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Penn State Hockey: Skoff Emerges As Top Netminder As Season Ends

by on March 28, 2014 11:15 AM

Matthew Skoff made 656 saves during his 23 starts this season for Penn State hockey.

That number is almost three times the next closest goalie on the roster and a number that propelled Skoff to eight victories on the year.

So as Penn State heads into the offseason, head coach Guy Gadowsky plans on Skoff taking the lead in net come next season as well.

For Penn State, that kind of security and assurance is a good thing moving forward. Skoff was in net for every single win Penn State had during the 2013-14 season and a his 2.95 GAA has only improved his team's confidence as the Nittany Lions faced some of the nation's best every single night.

"Nothing was given," Gadowksy said of Skoff's emergence as the top goalie in the rotation. "When they came in, by no means did anybody ever assume that Matt Skoff would take the number one ranking. It was wide-open position, and he absolutely earned that."

"I thought he had some tremendous performances, and especially down the stretch when we needed him most, the team felt like they could count on him."

Skoff's abilities and his potential have been on display since he got to Penn State, but perhaps never tested quite like they were in back-to-back Big Ten tournament games where Skoff made a total of 84 saves while letting in only three goals. It's hard to say that Penn State's most successful netminder has ever looked like he was off his game. He was in complete control as Penn State played its biggest games of the season.

And that's what you need from a goalie. Big performances in big games.

Skoff deflects most of the praise when credited for his outstanding play, but in a sense he is correct to note that Penn State has played better as an entire team. A goalies' job is a lot harder when the rest of the team isn't playing at a high level as well.

"I think just from the beginning, we didn't know what to expect entering a new league with such historic programs," Skoff said. "Now we know that we can play against them, we can compete, and we can beat them."

"I think that's what we have to prove next year. I think we proved that we can compete with them at the most important time of the year. It's a lot easier to play when everyone is clicking, not just myself but everyone did play very well [at the Big Ten tournament] and I'm just happy I got the opportunity to play and coach called my name."

Skoff will continue to be pushed by the rest of his goaltending partners. Freshman Eamon McAdam showed plenty of potential during his time in goal and PJ Musico proved to be very capable when called upon.

But for now it's Skoff's job and judging by his performances all year, it has been his job for a while now.

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