Equipment Manager settles into Pegula

Adam Sheehan

Pegula Ice Arena’s $102 million budget was distributed with every facet of Penn State hockey in mind.

From skate sharpeners, to rivet and blade repair machines, Adam Sheehan said he has everything he needs to fulfill his duties as equipment manager of the men’s hockey team.

“They said, ‘If you need it, get it,’” Sheehan said Wednesday in the new arena.

A Detroit native, Sheehan got his first professional job as equipment assistant with the Phoenix Coyotes in 1998. He spent nine seasons in the desert with the Coyotes before earning the same position with his hometown Red Wings in 2008.

One of the NHL’s most storied facilities, Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena , with its “Hockeytown” moniker emblazoned across center ice, has always been a “special place”, Sheehan said.

But, Sheehan said the amenities in Penn State’s new barn on University Drive are “a lot nicer” than the 33 year-old barn in Detroit .

“I have everything I had in the NHL and then some,” Sheehan said. “The difference is at Joe Louis Arena, we had three different storage areas. Here, I have everything within 20 feet.”

Although there’s a clear difference in on-ice play between the NHL and NCAA, Sheehan said the atmosphere amongst the guys in the locker room is much the same.

“As far as personalities, hockey players are pretty much all the same,” Sheehan said. “They can be a little quirky. They can be different birds.”

Goaltenders are often the most eccentric personalities on a hockey roster, but even the Nittany Lion netminders, are “pretty levelheaded,” Sheehan said.

Whether collegiate or professional, Sheehan said he enjoys the company of hockey players.

“You’re not going to come across athletes, especially at the professional level, that are as good of people as hockey players,” Sheehan said.

Earning the players’ respect is a “give and take type situation,” Sheehan said.

“Some players will test you to see what you do and don’t know, especially when it comes to skates,” the equipment manager said. “Then there are times when I will intentionally mess with the player just to see if he actually knows what he’s talking about.”

When it comes to gameday though, Sheehan and the players are on the same page.

“Now that we’re here and settled, I’ve slowly gotten into a little bit of the routines,” Sheehan said.

After the morning skate, Sheehan and his five student assistants launder the team’s practice uniforms, accommodate the visiting team, and prepare the locker room for the night’s game.

“We’ve got a screw loose, all of us [equipment managers],” Sheehan joked. “I always make a round through the locker room, make sure everything is the way I like it.”

During the game, most problems can be solved by grabbing another stick off the stick rack or screwing a facemask back into place. Sheehan said he works in advance to prevent the serious mishaps.

“As I go through the skate sharpening process, I always take a look at everything to make sure…some guy doesn’t take a slapshot in the foot and blow the holder right off his skate,” Sheehan said.

Even then, each player has a second pair of skates.

Long after the season’s first game against Army has been decided and the last fan leaves Pegula Ice Arena on Oct. 11, Sheehan will wash the team’s jerseys and prepare the locker room for another day in Penn State’s world-class hockey arena.

“It’s like groundhog day,” Sheehan said.

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Matt Nestor can be reached at or (814) 865-1828. Follow him on Twitter at @MattyNest.