penn-state-mens-hockey-2022-season-preview

Penn State Men’s Hockey: 2022 Season Preview

Story posted September 29, 2022 in

The 2021-2022 season was a whirlwind of emotion for Penn State. The Nittany Lions were triumphant, disappointing and everything in between.

A 17-20-1 record might have you leaning towards the disappointing side, but they played their best hockey at the end of the season.

Penn State nearly pulled off a massive upset losing by just one goal at Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky said that he wants to get back to the level of play that saw the Nittany Lions thriving right before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Back in 2019-20 when we won the league, I think the biggest difference was our culture,” Gadowsky said. “I think we are much closer to where we were then, than we were last year and that’s extremely important.”

Gadowsky hopes his team can retain and build off the culture from last season, especially when Penn State is returning all of its forwards and a good chunk of its defense from last season.

A big part of that defense is captain Paul Denaples, just the second returning captain in Penn State’s history.

Denaples said his reason for returning to play at Penn State for one final season is pretty simple.

“My personal goals are to win a championship here,” Denaples said. “It sounds cliche to say but I haven’t won a Big Ten championship which I want to do, and I want to make an NCAA tournament run.”

Denaples also mentioned that success with the team this year could help him eventually play hockey beyond college.

Denaples and the defense will have to be strong if the Nittany Lions want to have success this season. That group will include three incoming freshmen and a goaltender who was not the full time starter until the end of last season.

That goaltender is junior Liam Souliere who will have a lot to say about how far Penn State goes this season.

Goaltending was an anomaly last season. Sometimes it would be Oskar Autio, other times Souliere.

There was no real consistency until the end of the year. This time around Souliere firmly has the starting job and he says he is ready to “prove his believers right.”

Good goaltending will go a long way for a Nittany Lions’ defense on the younger side.

On the offensive end, the Nittany Lions return plenty of depth and made two notable additions via transfer: Ture Linden of RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and Ashton Calder from North Dakota.

Penn State had two of its forwards honored in the Big Ten preseason coaches poll with Kevin Wall being named to the all Big Ten second team and Connor MacEachern named as an honorable mention.

Needless to say, the Nittany Lions strength will be in their forward group.

Something that Penn State did that it will look to replicate last year is starting off the season on the right foot. The Nittany Lions host five of their first six games all against non-conference opponents.

Somewhere Penn State will look to improve upon is their play within the conference. Coach Gadowsky called the Big Ten, “the monsters of college hockey.”

That showed up in the win column for Penn State as the Nittany Lions opened conference play, by going just 1-5 last season.

Penn State will have to flip the script this season if it wants to finish in the top half of the conference and return to the glory obtained just a few years ago.

 

Maclain Young is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email macyoung21@gmail.com.