News & Notes From Penn State Men’s Hockey Media Day
Penn State men’s hockey held its annual media day Monday, signaling that fans will be back in Hockey Valley soon.
The event started with coach Guy Gadowsky fielding questions at the podium. Several players also spoke, including captain Paul DeNaples, and alternate captains Connor McMenamin, Clayton Phillips, and Adam Pilewicz.
From getting fans back in the stands to the program’s upcoming decade-marking season, here are the highlights from Penn State men’s hockey’s media day.
Moving On From Last Season
After finishing fifth in the Big Ten, it’s apparent that this team didn’t achieve what it set out to do. Last season, Penn State posted only 20 points, a disappointing drop-off from 41 points in the 2019-20 season.
While Gadowsky is not proud of last season’s outcome, he knows there is a lot to learn from it.
“I’m not sure we want to put it behind us just yet because I think there were a lot of lessons that we learned,” Gadowsky said. “You can’t just blame COVID. I mean, there’s a lot of things that we were not able to accomplish that I personally could have been a lot more innovative with recognizing a lot earlier than when we were deficient in certain areas.”
Fans Finally Return
As everyone knows, there were no fans in the stands at Pegula last season. That changes on Sunday.
More than 6,000 people will pack into Pegula Ice Arena to watch the Nittany Lions take the ice at every home game. Penn State will once again see visiting crowds on road trips, too.
Gadowsky and players alike are ecstatic about having fans back at the games.
“It’s incredible, especially here, like in a place like this, I think it means so much to us as students and sports students and the rest of the town,” DeNaples said. “It’s incredible, and we missed that so much last year. It helps us more than you guys even know getting out there and all that support, and all that is going to be put back through this year.”
“Definitely most looking forward to, you know, having that Pegula atmosphere back on the road zone,” McMenamin said. “They’re incredible, the best fans of college hockey. So, I can’t wait to get them back in but also just the camaraderie with the guys in the locker room.”
Improving The Defense Begins With Coaching
Penn State’s defense struggled a season ago and allowed 3.68 goals per game. The Nittany Lions obviously hope to improve that figure to boost their odds of a winning record.
“I think that number one, we were not coached nearly well enough to start the season in a number of areas, but the defensive structure is certainly one of them,” Gadowsky said. “The coaches have to do a bit. I have to do a better job. That’s number one.”
Penn State finished as one of the worst defensive teams in the Big Ten last season.
A Tale Of Two Goalies
Mysteriously, Gadowsky shared a thought regarding the goalie situation. The rotation could involve two Nittany Lions starting any given game.
“We do feel we have a starter, but we’re extremely optimistic that we have two excellent goaltenders,” Gadowsky said. “Obviously, we can play [them] as many games as we’d like, but both have had instances where they showed that they both can be a starter. So, obviously, Oskar [Autio] was able to have a lot of success later or later in the season until we got shut down, but I think we are optimistic about that. We’re also optimistic that we have two good players that have shown they can do it and need more opportunity.”
Penn State will open its season with a home series against Long Island University. Puck drop in game one is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 3.
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About the Author
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