No ‘One-Trick Pony’: Penn State Men’s Hockey’s Lower Lines Step Up In Hot Streak
Penn State hockey is 9-4 since starting its season with a less-than-ideal 0-5 record.
With the entire team turning its season around, including star players such as Alex Limoges and Oskar Autio, Penn State’s lower-line players have been flying under the radar. However, they are a crucial part of the Nittany Lions’ recent success.
The players on Penn State’s lower lines have stood out in the team’s last few games. Despite falling to Notre Dame Friday night, the Nittany Lions got two goals from Sam Sternschein and Tyler Gratton, two players who haven’t been at the top of the scoresheet all season. The Nittany Lions also received an unlikely score from senior defenseman Clayton Phillips.
“When we’ve been successful, that’s really been a staple of our teams,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said Friday night about the team’s fourth line contribution. “We’ve never been good when we’re just a one-trick pony.”
Phillips has now scored two goals in his last three games along with Sternschein registering two points in his last three games as well. Sternschein recognized his improved play after Friday night’s defeat to Notre Dame.
“I think I’ve been really getting back to playing the way I know I can play all over the ice,” Sternschein said. “I haven’t been scoring as much, but I’m playing a much more rounded game. I think my defensive game has been way better, and I got rewarded for it tonight.”
Playing on the same line as sophomore Tyler Gratton and junior Bobby Hampton, two players who haven’t seen the ice much this season, Sternchein raved about the chemistry between the three.
“I thought we clicked right away,” Sternschein said. “I’m really close to both those guys off the ice. We just spoke before the game to just not do anything crazy and just try to play in there and as much as possible. I thought we did a really good job in the third period of that. We could have been better than the first two periods, but I think we played really well as a line, and they’re both great players.”
The players showing up on the scoresheet aren’t the only players who have been contributing to the team’s recent success, either. Senior forward Adam Pilewicz has been making an impact on the ice but an even bigger impact in the locker room this season.
After being scratched in Penn State’s 4-1 defeat to Wisconsin last week, the Pittsburgh native made his presence felt in Penn State’s 5-4 victory the following night. More specifically, Pilewicz was able to flip the puck out of Penn State’s zone before Tyler Gratton chased it down to avoid what would have been a crucial icing call. This didn’t go unnoticed by Gadowsky after the game.
“He does the right things all the time,” Gadowsky said about Pilewicz. “He’s a great teammate. He does extra work in the weight room…He’s the type of person that not only hockey teams want, but every successful company, team, or organization wants. There are guys that drive teams to play the right way, and he’s one of them.”
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