Player Spotlight: Kris Myllari
Over the last few weeks, Penn State’s hockey team has started taking a slide, including a two straight losses for their first two game losing streak of the season. While the defense as a whole struggled against Princeton giving up five goals, Kris Myllari played an outstanding game, scoring a goal on offense on only one shot.
The freshman defender from Ontario, Canada has surprised many fans, earning valuable time on the ice in his first season with the program. He is not the most explosive of the defenders with only four goals and three assists, but he is second on the team in blocks with 41, trailing only Trevor Hamilton. While he doesn’t have as many goals, he may be the hottest Lion in the offensive zone. He has scored a goal in both of the past two games (both losses) while only taking three total shots. While other Freshman are struggling, such as Hobey Bakers nominees Peyton Jones and Denis Smirnov, Myllari has flourished through the dog days of January.
“Not Kris Myllari!” Head coach Guy Gadowsky said when asked about freshman slumping. “I tell you what Kris Myllari was the best player on the ice Saturday night for sure. He was tremendous.” This praise came in the same press conference where Gadowsky admitted the defense did not play well against Princeton, even while admitting this was probably his fault due to lack of preparation.
Myllari absolutely stood out against the Tigers, blocking eight shots total on the night while the team only blocked 19 total. Gadowsky even made a point of saying how great Myllari’s leadership has been and mentioning that his strong play has inspired his teammates.
“I don’t think anything’s changed,” Myllari said about his two goals. “It’s just guys making great plays with great drives and screens from our forwards I just had to hit the net.”
While this may be the case, not very many other players have been making plays for the Nittany Lions, who are about to enter a brutal stretch where they will be on the road at Minnesota, then travelling to Wisconsin. Minnesota will be the toughest atmosphere Penn State will have played in so far this year, topping a rowdy Notre Dame crowd. The only other big road series so far was at Ohio State, however, faculty and students were still away on winter break, so the arena was barren with barely a fan to be seen. Minnesota has an interesting rink that is extremely large with deep corners behind the goal.
“Angles change a little bit, but the game doesn’t change no matter the size of the rink.” Myllari said. “You just got to be aware of guys like him [Andrew Sturtz] and Denis [Smirnov] they are going to have more time and space to do what they do.” Minnesota brings an elite attacking pair in Tyler Sheehy and Justin Kloos. Sheehy is now the Big Ten leader in points with 33, taking the lead over Penn State’s own Denis Smirnov. Penn State, and specifically Kris Myllari, will need to be on top of their game to stop this powerful offense and get a win in Minnesota.
Brian McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.