Turn Up the Autio: Penn State’s New Leader Between the Pipes

Story posted November 16, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Christopher Hess

The Autio name is one that rings a bell to a number of Penn State hockey fans and followers.

Erik Autio was a standout defenseman for the Nittany Lions from 2014-2018, and now his brother, Oskar, has been a member of Guy Gadowsky’s team since the 2018-2019 season.

The junior netminder from Espoo, Finland, however, just wants to break away from being labeled as Erik’s brother and create his own legacy.

“Every year it gets a little calmer,” Autio said with a smile. “I don’t expect it to go away during the time that I’m here.”

Now that Peyton Jones has departed Penn State after holding down the fort for four years between the pipes, Autio now has the chance to become the starting goaltender for this Nittany Lions team.

In limited action through two seasons, Autio has made appearances in eight games, making 165 saves with a goals-against average of 2.38 and a save percentage of .917, alongside registering two shutouts.

The coronavirus pandemic presented a longer offseason for all of college hockey, and Autio was able to take advantage of that time by working on his skills back home in Finland.

“Just small details: positioning, rebound control, just small things like that,” the Finnish prospect said. “I think it’s helped me a lot, and I really notice it in my game that I feel more comfortable now.”

With the season set to begin on Nov. 19 in Minneapolis against Minnesota, Autio said that he is ready to take that next step in his game and get better each time he takes the ice.

“I’m obviously excited for the opportunity, and I think I’ll just take everything that I’ve learned so far and try to develop my game,” Autio said. “I feel like I’m ready.”

Although the goaltending situation hasn’t been formally announced, Autio knows that he must be prepared for each and every game whether he’s starting or not.

“For me, I think it doesn’t change a lot,” Autio said. “I think it’s just being ready every day, being ready every weekend. I can’t really think about the what-ifs.”

The goaltending situation presents Gadowsky with Autio and freshman Liam Soulière, who was one of the better goalies in the CCHL and BCHL.

Soulière went 26-8-2 as a starter for the Brockville Braves during the 2018-2019 season, and Autio knows that the young netminder is talented, but he admires his work ethic and drive to get better.

“He’s a great kid,” Autio said. “He works hard and has fit in well… I’m really happy to have him as a goalie partner.”

The pandemic also took time away from players getting to know each other and delayed the start of the season by a little over a month.

Pandemic or not, Autio is ready to get back on the ice after that time off and finally hit the road to Minnesota and Wisconsin with his teammates.

“It’s definitely going to be a little different being on the road for so long,” Autio said. “I know I’m very excited for it just to be with the guys.”

The Nittany Lions and Golden Gophers will square off on Nov. 19 at 8:30 p.m. and on Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. Both games will be televised on Big Ten Network and broadcasted here on CommRadio.

 

Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com.