Game Day Observations: Michigan State, The Hockey Edition
Our first hockey road trip to enemy territory was eventful to say the least.
First, Penn State won its first shootout in program history in a 2-2 tie against Michigan State (college hockey shootout rules are weird and bad, but at least Penn State got two points out of it). Then a wheel fell off the bus we shared with The Roar Zone. Whatever. Their hospitality, too much (free) pizza, and the men’s hockey bus rescuing us from the middle of Ohio made the experience a 10/10. We can’t wait to get back on the road to see more Big Ten hockey venues, but reflecting on our observations in East Lansing will hold us over until then.
Guy Gadowsky is just as genuinely nice as he seems, and The Roar Zone is awesome. Gadowsky’s mentioned his appreciation of the Roar Zone in every single press conference I’ve attended. We learned his respect for the student section extends beyond words — we walked onto the bus at 8:30 a.m. sharp and were greeted by free Irving’s breakfast wraps and smoothies complimentary of the man himself. When we arrived at the Munn, he talked to the Roar Zone for a while as if they were his old friends. Their relationship isn’t something you see in Division I college athletics these days — it remains unique to Penn State hockey. He gave the bus free pizza for the ride home, which really came in handy when we were stranded in the middle of nowhere.
All the members of The Roar Zone were so welcoming. We wouldn’t have wanted to spend the 16-hour trip with anyone else, and we hope it happens again soon (maybe on a plane next time).
The Munn is munn-dane, if you will.
We boarded the bus home from Michigan State feeling lucky to call Pegula home. Maybe we’re just used to the best arena in college hockey, but we thought a venue that’s churned out more than a few NHL superstars would be a little more impressive. The inside was much nicer, but with Spartan Stadium and the Breslin Center just a stone’s throw away, the outside of the Munn essentially resembled what an anonymous member of our trip described as a “bomb shelter.” We will admit though, the inside had a better atmosphere than the outside and the staff was more than accommodating. They even had pizza in the press box, and as much as we love the Auntie Anne’s pretzel nuggets at Pegula, free pizza is hard to top.
Penn State’s 5-on-3 defense is unbelievable. We’re planning on getting our hands on film to break it down more extensively, but McAdam and company managed to kill off two penalties where Michigan State was in its zone a majority of the time. They acted as a cohesive unit on par with the nation’s best, and their defensive prowess extended throughout the game in one of the team’s most impressive showings on that end of the ice.
College hockey shootout rules stink. Penn State won the shootout, but tied the game. Big Ten rules say that if a team doesn’t score in the first five minutes of the sudden death overtime, the teams head into a shootout where the winner gets two points and the loser gets one. Regardless, the Nittany Lions came out of their series against the Spartans with five out of six potential points and their first shootout win in program history.
The music at the Munn is lit. Between the Friends theme song, Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” Hava Nagila, and Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins, we were dancing in the press box (also, the #TimberCount stayed at zero, which was a plus). It’s time to ask our favorite Pegula music guy to step up his game.