The Penn State men’s ice hockey team isn’t wasting one minute of its NCAA permitted practice time leading up to its inaugural Division I season.
The NCAA allows its teams to hold practices beginning Oct. 6, and the Nittany Lions will start practice at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion as soon as the clock hits midnight that Friday night. The doors will open to the public at 11 p.m., and other activities will also be held.
The team’s practice will be from 12 a.m. to 1 a.m., followed by an hour of free public skating with the team, and head coach Guy Gadowsky is personally encouraging all fans of Penn State athletics to come out for a good time.
“There will be pizza and t-shirts — a few things like that,” Gadowsky said. “There’s going to be an NCAA Division I hockey team on campus, so that’s sort of cool, and then they get to go skating. And if they don’t have skates, we’ll give some to them.”
Gadowsky said he is “absolutely” worried about getting his team up to speed before its opener against American International on Oct. 12.
“We can condition on the ice. We can do skills on the ice, but we can’t have a full team practice. This will be the first one,” Gadowsky said.
“[The season] is coming up really quickly, and basically … the entire team is new to Division I hockey, so certainly I’d love to get enough time as I could. It is what it is.”
Nonetheless, Gadowsky said he’s confident in his team and its style of play.
“Certainly we want to play a high-paced game with a lot of speed,” Gadowsky said. “We’re going to be a physical team. I think we’re a very fun team to watch. That’s the style we play, and it’s been successful in the past.”
Freshman David Glen said he’s prepared to meet the challenge of the limited time.
“It’s kind of an interesting set of rules the NCAA has,” Glen said. “It obviously makes it a little more challenging to only have a couple weeks with the coaches as a team. But we’ve been doing our best to get prepared, with captain’s practices…I think once that first game comes around, we’ll be ready for it.”
Glen, a 21-year-old who has spent the last four seasons with the Spruce Groves Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, said he is excited for the Penn State community to have a chance to enjoy Division I hockey.
“I think they’ll see we’re a hard-working team, and you can see the skill level we have and just the speed at which the game’s played,” Glen said. “It’s a big jump into the Division I level, and I think it’s a really cool chance that the fans will get to experience that.”
Glen said he and the team are looking forward to their first official practice as Division I athletes and are expecting a good turnout.
“I understand some people have other things to do on a Friday night,” Glen said, “but …I think it’ll be a lot of fun, and whoever does choose to come out, I think they’ll enjoy the experience.”