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Improved Culture Key To Penn State Men’s Hockey’s Historic Start

Culture is what head coach Guy Gadowsky always mentions when asked about Penn State men’s hockey’s success.

After a 17-20-1 record and a trip to the semifinals in the Big Ten Tournament last season, Gadowsky’s program is off to its best start in program history with an 8-0 record. 

Penn State has only improved on paper. Transfers Ture Linden and Ashton Calder, who have quickly made a huge impact, add depth to an already strong group of forwards. 

Paul DeNaples returned as captain, anchoring the defense alongside the likes of Jimmy Dowd Jr. and Christian Berger. Freshman Carter Schade has started strong and has shown the coaching staff he was worth recruiting.

Schade, along with the rest of the freshman class, has earned much praise from Gadowsky.

“They are absolutely a mature class,” Gadowsky said. “We’ve been impressed.”

And of course, Liam Souliere has established himself as one of the best goaltenders in the Big Ten in his first full season as the starter, leading the Big Ten in multiple categories. 

Penn State has a loaded roster with plenty of talent. Although Gadowsky is adamant about his team’s skill, he believes the improved program culture is the biggest reason behind the Nittany Lions’ success. 

“We were really confident in the way the culture was going with this team,” Gadowsky said. “And there was a lot of work from a lot of leaders in the past two years.”

The work Gadowsky mentioned over the last two years is clearly paying off. The on-ice success is a byproduct of the team’s culture.

Gadowsky frequently credits former defenseman Adam Pilewicz, who graduated after last season. He has even credited Pilewicz and other veteran players for wins that took place this season.

“Adam Pilewicz deserves a ton of credit for the wins this weekend, to be honest with you,” Gadowsky said after Penn State defeated Canisius 7-5. “He’s not the only one,” Gadowsky added.

Gadowsky isn’t the only one to praise Pilewicz, either.

“There’s a lot of credit that goes to him because he’s not only a great guy, but his work ethic was second to none here,” senior forward Tyler Gratton said.

The efforts of Pilewicz and other veteran players to create a strong team culture are crucial in putting a good team out on the ice.

It’s well-documented that bad teams in sports often have a poor locker room culture. Perhaps players aren’t coachable or they don’t get along with each other or with the coaching staff. Gadowsky understands the importance of having a good culture, whether those issues have taken place within Penn State’s program or not.

Gadowsky is incredibly smart for emphasizing culture as much as he does. He has been a coach for too long to not do that and make efforts to improve it. Now undefeated to start the season heading into a huge series against No. 1 Michigan, Gadowsky and his program are finally seeing those efforts pay off.

Penn State will kick off its series with the Wolverines at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 4.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a sophomore majoring in journalism. From the Maryland side of the D.C. suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which isn't fun these days. If you want to keep in touch with Nolan, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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