Last updated: May 20. 2014 10:03PM - 2365 Views
By John Medeiros

Penn State men's ice hockey coach Guy Gadowski answers questions during Tuesday's press conference at the Coaches Caravan at Genetti's in Wilkes-Barre.
Penn State men's ice hockey coach Guy Gadowski answers questions during Tuesday's press conference at the Coaches Caravan at Genetti's in Wilkes-Barre.
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WILKES-BARRE — On election day, one victory was clear cut.
The Penn State party at the Coaches Caravan stop at Genetti's celebrated all of the success of the university — well beyond the sidelines of a football field.
The energy in the crowd was much like a post-election victory celebration.
While football coach James Franklin was the star for the 400 folks in attendance, completing his opening remarks to a standing ovation, men's volleyball coach Mark Pavlik, baseball coach Rob Cooper and men's ice hockey Guy Gadowsky also were warmly received on their first visits to the Wilkes-Barre area in some time.
“I had a couple of camps in the early 1990s at Wyoming Valley West,” Pavlik recalled. “Back in 1989, when you hosted the Keystone State Games, I played. We took home a silver.”
For Gadowsky, his last visit is etched in Penn State history. He brought his hockey team to Mohegan Sun Arena to play American International, where the Nittany Lions earned their first win as a Division I program in 2003.
“We got to the arena and we didn't know what to expect,” Gadowsky said. “It was a great experience, with our first victory an overtime victory. We had over 5,000 Penn Staters going nuts … Forever there's a soft place in my heart (for Wilkes-Barre).”
The move into the newly-formed Big Ten Conference for hockey has delivered the Nittany Lions into one of the toughest leagues in the NCAA. And Pegula Ice Arena offers a significant home-ice advantage — one enjoyed during wins over Michigan and Ohio State.
And Gadowsky is an ardent supporter of Franklin, who made one of his first stops on campus a men's hockey game.
“Wasn't that great? I thought it was wonderful,” Gadowsky said. “We loved having him there. I hope we see him a lot more. And it was nice to hear him talk about the atmosphere there, at Pegula.”
Cooper, a late addition to the Wilkes-Barre program, entertained the crowd by taking a “phone call” from his 10-year-old son during his time at the podium. The manager, who completed his first year at Penn State and will have Hazleton Area's Sal Biasi in the future, has high hopes for the program.
“The No. 1 producer of Major League Baseball alumni is California. No. 2 is Pennsylvania,” Cooper said. “It's about time they stayed here and helped us win a College World Series.”
Pavlik, among the most successful coaches at Penn State, appeared at home in his first visit to the area in two decades.
“It's great to be up in a boys volleyball area,” Pavlik said. “You have a great history of boys volleyball here — the Tunkhannock area certainly with the Holdredge family (the legendary Ernie and his sons). You have really made inroads in boys volleyball across the state, so this is an area near and dear to my heart.”
A tight schedule didn't offer time to visit with area high school coaches. Due to commitments on the caravan, Pavlik could not walk down the street to catch the District 2 semifinals, which were running concurrent to his visit. Time before or after the matches, he understand is precious.
“It's tough because right now they are in their district championship week,” Pavlik said. “They are a little busy and I can certainly understand that. I know what I'm like during our championship week so I don't want to bother them during their preparation.”
All of the coaches agreed that there's more to the caravan than football. They appreciate the time together on the road, something that actually doesn't happen much when they are all in State College.
“During the year, we occasionally see each other at meetings. But we don't get to do it a lot,” Gadowsky said. “Getting our schedules together is pretty tough. That why this is I enjoy doing this — we dont get to do much together.
“One of the things about the caravan is that it's educational. Pavs has been very successful at Penn State, as well as the other coaches. You spend a lot of time on the bus together and you get to learn a lot.”

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