UNIVERSITY PARK — With the Penn State ice hockey team ready to jump back into the Big Ten schedule, the Nittany Lions are still waiting to find their No. 1 goalie.
Eamon McAdam appears to have worked his way close to taking over the spot from Matthew Skoff, but it remains unclear week to week who will be getting the start on goal.
The latest mystery will not be answered until the Nittany Lions hit the ice in Columbus, Ohio to meet Ohio State at 7 p.m. Friday.
Each week coach Guy Gadowsky and his staff compare stats, both from games and practices, to determine who will get the start between the pipes. They continue to wonder if someone will start racking up wins and build a wall around the net.
“That hasn’t happened yet,” Gadowsky said. “They’ve been relatively similar. The numbers haven’t been that far off, especially recently.”
Skoff had the vast majority of starts over the first half of the season, while McAdam has been getting more time the last few weeks.
Skoff has 12 starts, posting a 4-7-1 record. The sophomore, who was the No. 1 goalie for the latter part of last season, has a 3.39 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.
McAdam, a freshman and draft choice of the New York Islanders, has a 3.94 goals-against average and .889 save percentage, with two losses to No. 1 Minnesota and one to No. 2 Boston College among his recent starts. He made 42 saves in one of the losses to the Gophers, and his numbers have greatly improved the last few weeks.
“What a great opportunity for him to grow,” Gadowsky said. “He’s certainly has. I think he’s gotten better every game. When you talk about a maturation process, I think that’s what we’re all seeing. It gives you a lot of optimism for the future.”
The frustrating thing for McAdam, he has eight starts and lost all eight.
“I think everybody on our team is really hungry to get him his first win,” Gadowsky said. “To him, wins are important. It’s not just your save percentage, your goals-against and your performance. He wants to win for the team so I think everybody wants to get that for him.”
The freshman showed his disappointment Saturday night after the 3-2 loss to the Eagles.
“Hard to go this far into a season without picking up a win,” McAdam said Saturday night. “Especially not actually having one, obviously (as) a freshman, in my college career. (I’m) pretty anxious to get it, (But) we’re right there. … It’s a bounce away, one way or the other.”
Yanis back, but …
Sophomore defenseman Mark Yanis missed Saturday’s loss after he was suspended by the Big Ten for an illegal hit in a Jan. 18 loss to Michigan State. He hit the Spartans’ Villiam Haag hard from behind, sending him headfirst into the boards.
“We deserved that penalty,” Gadowsky said, noting the team did not appeal the suspension from the hit with 5:23 left in the 5-2 loss.
The coach said Yanis has returned to practice, but his immediate future is up in the air.
“I’m not so sure you’re going to see him this weekend,” Gadowsky said.
Freshman forward Dylan Richard took a hard slap shot to his left ankle early in the second period of Saturday’s game against Boston College. He limped off the ice and was helped to the team’s dressing room, but after missing a few shifts he returned to action.
But Gadowsky was unsure of Richard’s status for this weekend. The freshman, who has a goal and two assists, skated for half of Tuesday’s practice.
“We’re hoping that we get him back,” Gadowsky said.
Also, McAdam’s helmet is on the injured list. He took a shot off the mask during the Minnesota series and had to send it away for repairs.
Who ya got?
Gadowsky is rooting for the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks.
While Gadowsky attended Colorado College, that is not what makes him a Denver fan. Instead, it’s because of the team’s quarterback.
“I’m really a Peyton (Manning) fan,” Gadowsky said. “Just the way he carries himself.”