Column: Size and Physicality Key to Penn State’s Style of Play

Story posted October 2, 2013 in CommRadio, Sports by Ross Insana

What is Penn State hockey?

Guy Gadowsky calls it, “jumping into the deep end of the pool”.

When asked about his system etched into the Penn State hockey program, he simply labeled it as, “an extremely exciting brand of hockey”.

This season will be almost an exact carbon copy of last season’s style of play, but with EVEN MORE aggressiveness.

It’s a mixture of physicality, speed and the ability to build a team with size at both the forward and defensive positions. Gadowsky consistently stressed last season that when setting a precedent for a team identity, he wants it to be known that their goal is to be “the hardest working team out on the ice”.

Every player that throws on the blue and white will find a way to out work down in the trenches, along the boards, and behind the nets. They will go hard to the opponent’s net and wreak havoc for opposing goalies. As the old saying in hockey goes, ‘you have to be able to score the dirty goals to be successful’.

That's just the way Penn State’s head coach has been able to set his mark on this program already---by engraining that in the heads of every player under his watchful eye.

Be tough along the perimeters and just want the puck more than the other team does, and you will reap the benefits.

It’s like when you were a little kid during Little League baseball and the coach would scream "who wants the ball hit to them?” and the coach would hit to whoever said they wanted the ball more.

These Nittany Lions want the puck more and will do whatever it takes.

“We’re going to try to control the puck as much as we can and have the puck on our sticks and own the corners, protect pucks and keep playing hard”, said Max Gardiner.

Last season, Gadowsky finally had a few toys to play around with and was able to lay the groundwork for a blue-collar style of play. After knowing what to look for, along with his right hand men in assistant coaches Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay, they set a goal to address the team’s overall size for the upcoming season.

Well they were able to stick to those words of wanting to get bigger.

On a team that already was not lacking in size at the forward position with Jonathan Milley (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), Casey Bailey (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and Gardiner (6-foot-3, 190 pounds), Gadowsky added freshman forward Zach Saar to the mix of giants. Listed at 6-foot-4, 219 pounds, Saar is a perfect blend of physicality and size and Gadowsky finds him to be very similar to Milley.

“I don’t think there’s anybody that going to come in here and be excited to play against those two forwards,” said Gadowsky of the Saar and Milley duo.

Imagine if those two gigantic frames see any time together on the same line?

Even the blue line, a spot Gadowsky said was a very important issue to address, beefed up with a new wave of defensemen. Newcomers Patrick Koudys, Mike Williamson and David Thompson now join the big man Mark Yanis to make for, you guessed it, even more height on the defensive corps.

Not including the goaltenders, ten skaters on the roster are listed at 6-foot-2 or taller.

Size does matter with this year’s version of the Nittany Lions and Guy Gadowsky will be the first person to tell you that he is happy with what he has.

Ross Insana is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email