Hockey Team Skating off to Buffalo

Penn State's brand new Division I program is hitting the road for the first time. Hard hats and all, the Lions have their work cut out for them.

There's an unshakeable smile on Guy Gadowsky's face. Win, lose or preparing for a road trip. It doesn't matter.

The second-year head coach picked up his Penn State first NCAA Division I victory last Saturday in a 4-3 thriller over American International. After a week of practice, Gadowsky's club will hit the road, taking on Division III Buffalo State Friday before squaring off with a 1-1 RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) team Saturday night at a sold-out Blue Cross Arena.

“They [RIT] just beat Michigan in Michigan last week, so it's going to be a great test for us in front of a sold out arena,” Gadowsky said. “It'll be a great atmosphere, and we'll learn a lot about what it's like to be on the road.”

Penn State evened up its record last Saturday with a David Glenn winner in overtime, which came a night after dropping their season, home and Division I opener Friday night (4-3) to the same American International squad.

Gadowsky's club is averaging 53 shots per game through its first two, but that doesn't mean there won't be any changes to the lines and pairings used last weekend.

“We're not going to separate the Curtis Loik, Kenny Brooks and Glen line, but two of the lines that are playing Friday night are lines you haven't seen before,” Gadowsky said. “The Jonathan Milley, Max Gardiner and Casey Bailey line will be together, but we're going to mix the other two up.”

The other area that could be mixed up will be in net, where true freshman Matt Skoff drew the start Friday night, followed by sophomore P.J. Musico Saturday night. But Gadowsky has no real plan on whether he'll go to one goaltender or stick with a rotation.

“It's different every year. IF we have two guys that are going strong, we're going to keep it that way,” Gadowsky said. “But if one asserts himself as the leader, we'll go with him.”

As he tries to build his program, Gadowsky has said wins and losses won't be the measuring stick for his club, and there's a symbol for that. Kenny Brooks picked up the first hard hat award of the season Saturday night, an honor that will be given each game to the player who showed the qualities of hard work and attention to detail that should be the hallmarks of the program.

“It's a hard hat, and it's significance has to do with what's going on across the street,” Gadowsky said, referring to the new hockey arena being built on campus. “It emphasizes what we want our program to be about, and they're building a foundation for us across the street, and it mirrors what we want to do.”

Gardiner likes the concept.

“It was a surprise after Saturday's game, but I thought it was really cool because you sometimes see stuff like that in the NHL,” Gardiner said. “It just is about the little things, and Brooks got it deservedly so.”

Now the Lions hit the road for the first time as a Division I program.

“Our guys are excited, and I think they sort of (are) curious (about) going in there and seeing what it's like,” he said. “We're excited to see what we can do.”

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