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Joe Battista: Next Stop, Indiana…To Get a Taste of Irish Ice

by on September 28, 2011 1:30 AM

By the time most of you read this, a contingent of Penn State folks -- including yours truly -- will be in the air on the way to Indiana.

And we’re not talking Bloomington, either, where JoePa’s guys will be playing the Hoosiers on Saturday.

Our group is going to South Bend, Ind., where we will tour the brand new Compton Family Ice Arena on the campus of Notre Dame. (The football Fighting Irish won’t be home; they’re at Purdue this weekend.)

The Compton Arena is a 5,000-seat, double-sheet, state-of-the-art arena scheduled to open in just a few weeks. We have been invited to check it out and see if we can pick up a few pointers as we design our own 6,000-seat, double-sheet Pegula Ice Arena that will open in fall of 2013.

It’s hard to believe a year has come and gone since Terry and Kim Pegula gave Penn State its largest-ever philanthropic gift. We are still a year away from our first varsity men’s and women’s hockey games -- and two years away from the opening of the Pegula Ice Arena.

Still, “A New Ice Age is Dawning” as new head coaches Guy Gadowsky (men’s team) and Josh Brandwene (women) will lead their squads in their first seasons. Both teams have been practicing intensely and are looking forward to the start of their seasons. 

YOUR GOAL IS TO ATTEND…

These are upcoming red (line) letter dates for Penn State hockey:

-- The puck will drop at 9:15 p.m. Friday for the women’s home opener of the 2011-12 season, when PSU faces the University of Buffalo at the Penn State Ice Rink. Admission is free.

-- At 6:30 p.m. Friday, also at the Penn State Ice Rink, the men’s team will play its annual Blue-White Game. It is also free.

-- At 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7, the men’s regular season begins when the Nittany Lions face-off against Lebanon Valley College. Please note that Friday night games are now being played at 7 p.m. after years of having to start games at 9 p.m.

For season and single-game ticket information, call (814) 867-5522 or click here. Anyone who is a current season ticket-holder and remains a season ticket-holder through the opening of the Pegula Ice Arena will be given special consideration for seat location in the new arena.

For more information about the ice hockey teams, including schedules, click here and select Ice Hockey under the “Teams” tabs. You can also watch some interviews with the coaching staff and players.

KEYSTONE HOCKEY UPDATE

The NHL season is also off to a fast start with preseason games in full swing. The Philadelphia Flyers (3-1-1) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-0) are both off to good starts, as are the Buffalo Sabres (4-1).

There’s a Penn State connection with the Sabres -- the team is owned by the aforementioned Pegulas. The Sabres will start the regular season overseas in Europe before coming back to face the Penguins in their “home opener” on Oct. 15.

The NHL Winter Classic, held in Pittsburgh last season, will stay in Pennsylvania again this year. There’s no small coincidence that the Commonwealth is shaped like an ice hockey rink (and Penn State is located at center ice)!

The Flyers will play host the Rangers for the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. Pennsylvania is also host to the NCAA Frozen Four when the top college men’s teams visit our state in 2013 (Pittsburgh) and 2014 (Philadelphia) to decide the national title.  This past year the women’s Frozen Four was held in Erie.

Pennsylvania is the fastest growing state for youth hockey and Penn State’s imminent entry into the NCAA hockey world will only enhance the Keystone State’s reputation as a hockey state and our area as “Hockey Valley.”

ICE TREATS

This is a great time to try skating for you and your family and friends. Ice skating is a life-long sport and if I can still lace ’em up and play adult hockey, anyone can hit the ice!

For information about theprograms available at the Penn State Ice Rink, check out its website. There are learn-to-skate programs for figure skating and hockey, group lessons, private lessons, cross-ice hockey for youngsters, youth and high school hockey, intramural hockey, adult hockey and broomball!

The annual Abby Yeagley Memorial United States Figure Skating Basic Skills Competition will be held this Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Penn State Ice Rink. This USFS event is sponsored by the Penn State Skating School. Come on out and support our local skaters and see if your kids might get caught up in the “New Ice Age.” It’s a cool place to be!



From ice hockey to Intercollegiate Athletics and Smeal, JoeBa has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities. Battista was an influential player in the effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley. He is now Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Buffalo Sabres.
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