On the weekend of October 12, 2012 the Penn State Nittany Lion hockey team will be making history by playing their first weekend of Division I intercollegiate hockey with two games against American International University. The second of their two weekend games will be on Saturday, October 13, 2012, at Wilkes-Barre's Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Face-Off will be at 7:05p.m. in what is expected to be a sea of Blue & White!
James Reino, For the Future: the Campaign for Penn State Students chair at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, is responsible for bringing the local PSU hockey fans a chance to watch their team. When Jim heard of the PSU program going Division I and the new Pegula Ice Arena being built at University Park not being available until the 2013-2014 season, Jim immediately thought that it would be great exposure for Penn State if it would be possible to schedule one of their upcoming season's games at the local Mohegan Sun Arena. Because of his close relationship with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins CEO Jeff Barrett and Vice President of Corporate Sales Rob Belza, Jim was able to secure their interest and support for making this event happen. In addition, Jim brought Joe Battista, Associate Athletic Director, Penn State Ice Arena & Hockey Development and members of the Penn State Hockey Program together with the Penguins leadership, and the rest as they say is history! Jim also envisions this event helping the fundraising efforts in support of the campuses' For the Future campaign efforts, including raffling off of hockey and sports memorabilia both from Penn State and the Penguins; proceeds will benefit the Margaret Reino Endowed Scholarship at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
"When Jim approached us about the event, the Alumni Constituent Society knew immediately they needed to be a part of this historic night," explains Karen Brace-Hodle, External Relations Assistant at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. "The best part of this being held at Mohegan Sun Arena is the opportunity for us to partner with our Alumni and friends from Hazleton, Worthington Scranton, and Schuylkill. Our hope, much like Jim's and the Penguins organization, is that we can make this an annual event for our local Penn Staters."
While the alumni organizations will not have a reception gathering the night of the hockey game, they will have tables at the event with raffles, free swag, and an opportunity to connect with other alumni and friends.
Initially, according to Chris Sipsky, Director of Group Sales for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the team hoped to have 3,000 people in attendance, however, indications are that the attendance will surpass that number. Both Jim and the WB/Scranton Penguins hope this is the first of many future Penn State Hockey games at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
In 2012-13, the Nittany Lions will compete as an independent and play 23 games against NCAA Division I opponents from all five conferences - Atlantic Hockey, CCHA, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East, and WCHA - and fellow independent Alabama Huntsville. Penn State will also face off against three NCAA Division III foes, while playing eight exhibition games.