The impressive rise up the conference standings, with a chance at the Big Ten title heading into the last weekend of the regular season, drew some accolades for the Penn State hockey program.
Guy Gadowsky was named the conference’s Coach of the Year, Casey Bailey was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and Scott Conway was named to the All-Freshman team in honors announced Monday.
They are the first major awards bestowed on the team in its third season at the NCAA Division I level, rewarding the Nittany Lions for a turnaround from an 8-26-2 record a year ago, including 3-16-1 in the Big Ten, to 18-14-4 and 10-9-1 this season. It marked the program’s first Division I winning seasons both overall and in the conference.
Penn State topped the Big Ten standings in the early weeks of the season, and still had a chance at first place heading into last weekend’s games at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers ended up sweeping the series to take the conference title.
Leading the way is Gadowsky, who earned his third career Coach of the Year award in his third different conference. He also picked up the honors from the CCHA in 2002 while at Alaska, and from the ECAC in 2008 with Princeton.
“This is totally a Program of the Year accolade and I’m just along for the ride,” Gadowsky said by text message Monday night.
Bailey earned his honors after leading the league with 22 goals, which was just five off the nation’s top mark. Coupled with his 18 assists, he also became the program’s first 40-point scorer this season, and has 80 points for his career which also tops all Nittany Lions.
Conway is fifth among Lion players, and second among conference freshmen, in scoring with 10 goals and 16 assists. That total also ranks him 13th nationally among freshmen.
Penn State put six players on the nine-member honorable mention list, with forwards Taylor Holstrom and David Goodwin, goalie P.J. Musico and defensemen Nate Jensen, Luke Juha and Patrick Koudys.
Among the other major awards, goalie Jake Hildebrand of Michigan State is the Player of the Year and Goaltender of the Year, Minnesota’s Mike Reilly is the Defensive Player of the Year and Michigan forward Dylan Larkin is the Freshman of the Year.
Finishing off the All-Big Ten first team are forwards Zach Hyman and Larkin of Michigan, defensemen Zach Werenski of Michigan and Reilly, and Hildebrand.
The rest of the All-Freshman Team includes Larkin and Werenski, Ohio State forward Matthew Weis and Michigan State’s Josh Jacobs.
The Big Ten Tournament starts Thursday at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, with the Nittany Lions facing Ohio State at 4:30 p.m.