Penn State Men’s Hockey To Utilize Road Opener As Opportunity To Cultivate Team Chemistry
Penn State men’s hockey opens its season this Saturday with a road trip down I-80 to face Long Island University. It’s the first time the team has started the season away from Pegula Ice Arena since November 2020.
Traveling to hostile territory to start the campaign is a challenging prospect, especially in hockey, but senior goaltender Liam Souliere is happy to take it on.
“You know, it’s hard going on the road to another team’s barn,” Souliere said. “It’s not easy. But I think you need those challenges at the start of the year in order to be prepared for the rest of the season.”
Home ice has been a not-so-secret weapon for Penn State with the team soaring to a 13-7 record at Pegula Ice Arena last season. On the road, though, the middling 7-5-2 regular-season record away from Happy Valley will be a priority to improve upon.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky echoed similar sentiments, believing that an early season test is just what the Nittany Lions need to gel as a team.
“The first thing you do is to get together as a team and spend a little more time without classes, et cetera, so we can put it to our benefit,” Gadowsky said about the team’s trip this weekend. “It’s a good opportunity to start on the road where we don’t have [the Roar Zone].”
There was more turnover than usual to the Nittany Lions’ roster this offseason, with the departure of two-year captain Paul DeNaples and other key contributors, along with the arrival of highly anticipated freshmen and graduate transfers. Developing team chemistry and culture will be a focus for Gadowsky’s staff and first-time captain Christian Berger.
Berger explained that the first few games will be about “instilling those same values [Gadowsky] instilled in us…because they’re great values. So [we’ll] just keep it on traditions and in the way we handle ourselves as hockey players and as people in the rink, outside of the rink, and that’s it.”
One of the key acquisitions this season is freshman Aiden Fink, who has already bought into the team culture throughout his short time in Happy Valley. Adapting to the college game has been easy for him so far, especially with the support of the whole team.
“Even though sophomores, juniors, and seniors that didn’t get an A, they’re unbelievable leaders… We’re a tight, tight group here,” Fink said. “So I’m definitely very excited for the year.”
Souliere is excited about all of the off-ice benefits the road trip will provide, too.
“I think just doing those bus rides is the best thing you can do for your team, you know? You’re just crammed into a bus with 25 guys, you know, that’s when friendships are made,” Souliere said. “I think it’s going to be great for us. I think it’s going to really gel us as a team.”
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