Today is a big day in the world of hockey, but not just for the reasons you might think.
While the rival Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers do open their lockout-shortened seasons this afternoon in Philly, make sure to stay on your couch and tune in to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia at 8 p.m. for the first annual Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the University of Vermont Catamounts. The game will be taking place in the Wells Fargo Center soon after the Pens-Flyers matchup.
After a strong start to their first Division I season, the Nittany Lions have dropped to 8-12-0 and are in dire need of a win if they want to salvage a winning season with just 12 games remaining. The Catamounts, typically a competitive program, are an unimpressive 6-11-4 this season after a Frozen Four appearance in 2009 and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010. Vermont has dropped its last three games and would be a solid win for Penn State as they open a four-game stretch away from University Park.
The Nittany Lions will get a taste of what they’re in for next year when they move into the brand new Pegula Ice Arena as they will play in front of a home crowd of approximately 19,000 fans tonight in Philly. Similarly, the Wells Fargo Center gets a taste of college hockey for the first time, as they will host the Frozen Four in 2014.
This will be Penn State’s third time playing in an NHL venue this season. Earlier, Penn State traveled to Pittsburgh to take part in the Three Rivers Classic, held at the CONSOL Energy Center, home of the Penguins. They lost to Robert Morris 6-0 in the first round and defeated future Big Ten opponent Ohio State 5-4 in a consolation game.
This is a homecoming game of sorts for a number of Nittany Lions who are Philadelphia natives. Freshamn defenseman Connor Varley, sophomore defenseman Peter Sweetland, senior defenseman Rich O’Brien, senior forward Dominic Morrone, and senior defenseman Brian Dolan all hail from the Philly area.
This is also an interesting game because a number of Nittany Lions have formerly played with Vermont opponents in the junior leagues, including Kenny Brooks, Nate Jensen, Curtis Loik, Matt Madrazo, and P.J. Musico.
So before you go out and get shitfaced tonight — or if you’re already shitfaced from watching your hometown hockey team try to play better defense than they did the last time the Pens and Flyers met — check out the inaugural Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff tonight and support your Penn State Nittany Lions men’s hockey team.