Young Penn State Shining on Biggest Stages
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
PHILADELPHIA Penn State's win against Vermont against Wells Fargo Center last Saturday is just another in a growing list of signposts for the fledgling programs. And the signs still point to big things.
Like it was when the Nittany Lions played in Wilkes-Barre on the season's opening weekend, like it was when it played a holiday tournament at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center, the game in Philadelphia drew huge throngs of Penn State alumni. And like those games, Penn State rose to the occasion.
Penn State is now 3-1 in games at those three venues, with wins against the likes of Ohio State and Vermont. It bodes well for the future, when Penn State enters the new Big Ten Hockey Conference next season.
"Yeah, there’s worse monikers to have," PSU coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Not sure after three we deserve it but hey, sure.
"We didn’t play our best. Things weren’t really clicking. Skoffer (goaltender Matthew Skoff) played really well and held us in there, but we just weren’t clicking. It wasn’t really a great game for us. I think the first period we had six shots or something, but I give them credit for gritting out. There’s a couple huge blocks. Casey Bailey made some big blocks. Taylor Holstrom battled and our defense wasn’t clicking, but they were battling. So I give them a lot of credit for battling. We didn’t have our best game, but you are right. We figured out a way to win it and it was a big win for the program."
The crowd was 95 percent in favor of the Nittany Lions. Though Penn State will open a brand new, beautiful, on-campus arena next year, it knows that, anywhere it goes in the state, it will draw huge throngs of alumni. And with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia the site of the next two Frozen Fours, Pennsylvania is ground zero for college hockey for a couple of years, and Penn State is perfectly positioned to take advantage of that.
"It was a tremendous environment," Gadowsky said. "And to see thousands of Penn State fans wearing blue and white, screaming, it’s awesome. I just can’t say enough about Penn Staters. It was so much fun to play for them. Talk about rising to the occasion. I think the Penn State alumni and the Penn State fans have a huge part in it."
Penn State will have some more chances to shine on the big stage this year. It has games with Michigan State and Wisconsin up ahead, includings games that will air on the Big Ten Network.
"Penn State’s the coolest university there is," Gadowsky said. "It was just a tremendous crowd, so much fun to play. That we take away. I think that we have been having a little trouble mental toughness-wise and I think we had to show it today because things weren’t clicking and they found a way. So maybe a little confidence that we can dig down and get a win."
Both parties expect the game to continue in the future, whether it be next year or a couple seasons down the road.
"We would like to keep this going," Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. "It was a great event for our student athletes to be involved in. It certainly wasn’t the result we wanted. We certainly didn’t play to the best of our abilities which is disappointing but I think in terms of the experience, the atmosphere. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. We certainly appreciate that."