Blue White Illustrated

November 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 48 of 67

N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 1 4 9 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M OLYMPIC SPORTS S peaking with the media a week before his team began its 10th season at the Division I level, head coach Guy Gadowsky was asked if he felt Penn State hockey was still evolving. With so many changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic last season, Gadowsky chose to begin his response with a short-term view. "Right now, at this moment, we're evolving a lot from the last year, the last two years," he said. "It really does feel new right now, I think, because of that." The changeover that Gadowsky was referencing draws from several differ- ent sources. For starters, the COVID-19 protocols are less stringent and more clear now. Gadowsky was often criti- cal of his own coaching last season, a pandemic-marred campaign in which the Nittany Lions finished 10-12, the team's first losing season since 2014. The roster is evolving, too. Many of the players who were on the ice the last time fans filled Pegula Ice Arena on Feb. 22, 2020, are no longer in uniform. Of the 21 players who dressed for Penn State's season opener against Long Island Uni- versity on Oct. 3, only 10 had played in front of Penn State fans before. Perhaps more than anything, though, Gadowsky is hoping that short-term program evolution can allow Penn State to revert to its identity, which he feels was absent at times last season. Penn State has always been a program that has won without the flashy first- round NHL Draft picks you might see elsewhere in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions still have only one alumnus who has appeared in an NHL game — Casey Bailey, who last played in the league in February 2017. To say that Penn State has done more with less under Gadowsky would be selling some of the team's great talents short. But certainly, Penn State has suc- ceeded in adopting a mentality that al- lowed it to extract the very most out of that talent where others could not, and that is something that the Nittany Lions must do again in 2021-22. "The program culture carries on," Guy Gadowsky has served as head coach of the Nittany Lions since 2011, when he was hired to take over the program as it transitioned to the NCAA Division I level. PHOTO BY RYAN SNYDER GOAL TO GO As its 10th varsity season gets underway, the Penn State men's ice hockey program continues to pursue lofty ambitions DAVID ECKERT | DAVIDECKERT98@GMAIL.COM

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