Penn State concluded its 2015-16 campaign on Friday, but Matt Skoff's season will continue with the Reading Royals. The four-year starter has joined the team on an amateur try-out (ATO) agreement. An ATO is often used toward the end of the season when a player finishing college has not been previously drafted. This will be a great opportunity for Skoff to display his skills not just to the parent affiliates of the Royals, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL and the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL, but also the entire professional hockey world.
Skoff is now the fourth Penn State player in program history to continue a playing career past Hockey Valley. He joins former captain Patrick Koudys (Indy Fuel) and former goalie PJ Musico (Greenville Swamp Rabbits) in the ECHL. Casey Bailey played six games with the Toronto Maples Leafs in 2015. Bailey started this season with the Toronto Marlies, the Maples Leafs' AHL affiliate, before being traded to Ottawa and joining the Binghamton Senators, also in the AHL.
Since starting the first game in Division I program history for the Lions in 2012, Skoff has been a fixture in the net. He had an even 32-32-7 record in four years with Penn State, which is incredible when you consider the team only won eight games two years ago. His .909 save percentage and 2.88 goals against average over 77 career games was enough to get a look at the next level.
Congratulations Skoffer, here's to hoping that you turn this cup of coffee in the show into a full-time gig next year.
The signing of Skoff continues an amazing streak for the program. Since joining division one hockey in 2012, every goalie that has ever started a game for the team has been either drafted by the NHL or gone on to play professionally after leaving the program. Eamon McAdam was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2013. Musico and Skoff are in the ECHL.
Freshman goalie Chris Funkey is the only other goalie to see time in net for the Nittany Lions. He led the team this year with a 1.69 goals against average and a .933 save percentage in just 71 minutes of play over four games. While this is a very small sample, it includes a stint against Michigan and also a great performance in relief of McAdam in Wisconsin three weeks ago. Funkey entered the game following four goals allowed by McAdam, and pitched a shut-out for the remaining 33 minutes as the Lions fell one goal short of completing a comeback.
Joining the team next season is highly-regarded Peyton Jones. He was one of four goalies selected to play in the USHL's Top Prospect game in January. Jones is likely to be drafted by an NHL team next month prior to joining the Lions in the fall. He has a .925 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average this season, which is very good at that level of hockey.
While the Lion's offense has been acknowledged for the past couple of seasons, rated among the highest in college hockey, the goaltending has been slightly under the radar. McAdam led the Big Ten in save percentage and goals against average this season while Skoff played solid as well. Last season the team had an enigmatic three-goalie rotation that saw each of the three finish with a winning record on an 18-15-4 team.
Next year the team figures to feature McAdam in his senior season with the young Jones waiting in the wings to become a superstar for the following three years. It may not take long for Penn State to become known as a factory for aspiring professional goalies. A goalie factory. A place where lazy wrist-shots come to die. Goaltender U.