PSU Hockey Player Spotlight: Matthew Skoff
Perhaps no player on a college hockey team faces more pressure than a senior, and no position in the sport is more nerve-racking than goaltender. One player for the Nittany Lions, Matthew Skoff, falls under both of these criteria. Skoff has been Penn State’s man in the net for the past four years and he has seen significant playing time throughout his career. Since being the starting goalie for the first game in Penn State men’s ice hockey history as a Division I program, Skoff has posted some pretty impressive numbers and accomplished many admirable feats.
As a freshman, Skoff posted a 9-8-0 record with a stingy .921 save percentage while also recording a career-high in saves with 42 against a talented Wisconsin team. During his sophomore campaign, Skoff’s stats were not quite as up to par with those from his previous season, but he still proved to be a key asset for the blue and white and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. His junior year, which consisted of a 7-6-2 record and 2.81 GAA, proved to be another solid season for No. 31.
Those prior three seasons, however, are in the rearview mirror for Skoff. He is now playing in his senior year, and this season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for the goaltender. In Penn State’s first loss of the season, a 7-4 lopsided defeat against Notre Dame, Skoff severely struggled, allowing seven goals on just 21 shots. The goaltender did not get much help from his defensemen during this game, as there were a number of mental miscues by the blue line against the Irish. Regardless, only having two saves per every goal is not acceptable for a player of Skoff’s caliber.
Like all good goalies, however, Skoff rebounded and played a fine game against AIC in his second start of the season, allowing three goals on 25 shots. All three goals were scored in the third period after the game was already well out of reach.
Should Skoff’s inconsistent play continue, it is likely that he will start to see more of his playing time be given to fellow goaltender, Eamon McAdam, who has already turned in three stout performances on the season to go along with a perfect 3-0-0 record. Since the start of the season, the two net minders have been splitting playing time evenly and competing to be the primary man in net for the Nittany Lions. When asked about the competition with McAdam, Skoff said, “That’s the way it is, you’ve got to compete for your job. It’s like that anywhere else after this. I think it’ll be good for the both of us.”
With two upcoming games against a challenging opponent in St. Lawrence, Skoff will have an opportunity to showcase his skills and prove why he should be the number one goalie moving forward. St. Lawrence skates into a sure-to-be hostile Pegula Ice Arena as the No. 16 team in the nation. Pregame coverage of the games will begin on Thursday and Friday at 6:30 p.m. Will the senior goaltender step up and lead his team to a signature victory? Be sure to tune in to ComRadio to find out.
Luke Kayga is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org