Penn State’s Dylan Lugris Named 2024 Hockey Humanitarian Recipient

By Pete Souris

Junior Dylan Lugris (Buffalo, N.Y.) of the Penn State University men’s hockey program was presented the 2024 Hockey Humanitarian Award by the Hockey Humanitarian Foundation during a ceremony on Friday night at the RiverCentre in Saint Paul at the Men’s Frozen Four. Lugris is the first Nittany Lion hockey player to win a major national award.

Lugris is the 29th honoree of the award, the 14th Division I male to win the award and the fourth male from a Big Ten school to be honored. He was recognized during the Friday night NCAA Men’s Frozen Four awards ceremonies, alongside the recipients of the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award, the Mike Richter Award and the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

The Buffalo, New York native was one of five finalists, joining Hank Kempf (Wilmette, Ill.) of Cornell, Jack Quinn (Lancaster, Mass.) from LIU, Raice Szott (Daysland, Alberta) of Merrimack and Sarah Thompson (Ottawa, Ontario) from Syracuse.

“I congratulate all the nominees for their contributions to their local and global communities. It is an incredible honor to stand alongside these exceptional men and woman. I’m truly grateful for being recognized as a Hockey Humanitarian,” commented Lugris. “I didn’t do this for the award, but I’m very proud that sled hockey is growing and getting the recognition it deserves. The Coyotes have a special place in our programs’ heart. We look forward to continuing this relationship for years to come.”

The award is presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen — a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism.

Lugris wasted little time getting involved in the local State College community once arriving in Hockey Valley in January 2021. Dylan quickly formed a bond with the local sled hockey organization, the State College Coyotes. Dylan began attending weekly practices, eventually having teammates join him as he learned more and more about the sport of sled hockey and the Coyotes’ organization.

In an effort to make a difference for a struggling organization that only practiced once a week and did not compete in actual games, Dylan proposed the idea of holding the Penn State Sled Hockey Classic in January 2023. A second Sled Hockey Classic was held this past February. Dylan’s mission is to grow the game of hockey while bringing awareness and knowledge to the sport of sled hockey and to provide the Coyotes the means necessary for organizational growth and competition.

The Classic is a hockey scrimmage between the Coyotes and the Penn State men’s hockey team at Pegula Ice Arena in front of the passionate Penn State fanbase. Dylan spearheads each event with the help of his Penn State teammates. A member of the Penn State men’s ice hockey team handles every aspect of the Classic – from the planning and organization through the execution of the event itself.

Since the initial event, the Coyotes have more than doubled in roster size and are now proud members of the Northeast Sled Hockey League. The Coyotes are now competing in multiple games per month thanks in large part to the nearly $50,000 Dylan and his Penn State teammates have raised for the Coyotes organization over the past year. Dylan and his teammates are excited to continue the growth of the event in years to come as it is now a winter staple within the Hockey Valley community.

“The Hockey Humanitarian Award is such a prestigious honor. It’s an award that recognizes the culture of hockey and the community involvement associated with the sport,” said head coach Guy Gadowsky. “I’m really proud of Dylan, the team and this community.”

Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky, a 24-year collegiate coaching veteran, is no stranger to the Hockey Humanitarian Award as he is now the only head coach to roster multiple Hockey Humanitarian recipients. Lugris joins former Princeton goaltender Eric Leroux, the 2006 Hockey Humanitarian Award winner.

On Friday night, the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation presented Lugris, alongside Coyotes Co-Founders DJ and Alexis Wilson and team captain Sara Becker, with a check for $3,000. The other four finalists each received $500 for their respective designated charities. These donations from the HHA Foundation are made possible through the generous support of the award’s partners and donors.