The Valley Is Alive With The Sound Of Musico.

Penn State's Three-Headed Monster

The Nittany Lions currently have three goalies that have recorded four or more wins on the season. This is a rare feat in college hockey. At the beginning of the season it was believed that Matt Skoff and Eamon McAdam would share the duties between the pipes and PJ Musico would only see mop-up duty. A little over a month ago there was a great deal of media attention placed on Skoff and McAdam and their early-season success. A week later against Northern Michigan the pair faltered and was replaced by Musico during each game.

Musico entered both games of the Northern Michigan series facing an uphill climb. With five minutes left in the second period in game one he replaced Skoff after the goalie had a mental lapse and let in a soft goal. The team was down 4-1. Musico and the team made a huge comeback as Penn State won 5-4 in regulation. It was the first win for Musico in two years.

The next night Eamon McAdam was the starter in net. Musico replaced the Islander draft pick following the first period after the goalie was only able to stop five out of eight shots that he faced. Down 3-1 the team once again mounted a home-ice comeback and was able to gain a tie in overtime. The following week Musico got the start in net against #18 Vermont in Philadelphia for a very critical final non-conference game.

PJ dove, spun 360 and stick-handled his way to a 4-2 win. Not known for being technically sound in net, the goalie made many plays that were spectacular and others that were ill-advised. The feeling at this point was that Penn State was lucky to have PJ come in to settle down the goalie situation. Considering his technical flaws and lack of experience it was expected that McAdam or Skoff would man the crease when the team traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for an important series against a struggling Badger team.

At the time it was surprising that coach Guy Gadowsky went with Musico in net for the series-sweep that left the Lions in second place half-way through the Big Ten schedule. In retrospect it was clearly the right call. The following week Skoff got the start in the second game of a series where Michigan State swept the Lions. It was unclear if the torch had been officially passed from Musico back to Skoff. Another question would be if Skoff were now the starter, would it be PJ or Eamon to get the nod as the back-up.

This past weekend against Minnesota that question went unanswered as PJ Musico was the starter both nights against one of the best teams in the country. Once again Musico flipped and flopped, dove, left the crease, and came away with a 1-1 series tie. Musico is now the only goalie in Penn State history to record a win over the Gophers.

Moving forward it seems like Musico has won the job. He's a former club hockey player, suiting up for the blue and white before it was part of division one hockey. It's hard to say what the future has in store for the young man from Orange, California but this season will be something that he and Penn State hockey fans will remember for a very long time.


Goalie Comparison

Matthew Skoff started the first nine games of the season but has only played once in the past eight games. Eamon McAdam did not play until relieving Skoff in game #9 on the road against UMass-Lowell. McAdam and Skoff platooned in net from that point until seven games ago. McAdam has not played in the past seven games. PJ Musico sat out the first sixteen games of the year. Musico came into the game in relief of struggling starting goalies in four of the next seven games from December 30th to January 24th. Since then Musico has started all but one game for the team in the past seven.

Musico- 10 games played, 5-3-1 record, 2.23 goals against average, .932 save %

McAdam- 9 games played, 4-2-1 record, 2.91 goals against average, .913 save %

Skoff- 16 games played, 7-5-2 record, 2.73 goals against average, .907 save %

Musico is the only goalie not to have allowed more than three goals in one game this year. In the two games that Musico allowed more than two goals he won one of them against Minnesota and lost in a 3-0 shut-out on the road against Michigan State.

The Penn State Goalie Trio Moving Forward

The development at the goalie position has been one of the prevailing stories following this surprisingly successful Nittany Lion season. While it is uncertain what the future games may bring it is clear that Musico, McAdam, and Skoff are having a unique experience.

For PJ this has to be a dream come true. He may not have had such lofty dreams. He's the starting goalie in his senior year for a team contending for the Big Ten regular and post-season championships. A great story written by Darian Somers in the Daily Collegian a few weeks ago outlined some of the side-stories evolving alongside PJ's on-ice memories.

For Matt Skoff this season has had some great moments. It has also been very frustrating. He likely didn't figure to be on a team that is competing for such wonderful rewards. He also probably would have thought that he'd be the starting goalie at this point in the season. It's unclear if he will have another shot to win the starting role.

For McAdam this season may pay dividends down the road. There is no question Eamon is the most physically gifted of the trio. He has not played since being pulled in the second game of the Northern Michigan series on January 24th. It would be surprising if he doesn't play at all for the rest of the year. At the same time, with Musico playing so well and Skoff a very capable #2, it would be surprising if he did play were Musico to remain steady.



