Player Spotlight: Clayton Phillips
Junior defensemen Clayton Phillips is what some might call the “new kid in town.” Phillips transferred to Penn State from the University of Minnesota and has made his presence known on the team. His elite skating ability and quickness with the puck has added some offensive flair to the defensive core.
Phillips was drafted as a third-round pick (93rd overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 NHL draft.
“[The Penguins have] been very involved, and I think they’ve been out to almost every game,” Phillips said. “They’ve been great with feedback and telling me what areas to work on.”
In his tenure with Minnesota, Phillips racked up 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in 34 games. Phillips, who has been playing with Penn State defensemen Jason Gobetz, has three points so far this season with the Nittany Lions.
In the three games that Phillips has played, his teammates and coaches have already noticed his elite skating ability.
“He is a very, very gifted skater,” head coach Guy Gadowsky told Onward State reporters. “I’ve been really impressed with his defensive play because of that.”
Gadowsky even gave the young defensemen a chance to play on the first power-play unit in the exhibition game against the University of Ottawa alongside forwards Alex Limoges, Liam Folkes and Evan Barratt.
“I think that really helps us break out pucks and transition quickly,” forward Kris Myllari said. “When a guy dumps in, the quicker you get back, the more time you have to make plays. He’s been making so many good breakouts and not having to rim the puck, which is a tribute to his great skating.”
Phillips tries to model his game after Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
“I like to model my game after them and try to see the different traits that they have and incorporate it into my game,” Phillips said.
In the upcoming series against the Michigan State, Penn State will look to build on the sweep
over a tough Wisconsin team.
“I don’t think we look down on any of our opponents,” said Phillips. “[The Spartans have] got a good group of players, so if we come off the mentality that we are going to play our game, everything else should take care of itself.”
Jacob Cheris is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.