Goaltender a Question Mark Heading into Opener

Story posted October 11, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Ross Insana

Going into the season, the most popular topics of discussion surrounding the team were talks of the christening of Pegula Ice Arena, or playing in the new Big Ten Hockey conference. But in terms of X’s and O’s, the most burning question has been what the goalie situation will be like, now that highly touted freshman Eamon McAdam has joined the fold along with the returnees, Matt Skoff and PJ Musico.

“It’s a good relationship but also one where there’s a lot of competition,” said McAdam. “We’re all very athletic and competitive guys and we’re pushing each other on and off the ice every day.”

During Media Day on September 30, Guy Gadowsky was asked early about this subject matter and said that all three of McAdam, Skoff and Musico are “very capable goaltenders” in their own right.

His philosophy is that there is no preconceived notion of how the situation is going to play out and that the coaching staff is going to let the goaltenders battle it out in practice.

“They don’t like necessarily just anything handed to them,” said Gadowsky. “I think the fact that they have internal competition that keeps them sharp and they support each other.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Gadowsky announced that the coaching staff’s decision on who the starter will be for Friday’s home opener against Army, will be determined after practice on Thursday. That he and assistant coaches Matt Lindsay and Keith Fisher run what he likes to call a “result-based program” to validate their decision-making process.

“All we look at are wins, goals against, save percentage, your work ethic and your commitment towards Penn State University,” said Gadowsky.

Gadowsky also believes it is a positive not necessarily having what people like to refer to as an “established guy” in net for his Nittany Lions. To build off that concept, he considers all three goaltenders great teammates and supportive of one another throughout the process.

“I think it really raises all of their performance and I think that’s a good problem to have.”

The talent McAdam possesses in net is clearly evident considering he was ranked as the sixth best North American goalie according to the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau prior to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He was then selected by the New York Islanders in the third round with the 70th pick overall in the 2013 Draft.

Musico went 4-6 over 10 starts with a 3.22 goals-against average and .899 save percentage that included a big win on October 20 on the road against former Frozen Four participant RIT. The California native also etched himself in the Penn State Hockey record books last season with the first Division I victory against American International on October 13 and the programs first shutout against Army on October 26th.

Skoff made 17 starts in his freshman season last year for the Nittany Lions while posting a 9-8-0 record, 2.48 goals-against average and .921 save percentage after spending three seasons with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. This included all three of the Nittany Lions’ program defining wins last season against current Big Ten foes Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

“On the ice we’re going to battle and do whatever we have to do to win that number one job but off the ice we are good sports about it,” said Skoff. “At the end of the day we are trying to make this team win and build this program up.”

OTHER NOTES

- McAdam on his draft day experience:

"By far the top moment in my life to this point. I can say that without a doubt. That moment when my name was called and looked over and saw my parents and saw the look on their face. It's still even very hard to put into words."

- Captain Tommy Olczyk on one of the new faces that has caught his eye in practice so far:

"A guy up front like Zach Saar sticks out, who played in the United States Hockey League. He's a big kid probably coming in at six-four pushing 220 to 230. He's going to be a force out there. He looks pretty mean in practice and I look forward to watching him play."

Ross Insana is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email rxi5007@psu.edu.