When: Saturday 7:30 p.m.
Where: HarborCenter, Buffalo, New York
Audio: Local radio only, no online stream
The Lions will kick off the 2015-16 season on the road against the Canisius Golden Griffins. Each team has had one tune-up exhibition game, with PSU defeating Windsor 5-2 and Canisius losing 4-2 to Ontario IT.
The teams will feature many freshmen, with Penn State welcoming eight new players and Canisius having 12 newcomers. The difference in the rosters is most notable when counting the upperclassmen. Penn State will feature eight seniors and six juniors for a total of 14 upperclassmen while Canisius will skate with just two seniors and three juniors.
The experience advantage goes to Penn State, especially considering the goalies. Sophomore Reilly Turner is the only goalie with experience for the Golden Griffins, having played in 13 games with 11 starts. Conversely PSU has senior Matt Skoff with 59 games played, while Eamon McAdam has appeared in 22 games. It was announced that McAdam will get the start for PSU on Saturday night. Skoff will start next Friday night when the Lions host Notre Dame at Pegula, and McAdam will start versus the Golden Domers the following night.
Canisius returns its top two scorers from last season in Ralph Cuddemi (39 pts) and Cody Freeman (26 pts). Only one of the top-five scorers from last season for Penn State, David Goodwin, will play on Saturday. Eric Scheid, the only other top-five returning scorer, is sidelined for six weeks with a lower leg injury.
With the addition of so many new players to each roster, and the fact that in college hockey the young players are expected to play and contribute immediately, it is hard to project what the teams will look like once the puck drops. Two seasons ago Penn State was a big, slow team that would hit its opponent all game but struggle to put the puck in the net. Last year the Lions were one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation. Canisius has had a strong run playing in the Atlantic Hockey Association, playing in three straight ACA semi-final games. You can take a more in-depth look at Canisius in this article from its website. It's believed that the Griffs are set for a rebuilding year.
Speaking of building, the teams share a similar benefactor...
Terrence Pegula, Stadium Builder
It is well-known in Penn State circles that Pegula was the catalyst for bringing the Lions to the division one hockey ranks. Pegula donated $102,000,000 to Penn State in an effort to make Pegula Ice Arena the boost that the program would need to play at the highest level of college hockey. The Peg is now known as one of the most beautiful, modern stadiums in college hockey.
Pegula was the man behind the effort to develop the arena that Canisius now calls home in downtown Buffalo. The HarborCenter was completed last fall and is itself a beautiful multi-purpose arena. Including the cost of neighboring restaurants, shops, and a hotel in addition to the hockey arena, it took roughly $172 million to make this project become a reality. With only 1800 seats as opposed to the 6000 inside of Pegula Ice Arena, the HarborCenter is a smaller, more intimate experience.
You can take a virtual tour of the HarborCenter here.
- This will be the first time the teams have played.
- Penn State freshmen Andrew Sturtz will return to his hometown of Buffalo, NY. The forward is expected to make a major impact for the Lions as he scored 176 point in the past two years playing for Carleton Place in the CCHL.
- This will be the first time the Lions have started the season on the road since becoming a D-1 program. The Lions return home next week for a pair of games with Notre Dame.
- Penn State will play only two games away from Pegula Ice Arena out of its first 10.