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Dylan Lugris ‘Experiment’ Paying Dividends For Penn State Men’s Hockey

Penn State men’s hockey certainly had itself an eventful weekend.

The Nittany Lions overcame a game one defeat by No. 12 Ohio State and stormed back to win the series 2-1 and advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. The last two games were some of the best, most complete games Penn State had played all season, and freshman forward Dylan Lugris served as a bright light in the team’s all-around great performance.

In case you don’t remember, Lugris joined Guy Gadowsky’s squad as a late signee back in December, and he even scored in his Penn State debut when the team defeated Army. He then went 14 games without scoring a goal until this past weekend.

The Buffalo, N.Y., native opened the scoring in the team’s must-win game two and scored the game-winning goal in game three of its series against the Buckeyes.

Suddenly, Lugris had the spotlight after weeks of flying under the radar. He helped the Nittany Lions become the first road team to ever win a best-of-three quarterfinal series in the Big Ten Tournament.

“It was pretty surreal,” Lugris said on Tuesday. “I was shaking for the rest of the 60 minutes until the game ended.”

Gadowsky, the team’s head coach, praised Lugris’s weekend performance, too.

“It was very impressive for a guy that didn’t know he was going to play college hockey in December,” Gadowsky said. “For a guy to come in and play so well in two games that we were facing elimination…it’s not just the goals he scored. He played well.”

Lugris gives credit to the Jersey Hitmen, his previous team in the United States Premier Hockey League, for placing him in high-pressure situations and preparing him for the quick pace of the Big Ten. He also attributed his performance to his teammates for helping him adapt to the program so quickly with a positive, confident attitude.

The freshman also exudes positivity and good energy himself. Gadowsky says he’s a popular player in the locker room.

“It’s funny. He fits in, and that’s sort of why we finally settled on him, because of what his [previous] coaches said about him as a person and how he’d fit in with our culture,” Gadowsky said. “They’re 100% correct. He’s just a great guy to be around. The team has gravitated towards him really quickly, and he’s playing great. That experiment could not have worked out better to this point.”

In college hockey, or even any college sport, it’s rather uncommon to sign a player mid-season. In fact, adding Lugris to the roster was the first time Gadowsky has tried something like this in his career.

While searching for a player who could make an immediate impact, Gadowsky seems to have found that and more in Lugris.

“I think what caught us by surprise was his overall detail and inteligence,” Gadowsky said. “He’s either a very intelligent hockey player or has been coached extremely well, or both. He got caught up to speed to processing what we have to at the speed of the Big Ten in a hurry, and I’m really impressed with his intelligence.”

For Lugris, that feeling of the successful experiment is mutual, as he is grateful to be playing for Gadowsky at Penn State.

“It’s pretty surreal playing at a place like this,” Lugris said. “Top to bottom, I personally think it’s one of the best programs in all of college hockey. I’ve loved it ever since I stepped foot on the campus, and it’s been a dream come true.”

Penn State’s Big Ten Tournament run continues against Minnesota on Saturday, March 12. Puck drop is set for 9 p.m.

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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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