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Penn State Men’s Hockey’s 2022-23 Preview: Offense

It’s almost that time of year, folks.

Penn State men’s hockey is right around the corner. The Nittany Lions will open their season with a home series against Canisius beginning Friday, October 7.

Coming off a Big Ten semifinals appearance, Penn State could be a dark-horse candidate in the Big Ten this year. As the first puck drop approaches, it’s now time to start looking at how the Nittany Lions will potentially perform this season. To start this year’s preview, let’s take a look at Penn State’s offense.

Notable Departures

As it stands now, the only departure the Nittany Lions have on offense is forward Adam Pilewicz. Now, you may not think this will have a big impact on Penn State after looking at his stat line. After all, he only notched five goals and six assists in his five-year career in Hockey Valley. But, Pilewicz’s impact went deeper than his play on the ice, as he was one of the biggest culture drivers in the team’s locker room.

As the former alternate captain moves on from Hockey Valley, Penn State’s new group of leadership will have big shoes to fill.

The Returning Leaders

This is going to be a lengthy list.

Let’s start with Penn State’s two leading scorers from last season — alternate captains Kevin Wall and Connor MacEachern. Wall led the team in scoring last year with 16 goals and 29 points, and MacEachern trailed right behind Wall with 14 goals and 28 points. The fact that the Nittany Lions will return their top scorers from last season is a huge advantage heading into the season.

Next, you have fellow alternate captains Connor McMenamin and Tyler Gratton coming back, too. McMenamin kind of stalled last season, putting up 15 points just as he did in the 2020-21 season. But, he’ll surely be ready to hit the ground running as the season begins, as he’s one of the most all-around talented forwards on the team.

Gratton is coming off a breakout season with nine goals and three assists. He totaled only seven points in his first two seasons before that. Now that he’ll be sporting the “A” on his jersey for the first time in his Penn State career, he’s expected to be an impact player on the ice.

One dark-horse candidate to lead the Big Ten in scoring is sophomore Ryan Kirwan. The DeWitt, New York, native is coming off a head-turning freshman season in which he finished third on the team with 26 points, 13 goals, and 13 assists. Most notably, he has one of the fastest releases you’ve probably seen from a college hockey player, and he can only go up from here.

Ben Copeland will also make his return to the team after playing his first season with the Nittany Lions last year. Recording 17 assists and six goals last season, Copeland will also be a focal point of Penn State’s offense.

Additionally, juniors Christian Sarlo, Chase McLane, Xander Lamppa, Dylan Lugris, and Tyler Paquette will all return to Happy Valley, too.

Those Who Need To Step Up

I’m going to go ahead and put the rest of the sophomores in this category. This Penn State team has the potential to be a very good one, even though they are criminally underrated in the Big Ten preseason poll. Ben Schoen and Danny Dzhaniyev, in particular, both had great seasons last year, but the success of the team isn’t just going to heavily rely upon the top, returning scorers putting up the points.

It’s going to equally rely upon the young guns taking the next step in their games and providing the team with solid depth. Last year’s freshman class was a really good one, and it has a lot to build off to help tear up the Big Ten this season.

Notable Newcomers

Guy Gadowsky will come into the season with another solid signing class. In particular, the Nittany Lions snagged commitments from transfers Ture Linden and Ashton Calder, who each have some college hockey experience under their belts.

In terms of new freshmen, Alex Servagno will be the class’ lone freshman forward. He provides the Nittany Lions more forward depth, as he posted 15 goals and 26 assists with the Green Bay Gamblers last 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 frankie@onwardstate.com.

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