Player Spotlight: Andrew Sturtz
Overtime. The peak of drama in any competitive event. The #3 Notre Dame fighting Irish are on home ice trying to prevent an upset from the unranked Penn State Nittany Lions.
They had every reason to be confident. Two of the nation’s leading point scorers were sporting the golden helmets in Anders Bjork and Dylan Malmquist.
Freshman Denis Smirnov works it up the left side of the ice and finds sophomore Andrew Sturtz cutting up the right side of Notre Dames transition defense. Smirnov slides it to the team’s trigger-happy scoring leader.
Nearing the goal, Sturtz crosses Notre Dame’s goalie and attempts to slip the puck to the net.
The initial attempt is stopped by the goalie. Instead of skating through, Sturtz immediately flips his hips and follows through on another shot.
The puck chips over the extended leg of the goalie and hits the back of the net. Teammates pour out of the bleachers and swarm Sturtz.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gotten hit that hard,” said Sturtz.
The upset was complete. Unranked no more.
Sturtz, hailing from Buffalo, NY, came to Penn State hoping to extend the promising career he began in the Central Canada Hockey League.
In his first year as a Nittany Lion, Sturtz dominated the ice. He led the team with 18 goals, which was the fifth most of any freshman in the country. The young stat leader totaled 27 points over the season.
Sturtz is exposing the sophomore slump as a myth. His 4 goals are tied for most in the Big Ten. These goals were not made in garbage time either. 2 of the goals lifted the lions to a victory.
He attributes avoiding the slump to preseason preparation.
“I came in this summer trying to get in better shape to perform not only at certain things, but all aspects of my game,” said Sturtz.
Sturtz’ play style fits in well with the on-ice personalities this team has. Senior captain David Goodwin can focus on controlling the tempo while point scorers, like Sturtz and freshman Denis Smirnov, have the freedom to pelt the opposing goalie at will.
Sturtz also exemplifies how reliant the team is on its young players. The underclassmen have taken over the games they have competed in, giving Happy Valley hope for many years of high quality hockey.
Sturtz will be looking to add more goals to his resume against the unranked Golden Griffins of Canisius College this weekend.
Paddy Cotter is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.