University Of Maine Hockey 1993-An Amazing Goalie Platoon

Garth Snow is a former NHL goalie and is the current general manager of the New York Islanders. Snow drafted Penn State's Eamon McAdam for the Islanders in 2013. The Lion's three-man platoon at the goalie position has brought back memories of Snow's playing days at the University of Maine in the early 1990's. Mike Dunham and Snow were the most successful single-season goalie tandem in NCAA hockey history.

Garth Snow arrived in Orono, Maine having been drafted by the Quebec Nordiques. Mike Dunham joined him a year later and the pair of future NHL goalies formed what may be the greatest college hockey tandem of all-time. During the run to a national championship in 1993 Snow accumulated an astounding 21-0-1 record and Dunham had an equally amazing 21-1-1 tally. It was a true platoon on one of the greatest hockey teams ever to compete at the collegiate level. The goalies alternated starts in net and the team finished with a 42-1-2 record.

Coached by the legendary Shawn Walsh, the father of Michigan State's star defenseman Travis Walsh, the pair became known on campus for their antics off the ice as well. Garth was the older of the pair by three years and to this day the two have a big-brother, little-brother relationship. Dunham is currently the goalie coach for the New York Islanders, the team Eamon McAdam may some day suit up for in the NHL. Snow is the general manager for the team.

Garth Snow Would Give You The Jacket Off His Back

Emile Doucette, Jr. was the equipment manager for the hockey team during the magical 1993 season. Nicknamed 'Pic' for his bruising style of play on the basketball court as a youngster in the 1940's, he was also the football equipment manager for then upstart coach Kirk Ferentz. Pic was well-known in sports circles during Garth Snow's tenure with the University of Maine. He's also my grandfather.

The job of equipment manager for a hockey team is different than almost every other sport. It's actually like being the equipment manager for all other sports teams combined. There are pads similar to football. There are sticks that are individualized to each player's preferences like baseball bats. Skate blade maintenance is critical for all hockey players. Being the equipment manager for a hockey team is similar to being Batman's butler. There are a lot of moving parts and the players are usually very picky about the configuration of their gear.

Pic and Garth Snow's father formed as formidable combo off the ice. Snow's father was dedicated to following his son everywhere the team played.

Mr. Snow was on a shoe-string budget and following the team from New England to Alaska and all parts in between was hard, but he found a way. At the time the team wore travel jackets as a unit, Pic included, as a way of identifying the group. On the road the elder Snow would sleep in the extra twin bed in Pic's hotel room after the equipment manager learned from Garth that his father had been sleeping in his car at times during the cold winter. The Snow family was and has always been thankful for the kind gesture. After a few weeks of traveling together Pic gave Snow his travel jacket and got a new one for himself.

A travel jacket was like a security pass. Wearing the jacket gained Snow clearance to stay with the team at all times. The pair formed a bond that has lasted a lifetime, much like the pair of goalies were forming on the ice at the same time. The elder Snow became a deputized, unpaid, member of the equipment staff. Garth Snow repaid the gesture tenfold a couple of years later.

Returning from a stint as one of the goalies for the 1994 United States Olympic hockey team, Snow attended Pic's retirement party in the spring of 1994. Pic's large family and many University of Maine and NHL hockey players were in attendance. The room was full of big dudes and a lot of them were missing teeth and had stick-made scars on their face.

The party included plaques given to the old man and the normal fare of retirement party moments. After all of the gifts were handed out Garth Snow went to the front of the room to present Pic with a very special gift. He said a few kind words describing to the group, some who were hearing it for the first time, how Pic had helped his father out and how much it meant for him to have his dad travel with the team. He handed Pic his Olympic hockey team travel jacket and with a cracking voice thanked him.

The effects of the caterer's chopped onions and abnormally dusty conditions took over the room full of men who normally would not acknowledge pain, much less emotions.


Garth Snow 1994

Pic's Take On PSU's Goalie Situation

Following the amazing overtime victory over Minnesota on Saturday night the phone rang. It was my 86 year-old grandfather so I answered the call.

We had a conversation about the U-Maine goalie tandem a couple of decades earlier. We discussed the current PSU goalies. He saw a similarity between PJ Musico and Garth Snow. Each are very athletic and neither are masters of technique. I agreed but said that PJ isn't as good of a college goalie as McAdam and Skoff are at this point. He replied, 'He stops the puck, doesn't he?' I agreed that he does stop the puck quite frequently. 'He doesn't let the puck in the net, that's a good goalie.' He was over-simplifying his case and we both knew it but still the decision may be that simple for Guy Gadowsky at this point. He's got three good options in net, one that has come out of nowhere. Musico is the goal-tender that is letting in the least amount of goals.

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