Given a few days to ponder and reflect, the Penn State men’s hockey team is focusing on the positives from last weekend.
The Nittany Lions beat Minnesota 3-2 in overtime on Friday, taking a game from a perennial national power and the defending Big Ten champions. They are trying to forget a 7-1 loss the next night.
“We found a way to win a game against an excellent team,” coach Guy Gadowsky said Monday at the team’s weekly media session. “One of the top programs in the nation, and I think the guys have to feel good about finding a way to win. It was also a good reminder that, hey, against top programs like that, you have to bring your very best.”
The loss on Saturday was tough to watch at times, when the team looked a step slow and had a number of mistakes and turnovers, not to mention giving up three shorthanded goals.
“That was tough,” freshman forward Chase Berger said. “They beat us pretty good there. At the end of the day, we played with them well Friday. We kind of understood that they were going to come out hungry, really going to want to win. But it’s just one game. I don’t think you can stress too much on it.”
It was a learning moment for the program, giving a reminder that even if a team has a losing record – Minnesota is 9-10 overall – nothing should be taken for granted.
But Gadowsky also appreciates some of the comments and questions he got after the loss – that it was just like any other loss.
“It’s nice that people are asking the question, ‘Oh, you lost to Minnesota, is everything OK?’” he said. “In a sense, that’s a compliment, right? I think that’s why you come here.”
The Nittany Lions suffered a pair of injuries in Friday’s win. Goalie Eamon McAdam was hurt during the game but remained in net to the end, and was not scheduled to play Saturday. Defenseman Luke Juha also was hurt and was not in the lineup Saturday.
Both are “day to day,” according to Gadowsky, McAdam with a lower body injury, Juha with an upper body injury.
With the alternating of goalies this season, Gadowsky could not give the plan yet for this weekend. The pattern would have McAdam playing Friday and Matthew Skoff in net Saturday, and among the scenarios for the goalies was to switch nights to give McAdam another day’s rest, but it was too soon to know.
“That’s going to be a decision not necessarily from me but from our trainers,” Gadowsky said.
Conway has new school
Former Nittany Lion Scott Conway announced on Twitter last week he plans to enroll at Providence and join the defending national champion Friars. Conway was dismissed by the Nittany Lions after last season for disciplinary reasons, scoring 10 goals and 16 assists.
“Scott Conway’s a great player,” Gadowsky said, choosing words very carefully. “I’m sure they’re happy to get him.”
He’s been playing this season with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League, leading the team and is second in the league with 39 goals and 42 assists.
There have been some changes, but the four forward lines have been rather stable this season, but after some shaky performances the last few weeks, some changes may be in store for this weekend, when the Nittany Lions (13-4-3) host Wisconsin at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.
“You’ll probably see a couple different looks on Friday,” said Gadowsky, whose team dropped one spot in the national rankings to No. 15 in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll, and remained No. 15 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.
The NHL changed a rule this year for overtime games, with teams playing 3 on 3 with skaters, unlike the 4 on 4 of years past or the standard 5 on 5 during regulation play. Rules can vary by conference, but mostly games are 5 on 5 during overtime college games.
There is little agreement around the country for preference, but personally Gadowsky would like to see the NHL rule brought to the college game.
“I’m in favor of mirroring the NHL in as many ways as we can,” Gadowsky said, even preferring that style to deciding a game by a shootout, which the Big Ten uses.
“It’s very entertaining,” Gadowsky said. “I really enjoy watching it.”
Those on the ice would like to see that change as well.
“That would be awesome,” Berger said. “Just up and down, it’d be really good.”