Penn State Hockey: Justin Kirchhevel Happy To Set His Anchor at Penn State
Standing behind the Vermont net, Penn State forward Justin Kirchhevel peeked over his left shoulder and saw freshman David Glen rushing into the offensive zone. Kirchhevel responded in turn with a powerful backhanded pass that found its way to Glen's stick and a ripping shot that was deposited to the back of the net. The goal, and the pass, sent the crowd of over 19,000 in to a frenzy at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia last weekend.
Because of bumps and bruises, Kirchhevel has only seen action in 11 games this season, but a goal and an assist in Penn State's 4-2 victory over Vermont last weekend accented the type of player he can be for Penn State.
"It was a great pass," Glen said. "With Loik out, Justin stepped in and we didn't miss a beat. It's good to have him back out there."
For Kirchhevel, Penn State is the latest stop in his hockey career. The Brookings, S.D. native has played hockey in seven different states before landing at Penn State. Prior to making the trip east, Kirchhevel was skating in Anchorage, Alaska for the University of Alaska Anchorage.
However far the move from Alaska to Happy Valley might seem, the one-time move is a sweet deal compared to the early morning drives from Brookings to Minneapolis three times a week as a kid.
"I was 15," Kirchhevel said. "My dad used to drive me every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to Minneapolis from Brookings. That's almost a 250 mile drive. He made a lot of sacrifices back then and I didn't realize that until later. I didn't pick up hockey until I was nine so I kept working to catch up. He drove while I slept in the back seat and I really appreciate that now."
With players on Penn State's roster from Canada and as far west as California, Kirchhevel isn't the only one who has made the long journey to Penn State. While he's excited about the future of hockey in State College, Kirchhevel knows that even a long NHL career will leave you with much of your life left when finished.
"It's second to none academically," Kirchhevel said. "If you play four years of hockey and something goes wrong and you aren't going to play hockey after, you obviously have an education to succeed in whatever you're going to do, and obviously the coaching staff is unbelievable. They set you up not only for hockey, but they teach you life lessons as well."
"Justin is a great kid," Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. "He can see the ice really well, and he's fit in on the Glen line great when we've needed him out there these past few games."