Penn State University, located in State College, Pennsylvania, has long been recognized as an academic powerhouse with a rich history in sports. However, in recent years, it has emerged as a dominant force in the world of men’s hockey, solidifying its reputation as one of the top programs in the country. With back-to-back Big Ten Championships and multiple players making their way to the NHL, Penn State is proving to be a dynasty in the making. In this article, we will take a closer look at the factors contributing to the Nittany Lions’ success and the impact they are making in the world of hockey.
A New Approach to Recruiting
One of the key factors in Penn State’s success on the ice is their unique approach to recruiting. While most college hockey programs rely heavily on recruiting players from Canada, Penn State has taken a different route by focusing on American-born players. Head coach Guy Gadowsky, who has been with the program since its inception in 2012, recognized the potential in American-born players and set out to build a team primarily made up of this demographic.
This approach has paid off significantly, as the Nittany Lions have proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten and on the national stage. Not only has this approach brought success on the ice, but it has also helped to grow the game of hockey in the United States, providing opportunities for American-born players to showcase their skills at the collegiate level.
Embracing and Elevating the Big Ten Conference
When Penn State first joined the Big Ten conference in 2013, the hockey program faced challenges as it built up to the level of its more established counterparts. However, through hard work and determination, the Nittany Lions have become a dominant force in the conference, establishing themselves as one of the top teams year after year.
In addition to their success in the Big Ten, Penn State has also made a significant impact on the national level. The Nittany Lions have earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament three of the past four seasons, reaching the quarterfinals twice. This has put Penn State on the map as a top-tier team in the country and has elevated the competition in the Big Ten conference as a whole.
Developing Future NHL Talent
The success of Penn State’s hockey program is not only evident in their performance as a team, but also in the development of individual players. In the last few years, the Nittany Lions have seen multiple players make their way to the NHL, including recent first-round draft picks Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte.
This trend shows no signs of slowing down as the program continues to produce top talent. In the 2021 NHL Draft alone, seven Penn State players were selected, solidifying the university’s reputation as a breeding ground for future NHL stars. This not only attracts top talent to the program but also serves as a testament to the quality of coaching and development at Penn State.
Building a Strong Culture and Community
Beyond the on-ice success, what truly sets Penn State apart is the culture and community that the program has established. From the players and coaches to the fans and alumni, there is a strong sense of pride and unity within the program that has contributed to its success.
This culture is also reflected in the support the Nittany Lions receive from their dedicated fan base. In a recent study, it was revealed that Penn State had the third-highest average attendance in men’s Division I hockey, with an average of over 6,000 fans per game. This level of support and passion for the program has helped to create a winning environment for the players and has further solidified Penn State as a destination for talented players.
As we have seen, Penn State’s recent success in men’s hockey can be attributed to a combination of factors, including their unique approach to recruiting, their dominance in the Big Ten, their ability to develop future NHL talent, and the strong culture and community within the program. With this foundation in place, it is clear that the Nittany Lions are well on their way to becoming a dynasty in the world of college hockey.