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‘Iron Sharpens Iron’: Aiden Fink, Danny Dzhaniyev, & Ryan Kirwan Lead Penn State Men’s Hockey Through Early Slate

No. 12 Penn State men’s hockey has been off to the races this season, starting 4-1 against stiff out-of-conference competition. A major piece in the side’s success is that of its red-hot forward trio of Danny Dzhaniyev, Ryan Kirwan, and Aiden Fink, who are each at or above a point-a-game clips to start the campaign.

There’s no secret as to why this line is having success; each member has lights-out speed, ankle-breaking agility, playmaking vision, and a lethal shot.

It’s become a three-headed monster that Penn State can trot out and overwhelm even the most stalwart defense. The trio can score on the power play, on the rush, in settled offenses, and does so consistently.

It looks like they’ve played together for years, it’s actually been less than 20 days since they’ve skated in-game as a unit.

Fink, a freshman winger, said that gelling with his upperclassmen line-mates was easy.

“I definitely think there was an instinct connection. We’re just the type of players that love to play with each other,” Fink said.

Fink arrived in Happy Valley as the 63rd overall NHL prospect with two Centennial Cups and an AJHL point-leading season in his back pocket and adjusted to the college game in stride with the help of his teammates.

“I love how they push me,” Fink said. “I love how I push them. So I think that’s one of the biggest things that’s gonna make us special if we just push each other throughout the whole year.”

Kirwan echoed the sentiments of the younger winger, too.

“That iron sharpens iron mentality is huge for us… That’s really gonna help us down the road,” he said.

Fink is certainly looking sharp, lethal even, in both his defense-slicing passes and up-close goal-scoring. He took over on the power play in a clutch situation to tie up the Nittany Lions’ first game against American International and showed off both his cannon shot and no-fuss finishing ability.

Dzhaniyev for his part has been pass-first so far this season, recording a career-low 11 shots and four assists through his first five appearances, but that hasn’t stopped him from contributing in the goal column with his ability to get lost in the defense.

“You need to find the right time and the right place. And whenever you get the chance, you gotta you gotta bury the puck,” Dzhaniyev said.

In game two of the series with the Yellow Jackets, the winger shaded his defender and reemerged unmarked to tap home an easy rebound sent his way by Kirwan.

And finally, the line’s center-man and ringleader Kirwan has been on an absolute tear in both the playmaking and goal-scoring categories. He’s gathered four goals and three assists as his line has hummed on offense. With speed and a killer shot, he’s taken up the role of executioner on the line and has been finishing opportunities at a solid 17.4% rate through 23 shots.

Their goal for the rest of the season has been clear from the beginning.

“I think we just want to win. We want to get a Big Ten Championship… We think this year is the year for us,” Kirwan said at a preseason media availability.

With production like this and chemistry that should only grow as the season wears on, Penn State fans should be on the edge of their seats when this line is on the ice.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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