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Challenging Winter Break Sacrifices ‘Worth It’ For Penn State Men’s Hockey

The start of the Big Ten’s hockey season has taken quite a toll on Penn State men’s hockey.

In a normal year, the season pauses around Christmas and starts again at the beginning of the new year. This is usually a time for players to recharge and spend the holidays with family and friends. However, 2020 has forced players, coaches, and staffers to make difficult sacrifices.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky, for example, hasn’t seen his wife and daughters since July. They’ve spent the last couple of months in Canada because his wife is at high-risk for coronavirus complications.

“I’m just doing what I got to do,” Gadowsky said. “Everyone in this program is doing all we can to be safe and allow the student-athletes to compete.”

Gadowsky’s situation draws parallels to football head coach James Franklin, who went without seeing his family for roughly the same timespan.

“The sacrifice that he is making to be here with us, we owe it to him and the program to keep working hard,” graduate transfer Tim Doherty said.

Due to quarantine rules and travel restrictions, international players couldn’t go home for the holidays. Six players on the Nittany Lions’ active roster come from other countries — four players coming from Ontario, Canada, and two from Espoo, Finland.

The break is also a time where players are usually able to continue practicing and stay in shape using local rinks. Shutdowns and a lack of availability took away most players’ opportunity to do just that.

“Some of our guys had nothing. They may have been able to go for a run or do some bodyweight stuff, but that was it,” Gadowsky said.

As the break comes to its end, players’ complications and the need to go through testing and quarantine protocols have also slowed the Nittany Lions’ momentum.

“The energy is there from the last three games, but there is definitely a lot of rust,” said Gadowsky.

The motivation for the Nittany Lions is still there, though. Following an 0-5 start to the season, Penn State bounced back with three straight wins. For players like Doherty, who transferred into the program under the current situation, the love of the game and willingness to play this season has not wavered.

“Honestly, I have never questioned if this is all worth it once,” Doherty said. “We are so fortunate of the position that we are in, and we just got to enjoy it and make the best of it every single day.”

Penn State will face Michigan State on January 3 to begin the second phase of its schedule.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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