The Penn State Division I hockey team is still more than a year away from playing its first game but the program continues to build its roster. It's a preparation that has included gathering commitments from a number of United States Hockey League players in recent weeks and it continues with the announcement that Des Moines Buccaneers' incoming defensemen Connor Varley will play his collegiate hockey at Penn State.
Varley was drafted by the Bucs in the fifth round of the May Entry Draft after spending last season with Alberni Valley of the Junior A British Columbia Hockey League. A native of Lansdale, PA, Varley checks in at 5'11, 195lbs.
"We're excited for Connor and the opportunity he's earned," said Bucs' head coach and general manager Regg Simon. "Penn State evaluated Connor at our try-out camp and with him being a Pennsylvania native, moved on him right away."
Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
5'11", 195 pounds
Eliteprospects.com player page
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
2009-10 Northwood School Prep 38 4 13 17 --
2010-11 Alberni Vly Bulldogs BCHL 60 9 20 29 75
According to Chris Heisenberg, it's not yet certain whether Varley will enter with the 2012 class that will help debut PSU's Division I program or wait until 2013. What is a little more clear: when you put Varley together with guys like Brandon Russo and Luke Juha, it seems as if Guy Gadowsky is recruiting a very particular brand of defenseman - ones who will fit well in his up-tempo system.
Varley is a well-rounded player who can bring an offensive punch along with quick feet on the back end.Jeff Matthews, Varley's coach at Northwood, thinks highly of his Montgomery County protege, who came up through a couple different Atlantic Youth Hockey League organizations before heading off to prep school in Lake Placid, NY.
"I don't know if I can really fit into a distinct category of hockey player," he noted. "I just try to become the player that the team needs me to be."
"His commitment is off the charts at any level he is at," he said. "That's exactly what we try to teach the kids. It's all about your approach. When you combine the example he gives with his talent, he was a nice player for us."When you coach a prep program that's produced guys like Tony Granato, Mike Richter and Craig Conroy, that's pretty high praise.
Last year, with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Varley's 29 points were good for second on the team in scoring among blueliners, and he added four more in the Bulldogs' four playoff games. As noted, the USHL Buccaneers were impressed enough to draft Varley in the fifth round back in May, and he'll spend at least this season under the tutelage of Simon in Des Moines.
Here's a video introduction of sorts from a local newscast last season - note that Alberni Valley coach Paul Esdale mirrors Matthews' opinion of Varley's work ethic.
...and because practice footage didn't quench my thirst...
...that wasn't exactly Barb Penstone-esque, was it? Okay, one more.