This upcoming weekend will reveal a lot about how far the Penn State men’s hockey team has come under coach Guy Gadowsky in the last year.
With a 1-1-0 record so far in its inaugural Division I season, the team is preparing for a big weekend that includes a Saturday night game against the Rochester Institute of Technology.
However, Gadowsky said he is warning his team not to look past Friday night’s contest against Division III Buffalo State.
“We’re not going to prepare differently or have a different focus from Friday night to RIT,” Gadowsky said about the Buffalo State game. “You can learn a lot from playing anybody. They’re an NCAA Division III program, so I expect them to be very good.”
Sophomore forward Max Gardiner has a similar mindset for Friday’s game.
“Our mentality is to take one game at a time,” Gardiner said. “Buffalo State has a solid squad, so we’ll bring our ‘A’ game and try to get better.”
Gadowsky said his focus remains on his own young team, not its opposition.
“Right now, whether we’re playing them or a veteran team that’s played together, it doesn’t matter because we’re so young,” Gadowsky said. “We’re really looking at ourselves. We’re very new. We’re making a lot of mistakes. We’re happy with our start, but we have a lot of work to do, so we’re solely concentrating on us right now.”
The Nittany Lions split a two game series, both of which went to overtime, with American International College to open their season. Gadowsky said the team made several errors that it has been focusing on throughout this past week’s practices, which he didn’t specify. He also pointed out that he doesn’t have the expectation that one week of practice will correct these mistakes.
However, Gadowsky made it clear that he doesn’t want his players to focus so much on eliminating mistakes that they fail to bring the passion that he feels makes his team special. Gadowsky said he knows the Nittany Lions will need this unique energy when they go up against an RIT team that has experience at the Division I level.
Not even Gadowsky could deny that this weekend’s marquee game takes place Saturday night.
“RIT is a very good program, with a great student body and a great atmosphere,” Gadowsky said. “We’re all very excited. It doesn’t matter how many years you do this. I’m jacked up to [play against RIT in front of 13,000 people].”
Both Gardiner and freshman forward Kenny Brooks appeared to be excited for Saturday’s contest, as well. Brooks said it will be exciting to play in front of a sold-out crowd.
“Their fans are pretty wild,” Gardiner added. “It’s a big game Saturday. It’s going to be fun playing a good team like RIT.”