By Maria Canales,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Any fan who has ever experienced
game day at Pegula Ice Arena is familiar with the opening hype video, the blue
lights that shine on the ice when the Nittany Lions are introduced and the goal
horn when Penn State scores.
game day festivities are in full swing, there are a few obvious, and even a few
not so obvious traditions that have become relatively new staples for the men's
The Roar Zone
secret that head coach Guy Gadowsky loves The Roar Zone. He proudly states that
the best student section in the country cheers for the Nittany Lions. How did
the more than 1,000-seat student section come to be?
started with a few friends a few years back when the Pegula Ice Arena facility
was just breaking ground, at a time when the Nittany Lions still played in the
Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
Kyle Hoke, The
Roar Zone's first president, was a freshman during the 2012-13 season, and was
able to witness the first games the Nittany Lions played as a Division I
program. He purchased the student season ticket package that season, but come
sophomore year, he wanted to become more involved in the program.
"At the involvement fair I found the Hockey Management
Association table and talked to the members who were there," Hoke said. "I went
to the initial meeting and didn't know anyone, but knew that with my love of
hockey this was the club I needed to be in. A few meetings in to the semester I
volunteered with Nick Panos and Jesse Carnegie to run and organize the new
student section called The Roar Zone."
the next two years, The Roar Zone was managed under the umbrella of the Hockey
Management Association, or HMA, another student organization that helps with
game day operations and promotions at Pegula Ice Arena.
said that throughout those two seasons there was a core group of about 10 fans
who were consistently seating in the front, right on the glass during every
game. He said most people brought their own signs, and most added to the
creativity by coming up with game chants.
"After the [2014-15] season wrapped up, a few of us got together
and decided now that we were established, becoming our own student organization
would be beneficial to our growth and involvement," Hoke said.
Hoke put together all the necessary paperwork,
including drafting a club constitution and waited through most of the summer
before he got the confirmation that The Roar Zone would be its own club the
Although Hoke may have been the organization's
leader, he is quick to affirm that the success of the student section is based
on the collective contributions of many students, all because they've bonded
over their love of hockey and the Nittany Lions.
"I had Nick and Jesse to work with originally,
then Sam Watson and Chris Godissart after them," Hoke said. "These guys loved
hockey and loved Penn State, so as a leader they were perfect to work with. I
also got to see how Eric Bress handled himself as the president of HMA, which
was a huge benefit."
of Hoke's favorite college experiences revolves around the creation of one of
The Roar Zone's most famous signs. Prior to Penn State's matchup against
Wisconsin Feb. 6, 2015, the student section unraveled a banner that read,
"Tonight We Feast on Badger." It instantly became a huge success.
Sam Watson, the current vice president of The Roar Zone, the credit for
initiating and seeing that project through. Since then, The Roar Zone also
created a banner to welcome Notre Dame last season, which too was a success.
addition, The Roar Zone has become notorious for their chants and being loud at
almost every point during a game.
For the many that stand in the bleachers for
games, The Roar Zone has created memories and friendship, defining their
"It's not just a student section," Hoke said.
"It's 1,000 friends and hockey lovers that for those few hours put aside their
NHL loyalties and bond together to support our school."
Hoke finished by explaining his college
experience would not be the same if it weren't for The Roar Zone and the people
he met along the way.
"I was so incredibly lucky to
accomplish what I did [as President], and couldn't have done it without the
people who surrounded me," Hoke said. "The Roar Zone has the most passionate
student fans in the country and just like the team, there has nowhere to go but
doubt the one song that gets The Roar Zone bouncing up and down and ready for
puck drop is "Timber," an upbeat pop song that frequently plays throughout the
arena. At some point during the 2013-14 season the song started playing in
Pegula and has continued to be played throughout the season.
Williamson, then a freshman defenseman, decided that since the song was played
so much, he would keep track of the number of plays on his Twitter account. It
quickly turned into what is now known as the "#TimberCount," as it appears on
various social media platforms.
keeping track because the song was played so much," Williamson said. "I just
thought it would be fun."
past three seasons, Williamson and fans alike have been keeping track of the
tune via Twitter. It has grown in popularity, with fans and student-athletes
alike even using the hash tag at other arenas if they happen to play the song.
It's a song fans have embraced and instantly reminds supporters of their
alone, the song was played more than 70 times. Now a student coach for the
hockey program, Williamson is still actively keeping track of how many times
the popular tune plays at Pegula Ice Arena.
count has come a long way," Williamson said. "I hope it continues even after
If you were
in Pegula Ice Arena for a game between the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2016,
chances are you saw someone dressed as the superhero "Thor" in the student
section. The student, Gary Engelthaler, proudly wore the costume nearly every game
during his time at Penn State. He said he picked that specific superhero
because he wanted a character known for being loud, and he felt Thor would be
fun for other people, and the team, to see.
who was born with Spina Bifidia, had to miss a year of school to have three
surgeries. During that time, head coach Guy Gadowsky and the Nittany Lions
reached out to Engelthaler, sending him well wishes, a care package and a card
signed by the team.
even tell them that I was having surgeries so it caught me completely off
guard," Engelthaler said. "During that year I visited as many games as I could
and was always welcomed back with open arms."
recovering from his surgeries Engelthaler, a native of Long Island, was living
at home. During that time, Gadowsky reached out to Engelthaler to see if he wanted
to visit the team after their game at Madison Square Garden, Jan. 30, 2016.
"We went to
surprise the team and I gave coach [Thor's] hammer as a gift," Engelthaler
said. "He decided from then on it would go to the player who fought the hardest
it has become a tradition the team honors after every game.
Gadowsky is one of the greatest people I know and has always been great to all
the students," Engelthaler said. "For something I did to make any positive
impact on the program is an honor."