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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Welcome to Hockey Valley by @PandaPSU

After a 67 year hiatus, the re-emergence of Division I hockey in "Hockey Valley" started off with a beautiful bang Friday night in the newly christened Pegula Ice Arena.

(Video courtesy of GoPSUsports.com)

How do you possibly put into words a 35-year dream that finally becomes a reality?  The Associate Athletic Director for Penn State Ice Hockey, Joe Battista, tried to do just that when he joined Radio PI for an interview last week (http://www.pensinitiative.com/2013/10/morning-drive-radiopi-1010.html).  As I sat in the office with Joe while Nick interviewed him, the excitement in his voice and the glow on his face would make any person smile.  He could not have scripted a better way to kick off his 35-year journey than with the 4-1 victory over Army on Friday night.

The moment I stepped foot into the Pegula Ice Arena I was immediately blown away.  The arena is modern, beautiful, loud, but also intimate.  It is a difficult combination to achieve, but it is something that Mr. Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim, demanded when they made their initial donation.  From the time I first arrived at the arena at 7 PM, until puck drop a little after 8 PM, the whole place was rocking.  The sellout crowd topped out a little over 6,000, but you would not have known it was only 6,000 by the volume level in the building.  The student section was loud, very loud.  The video I captured will give you all some idea of what I mean, but it is really something you can only truly appreciate if you are in attendance for a game.

As I mentioned, Penn State went on to win the opener 4-1 over Army.  The way Penn State competed last year in its first season in the Big Ten has the future looking bright.  I do not expect this team to win a Big Ten championship this year, but they will be competitive, and in a few years I do expect them to be near the top of the conference.  I highly encourage any of you in the area to come up for a game at some point.  It is an environment that you have to see in person to truly appreciate.

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