PITTSBURGH -- The building was big, the crowd was big and Penn State was playing an in-state foe. The stage was set for what could have been a notable early clash in a budding rivalry between two programs that hope to elevate college hockey's profile in pucks-crazy Pennsylvania.
A 6-0 loss against Robert Morris in the semifinals of the Three Rivers Classic on Friday at the Consol Energy Center wasn't the type of memory the Nittany Lions hoped to make, though.
"We're going to remember it," coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game. "We're going to get a shot again. We're in our infancy stage and we understand it, but we deserved the result we got tonight and Robert Morris deserved the win they got tonight."
Penn State, of course, is navigating its first season at the NCAA Division I level. Robert Morris, though, isn't too far removed from being the new kid on the block itself. The Colonials' program is still relatively young as well, currently playing in its eighth season.
With that in mind, coach Derek Schooley, who is 95-129-33 at Robert Morris, can empathize with where Penn State stands.
"That's hockey and that's the way things are," Schooley said. "Who knows? We win two, they may win the next two. It's hockey. And you deal with it and you play on and every year's a new year, every year's a new team."
The two schools met twice this year -- the previous game a 3-2 Robert Morris win in State College -- and will face off again next season. Schooley hopes the two teams can keep playing in the future.
"I like playing them. I think it's good for college hockey," Schooley said. "I think it's good for college hockey in Western Pennsylvania. I think it gets a tremendous amount of exposure for our program and for Penn State, especially on a big stage. And hopefully after next year, we're set to play next year, hopefully we can continue that in future years."
Penn State will have to improve, however, if it hopes to make things more competitive moving forward. Gadowsky is hopeful about the program's growth, though, and thinks Friday's game can serve as motivation toward the goal of getting better.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Gadowsky said. "We knew that going in. We know where we're at and this is something...I mean, we'll remember it."