The Penn State men’s hockey team announced Tuesday the three players chosen to lead the team into its first NCAA Division I season.
Tommy Olczyk, Nate Jensen and George Saad were selected by their teammates through a vote that was held earlier in the week. Olczyk was named captain, with Jensen and Saad named assistant captains.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky said in a press release that they were selected by their teammates by displaying commitment to their team.
"They are fantastic representatives of Penn State Hockey,” Gadowsky said in an interview, “and the staff is extremely excited to have them lead the team during our first NCAA season."
Olczyk played hockey on Penn State’s American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I club team as a freshman last season, where he recorded 52 points in 31 games. The sophomore forward was also a member of the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League for four seasons before attending Penn State.
Although he doesn’t have any NCAA experience, Olczyk said he always envisioned himself as a leader.
“I played hockey a very long time, and I’ve been around hockey at the highest level,” Olczyk said. “I like to do things the right way and lead by example on and off the ice — so in that aspect, I’ve always seen myself as a leader.”
Olczyk is the son of Ed Olczyk, who is a current NHL TV analyst and former head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. His father was also a member of the New York Rangers when they won the 1994 Stanley Cup and the 1984 U.S. Olympic hockey team.
The newly appointed Penn State men’s hockey captain said he’s honored to be a part of such a historic team.
“Just being able to say I’m one of the captains on the team is something very special and near and dear to my heart,” Olczyk said, “and something I definitely won’t take for granted.”
Olczyk didn’t waste time to mention that he couldn’t have two better teammates than Jensen and Saad to help him lead the Lions.
He said Jensen would bring NCAA experience to the team. Jensen, a junior defenseman, played as a freshman at Mercyhurst of Atlantic Hockey, where he was ranked as the team’s second-leading scorer among defenseman with 16 points. He was also a member of Penn State’s ACHA Division I club team last season.
“He’s a very good defenseman. He’s very skilled. He’s very gifted,” Olczyk said. “He’s just a very good all-around defenseman and he’s going to be a great guy to lean on.”
Olczyk said Saad knows everyone on the team and players have nothing but respect for him.
Saad played three seasons with Penn State’s ACHA Division I club team, where he recorded 66 points. Before Penn State, the senior forward played for the Youngstown Phantoms in the North American Hockey League, where he collected 12 goals and seven assists in 51 regular-season games.
The Lions hold their first official practice Friday at midnight until 1 a.m. at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. The practice is open to the public and doors will open at 11 p.m. The team has only one week of organized practice before its first NCAA Division I game on Oct. 12.
Olczyk said it’s a challenge only having a week, but added the team is working hard even when the coaches aren’t on the ice.
“When you’re only given a week for official practice, it’s not easy,” Olczyk said, “but we’re going to come out fine on Oct. 12 and do the best we can to set an identity for what kind of team we’re going to be in college hockey.”