Monday night, Penn State lost its most talented offensive defenseman in Vince Pedrie, who forwent his final two years of eligibility to sign with the New York Rangers. By Wednesday evening, Guy Gadowsky may have found a replacement for the explosive defenseman.
USHL Madison defenseman Cole Hults commits to Penn State for 2017-18.— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) March 29, 2017
Hults’s commitment adds to an already impressively deep defense corps for next season. The 18-year-old, who has played for the Madison Capitols of the United States Hockey League for the past three seasons, grew up near Wisconsin’s capital, allowing him to become familiar with his new Big Ten opponents.
“It’s part of the Big Ten, so to be able to come in and play Wisconsin, Minnesota, the teams I grew up watching would be something I knew I wouldn’t want to miss out on,” he told the Capitols. “Plus, my entire family is from the Madison area so for them to be close to those away games to come watch me means a lot to me.”
Hults had his best offensive season this year, with 31 points in 54 games, under head coach Garrett Suter, brother of star Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, nephew of former star Calgary Flames defenseman Gary Suter and son of the late 1980 Olympic Gold Medalist Bob Suter.
"I’m really proud of him,” Garrett Suter said. “He’s worked extremely hard on and off the ice, and deserves this opportunity.”
While it will be difficult to replace the impact Pedrie brought as one of the most prolific offensive defensemen the Lions have had, Hults seems to have the skill set to make up for some of Pedrie’s 52 points from the past two seasons.
Having previously committed to Providence College before joining the USHL, he also brings an edge to the Lions that should make Gadowsky’s squad even harder to play against, having piled up 189 penalty minutes in just 117 USHL games. His visit to the university impressed him enough to commit to the blue and white.
“When I went on my visit, I really got a sense of the culture there, and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” he said. “After meeting the coaching staff, I knew they were the kind of coaches I wanted to play for.”