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Hockey Series Previews: Penn State vs UConn

The Nittany Lions take to the ice for the first time this season.

It's the dawn of a new hockey season in State College.  Hockey Valley awakens to the first game-day of the year.
It's the dawn of a new hockey season in State College. Hockey Valley awakens to the first game-day of the year.

Where: Pegula Ice Arena, State College, Pennsylvania.  Located in Centre County on what many people consider to be hallowed frozen water.

When: Game one is Friday 7 p.m.  Game two is Saturday 3 p.m..

Options for Viewing:  Friday night's game is available on the Big Ten Network's option called 'btn2go/plus' which is a subscription online streaming video option.  Saturday afternoon's game will be available via College Sports Live Video. If you have questions about these viewing options, post them in the comment section and we can go from there.

Our Prayers Have Been Answered, It's Hockey Season!

Tonight Penn State will host the University of Connecticut's ice hockey team in the first of a two-game series.  In just a few hours the doors will open and six thousand joyous Penn State hockey fans will rush into their cathedral of worship, Pegula Ice Arena.  Coach Guy Gadowsky, his staff, and his team have had a tremendously successful off-season.

The Match-up

UConn's hockey program is in a similar place as Penn State's hockey team.  This will be the first year of competition in college hockey's toughest league for UConn, the Hockey East.  They make their transition from the Atlantic Hockey league, one of the softer divisions in college hockey. This will be Penn State's second season in the Big Ten, arguably the second-toughest league in all of college hockey.  Last season UConn skated to an 18-14-4 record, but would likely have fared similar to Penn State's 8-26-2 had they played a Hockey East conference schedule.

Penn State joined division one college hockey two years ago, and UConn recently added 18 scholarships to their program in making the transition to Hockey East competition.  That's 18 scholarships added to a 35 man team.  While UConn has been competing in division one hockey for the better part of two decades, they just now, like PSU, are stepping across the threshold into big-time college hockey.

Joe Battista presided over the Penn State hockey efforts for two decades, setting the groundwork for what the program has become.  Bruce Marshall was the head coach at UConn for twenty-five years leading up to last year when Mike Cavanaugh took over.  Much like JoeBa has done for Penn State, Marshall laid the foundation for the Husky hockey program. Both current coaches figure to remain in place with their respective programs for the next decade into the foreseeable future.

The two teams field extra-ordinarily large players.  The teams combined have twenty five skaters listed at 6'1 or better, with a dozen of those players being 6'3 or taller.  Neither team is ready to go toe-to-toe with the elite programs in college hockey, on a nightly basis, matching their skills against the other teams' skills. That's true.

UConn and PSU can match any team's hitting.  This weekend's hockey series is going to be an exhibition of two heavy weights, each wanting to get a fast start on what is sure to be a grueling, three-dozen game season schedule.  There is going to be some hitting going on out there, and if you are in the first dozen rows of Pegula Ice Arena this weekend, you may want to brace yourself.  Keep the lid on the hot chocolate.

On paper UConn and PSU are pretty darn similar.  On ice, they are nearly identical.  Throw the stats out the window along with the previous encounters that the two teams have had.  This is a different era of hockey for both teams. This series is an early chapter in both teams' college hockey story.

PSU's sixth line:  Power forward 'Badger', forward 'Combo' and center 'Skinny Pete'.