Player Spotlight: Chase Berger
Penn State hockey may have found its next super star in sophomore forward Chase Berger. He is tied for the team lead in points with six and is also knotted up with two of his teammates for the lead in assists with five. Early in the season Berger has impressed everyone with his offensive prowess on the ice.
Berger is a sophomore, and played two years in the USHL for the Tri-County Storm. This gave him valuable experience before making the jump to collegiate hockey. Appearing in all 38 games as a freshman Berger finished second on the team in goals with 13 and fourth in points with 26, impressive stats for the true freshman. What stands out the most though, is his plus minus rating of plus-13 which also was second highest on the team. The sign of a player who plays strong offense as well as defense.
The Nittany Lions travelled to Notre Dame this past weekend to take on a new rival. The Fighting Irish will be joining the Big Ten next season in Hockey which will result in some intense matchups for the future.
Berger thinks the team is really coming together.
“I think our whole team is playing really well in just kind of a team game,” Berger said before the series. “It’s really early on so you can’t look too far into it but I think when we have four lines contributing it makes everything a lot easier for everyone.”
This proved to be true during the series as Penn State was able to use its depth to play well against the former No. 3 team in the country. The rivalry continued after a series split last year in Happy Valley, with a great start when Penn State was able to force a tie in the opening match of the series Friday night. In a rough game that featured many penalties, both teams struggled on the power play. Notre Dame specifically was bad going 0-9 when they had a man advantage.
Berger made his impact two minutes into the game when he found freshman Nikita Pavlychev on Penn State’s lone power play goal of the night. Berger also had the most shots on the team with five in game one.
Game two brought another overtime matchup to South Bend, but this time the Nittany Lions fought their way to victory. It was Penn State who struggled on the power play in this one going 0-5 while the Fighting Irish were able to convert on 2-5 opportunities. These were the only goals Penn State gave up on the night finishing with a 3-2 win over the Fighting Irish. Following the big victory Penn State moved up in the polls and are now ranked for the first time this season at 19th in the nation.
Part of this early season success is because players like Berger have completely bought into Guy Gadowsky’s philosophy of lots of shots and fast skating. His brother Jack Berger also played under Gadowsky at Princeton in 2010-11. If Berger continues his level of play he will emerge as a primary goal scorer on Penn State, providing balance with other scorers like David Goodwin and Andrew Sturtz. As the season progresses Berger will keep using his experience and skill for a lethal combination that will place fear in any opposing goaltender.
Brian McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.