Penn State Men’s Hockey Forward Tyler Paquette’s Return Provides More Depth At Perfect Time
Tyler Paquette skated around the ice, just short of the blue line. He saw a rebound come his way, then pounced, firing a slapshot into the goal to put Penn State men’s hockey on the board against Michigan State in the second period last Friday night. It was his first goal of the season.
“To see him score was great for the team on a couple fronts,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “One, we’re all happy for him individually, and certainly a big difference going down [and] coming back into the third period.”
Paquette, a senior right wing, hadn’t played all season due to injury. He told the media that he only began skating a couple of weeks ago, but Gadowsky wasted no time inserting the Collegeville, Pennsylvania, native into his starting lineup alongside Jacques Bouquot and Chase McLane for Friday’s series-opener in East Lansing.
Paquette had a productive return to the lineup. He not only scored a goal in the series but also had an assist on Saturday despite the Nittany Lions’ loss.
This level of production is nothing new. Although he hasn’t been the team’s most valuable player, he certainly chips in when he’s needed. Last season, Paquette had eight assists and seven goals for 17 points, including a goal against Michigan Tech in the 2023 NCAA Regional Semifinal.
Now, with several newer pieces in the lineup such as Aiden Fink, among other young players that could benefit from veteran mentorship, Paquette’s return is conveniently timed since the season is still in a relatively early stage. He’s already gotten to know the team’s newer players personally throughout last summer, and now better as players since he’s started skating.
“It’s my first weekend playing with them, but I’ve been watching them all season,” Paquette said. “They’re good kids over here. All summer they worked their back off, so they’re all great players and great kids.”
Now, though, he’s needed more than ever on the ice. The Nittany Lions have proven to be a resilient bunch but also one that struggles to win games. They’ve tied three times and lost once in Big Ten play, and they’re still in search of their first conference win. That’ll be hard to come by when they face Michigan in Ann Arbor this weekend, which eliminated the Nittany Lions in overtime in the NCAA Regional Final last season and has an ample amount of NHL draftees on the roster.
The matchup, like always in the Big Ten, should be a dogfight from start to finish. The series may come down to depth, among other factors, but having Paquette back is crucial for the matchup.
In four appearances against the Wolverines last season, Paquette’s presence was more than noticeable. In the first series, he had a goal and an assist for two points, while registering seven shots. He missed a game in the next series two months later but still managed an assist. His three points against Michigan were more than any other team last season.
Now, Paquette has a chance to expand on how he played against Michigan last season. He has proven to be an under-the-radar difference-maker in general, and after a productive outing against the Spartans to kick off his season, it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens in Ann Arbor.
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The Onward State crew headed to the Motor City for some football, pizza, and a swing set overlooking Canada.
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