Penn State Men’s Hockey Season Preview


Penn State will start their 2014-15 season at home as the Nittany Lions take on the UConn Huskies tonight at 7 p.m. Last year, Penn State fell below a high bar of expectations, most of which were upped by the addition of their $88 million new ice arena. But, it’s the start of a new season for the Nittany Lions and it feels like a completely fresh slate as Penn State tries to get used to the new found consistency of the Big Ten Conference in the division’s second year.

Last Year’s Record
Overall: 8-26-2
Conference: 3-16-1


The Nittany Lions will get back 95% of their scoring offense from last season, only losing senior forward Michael McDonagh to graduation and sophomore defenseman Mark Yanis to a transfer. With the minimal losses, and additions of some talented scoring forwards, Penn State can look to up their goals per game from 2.2 compared to their opponent’s 3.6 from last season.

Two of the biggest pickups on offense for Penn State are freshmen forwards Scott Conway and James Robinson. Conway, a native of England sharing dual citizenship with Canada and Great Britain, played for the USHL’s Indiana Ice and totaled 33 goals and 35 points in 57 games played with the team, good enough for fourth in the league with 68 points on the season. Conway helped lead the Ice to the Clark Cup title last year with 11 points in 12 playoff games.

Robinson is from Cochrane, Alberta and played the last two seasons as an assistant captain of the Langley Rivermen in the BCHL. In 44 games in 2013-14, Robinson was almost a point per game player with 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points on the season and was the team’s Most Valuable Player while adding nine points in 12 playoff games to end the year.


With Yanis gone due to a transfer, the Nittany Lions’ defensive core looks to stay largely in tact from last year. New captain, senior Patrick Koudys, will lead a blueline looking to tighten up on opposing players and still play Penn State’s physical style of hockey.

One new addition on defense for Penn State this season is Finish blueliner and freshman Erik Autio. As the three-time assistant captain for the Espoo Blues Under-20 Team, Autio played in 38 games and had 4 goals and 18 assists in the 2013-14 season. Under his time as an assistant captain, the Blues won the league title twice, once in 2011 and the other in 2014.


Junior Matthew Skoff is Penn State’s uncontested starter to begin the season in net after coach Guy Gadowsky named him the No. 1 netminder late in the offseason. It’s no surprise, as Skoff was Penn State’s goalie for every win the team had last season. The then sophomore had a 2.95 GAA and a .906 save percentage in his 23 games played during his second year with the team.

Sophomore New York Islander draft pick Eamon McAdam made waves last season as Penn State’s first goaltender to be drafted by an NHL team. McAdam a rough start to his Nittany Lion career, with a 4.09 GAA and an .882 save percentage in his 10 games played, but is a more than capable back up to Skoff and should receive a fair amount of starts this season to gain more experience.

The third goaltender in Penn State’s rotation is senior PJ Musico, who saw seven games of action last season, posting a 4.16 GAA and a .873 save percentage during his time in net last season.


Penn State starts their season against UConn at home tonight, who they have a 0-2 record against when the two teams played in the Nittany Lion’s first Division I season two years ago.

The most exciting part of the schedule for Penn State looks to be the team’s weekend trip to Fairbanks, Alaska to play Alaska Anchorage and Alaska on Oct. 17 and 18. It’s the team’s longest trip by far this season and a homecoming of sorts for junior and Anchorage native Casey Bailey.

Home games against Holy Cross and Bently finish out the month of October before the Nittany Lions visit almost ranked UMass Lowell in the middle of November.

The first Big Ten series comes against budding rival Michigan in Ann Arbor the week of Nov. 21 and 22. Then, an after Thanksgiving special in the Frozen Apple at New York’s Madison Square Garden will take place on Nov. 29 vs. Cornell.

Penn State will again play in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh in December and face Vermont for the third time in the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff at the end of January.

After that, it’s almost all Big Ten play except for a lone series against Northern Michigan at home on Jan. 23 and 24. Penn State will alternate home and away weekends of conference games with the last home stand against Michigan on March 6 and 7 with the final matches of the season at top conference hopeful Minnesota the following weekend.

What To Look For

With no “firsts” weighing Penn State down with expectations, expect them to come out to start the season more relaxed and confident than ever in their young time as a Division I program. The Nittany Lions played in 16 one-goal games last season with a 5-11-0 record, something they felt they could not turn around until near the end of their season. Look for Penn State to take more of the close games this year than in previous years with their added scoring touches from their three freshmen additions.

It’s not an easy stretch by any means, and Penn State will still be in the bottom half of the Big Ten conference come March, but the race will be closer than ever with many of the programs having lost significant talent from last season.

Penn State’s still a young program competing with established hockey schools and while that will still show to some degree this season, this team looks to be the program’s most confident and mature squad they’ve put out on the ice in their three years of Division I play.