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Penn State Hockey: Forward Corps Young But Not Short On Talent

by on October 05, 2016 2:00 PM

The 2015-16 campaign ended with the Nittany Lions ranked No. 7 in the nation in goal scoring, a program high and a balanced attack at that with 50+ goals coming from freshman and nearly 90 coming from upperclassmen.

It's that balance that could very have Penn State ranked one of the best in the nation yet again as a young forward corps gets a year older and wiser at the collegiate level.

Led by the likes of Andrew Sturtz, Alec Marsh and Chase Berger, this group takes on four freshman into the starting rotation as Penn State looks to improve team hockey IQ while sustaining the offensive output that has become a hallmark of the program's success since its inception just a few years ago.

Here are the lines heading into this week's series against No. 16 St Lawrence, one of the best defensive teams in the nation. (goals/assists/points)

Alec Marsh(7-14-21)/Chase Berger (13-13-26)/Andrew Sturtz (18-9-27)

Penn State's top line is last season's youth movement coming to fruition. Marsh started the 2015-16 campaign hot, finishing the year with 21 points with seven goals along the. He will work the left side of the ice alongside Berger who became one of Penn State's more consistent playmakers with 13 assists. It's Sturtz though that will get the most attention from defenses on this line as Penn State's returning leading goal scorer has some of the softest hands in the Big Ten and a knack for the big play in close. With 18 goals during his freshman season and nine assists to go with it, Sturtz has proven to be one of the better all-around players to suit up for Penn State hockey so far. In better shape physically than he was last season, the sky appears to be the limit for Sturtz and this line as a whole.

Denis Smirnov /Dylan Richard(21-33-54)/David Goodwin (33-57-90)

Smirnov comes to Penn State with plenty of hype and excitement around him as a playmaker and his two goals against Queens did little to slow that down. Coming in at 5-10, Smirnov isn't going to wow anyone with his size, but working on the left side next to senior Dylan Richard and Penn State's all-time points leader in captain David Goodwin is just about the perfect spot for the potential young star. Richard has been a solid and dependable forward for Penn State his entire career and his 86 games played and 54 points over that span go to show it. Goodwin needs very little introduction himself with 90 points in 108 games but his 57 assists will likely need to turn into more goals this year as he plays with two line mates apt to pass. As Goodwin himself said earlier this week "now I have to learn how to score."

Brandon Biro/Liam Folkes/Nate Sucese

With all three members of this line making their Penn State debut this season there isn't much to actually know about this bunch. All three come in under six feet with Folkes and Sucese a small but speedy 5-foot-8. Folkes had a nice tap in goal during Penn State's exhibition game but the season opener against St Lawrence ought to be a better indicator for how this line looks in the early part of the season. 

Ricky DeRosa (14-16-30)/Nikita Pavlychev/James Robinson (4-4-8)

From two of the shortest players to the tallest, Pavlychev is 6-foot-7 without skates and looks even larger standing in front of goal. Surprisingly fast the Russian forward brings a powerful left-handed shot to the table between the second most tenured forward in Ricky DeRosa and alternate captain James Robinson. Robinson returns from a broken collarbone he sustained on his first shift of the year last season so the sophomore is undoubtedly eager to prove himself this year.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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