Penn State Hockey: Olczyk Carving Out a Bit of His Own History
Nothing about being the captain of a college hockey team is easy. Everywhere you go you’re setting an example for your teammates. On the ice it’s how hard you play, off the ice it’s taking care of the little things. Other people have the luxury of letting up, but not you, you’re forever setting the tone.
Penn State hockey announced this week that forward Tommy Olczyk would continue as the Nittany Lions’ captain after taking over the role last season. As anyone who's well-versed in the NHL might suspect, Olczyk’s father is Eddie Olczyk, former Pittsburgh Penguin head coach and current analyst for NBC’s coverage of NHL hockey.
So for Tommy, being captain means a little bit more to him than the average joe. It’s about carving out a little piece of the hockey side of the Olczyk name that he can call his own.
“There have been times when it has not been easy,” Olczyk said quietly, talking about what it's like to have “Eddie Olczyk’s son” as a title. “And I’m definitely here to try and make a name for myself. You know it’s not easy to follow in the footsteps that my father laid out. But you know we are different people at the end of the day and I know that even if I wasn’t playing hockey he would be proud of me.”
“So I look at it as an honor more than anything, our relationship is great and I really couldn't have asked for a better mentor or father than him.”
Olczyk enters his third year at Penn State as one of the Nittany Lions’ identity players. Never too fancy or flashy, Olczyk made his mark on Penn State’s inaugural season of Division I hockey by playing hard in ways that were equally as important as the numbers that make the boxscore.
It’s the kind of play that the team prides itself on, and while fans might not catch all the little things Olczyk does he has unequivocally earned the respect of his teammates by working hard in every area of the game. While the Nittany Lions didn’t win every night, they were very rarely outworked. Much of that was to Olczyk's credit.
“I’m not a guy who is going to get points every night,” Olczyk said. “I try in lead in a different way than maybe some other captains. I just try and bring some energy, block shots, kill penalties, get pucks to the net, and hopefully guys will follow my lead.”
Olczyk will be joined by defenseman Nate Jensen and forward David Glen who will take up assistant captain duties.
"Entering our first year in the Big Ten Hockey Conference, we will need great leadership to expedite the learning process in order to compete with some of the most storied programs in college hockey. The three captains, who were elected by the team, are excellent choices for that challenge," Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said.
From here Olczyk and the Nittany Lions will continue to prepare for the home opener in the Pegula Ice Arena on Friday, Oct. 11 against Army. And If he can’t be there in person, somewhere across the nation Olczyk’s father will pop open a laptop to catch the game like he has so many times before. And like so many times before, he will undoubtedly be extremely proud.