Penn State Hockey

How Penn State men’s hockey’s upperclassmen are keeping their teammates on their toes

He’s not the biggest player on the roster, but captain Brandon Biro often puts the Penn State hockey team on his shoulders as he leads by example and with the occasional prank.

As Penn State moves into the second week of its season, that approach matters.

With 19 juniors or seniors, the most in the nation, familiarity could breed boredom or complacency. Instead, Biro and his teammates often find ways to challenge each other and keep routines exciting and fresh.

“It’s Brandon, the other captains and all of the guys who’ve been through these things before,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “Their leadership is certainly a strength.”

Still, Biro deflects credit off the ice as easily as he shares assists on it.

“I just kind of know there is a little bit more responsibility (as a captain),” he said. “We have a massive senior class and a good number of upperclassmen who’ve already been through a lot.”

Biro, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound senior forward, might not be the biggest player on the roster, but his style of play defines his approach. Plus, his status as a fly-under-the-radar prankster often endears him to teammates — even those who have been the victim of his pranks.

“He’s tenacious,” Gadowsky said. “That shows up in his statistics and certainly sets a tone. He’s consistent that way.”

Penn State boasts its own consistency, with an identity that rests largely on its offense.

Leading scorer Nate Sucese, who had multi-point performances in the first two games, needs just two goals to tie Andrew Sturtz for the program record of 54. And, while defense remains an ongoing concern, Cole Hults became the program’s first defenseman to record a hat trick in the season opener against Sacred Heart last week.

Still, the Nittany Lions have a bit of work to maintain their own offensive standard. Penn State was the nation’s top-scoring program last season. Right now the Nittany Lions are second, averaging 6.5 goals per game. That’s tied with North Dakota behind the 7.0 of both Wisconsin and Boston University.

No. 9 Penn State (2-0) vs. Alaska-Fairbanks (2-2)

Series: 7 p.m. Thursday; 7 p.m. Friday

Radio/TV: Both games on 103.1 FM,

Notable: Alaska-Fairbanks leads the series, 1-0. … The Nanooks dropped both games of their season-opening series at No. 1 Denver. They then swept Michigan Tech last weekend. … The Nanooks have converted just one of 21 power-play opportunities. … Sophomore defenseman Chris Jandric leads the team with two goals. … Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky earned his 300th career victory in the second game of the Nittany Lions’ two-game sweep of Sacred Heart last weekend.