A few minutes before 10 a.m. on Tuesday in the HUB-Robeson Center, a line of Penn State hockey fans waiting to ensure a spot in Pegula Ice Arena’s 1,000-seat student section snaked its way through Heritage Hall, down the main steps and out the building’s south entrance.
At the front of the line, coach Guy Gadowsky counted down from five and the students joined in eagerly. Student tickets for the inaugural season in the new arena were on sale.
But around 11:30 a.m., the sale was halted because of the overwhelming turnout, and students were given vouchers to purchase the remaining tickets online. The decision was made among Penn State hockey and university officials so that the sale wouldn’t interrupt class schedules, assistant communications director Matt Caracappa said.
“This is pretty unbelievable,” said freshman goaltender Eamon McAdam, sporting his road blue Penn State sweater. “Putting on the jersey for the first time is a pretty good feeling, especially with all these people out.”
Gadowsky was equally impressed and offered many thanks to students like Mike Bailey and Justin Abraham, who spent the previous 12 hours in the HUB to be the first two in line for tickets.
“Hockey is my favorite sport so it was an obvious choice for me,” Abraham (junior—marketing) said.
Bailey transferred to Penn State unaware of the newfound Division I hockey team and said his overnight stay in the HUB was just insurance.
“I was psyched about [the team becoming Division I],” Bailey (junior—risk management) said. “I didn’t want to be the 1,001st person to get my ticket.”
Gadowsky rewarded both Bailey and Abraham with Penn State jerseys for their devotion.
Further down the line, a trio of “diehard” hockey fans who came to the HUB around 11 p.m. Monday night were ecstatic about the recently completed hockey arena up the hill.
“I get goosebumps every time I go past Pegula,” Mikayla Borusiewicz (junior—biology) said.
The state-of-the-art stadium’s glass façade shimmering boldly along University Drive seemed to be the driving force behind the excitement in the HUB on Tuesday.
“It was neat when we were driving to campus and saw the completed arena, it was all scaffolding and beams when we left,” Andrew Oreskovich (senior—chemical engineering) said.
Although Penn State students and players will have to wait until the arena opens on Oct. 11 , the turnout at the ticket sale has both parties anticipating a raucous atmosphere.
“I think this is going to be a good sign of how crazy the Pegula is gonna be every night,” freshman forward David Goodwin said.
Abraham said he hopes that Pegula Ice Arena’s wall-like student section is as wild as Beaver Stadium’s.
“I’m anxious to see the student section,” Abraham said. “The football student section is insane, I’m hoping hockey is the same way.”
Gadowsky said he expects it will be.
“Penn State has the greatest student body, and hockey games are so much fun,” the coach said. “I can’t wait to see the student section…how much fun they’re going to have and the atmosphere it’s going to create.”
Matt Nestor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 865-1828. Follow him on Twitter at @MattyNest.