Penn State Hockey: Kurt Collins Maintains Steady Rise as Icers Ready for NCAA
Playing hockey for the Penn State Icers always seemed like destiny for Port Matilda native and State College high school graduate Kurt Collins.
In fact, Penn State hockey was all Collins knew growing up.
"As a kid, watching guys from Penn State play hockey so well, you kind of want to carry out the Penn State hockey way," Collins said after a grueling practice before Rhode Island visited for a weekend series. That ended in an Icers sweep.
"Growing up, I kind of thought if they can do it, I want to do it, because they look great doing it, and Penn State hockey is a great brand to have under your belt," he said.
Collins played four years of hockey at State High, sneaking to practice early to watch the Icers finish their practice before the Little Lions took the ice.
But Collins played for State High during a time when the program wasn't as mature as it is now, according to Collins.
"We were always kind of looking for a division to play in that fit us well," he said. "So we were in the Pittsburgh Interscholastic Hockey League, and my sophomore year we moved to AAA, then A my junior year, and finally the open division my senior year."
Collins finished his State High career with a bang, completing his senior season with a championship to send him out with the much-sought-after open division title.
"It was an awesome way to end, and certainly set the tone for heading to the Icers," he said.
Collins began his hockey career at Penn State like most Icers: by biding his time behind the talent in front of him.
He played a couple of seasons for the Philadelphia Little Flyers of the AJHA before joining the team officially for the 2008-2009 campaign, playing in 14 games and recording an assist.
Collins has continued his steady rise to the top of the Icers program, playing in 30 games his sophomore year, with six goals and 12 assists. In his best season as an Icer, he parlayed five goals and 19 assists into 24 points his junior year, as the Icers finished 11th in the final ACHA polls.
Under the new regime of Guy Gadowsky and his staff from Princeton, Collins' success has continued. He has 16 points on the season thus far.
"Coach Gadowsky brought a high-tempo, north-south style with him, and personally, I love it," Collins said.
There's also the added element of playing just a short trip from home. His parents, Nancy Silvis and Doug Collins, make almost every game, and like to bring friends and family with them.
"It always adds a little something extra for games when they call and say, 'Hey, so-and-so from work is coming, so play hard tonight.' However, just playing hard for them and the team is motivation enough."
It might be expected for senior players like Collins to experience a bit of disappointment to be exiting the program a year before the team gains Division I NCAA status, but not for Collins.
"I'm excited to come back as an alumnus and watch the program," he said. "And just because we didn't have the status of NCAA, I feel like me and my teammates have had a role in moving the program forward. And I feel blessed for the situation I'm in, that I can help build the foundation for the team moving forward."
Collins and his group of six senior teammates will be the first alumni to return to Penn State without the NCAA logo on their sweaters. But for Collins, finishing out his final season with a championship, just like he did in high school, is validation enough.