Hockey Player Spotlight: Chase Berger

Story posted February 5, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Alissa Devine

With key offensive losses during the offseason, Penn State’s offensive production was skeptical and many were doubtful of the Nittany Lions’ ability to put the puck in the back of the net.  Three of Penn State’s top five goal scorers departed from the team in the offseason (Casey Baily, Taylor Holstrom, and Scott Conway), so Guy Gadowski had to recruit the best upcoming players. He did just that.

While it’s not typically conventional for the young guns to generate the most offensive production, Penn State’s youngest players are their current top goal scorers. No one expected such an immediate impact on the ice from the seven newcomers, who are already positively influencing the team’s current season and future seasons to come.

Chase Berger is the second leading goal scorer for the Nittany Lions with 11, behind Andrew Sturtz with 13. They are the only players on the team to have double-digit goals. Berger also has 18 assists so far this season, sitting high up in the points column for the Nittany Lions.

The most dominant line of the season has been the consistent second line of Kenny Brooks, Curtis Loik, and Chase Berger. Together, the line has produced 24 goals, 31 assists, and 55 points. Of those 24 goals, the line grinded out 6 power play goals, two short handed goals, and two game-winning goals.

Chase Berger has become a dynamic player for the Blue and White, working hard to make plays and get pucks in the net, continuing to skate hard on the most consistent line for Penn State. Berger is one of the most skilled freshmen on the team and has already made an affirmative impact on the ice for Penn State.

Berger’s success is by no means puck luck. He is an experienced hockey player who played two seasons in the USHL for the Tri-City Storm with an “A” stitched in his jersey in 2014-2015, serving as alternate captain. In the 2013-2014 season, Berger played in 57 games and tallied 14 goals and 15 assists. The 2014-2015 season was another successful season for Berger, as he scored 10 times with 18 assists and earning a plus-nine rating, and then added three more goals and an assist in the playoffs.

In search of a home for the next four or five years, Berger chose Happy Valley and said, "I chose Penn State because I have heard great things about the coaching staff and was excited about the Big Ten conference forming. I love the hockey aspect, but the fact that it was so highly regarded academically put me over the edge."

This upcoming weekend conference play continues as Penn State will take on the Minnesota Gophers for the second time of the season and find themselves amidst their first losing streak of the season. The Nittany Lions lost two devastating games last weekend against Michigan and their elite first line. 

Berger commented on the team’s morale and said, “I think that’s something we’re really good at leadership wise, David Glen especially. Now we’ve lost a couple of games, but it’s kind of the same mentality it's been all year to just come to the rink, have fun and get better.”

Moving on to faceoff against the number two team in Big Ten standings, while Penn State remains at number three, the Nittany Lions look to get two much needed wins. Penn State and coach Guy Gadowski will continue to implement the same strategy against Minnesota as they did against Michigan, which is to keep the puck in the defensive zone away from the more offensive minded players. With a lot of hard work this week in practice and the freshmen continuing to impress and improve, Penn State has the potential and talent to come out with a sweep this weekend.

“I think we need to get on the forecheck better and not let their D’s get their toes up ice because they have really good defenseman that can make really nice plays in the neutral zone”, Berger said. “So if we can control the puck a little bit better, which means getting in their end, good dumps, puck behind the D and keeping it away from their forwards, I think we’ll have a lot more success.”

The team will continue to look for their young guns to grind out goals and hard play, especially Chase Berger on Penn State’s second line. With conference play coming down to the wire, Penn State needs to come out this upcoming weekend with their heads up and their feet moving.

Berger may be a newcomer on this Penn State hockey team, but he has really fit in well here in Happy Valley, making great things happen on the ice for the Blue and White. Look for number eight skating hard on the ice this weekend as the puck will drop Friday night in Minneapolis.

Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email alissadevine96@gmail.com