UNIVERSITY PARK — Citing personal reasons, forward Justin Kirchhevel has decided to leave the Penn State men’s ice hockey team.
The rising senior had one year of eligibility remaining but decided to return home to Brookings, S.D. and finish his Penn State degree through online classes.
"I want to thank the coaching staff and my teammates for an amazing experience over the last two years. It truly was an honor to represent the Nittany Lions and help set a solid foundation for the program,” Kirchhevel said in a statement released by the university. “I've learned invaluable life lessons at Penn State that I will take with me forever."
Kirchhevel was one of two South Dakota natives playing Division I hockey last season — the first two ever from the state — joining Princeton’s Matt Farris.
Kirchhevel played in 16 games last season, scorig two goals and assisting on four others. He missed a month-and-a-half early in the season after suffering a concussion. One of his highlights from the past season was netting a shorthanded goal — the first in the program’s Division I history — in a loss to Air Force.
“Justin was a significant part of our program’s foundation and a consummate Nittany Lion on the ice, in the locker room and in the classroom,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I want to thank him for all his contributions during his time at Penn State. Justin made this decision with his family’s best interests in mind. He will be missed, and we wish him well.”
Kirchhevel began his college career at Alaska-Anchorage, playing eight games with two goals and one assist, before transferring to Penn State. He played on the Icers club team in 2011-12, collecting 19 goals and 37 assists.