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Skate of the Union: Penn State Team Awards and More

It has been a quiet spring for the team, which is usually a good sign.

After completing another successful, six month long season, team news has been in hibernation since early April. The Lions recently announced the individual awards for the 2015-16 season, as voted by the players. We'll take a look at the recipients and more in this special late-spring SOTU.

2015-16 Team Awards

Seven awards were given to six players. Luke Juha was the lone player to be rewarded with a pair of honors. The alternate captain won the Defenseman of the Year as well as the Most Valuable Player. Juha scored a program record 24 points from the blue line, which was two more than freshman Vince Pedrie, who also eclipsed the previous record. Juha's contribution in the defensive zone surpassed his scoring prowess. While it is hard to quantify with numbers what a defenseman does on the ice, his +16 rating was best on the team as well. Considering the amount of minutes that he played, and his role in critical moments, it is amazing that Juha was called for just one penalty last season. Juha signed a contract to play with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers following the season.

The Leading Scorer award went to David Goodwin, who scored 11 goals and had 27 assists for 38 points. Goodwin had a team-high six power play goals. He will return this fall as the program's all-time leading points and assist leader. After averaging 13 goals over the past two seasons, Goodwin is just 12 goals behind the all-time program record set by Casey Bailey in just three seasons (45). It is likely that Goodwin will wear the captain's C on his sweater next season.

New York Islanders draft pick Eamon McAdam won the team's Top Student-Athlete award. McAdam was a second team All-Big Ten Academic selection after his junior season and was a first-team selection the previous year.

Connor Varley won the Preseason Top Athlete award that is given to the player that arrives at preseason camp in the best shape, as determined by Cam Davidson, the strength and conditioning coach. This is the fourth time in a row that Varley has been given the honor. One day the award may be renamed the Varley Award in his honor.

Andrew Sturtz was voted the Freshman of the Year after a sensational rookie season. His 18 goals scored was best on the team but the timing of his goals was more impressive. Sturtz scored the first goal of the game five times, and had three game-winning goals in addition to that. The Buffalo, New York-native also brought an attitude to the ice that drew ire from opponents but provided a spark for his own team. Sturtz entered the season as one of the most heralded prospects in program history, and his performance solidified those expectations.

Team captain David Glen was awarded the Players' Player award. Scoring 6 goals and assisting on 17 more, Glen's production was admirable. But it was Glen's contributions in other areas on the ice that garnered this honor. Glen could be found agitating a hot-tempered opponent, often the recipient of illegal hits that resulted in a Penn State power play. Glen won the 2016 Senior Class Award following the season, which was the first time a Penn State hockey player has been given this honor. His generous bone marrow donation two years ago got he and the hockey program a great deal of positive attention. With the Class Award and the Player's Player award to go along with his being named a captain, it seems that everyone loves David Glen except for his opponents on the ice. That is exactly what one wants out of a hockey player.

Penn State Recruits Garner Post-Season USHL Awards

Three of the seven players currently slated to join the team next season were named to the All-USHL second team following the end of the season. This is an amazing honor considering the talent level in the USHL. It takes both talent and an extremely productive season.

Forwards Denis Smirnov and Nathan Sucese along with defenseman Trevor Hamilton were given the honor a few weeks ago. Smirnov had an impressive 61 points off 29 goals and 31 assists. Sucese tallied 59 points off 26 goals and 33 assists. The two will join last season's high-scoring freshman class in the fall along with Pittsburgh Penguin draft pick Nikita Pavlychev and Liam Folkes. Folkes may very well prove to be among the fastest skaters in division one hockey when he joins the team.

Defenseman Trevor Hamilton was awarded a spot on the All-USHL second team for his play in the defensive zone. Named Defensive Player of the Week twice last season, he also contributed 10 goals and 24 assists on the year as well. While his scoring numbers have him rated highly among defensemen, it is his play without the puck that makes him one of the highest-rated defensive recruits ever to join the program. Hamilton will join Vince Pedrie and Kevin Kerr, who had impressive freshmen seasons for the Lions, to solidify the blue line play for Penn State for years to come.

The incoming recruiting class also includes a blue-chip goalie in Peyton Jones. It is hoped that Jones will step into the vacancy left by Matt Skoff and Eamon McAdam, taking control of the crease for the foreseeable future. It's scary to think that the team has had two winning seasons in a row and just now the talent level on the roster is becoming comparable to other Big Ten teams. Guy Gadowsky has been able to get more out of his team than anyone thought possible, with the addition of verified stars joining the roster next season, it's hard to predict the ceiling for this program.

2016-17 Season Tickets Sell Out Quickly

An amazing 95% of Penn State hockey season ticket holders renewed their tickets for next season. The remaining available tickets were quickly scooped up by those on the waiting list. There is a waiting list already growing for the 2017-18 season, those who would like to get on the list can call 1-800-NITTANY. Student tickets will go on sale in September and will sell out in minutes, as they have for the past couple of seasons. While it is hard to get season tickets, it is usually possible to get tickets for individual games on the Penn State ticket exchange.

The team stuffed the 5782-seat Pegula Arena last season with an average of 6,093 fans. That's a rate of 105.4 percent total capacity per game, which was the highest rate in college hockey for the year. The fan base has been established for the program, the talent on the ice is continuing to improve. The Skate of the Union, ladies and gentlemen, is strong.