The Penn State men’s hockey team embarked on the journey of its inaugural NCAA Division I season knowing they would go down in history for many program firsts.
Now, they’ll add another one to their long-standing list when they open Pegula Ice Arena on Oct. 11 against Army, which is during Penn State’s annual homecoming weekend. The Nittany Lions defeated Army, 5-0, on Oct. 26 of this season to earn their first shutout in program history.
Next year, the Lions embark on their first campaign in the Big Ten conference, along with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin. There will be 10 conference home games, two apiece against each Big Ten foe. There will also be non-conference matchups at home.
The $90 million facility that broke ground in February 2012 is the only major hockey arena within 80 miles of Happy Valley. It provides two NHL-sized rinks that will accommodate the Penn State men’s and women’s varsity teams, as well as community and youth hockey leagues.
Terry and Kim Pegula made the largest private gift in Penn State history when they announced in September 2010 that they would donate $88 million for Penn State’s new hockey arena. Once original costs came back higher than expected, they raised the commitment to $102 million.
Terry Pegula is a 1973 graduate of Penn State and currently owns the Buffalo Sabres, a NHL team he reportedly bought for $189 million in February 2011.
Coach Guy Gadowsky and his team currently hold a 12-13-0 record in the Greenberg Ice Pavilion while they wait for the Pegula Ice Arena to be completed. The Lions have only two series left in their inaugural season. They play ACHA club team Oklahoma this weekend, which marks their last game at their current home. The last series is Feb. 24 and 25 against Wisconsin.
Gadowsky mentioned several times throughout the season how excited he and his team are to move into the new state-of-the-art facility, which will also be able to host NHL and American Hockey League games.
Recently, he disclosed that the glass will be “much higher” than at Greenberg, making for a much more exciting experience for the fans. He also said that the student section was made as steep as regulation would allow.