Upper St. Clair native Mendelson to join Penn State hockey program
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Matt Mendelson woke up in his bedroom in his parents' Upper St. Clair home over the holiday break surrounded by his sister's Penn State women's hockey clothing.
It was a sign for him to sign a letter of intent to play for the Nittany Lions' hockey team in 2015 … or so his sister Cara thought. Cara is a junior on the Penn State women's team and doubled as one of the top recruiting tools for her brother's decision.
“I woke up and there were like 10 shirts, 10 pairs of pants, 10 zip ups, you name it,” he said. “I looked up and saw her and she said ‘Do you want to wear all of this?
“I guess you can say she played a pretty big part in me committing.”
Mendelson, 18, is living in Michigan and playing for the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks, but in the summer of 2015, his place of residence will be Happy Valley.
“Originally, I thought I wanted to play Ivy League hockey either at Dartmouth, Princeton or Cornell,” Mendelson said. “In the end I went with my heart and that was Penn State.”
Mendelson has shown flashes of promise for Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky. Through his first 36 games with Muskegon this year, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward scored 13 goals and recorded 26 points.
Mendelson's time in the USHL has prepared him for the demands of playing at the Division-I level and he said it's prepared him for life on his own.
“Hockey-wise it's the best you get in the country,” he said. “It's a great stepping stone for college. Once you play in the USHL it's a smoother transition than any other league.
“I learned from older guys that have helped teach me about hockey and life.”
The USHL is a premier junior hockey organization that's known for developing college-bound hockey players with its rigorous on-ice style. Mendelson said he jumped at the opportunity to join the Lumberjacks and further improve his game.
When making his college decision, Mendelson looked at Penn State for its proximity to home and the opportunity to be a building block in an up and coming Big 10 program.
“They are starting to get a lot of good recruits so it's only a matter of time before they are a powerhouse like Minnesota and Michigan,” Mendelson said. “It'll be special to help turn it around.”
“Every kid dreams of playing pro and moving on in hockey. Penn State is a great place to pursue that.”
Mendelson said he's worked diligently over the years on the mental side of the game and gained a firm grasp on what his role should generally be. Although he's small in stature, he understands the game and works hard to pay close attention to detail on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice.
There is something he'd physically like to improve before heading to State College.
“I need to be ready to play in the Big 10 and gain some weight so I can compete against grown men and the biggest guys in the country,” he said. “I have two big summers ahead of me to get ahead of that.”
Brian Graham is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.