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Hockey Valley: Gadowsky previews PSU season and talks challenges of dealing with COVID

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Penn State hockey coach Guy Gadowsky spoke with the media on a Zoom call Monday to discuss the upcoming season.

The Nittany Lions have a lot of new faces this year, and it will be a challenging season as the team and country continue to deal with the coronavirus.

Gadowsky mentioned the possibility of some games maybe having to be canceled, which could impact the Big Ten season.

The coach also talked about standout Alex Limoges and how things will be a lot different for the freshman on this team who are entering a new program while dealing with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The PSU hockey team has its highest preseason national ranking ever at No. 9. But it was picked to finish seventh in the Big Ten.

The Lions are set to open the season Nov. 19-20 at Minnesota. Their first home games are Dec. 2-3 against Michigan.

 

On what practice looks like now dealing with COVID:

“Fortunately this week, we were able to get on as a full team. So the only difference that you see is that the coaches are all wearing masks, the players are all wearing masks, everybody on the bench that are wearing masks, and there’s no whistles, they’re electronic. So that would be the main difference. And obviously, when you when you bring players over the board, normally everybody crowds around and they can hear you and hear they got to stay far apart from each other. So it’s a lot more spread out. And that’s how it looks differently. But obviously, a couple weeks ago, it was, you know, small groups, we still are not in one locker room. So the way you communicate is a lot different. We’re doing a lot of this, the teams we communicate when we communicate with the group, it’s through Zoom. And that’s how we have to do things.

On getting feedback from PSU football coach James Franklin in dealing with COVID issues:

“One of the reasons that we’ve been successful so far, and our athletic department has been pretty successful as is, James Franklin has been very open with what works, what doesn’t and has been giving all of the programs heads up on things that you can expect and things that have worked and things that (don’t). … They were first, so we get to see what they do, right. And we get to get to hear. Fortunately, Coach Franklin has been very honest with us, which ways where he feels we can do better than they they did and has been really up front and honest with us. … And I and it’s been very valuable.”

On freshman to senior interaction:

“We take what we can get. A lot of it has to do when they’re together here at the rink. They’re really excited, but it’s not the same, but it’s what we have. So the Zooms are really what we use to try and get on the same page. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but it’s safe.”

On Alex Limoges as a leader and if he feels any added pressure being first-team all-Big Ten:

“Limo is exactly the same as he was the first day stepped on campus here. He is really the most humble guy. And he’s always been like that. It’s just him. … I think your question was, has he been different? No. But that’s why he was chosen captain because of how he is. And he’s been that way since day one. I mean, we knew five years ago, when when people were talking about him that and he listened to coaches, they talked about what an unbelievable leader he would be, it’s it’s just the way he is. So no, he hasn’t changed one bit.”

On replacing team leaders lost from last season:

“I think they’re gonna have a much harder job mostly from what I talked about before that there’s very little action, little socializing from the team away from the rink. So it’s to get that team bonding and team camaraderie, and really, most importantly, examples to show the younger guys … how you represent yourself, etc. is a much more difficult job than it ever has been. … It is going to be different leading this year than it ever has been because the limited interaction they have.”

On having a short amount of time to get ready for the season:

“In the past a lot of you know they’d have captains practices. So there would get a lot of skating and scrimmaging and playing. It wouldn’t be official practices, but they would, and this year obviously we’ve had zero because we don’t have any extra ice where they can go there. They’ve all been in small groups until just recently. We haven’t had that. So that’s a little different. In the past, you’re right, we, we were able to play right away because they had so much time with each other and scrimmaging on their own. This is different.”

On what he’s struggling with in this different environment:

“I’m struggling with a lot. I think it’s a lot of new. We’re trying to just be as as positive and as fluid as possible, like being able to pivot on a dime, because things are going to change. I think, I will tell you, I’m not saying I’m been very good at it, I can tell you, our staff has been excellent. … A lot of it is always on the back of your mind. And you’re always wondering and looking. But I can tell you from a program standpoint, I really am impressed and appreciate with how the staff and and the players have been able to stay positive when everything’s so different.”

On if the Big Ten race will be tight again:

“I think so. But I think there’s obviously another big factor that we haven’t had to deal with in the past. I think there’s the possibility obviously of canceled or postponed games, etc., that so it’s hard for me to know exactly where to answer. I think if everything was constant, yeah, I think you’re gonna see that again. I think you’re gonna see that year in year out in the Big Ten. They all have great players. They all have great coaching staffs. Their recruiting is great. Their programs are great. You know, man, it’s tough. It’s really tough. And that’s that’s a good thing. But yes, I think if everything was constant, I see that trend continue.”

On what he’s talked about with the players being ranked in the top 10 nationally but seventh in the Big Ten:

“I think I got a similar question last year when we were picked first (in the Big Ten). And I think the answer was when we were picked last before we didn’t pay much mind. So it’s not really fair to now pay much mind when we’re picked first. And now we find ourselves on the other end. I think the answer stays the same. The coaches were right about us last year. I hope they’re wrong about us this year, but I do think that it speaks to the quality of the league. There was a question before about how you know tight it is from top to bottom and when you have a team you know, that’s picked the top 10 nationally, but seventh and last in your league. I think it speaks to the quality of the whole league. That’s how I feel about it.”

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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