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Penn State Hockey Looking Forward To Returning To Madison Square Garden

No. 15 Penn State men’s hockey will close out its weekend series against Michigan at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

The Nittany Lions and Wolverines will play at Madison Square Garden, home of the NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers, at 7 p.m. Saturday. From the end of Wayne Gretzky’s illustrious NHL career to countless Stanley Cup Playoff contests, the Garden has played host to plenty of iconic hockey moments since it opened in 1968.

Penn State is no stranger to the rink, either. Guy Gadowsky’s team has lost both of its previous appearances at the rink against Cornell in 2014 and Michigan two years later.

Senior Alec Marsh will get the chance to play at MSG for the second time in his career, and Saturday’s game will serve as a bit of a homecoming for the forward.

“When we played [at MSG] during my freshman year, I think I had 20 or 30 people there,” said Marsh, whose hometown of Bridgewater, NJ is about an hour away from the arena. “I think it’ll be a similar situation this year. It always means a lot when my parents can come out and see me play.”

This won’t be Penn State’s first game at an NHL facility this season. The team played to a 4-4 tie against Princeton at the Wells Fargo Center — home to the Philadelphia Flyers — on December 15, but something about the bright lights of Madison Square Garden is just different.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky said there were some logistical challenges presented to the team in terms of finding practice ice in the city on Friday, but those pale in comparison to having the chance to play in the facility.

“It’s a privilege and a great opportunity,” Gadowsky said. “I remember walking around the arena prior to the game, and it was full of blue and white on the streets. It was the same thing in the arena — I’m always impressed by Penn Staters wherever we go, and New York is certainly no exception.”

Senior captain Chase Berger also played in Penn State’s most recent trip to MSG, and his memories of the trip extend far beyond the on-ice action. The Nittany Lions were technically the home team, so they used the Rangers’ locker room.

Tommy Olczyk shared the story of putting on Rick Nash’s helmet before the game and subsequently getting in trouble with the Rangers’ equipment manager, but Berger’s memories extend beyond that.

“When I played there my freshman year, it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. The Rangers’ locker room was unbelievable,” Berger said. “The Knicks’ room was on the right and almost attached to the Rangers’ room, so I remember a bunch of guys who loved basketball were freaking out about putting their dry clothes in Carmelo Anthony’s stall.”

Berger also recalled being in awe of the arena’s scoreboard, which was installed three years before Penn State’s second MSG appearance, when he stepped on the ice.

Penn State will get to enjoy one of the most iconic venues in American sports, but there’s also business to take care of. The Nittany Lions have lost four straight games, including a 5-1 loss to the Wolverines on Thursday night, and need to get off the schneid to preserve their NCAA tournament hopes.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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