Three Rivers Classic: Powerful Zach Saar Returns To Penn State Lineup In Loss To RMU


Penn State forward Zach Saar carries the puck in a game last season. The 6-foot-5 Michigan native returned from injury for PSU’s Three Rivers Classic loss to Robert Morris. (Credit:

(Editor’s Note: Penn State alumnus Ross Insana is assisting City of Champions in covering the Three Rivers Classic college hockey tournament.)

by Ross Insana

Size matters.

For the Nittany Lions, there’s nobody taller on the roster than sophomore forward Zach Saar, who made his season debut in the 4-2 loss against Robert Morris in the Three Rivers Classic.

One of the sophomore class’ biggest and most stable contributors last season, Saar underwent hip surgery in the summer after appearing in all but three games during the 2013-2014 campaign.

As expected, Saar did not see as much ice time as usual in his first game back and was eased back into the Nittany Lions lineup.

“We didn’t want to necessarily throw him into the wolves since this was just his first game,” said head coach Guy Gadowsky.

But that did not stop the stop the 6-foot-5, 236 pound power forward that brings size, physicality and offensive skill to start right where he left off.

“I thought he was physical and I thought he got some good shots on net,” said Gadowsky. “He looked pretty comfortable out there, so we were happy to see that and I actually thought he had a very strong game.”

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At the beginning of last season, Gadowsky and his assistant coaches Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay set a goal to address the team’s overall size. With the addition of a guy like Saar, the Nittany Lions held the honor of being the tallest team in all of Division I hockey in terms of average height.

The sophomore forward often uses his size to his advantage by establishing positioning in front of the net and wreaks havoc for opposing goalies. As a freshman, he finished last season with five goals and six assists with his most notable moment coming in the Big Ten Tournament against Michigan on March 20 when he scored the game-winning goal in double overtime.

Because of his strong first collegiate season, Saar was one of six Penn State players to participate in NHL development camps with an invite to Washington Capitals camp along with teammate Patrick Koudys.

In the second period of the loss, Saar nearly grabbed his first goal of the season by showing the nasty side of his game and delivering a big blow to a Colonial defenseman in the offensive zone. He was even on the ice for the Nittany Lions’ second goal of the game.

“I thought he handled himself very well,” said Gadowsky. “He wasn’t going to try and do too much and then I thought he did try to do much once he got comfortable.”

Moving forward with Saar healthy and back in uniform, Gadowsky believes that it will do a lot for the team moving forward into a Big Ten Conference-heavy second half of the season.

“He’s a big, big boy who has a reputation and he brings a bit of a different element to us”

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