Head Coach Guy Gadowsky has been on quite the recruiting tear this offseason, snagging forwards Ludvig Larsson, Aarne Talvitie, and Max Sauve, defensemen Paul DeNaples and Evan Bell, and goaltender Oskar Autio as additions to his gashed 2018-19 roster.
Penn State lost a few notable players to graduation last season, namely Andrew Sturtz, James Robinson, Trevor Hamilton, and Erik Autio — all guys either in the starting lineup or four-line rotation. Their absences will undoubtedly be missed this season, and rising players like Denis Smirnov, Nate Sucese, Evan Barratt, and Cole Hults will have to bear the brunt of what those former juniors and seniors brought to the rink, as well as the team, in their tenures in Hockey Valley.
But these new commits have a ton of skill in their arsenal and will definitely fill the depth slots left vacant by the younger Nittany Lions from seasons past. Let's get to know them a little better:
Assets: Forward, 5-foot-11, 202 pounds, left-handed shot, Espoo, Finland
Gadowsky dipped into the Finnish city of Espoo once again with Talvitie, a 2017 sixth-round draft pick (160th overall) of the New Jersey Devils. The 19-year-old has spent most of his hockey career in Finland, playing with the Espoo Blues in the A SM-liiga junior league for the past three seasons. In the 2017-18 season, Talvitie registered 59 total points (35 goals, 24 assists). The Finn also captained his country's team in the World Championships, where they earned the silver medal. Talvitie notched four goals and three assists in seven games played in that tournament.
Gadowsky complimented Talvitie's 200-foot game, his strong work in all three zones, and his talented offensive ability. He also mentioned his plethora of international experience. He'll be a great asset in Penn State's opponent's zone and has the opportunity to step up and fill some much-needed scoring roles. Fans should be licking their chops at this kid. Talvitie has the potential to etch his name alongside the ridiculous freshman years of Sturtz and Smirnov.
Assets: Defenseman, 6-foot-1, 184 pounds, right-handed shot, Moscow, Pa.
Pennsylvania native DeNaples just finished his second season as the captain of the the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede. He had a very impressive outing on the score sheet, placing second on the team in defenseman scoring with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) -- just four short of current Penn State d-man and Sioux Falls aulmnus Alex Stevens. He's played in a whopping 113 games for the Stampede, showcasing his Iron Man-like toughness.
DeNaples' leadership qualities were at the forefront of Gadowsky's mind when recruiting him, as well as his size and height. He's a big body that can also provide a ton of offense at the blue line and will be utilized in both even-strength and on the power play. With his stature, DeNaples may also see penalty killing time as well.
Assets: Forward, 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, right-handed shot, Acushnet, Mass.
Sauve is transitioning directly from high school amateur hockey to Division I after playing several seasons down in the U18 and U16 leagues, as well as the USPHL Premier league. He'll be put to the test in a talented Big Ten conference full of stifling defenses and great goaltenders, but it seems his offensive skills and scoring talent will be a nice addition to the Lions' forward depth. Last season with Avon Old Farms, Sauve put up 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists) in 23 games.
Assets: Defenseman, 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, left-handed shot, Livonia, Mich.
Bell joins Penn State back in NCAA hockey as a sophomore after leaving Merrimack for the USHL due to lack of playing time. He led the Fargo Force to the 2018 Clark Cup Championship last season, netting 11 goals and adding 23 assists in 49 tilts. Because of eligibility rules, Bell won't be able to join the Lions until the spring semester of 2018-19, missing preseason and the start of conference play.
Assets: Goaltender, 6-foot-0, 183 pounds, left-handed shot, Espoo, Finland
To answer your question, yes, he is Erik's brother, and yes, he's just as loveable and good. Autio will be keeping Penn State hockey in the family and joining the Lions in Hockey Valley this coming fall. He'll be towing along with him a 23-win season as the netminder for the USHL's Chicago Steel from the 2017-18 season, where he also put up a 2.90 goals against avergae and a .904 save percentage. Autio will be a great backup to Peyton Jones and Chris Funkey -- if he doesn't beat Funkey out for the No. 2 depth slot, that is.
Assets: Forward, 6-foot-0, 190 pounds, left-handed shot, Malmo, Sweden
Larsson is Gadowsky's first-ever graduate transfer after playing three seasons at Merrimack College in Massachusetts. As a junior, the native Swede tallied career high in goals with 13 (tied for the team lead), and points with 21. Before enrolling at Merrimck, Larsson posted a prolific season with the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL with 55 points in 51 games. The 22-year-old will look for top-six minutes for the Lions, and his experience could prove valuable for the young club.