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Agostino Balances Hockey and Academics

by Brooks Bratten / Pittsburgh Penguins

The academic workload at an Ivy League school can be a tall task. Couple that with skating for a Division I hockey club, and college is quite a challenge.

Kenny Agostino has met that test for two-plus seasons while attending Yale, becoming one of the Bulldogs’ most dangerous offensive threats night in and night out.

“It’s academically challenging,” Agostino said of his Yale experience. “The players and myself adapt pretty quickly on time management, and just how important both academics and athletics are. You’ve really got to be able to put your best foot forward on both aspects and one goes with the other. I think it’s something I’ve been able to handle so far.”

Kenny Agostino at Penguins summer development camp

His stat sheet would certainly suggest so. The junior forward has played a large part in leading the Bulldogs to a 7-4-2 record as the team heads into the holiday break, and Agostino leads the club with 17 points (7G-10A) through 14 contests.

The Penguins fifth-round pick in 2010 (140th overall) has developed nicely during his three seasons at Yale, increasing his point production from 25 to 34 between his freshman and sophomore seasons. Now in his third campaign with the Bulldogs, Agostino has fallen into more of a leadership role.

“Just being an upperclassman in itself, you have to call upon yourself to be a leader,” Agostino said. “I’m probably not one of the more vocal leaders, but at the same time, I’m not afraid to address the team as needed. I think I’ve led on the ice with my play this season so far and I’m hoping to improve in the second half.”

Besides improving the defensive aspects of his game over the past few seasons, Agostino has worked on constantly moving, no matter where he finds himself on the ice. The Flanders, New Jersey native attended Penguins prospect camp this past July, and took some pointers from Pittsburgh staff with him back to New Haven.

“One of the biggest things was keeping my feet moving with the puck,” Agostino said of his advice from the Penguins. “Down low sometimes, I think I’ll tend to protect the puck because I’m able to and not move my feet as much as I should. Something that (the Penguins) reiterated to me time and again is keep my feet moving. I’ve certainly tried to focus on that this season, in practice especially, and I try to translate that to the game.”

Whatever Agostino has translated is working. He potted the overtime game-winner against Denver University back in November, and has recorded at least one point in six of his last eight contests. While Agostino prefers to go with the flow through the grind of the season, he’s part of a team that has high aspirations year after year.

“I try to just take it a day at a time, one game at a time,” Agostino said. “But I think as far as team goals, as long as I’ve been here, the culture of this team has been set on winning championships. We want to win championships this year. That’s certainly our goal.”

Agostino admits that he is concentrating on pursuing hockey as a career rather than applying his forthcoming political science degree into the workforce. However, he’s interested in finance, and says that if stick handling doesn’t work out, number crunching could be in the cards instead.

The Penguins are hoping that Agostino can put his hockey skills to good use within the next few years. If things go well, there may be more than a couple of Ivy Leaguers on the Pittsburgh roster in due time. But for now, Agostino is enjoying his time at Yale, and everything that comes with being a student athlete at a prestigious institution.

“Yeah it’s challenging, but I think as athletes, we’re competitive and we enjoy the challenge,” he said.

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