sports certificate. Although she considers herself a Philadelphian at heart, she is a Toronto and Seattle sports fan. Follow her on Twitter @acaciaaster or Instagram @acaciaastr for hockey takes and mediocre analysis.

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