UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Mark Sept. 17, 2010 down as a historic day for Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics.
It was announced today at a formal press conference inside the Nittany Lion Inn that Penn State will begin playing NCAA Division I men's and women's ice hockey in 2012-'13.
For years, there have been rumors as to when the day would come, but now, it is a reality. The Nittany Lions will be sharpening skates to play NCAA hockey on the University Park campus. It is an exciting day in Penn State sports history. Thinking about a packed house watching a Nittany Lion hockey game should bring a smile to your face.
The men's and women's hockey teams will officially kick things off in the fall of 2012. The Lions are slated to play two seasons as an independent before joining a conference prior to the 2014-'15 season.
Penn State's hockey teams will play their first season in the Penn State Ice Pavilion at the Greenburg Sports Complex, the current home of the Icers and Lady Icers, before moving into a brand new facility on the southwest corner of Curtain Road and University Drive (near the Shields Building). The new facility will feature two sheets of ice.
This is not the first time ice hockey has been a sport at Penn State, though. From 1939-'40 to 1945-'46, ice hockey was a varsity sport in the athletic department. In addition to those five seasons, the Penn State Icers began competing at the club level in 1971-'72, and have won seven national titles in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). The Lady Icers, who played in the 2001-'02 ACHA national semifinals, commenced club play in 1996-'97.
However, Penn State's 2012-'13 season will be momentous when the Lion teams join the likes of 58 men's squads and 35 women's teams in NCAA Division I ice hockey. Currently five Big Ten teams play Division I men's ice hockey - Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin. In Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst College and Robert Morris are currently the only two institutions with Division I programs.
Pennsylvania will soon be college hockey central with the NCAA Women's Frozen Four to be played at Mercyhurst College in Erie from March 18-20 in 2011. The 2013 Men's Frozen Four will be played at Consol Energy Center, the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, on April 11 and 13. One year later, the Frozen Four will be hosted by the Wachovia Center, the home of the Philadelphia Flyers, on April 10 and 12 in 2014.
With the athletic department to soon be 31 teams strong, it is a terrific day for Director of Athletics Tim Curley and his staff. The addition of men's and women's hockey opens a tremendous new chapter for the department. It is always exciting to see the construction of a new facility, but this construction process will feature two new programs, in addition to the new arena. We can't wait to follow the progress over the next two years.
Let's drop the puck on NCAA Division I ice hockey at Penn State.
Division I Hockey Announcement Notes:
- Robert Morris was the most recent institution to add a Division I men's ice hockey program (2004-'05).
- Syracuse was the most recent institution to add a Division I women's ice hockey program (2008-'09).
- Ohio State was the most recent school to add men's ice hockey in the Big Ten (1964).
- Minnesota was the most recent school to add women's ice hockey in the Big Ten (1997).
- Men's volleyball was the most recent men's sport added at Penn State (1978)
- Women's soccer was the most recent women's sport added at Penn State (1994).