Hockey Preview: Princeton
Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky has plenty invested in Friday’s matchup because he helped build both programs that will be taking the ice Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena. Gadowsky was the head coach at Princeton from 2004-2009, inheriting a squad that went 5-24-2 a year prior and turning them into deep NCAA Tournament teams just a short while later in 2008 and 2009. Gadowsky then left the Tigers for a brief stint at Alaska-Anchorage before coming over to Penn State, where he is trying to pull of the same sort of turnaround he managed at Princeton.
Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions (10-2-3) currently sit atop the Big Ten standings and are No. 16 in the rankings, the highest this program has ascended in its brief four-year history. The Lions come off a sweep of Michigan State to start Big Ten play, and this upcoming game against Princeton (4-8-0) is a chance to make one more statement before the three-week winter hiatus.
“We feel pretty good, we don’t really feel where the calendar is right now,” said Gadowsky at Monday’s weekly press conference. “We need to finish off this start.”
Penn State looks to cap an explosive “start” to the year with their ninth straight victory, which would break the all-time school record for consecutive victories.
Penn State forward Eric Scheid will miss Friday’s game after a five-minute major game misconduct penalty last week against Michigan State in which he made contact with the head of an opposing player. It has also been announced that Matt Skoff will start in the net for the Lions, giving Eamon McAdam a well-deserved head start to his break after shutting down the Spartans.
Princeton relies heavily on youth for most of their offense; with freshmen forwards Ryan Kuffner and Max Veronneau tied for the team lead in goals with four. Sophomore forward David Hallisey has tallied five assists on the year and seven points, which puts him one behind Kuffner for the team lead. But if Princeton wants to win big games, some of their veteran players are going to have to step up, including senior Kyle Rankin, who has a dismal four points. In goal, junior Colon Phinney has been average, letting up 2.38 goals per game and registering a .940 save percentage.
There will only be one game this weekend as opposed to the usual two game series because of the upcoming final exams for these players. Coach Gadowsky puts a priority on academics and reminds his players that what goes on in the classroom is more important than what happens on the ice.
“There’s a high expectation of academic success in this program,” Gadowsky said. “The players know that and I think they’re motivated by it.”
David Goodwin had a bit of a laugh with the media when discussing time management.
“We’re nerds, though,” he said.
He plans to hit the books later this week with McAdam in preparation for their upcoming Economics exam.
Penn State next takes the ice December 28th in Pittsburgh against Robert Morris as part of the Three Rivers Classic.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.