By Warren Kozireski —
Through the first 20 games this season, he stands second on Penn State in assists with 14, tied for second in plus/minus at +10, tied for third in points with 20 and has had seven multi-point games this season but, as is true for most hockey players, Brooklyn-born junior Danny Dzhaniyev first credits his linemates and teammates.
The 5’5” 150 lb. right wing has found chemistry on a line with fellow New Yorker in Syracuse area born Ryan Kirwan.
“Playing with great linemates and we complement each other very well and I think my game has risen because of those guys,” Dzhaniyev said in mid-January. “Gaining more and more confidence, we go and hopefully can continue that.
“We’ve (Kirwan) known each other for a long time. We knew that the day would come when we would play with each other and we already knew the chemistry is there. Something we’ve been looking forward to too. I know where he is on the ice all the time and he knows where I am; it’s like having a partner in crime, you know. We complement each other to play to the best of our abilities.
“We actually played on a line at state camp—I think we were 14 or 15 (years old)—it’s pretty cool looking back on it. The memories that we have and then both committing to Penn State was kind of surreal. We played against each other during our junior career, but now being here is pretty special.”
He has already tied his collegiate career high for goals in a season with six and set a new mark with 20 points and counting.
“It’s about time that I broke out in college. I’m having a decent year so far and I just need to keep that going. If me and Ryan continue to do what we’ve been doing, I think we can do something special. I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Dzhaniyev split some early time with Xavier High School and the New Jersey Titans before being accepted in the U.S. National Team Development Program for two seasons. Despite registering a combined 36 points over two seasons, he decided to spend an extra season at the junior level and joined Dubuque in the USHL.
There he exploded for 18 goals and 36 points in 49 games the year prior to joining the Nittany Lions.
“I think it (the extra year) helped me a lot to be completely honest. I think confidence for me was a bit of an issue and then having that breakout year in the USHL really helped out. Then coming to Penn State, I won’t say that it was an easy transition, but the extra year in the USHL really helped me a lot.”
Dzhaniyev admits to being a bit superstitious. He must be the last player off the ice after pre-game warmups.
“I do, yeah. Something I’ve done for a long time now. I have no idea (how it started) to be completely honest with you. Just started and kept going.”
The Communication major scored his first collegiate goal against Canisius his freshman year and has the puck mounted on wood back home in Brooklyn. He counts the gold medal he won with the U-17’s at the 2019 Four Nations Cup in Sweden as a favorite memory, among others.
“Any international tournament was a blast and national camp was a good time for me personally because that’s where I broke out and made name for myself, but probably my first game at Pegula (Ice Arena) was something that’s I’m never going to forget. It was incredible; the atmosphere is something you dream of when you’re a kid and it was special.
“But it’s all thanks to the Brooklyn Aviators.”
And lately the chemistry with fellow New Yorker Ryan Kirwan.
(Photos provided by Penn State Athletic and Men’s Hockey Departments)