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Penn State Men’s Hockey Freshmen Shine In Opening Series

Penn State men’s hockey secured a sweep in its opening series over LIU with a 5-2 victory Monday night.

Even though there was a bit of uncertainty regarding who would step up and fill the shoes of the players the team lost, the Nittany Lions’ younger players rose to the occasion in the team’s first series of the 2021-22 campaign.

Freshman forward Ryan Kirwan came storming out of the gates and opened the scoring for the Nittany Lions in Sunday afternoon’s season opener. Kirwan also tallied an assist, while fellow freshmen Simon Mack and Danny Dzhaniyev notched one and two assists, respectively.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance in Sunday’s victory, but he praised the freshmen and how they were able to adjust to the game quickly.

“I think the entire team will expect a lot more for what we are with our game and our identity,” Gadowsky said following Sunday’s game. “So, we are not thrilled with that. But if you looked at the freshmen, I thought they all played very well. We were very happy to see it. The start with Ryan [Kirwan] was great…From a young guys’ standpoint, I thought it was really good to see.”

The scoresheet wasn’t the only place where the freshmen made an impact, either. Freshman forwards Ben Schoen and Carson Dyck dominated the faceoff circle and won a combined 19 draws out of 31.

Gadowsky isn’t the only one who recognizes their contributions. Junior forward and alternate captain Connor McMenamin praised the freshmen’s play.

“I mean the whole freshman class are unbelievable guys,” McMenamin said after Sunday’s victory. “Doing what they did tonight is no surprise to any of us in the room…They were expected to step in and make an impact right away, and I think they all did a great job of that.”

The underclassmen didn’t stop there as they kept the points coming in Monday night’s game.

Dzhaniyev scored his first goal as a Nittany Lion, bringing his point total to three for the season. Also registering three shots on goal in the game, the Brooklyn native was arguably Penn State’s player on the ice.

“I love how he won pucks,” Gadowsky said. “I believe his goal started by him hunting down pucks, and I think he does that pretty well…He’s fun to watch. Not just because of his skill and because he’ll score a lot of goals, but I really like how he hunts for pucks, and it fits us pretty well. I think he’s going to be a great player for this program.”

Penn State’s sophomores also highlighted the scoresheet in both games as well.

Sophomore Jimmy Dowd Jr. registered an assist in the series while fellow sophomores Chase McLane, Christian Sarlo, and Xander Lamppa each scored a goal and an assist throughout the two games.

Following a complete game win on Monday night, the Nittany Lions should have a high ceiling heading into the rest of their season.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected]

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