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Penn State Men’s Hockey’s Liam Souliere Off To Hot Start With ‘Timely Goaltending’

There was a lot of excitement coming into this season for No. 13 Penn State men’s hockey, and the Nittany Lions are currently living up to the hype.

Through eight games, the team possesses an 8-0 record and is coming off a sweep over Wisconsin on the road to open its conference schedule. The Nittany Lions are also ranked second in the Big Ten with 4.63 goals per game and ranked first in the conference with two goals allowed per game. Evidently, the team is firing on all cylinders, and a lot of it is due to the play of junior goaltender Liam Souliere.

Souliere had a rocky start to last season, his first campaign as a starter, but eventually found his bearings. He finished the year with a 2.88 goals against average and a .905 save percentage with a lot of momentum heading into this season. Now, he’s on an absolute tear in Penn State’s crease.

The Brampton, Ontario, native has been almost a brick wall in front of the net this season, as he has racked up six wins, a 1.50 goals against average, and a whopping .945 save percentage. That’s impressive stuff. This past weekend, he recorded his first career shutout in the team’s 4-0 win over Wisconsin and saved 63-of-64 shots over the two games.

Not only does Souliere simply stop the pucks that are shot toward him, but he also makes “timely” saves when the team needs it most.

“There were times when we did make mistakes [against Wisconsin], and [Souliere] showed up big,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It’s not just the numbers. It’s the timely goaltending that I think was really important for him, and it’s important for us.”

Gadowsky is right in saying that, as Souliere has kept the momentum in favor of the Nittany Lions and made saves when it matters most. For example, Souliere stopped a 2-on-1 chance in the first period of Penn State’s 6-3 victory over St. Thomas back on October 13. It was during a period when the Tommies were starting to tilt the ice in their favor and had a prime chance to take full control of the game. Once Souliere made the stop, Penn State exploded for three goals in 66 seconds. That save probably won the game for the Nittany Lions.

Having a goaltender like that in the crease also gives the skaters in front more confidence to be aggressive and play hard, as each player on the team has full confidence in the goaltender.

“He’s fantastic,” forward Connor McMenamin said. “I can’t say enough good things about him. He puts in the work off the ice, too, which is nice to see. During the games, if you make a mistake, you know he’ll have your back. It gives us that extra added confidence.”

Souliere has also been handling the puck very well in addition to stopping shots, which helps Penn State’s transition game, similar to what the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin does in the NHL. It may not be to that extent yet, but he certainly will rack up a few assists throughout the year if he keeps it up.

“[Souliere] is the best,” forward Tyler Paquette said. “A big thing about him too is his confidence. He’s been able to play the puck, so it really contributes to helping us break out more efficiently.”

Souliere and the Nittany Lions will go up against No. 1 Michigan in Pegula Ice Arena this weekend. Game one of the two-game set is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 4.

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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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