STATE COLLEGE —
Penn State’s Division I ice hockey program went live in Happy Valley Friday night.
In front of a sold-out crowd, the Nittany Lions debuted under coach Guy Gadowsky. Amid all the pomp and circumstance, there was a game to be played, and though Penn State dropped a 3-2 decision to American International in overtime, it’s clear the program is headed in the right direction.
There was atmosphere aplenty in the Greenberg Ice Pavilion, as fans packed the stands and lined the balconies above the ice to watch the new squad. The long-awaited day was made possible with the help of energy company executive Terry Pegula, who owns the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and who made a
$102 million donation to the program and his alma mater in 2010.
Penn State freshman Casey Bailey scored the program’s first goal at the 4:37 mark of the second period, but American International junior Jon Puskar scored with 21 seconds remaining in overtime to break a 2-2 tie.
Pegula’s donation also funded a new hockey arena that will open in 2013, just in time for the first season of the Big Ten hockey conference.
For now, the Greenberg will have to do as the Nittany Lions play a full season as independent. With the addition of Penn State to Division I, there are now 59 schools around the country with that designation. The last school to establish Division I before Penn State was Robert Morris.
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