Player Spotlight: Peyton Jones
Penn State men’s hockey introduced ten new players this season, resulting in high expectations from Coach Guy Gadowsky and Hockey Valley fans. This week, Hockey Valley found themselves at number one in the nation for the first time in program history since joining the NCAA five years ago. The team can attribute their success to veteran experience that has grown with the program, but also the elite talent of the newcomers. Freshman goalie, Peyton Jones, might just be the biggest reason Penn State skyrocketed to number one.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound freshman has a similar playing style to past Penn State goalie Eamon McAdam and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. Jones learned how to utilize his size between the pipes as he grew in size over the years.
Jones is a Pennsylvania native and is coming off of a successful 2015-16 season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. After playing in 35 games with the Stars, he ended his season with a .922 save percentage, which was fourth in the league. He was also riding a 2.34 goals against average coming into Penn State. Throughout his whole career with the Stars from 2014-15, Jones secured an overall record of 25-25-7 between the pipes. This included five shutouts and a playoff appearance.
At Penn State, Jones has lived up to the hype in Hockey Valley. In 16 games played, he has 14 wins, including a 2.04 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. With his 14th win of the season, Jones hit a milestone after the sweep over Michigan State this past weekend. That number exceeds the 13 wins earned by McAdam last year for the best season in the program’s five-year Division I history.
The biggest question for Jones this season was whether his inexperience would negatively affect his play. The freshman has proved in his 16 games played that lack of experience is not an issue. The key to his success has been his calmness in net and the growing confidence for the team as a whole.
Teammates are recognizing how much of an impact Jones has on the ice and in the locker room. His large 6-foot-4 presence is not only felt in the net, but also for the young guns and even experienced players. Senior and assistant captain Ricky DeRosa is one of the players that appreciates Jones and his growing self-assurance.
“I think Peyton’s demeanor is definitely calm and collected, which is super nice for not only the veterans, but especially the younger guys,” DeRosa said. “We say in between periods to not panic and to manage, and I think Peyton is a prime example of that. It spreads throughout the locker room.”
Jones admitted he was not always like that when he played for the USHL. He would regularly act on his emotions in net, which led to more goals than he would have liked. The goalie attributes his success to three past coaches he worked with.
“Definitely my three goalie coaches that I worked with. I used to be a head case and I used to hate giving up goals. I used to show I was really angry when I got scored on. They preached being relaxed and if you give up a goal move on to the next play. That really helped me this year.”
Most Hockey Valley fans expected a superior season from Peyton Jones and the rest of the freshman class. However, no one expected them to take the team to number one in the nation. Jones still has a long way to go with the rest of Big Ten play. The net minder and the Lions look to capitalize on another home series as they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes for the second time on Friday.
Alissa Devine is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Contributors
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Alissa Devine is a senior from Fairfield, New Jersey, majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor is business liberal arts. She is involved with play by play and beat writing for several Penn State sports, especially hockey. She is also a member of the talk show, The Sin Bin for Com Radio. Alissa’s love for sports and hockey has driven her to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.