As Penn State has begun to establish itself in the college hockey world, Guy Gadowsky and his staff have started to place an emphasis on international recruiting to acquire top prospects. A pair of Russians in Denis Smirnov and Nikita Pavlychev served as key contributors in the Lions run to the Big Ten Title and NCAA Tournament appearance last season.
Now, the Finnish influence on the Lions is growing stronger. Just two weeks after goaltender Oskar Autio, the younger brother of current Lion Erik, provided extra stability in goal, Aarne Talvitie gave the Lions a boost on offense.
The 18-year-old has worked his way up the Espoo Blues system during his playing time in Finland, spending last season with Jr. A team and posting 37 points in 46 games. Talvitie also captained the U18 National Team at the U18 World Junior Championships, where he won a silver medal alongside Oskar Autio. Finland dropped the gold medal game to Team USA and future Lions’ teammate Evan Barratt.
Talvitie’s arrival date in State College is not certain yet. He was drafted in the third round of the USHL Draft by the Sioux Falls, so Talvitie could join the Stampede to gain some experience in North American hockey for a season or two before joining the Lions as a 19- or 20-year-old. That experience would greatly benefit Talvitie in his transition to college hockey.
At 5-foot-11 and just under 200 pounds, Talvitie already has the size to succeed in the North American game. His combination of size and skill has been reflected in the rankings leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft, where he is listed as the 58th ranked European prospect.