Tommy Olczyk said he moved so much growing up that he couldn’t even remember all of the places he’s lived.
The newly appointed captain of Penn State men’s hockey team said although he had to always leave his friends, there were two things that always stuck with him — family and hockey.
“I think [moving around] was harder when I was younger, but then when I got older I got used to it,” Olczyk said. “I think it brings you closer to your family, definitely. You have to leave your friends behind, but you always have your family, and that’s definitely something I’ll never forget.”
Olczyk said he was born into a big hockey family and couldn’t even remember when he started playing. His father, Ed Olczyk, played for many NHL teams and won a Stanley Cup in 1994 with the New York Rangers. He was also the former head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and is currently a color commentator.
“I think I was born with skates on to be honest,” Tommy Olczyk said. “But seeing my dad play when I was younger made me fall in love with the game. Regardless, my dad would’ve supported me no matter what I wanted to do, but luckily I stuck with hockey and had one of the best coaches and mentors I could ask for with hockey.”
Olczyk said he talked to both of his parents shortly after he found out he would be the captain of Penn State’s first NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey team.
“My dad was very proud. He didn’t act surprised, but I think he was. I think we all were,” Olczyk said. “…And then I called my mom later that day, and the first couple minutes on the phone I don’t think she got out any, maybe two or three words, I think ‘Congratulations’ and ‘I love you,’ but she was crying a lot and definitely very proud of me.”
Coach Guy Gadowsky said Olczyk is someone who represents the team well. He said he’s a good example both on and off the ice.
“He is a 4.0 student,” Gadowsky said. “He takes academics very seriously, and he is very intelligent… On the ice, he is a talented guy. He shoots the puck very well, and furthermore he does a lot of little things that do not really get noticed. He has a great work ethic.”
Gadowsky said he put the role of captain to a vote within the team. He told the team to put down the players who had the highest level of work ethic and commitment, represented themselves the best and were committed to Penn State, both the hockey program and academics.
“For all of them, his name was up there at the top of the list,” Gadowsky said. “We agree with it as a coaching staff, but we have to give credit for choosing him as captain to the team.”
Olczyk said the thing that makes him nervous about being captain is that he has no NCAA experience. The sophomore forward played hockey on Penn State’s American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I club team as a freshman last season. He also was a member of the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League for four seasons before attending Penn State.
Olczyk said he’d look to Max Gardiner, Justin Kirchhevel, Bryce Johnson, Taylor Holstrom and Nate Jensen for help because they all have experience playing NCAA hockey.
“I’ll try to pick up tips from them and try to be the leader I think I can be,” Olczyk said.