Penn State vs. Niagara Series Preview

Story posted October 20, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Christopher Hess

After a brief weekend off, Penn State (3-1) returns to the confines of Pegula Ice Arena to welcome the Niagara Purple Eagles (0-2) for a two-game series beginning on Thursday Night.

The Nittany Lions have swept Long Island and split with Canisius, but Coach Gadowsky welcomed the bye week with open arms and used it as an opportunity to learn.

“It [the bye week] certainly was nice because we do have certain areas that we absolutely have to get better at and we’re on our way,” Gadowsky said.

Penn State and Niagara have squared off seven times with the Lions holding a 6-0-1 advantage, with the first-ever meeting back in 2015 being the lone tie.

Early on, Gadowsky’s team has been given a boost from several players, one of them being first-year player and Brooklyn native, Danny Dzhaniyev.

Through four games, Dzhaniyev has registered two goals and three assists, alongside creating opportunities for his teammates to succeed.

“He’s [Danny] really creative and creative players have always really excelled here,” Gadowsky said.

Other forwards such as Christian Sarlo and Connor MacEachern also have two goals apiece on the young season, creating havoc for opposing defenses.

The defense has started rather strong for this Penn State team as Paul DeNaples and Clayton Phillips have been a top defensive pair for a handful of years.

However, one young player in particular, according to Guy Gadowsky, gets better and better each time he goes out onto the ice.

Jimmy Dowd Jr.

“The game looks easy for him, he makes such little subtle plays in frantic situations, it’s really impressive to watch how his mind works,” Gadowsky said.

“He’s always looked really comfortable mentally, I think he’s starting to get more comfortable physically.”

Both Oskar Autio and Liam Soulière have gotten action early on, but Autio has started three out of the first four holding a 2-1 record, a 2.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

Niagara comes into this series fresh off of a two-game shellacking against North Dakota in Grand Forks last weekend, getting outscored 10-2.

Despite the lopsided result, the Purple Eagles boast one of the oldest and more experienced teams in the country, so they’re no pushover.

Ryan Naumovski and Shane Ott have the lone goals for Niagara thus far and four players, Jon Hill, Mike Faulkner, Albin Nilsson and Luke Edgerton have notched assists.

Between the pipes, Chad Veltri and Jake Sibell both got the nod against the Fighting Hawks last week, which could be the same case again at Pegula.

Veltri had a rough go in game one giving up six goals and ending the night with a .780 save percentage. Sibell, on the other hand, gave up four goals and had a .840 save percentage.

Two of the better uniform combinations in the nation will also be on full display Thursday and Friday. Niagara presents an all-purple look and Penn State has its classic home whites, with the option of wearing grey as well.

Look for the Nittany Lions to start fast and furious both nights, crashing the net hard and scoring in bunches.

This team can break out at any time and this is the perfect week to work on a lot of things leading up to a colossal showdown with North Dakota in Nashville next weekend.

Prediction: Penn State sweeps

Christopher Hess is a fifth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email