Penn State Men's Hockey vs. Michigan State, congratulating Wall

The Penn State Men's Ice Hockey team congratulates Forward Kevin Wall (21) after Wall scored at Penn State's Men's Ice Hockey game against Michigan State at the Pegula Ice Arena in University Park, Pa on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. The Spartans defeated the Nittany Lions 7-3.

Guy Gadowsky and his squad of “cool cats'' have had a strong showing so far through their 2022-23 tour. After a disappointing series against Michigan State, however, the Nittany Lions’ record dropped to 17-6-1 overall.

Despite the recent shortcomings on the ice, the team has continued to keep its head high. Living off campus, some with other teammates, the culture and bonds between the players are something that not many college athletes get to experience.

“Those are bonds [that] last a lifetime,” Gadowsky said.

While many of the players enjoy having the advantage of attending class together, spending time off of the ice with each other and battling for the top spot on the ping-pong rankings, it’s apparent that the chemistry of the team is something Gadowsky and players hold dear.

“They really become better people together, and I think the fact that they live together for four years and they do it is just a wonderful, wonderful thing,” Gadowsky said.

While the time at home and together is critical to the team’s development, there’s another thing that keeps the guys going that’s more specific to each of them: their pregame rituals.

While some routines are more complex than others, the Penn State men’s hockey team keeps it real.

Sophomore forward Danny Dzhaniyev is a creature of habit. Bringing habits from his time during the USA Hockey National Team Development Program to Pegula Ice Arena has contributed to his success on the ice in Happy Valley.

“I eat the same meal every day and wake up at the same time, and there's just a whole routine every day on game day,” Dzhaniyev said.

PSU Men's Hockey vs. Notre Dame, McMenamin

Penn State forward Connor McMenamin (19) attempts to slap shot the puck into the net while being guarded by Notre Dame defenseman Adam Karashik (3) during the Penn State men's hockey game against Notre Dame in Pegula Ice Arena on Friday Jan. 7, 2022 in University Park, Pa. The Leprechaun's defeated the Nittany Lions 4-2.

Teammate Jarod Crespo uses the power of sad music to get him in the zone. The freshman earned his first collegiate goal in Game 1 of the 2023 Michigan State series. Maybe he was bumping to “Dancing on my Own” by Calum Scott, or what he said is his favorite sad song, “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.

Switching gears, quite literally, junior forward Tyler Paquette enjoys carpool karaoke with junior goaltender Liam Souliere to start his game days.

“I pick up Souliere at the same time before every game, [and we] like to listen to the same songs,” Paquette said.

Once at the rink, Paquette said he enjoys the massage chairs.

Putting aside the sad music, carpool karaoke and massage chairs, one element seemed to rule the majority of the team: the power of the handshake.

While it remains unclear the complexity of the handshakes that are exchanged in the locker room or before the game, one thing stands true: The entire roster has its own way of spreading the love.

However, two questions still remain:

Who has the best handshake?

“Bias to say me and [Carter] Schade,” Crespo said.

“[Christian] Sarlo and Paul [DeNaples] have a good one; they do a little fake,” Paquette said.

And who has the worst?

“Paul and Sarlo,” Crespo said. “It’s just so simple, it’s not even worth doing.”

However, the self-proclaimed “I don't really do handshakes” guy, Paquette, goes the extra mile each game to individually hand out bumps and high-fives.

“I just kind of chill there and talk to [Connor] McMenamin, and then I give Sarlo one. And then I give a behind-the-back one to [Xander Lamppa] as we go out,” Paquette said.

Similar to Paquette, graduate student Ashton Calder prefers the one-on-one experience.

“I start in the front and give everyone a fist bump before they come out,” Calder said.

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