Column: Koudys Providing More Than Expected
Last season, Penn State men’s hockey had all sorts of different components to its blue line. A puck carrier like Luke Juha, a veteran presence like Nate Jensen and even a big-bodied physical guy with offensive upside like Mark Yanis were in place. But missing was a stay-at-home, defensive-minded and big-bodied guy that is not afraid to hand out hits left and right with a gritty physical presence.
Earlier in the season, Gadowsky mentioned how one of the team’s primary goals over the offseason was to address their size issue on the blue line. Not very often does a six-foot-three, rugged veteran defenseman, that plays with an edge like Koudys, fall into your lap.
“He certainly added a new element to our defense that’s for sure,” said Gadowsky.“I’m very happy with how he’s approached the game and the piece of the puzzle that he’s bringing to us.”
Koudys is not only a positional defenseman in his own zone, but willing to sacrifice his body when needed and even a touch of an offense here and there.
“I like to consider myself a two-way defenseman,” said Koudys. “You know more defensive but be able to jump up in the rush and help out. I really pride myself in being able to be tough in front of the net and in the corners. Make a good first pass and be good defensively.”
Gadowsky has spoken highly of the job Koudys has done and what he’s brought to the table through three games.
“Yeah ‘Dice’ is a different animal,”Gadowsky said. “He blocks a ton of shots. He’s very difficult to play against defensively. He really is what we need in that sense. He’s continued to play very well.”
The junior transfer has done just that by showing his ability to get in shooting lanes, with six blocked shots to his credit.
Gadowsky even called him, “top notch” this past week and put to rest his current plus-minus rating at minus five.
The thing is, the expectations for Koudys have been more than what Gadowsky and the rest of the Nittany Lions coaching staff even anticipated. There is a reason why the Washington Capitals took him in the fifth round at 147th overall of the 2011 NHL Draft.
“I think he’s a tremendous leader that I didn’t realize,” said Gadowsky. “I think guys gravitate to him and have a lot of confidence in him. I think he just has that presence on the ice but we had hoped and expected that he would be a great defensive player.”
Koudys has also been a big focal point for the nation’s 12th best penalty killing unit, clicking at 88.2 percent along with teammates like Eric Scheid, Tommy Olczyk and Curtis Loik.
“Our PK has been pretty solid so far,” said the Smithville, Ontario, native. “They’ve done a great job and we just got to keep moving forward and try to even better everyday”
“I think a couple of the big guys stick out,” said captain Tommy Olczyk before the season started. “We brought in a couple of big defenseman like a Pat Koudys.”
So the captain himself even approves of the big man. If that and his head coach are not enough of an endorsement for the way Koudys plays and goes about his business, then so be it.
Ross Insana is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.