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‘They’ve Really Got Synergy’: Penn State Men’s Hockey’s ‘Kid Line’ Excelling

The last four games were a whirlwind for Penn State men’s hockey. The Nittany Lions nearly clawed their way back into game one against Michigan before ultimately falling short, then responded the following night with their first win in Ann Arbor since 2019. Against the newly-Division I Lindenwood Lions over the holiday weekend, they exploded for 16 combined goals.

While the entire team has played well, Penn State’s freshmen class, particularly its “kid line” deserves serious credit. The kid line is comprised of Matt DiMarsico at left wing, Aiden Fink at right wing, and Reese Laubach at center. Against the Wolverines, they combined for 15 points. A week later, the trio tallied 13 points against the Lions.

“We want to see this for a long period of time, but what they’ve done recently is extremely impressive,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It’s something that is tough to manufacture as a coaching staff, but what they have is synergy. I mean, they’ve really got synergy, all three of them, and it’s fun to watch.”

Fink, a native of Calgary, Alberta, has anchored the line and impressed on a national level this season. His 1.4 points per game is eighth in the nation and leads the Big Ten among all freshmen behind Denver’s Massimo Rizzo and Boston College’s Gabe Perreault.

The Nashville Predators prospect has scored at least one point in all but four games this season. In total, he has nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points. Despite this, he rarely talks about himself. Instead, he credits the chemistry he and his line have developed.

“Obviously, coming into the year we didn’t really know each other, but that bond off the ice has improved, and then on the ice we developed chemistry by being with each other every day,” Fink said. “I think on the ice, I think it’s just communication throughout the whole line.”

Now, Fink continues to assist DiMarsico and Laubach on a regular basis. Both players have, in turn, adapted well to playing with each other.

“Coach Gadowsky put the freshmen on the same line, and we were like, ‘Wow, we’re doing really well out here. We can play together and just click,'” DiMarsico said.

Additionally, Laubach said it didn’t take long for the trio to realize they’d developed chemistry and could play well together. Now, it translates seamlessly onto the ice.

“We know each other’s tendencies, we know what we’re gonna do on the ice,” he said. “It’s really easy to play with these guys. You know where they’re going to be, you know where you can give the guys the puck, and they get open.”

While Fink, as mentioned, leads the team in points, DiMarsico’s 15 points are tied with Jacques Bouquot for second-most, while Laubach’s eight are tied with Dylan Gratton for sixth-most. Fink’s nine goals are also the most on the team, and DiMarsico and Laubach have five and four, respectively.

Although Penn State has occasionally seen freshmen perform better than what many may have expected in their first seasons, it’s hard to remember any player or group being as productive as the kid line has been so far this season. There’s plenty that Penn State can offer from a recruiting standpoint — facilities, the atmospheres at Pegula Ice Arena, and everything else Gadowsky frequently talks about — but the kid line is one more positive aspect of the program for recruits to look at.

“It’s attractive to let people know we’re not afraid to play our freshmen and to put them in positions to have immediate success,” Gadowsky said.

Now, the young group has its biggest test of the year thus far when No. 7 Minnesota comes to Happy Valley. The Golden Gophers will be an immense challenge, which is something the freshmen are excited about.

“We’re pumped, especially the freshmen,” Laubach said.

Despite Minnesota’s prowess, the kid line has a significant chance to make some noise in this series. At this point, they’re hot enough that betting against them might be callous.

“Chemistry is clicking, and then it clicks on the ice,” Fink said about his line. “I’m very excited.”

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a third-year journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland, which means he's an avid fan of all D.C. sports teams. If Nolan isn't writing about or watching sports, you can probably find him listening to all sorts of music or traveling. To keep up with Nolan, you can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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