Freshman Fab 5 – Young Guns Fueling Penn State Men’s Hockey
When most sports fans hear the team ‘Fab 5,’ they immediately think Michigan basketball. In quite possibly the greatest basketball recruiting class of all-time, the quintuplet headlined by Chris Webber and Jalen Rose led the squad to two national title games, despite leaving both empty handed.
25 years later, the famous moniker may have found a new home, trading Lake Michigan for the hills and valleys of Mount Nittany.
Over the offseason, the Penn State men’s hockey team rounded up a hoard of talent, bringing in a class of freshmen that will not only shape the team’s future, but are already making an immediate impact on the ice. In the midst of the program’s best season in its short history, five freshman have stood out above all others: Andrew Sturtz, Chase Berger, Alec Marsh, Kevin Kerr and Vince Pedrie.
Even early on in the season, Coach Guy Gadowski knew there was something special about the group. “Every single one has shown they deserve to be here and to make a very good argument to why they should play,” Gadowski said.
Despite consisting of just one-fifth of the team’s roster, this gang of young guns has helped carry the entire team throughout the season. The five combine for a plus/minus of +37, tallying 72 total points on the year. Among those, the crew has earned 38 assists and 34 goals, the latter of which comes up to 36 percent of the team’s total.
The new guys have come up in the clutch as well, earning five of the team’s 16 game winning goals, with three coming from the team’s leading goal-scorer in Sturtz. The Buffalo-native is not alone at the top of the team’s leaderboard in goals, as Berger has joined him in second as the only other Lion to have double-digit goals.
While the term ‘freshman’ usually is followed by characteristics like ‘young’ and ‘unexperienced’, a big part of the ‘Fab 5’s’ success this season has been due to the fact that they do not fit the general stereotype. Instead, the group averages almost 21 years in age, around the age of your typical college junior, have a combined 26 years of amateur and junior league experience prior to their time in Hockey Valley.
“All along they’ve really done a great job of integrating with the team and the upperclassmen continue to give them a ton of credit,” Gadowski said on how the freshmen have eased into their roles. “They’ve looked very comfortable to me all along.”
The freshmen also have an ability to mesh together and be on the same page, where Berger, Kerr, Pedrie, and fellow freshman Matt Mendelson all were teammates on the Tri-City Storm of the USHL.
This Saturday under the lights of Madison Square Garden, the Nittany Lions will play in the same arena as the basketball program that first made the ‘Fab 5’ a household name. With a solid outing by the freshman phenoms of Penn State men’s hockey, the famous nickname could experience a changing of the guard.
Ryan Berti is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @RBirdman7.