Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Go European With Signings Of Autio And Conway
Penn State hockey adds two more Nittany Lions to the roster with the signings of defenseman Erik Autio and forward Scott Conway head coach Guy Gadowsky announced this week.
Autio and Conway mark a first for Penn State's fledgeling program, as both are European-born skaters. Autio is the first Nittany Lion to play exclusively overseas. A native of Espoo, Finland, Autio still plays internationally for Finland whereas Conway, who was born in England, currently plays for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League.
Both players will join James Robinson, who signed his NLI in November 2013, in this year’s class.
“Along with James Robinson, who is an excellent leader and a strong player in all three zones, we have improved our offense, our defense and our character,” said Gadowsky. “In 2014-15 we will have increased our competition at every skating position. Erik is an extremely mobile and dependable defenseman who will add consistency to our defense,” added Gadowsky, who will enter his third season as Nittany Lion bench boss in 2014-15. “He will greatly enhance our ability to move the puck out of our own end.”
“Scott is a very cerebral player with a nose for the net,” said Gadowsky. “He will add tremendous hockey IQ and offense to our lineup.”
In 2012-13, Conway totaled 54 points (18g, 36a) in 57 games and was named to the North American Hockey League All-Rookie Second Team with the Texas Tornado. The forward is the son of Kevin Conway, who is a member of the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.
Autio has competed for Finland at both the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and Under-18 Four Nations Tournament, and helped lead his country to the bronze medal at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Under-18 Championship in Sochi, Russia.
In Gadowsky's first season at Penn State he alluded to a long term goal of bringing in international talent, something that has come to fruition in the program's second full season at the Division I level. How Gadowksy and his staff expand on the newfound European territory remains to be seen, but Autio and Conway's commitments are a strong first step forward into international recruiting waters.
Conway and Autio aren't the first players from outside the United State's though. Seven Nittany Lions already call Canada their home in the offseason.