BOSTON -- Penn State men’s hockey senior goaltender P.J. Musico was named the 2015 Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award winner, as announced by the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) Friday evening. The award was established by the HCA in honor of former Army player Derek Hines, who was a “consummate team player and team builder.” Hines played at Army from 1999-2003 and was a four-year letter winner as well as a co-captain his senior season. He was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 1, 2005 in Afghanistan.
Entering the 2014-15 season as a third-string goaltender, Musico made his first appearance of the year in the team’s 17th game, but did not start a contest until Jan. 31. Beginning that night, he won three consecutive starts and added home victories against Michigan and Minnesota to keep the Nittany Lions in the hunt for the Big Ten Championship.
Shortly after Penn State announced that it would elevate its program to Division I for the 2012-13 season, Musico was brought in to spend his freshman year with the club program during its final season of ACHA competition. As a sophomore in 2012-13, Musico won four games for Penn State, including one shutout. After playing in seven games in 2013-14, he established new career highs in nearly every category in 2014-15, including games played (13), victories (6) and save percentage (.909).
Musico, a kinesiology major, is active in the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, which raises more than $13 million annually for pediatric cancer research. He is involved with autism awareness efforts, incorporating the famous puzzle piece into his helmet design in honor of his younger brother, Patrick, who is autistic. Musico is also active with the team’s “teach hockey days,” where youngsters from Pennsylvania learn how to skate and play hockey for the first time.
The Hockey Commissioners Association coordinates the honor. Each of the six hockey conferences nominates a player to a national ballot. From there, sports information directors from each conference vote on a winner “who displays exemplary sportsmanship, is supremely competitive, intelligent and extraordinarily conditioned with an unmatched work ethic. The contributions of this individual, on and off the ice, cannot be measured by statistics alone.”