No. 18 Penn State Men’s Hockey Focused On Sustaining Hot Start Ahead Of New York Road Trip
After surviving a tough test and recording a 3-2 victory over Long Island in its opening weekend of play, No. 18 Penn State men’s hockey returned to Happy Valley with a win under its belt and a newfound confidence.
Though it scored the opening goal of the outing and ended up with the win in the end, the attitude around Pegula Ice Arena isn’t celebratory this week.
Around the locker room, it’s clear the No. 1 focus for head coach Guy Gadowsky, his staff, and his players is creating and sustaining a hot start.
In his midweek address to the media, Gadowsky put it plainly: “I think we are caught in the headlights a little bit. No matter how hard you work in practice and compete, it’s just not quite the same.”
It’s become cliche at this point but starting in form can be the difference between a victory and a defeat. Especially in the speedy, physical environment a hockey game creates, setting the tone in the opening minutes dictates the first period and beyond. Taking a cache of goals into the locker room is always easier than planning how to overcome a deficit.
Gadowsky talked a little bit about how hard it can be to gauge just how hot his team is going to be before the opening whistle.
“Honestly, you really don’t know until you get into it,” he said. “We do the same thing as a team to be very much in a routine, but I think it comes down to what what you can control.”
Still, as intensely focused or fired up his players may be ahead of puck drop, hockey is a game of taking what the opponent gives you.
“You can think ahead and go ‘Oh, I’m going to score… or I’m going to draw so many penalties.’ You don’t necessarily control that,” Gadowsky said. “What you do control is your mentality. That’s something you want 100% control how you get there.”
How his team does that is up to the individual, but as long as his team is in the right mindset, he knows they’ll be ready to fight.
With the win in hand, though, there’s lots of optimism for the rest of the campaign. Recent transfer forward Jacques Bouquot was impressed with the Nittany Lions’ resolve to come back in the game.
“We’re not going to play great every period of every game, we didn’t play our best first period,” Bouquot said. “We’re a good group that is going to fight all year. We’re going to stay in the fight.”
With the team having survived its first scrap in a hostile arena, fans can be sure Penn State will be ready for its upcoming road stand against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. Gadowsky was glad to have had the test in Long Island, too.
“It’s nice to get one under our belt,” Gadowsy said. “To still win and learn a lesson like that, I think you can call that gravy.”
The Nittany Lions will battle Clarkson at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 13, in Potsdam, New York, then travel to Canton, New York, for a challenge against St. Lawrence at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 14.
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