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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Highlighted by four matchups against future Big Ten opponents Michigan State and Wisconsin and a home weekend series against Air Force, the Penn State men's hockey team's first NCAA Division I schedule has been announced by head coach Guy Gadowsky.
In 2012-13, the Nittany Lions will compete as an independent and play 23 games against NCAA Division I opponents from all five conferences - Atlantic Hockey, CCHA, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East and WCHA - and fellow independent Alabama Huntsville. Penn State will also face off against three NCAA Division III foes, while playing eight exhibition contests.
In all, the Nittany Lions will host 16 games at Greenberg Ice Pavilion, and ticket packages for all home games will go on sale Tuesday, June 12. For more information on purchasing ticket packages and to be put on a waitlist, fans can call 1-800-NITTANY (1-800-648-8269) weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
"This brings us one step closer to dropping the puck on Penn State's first NCAA Division I season," said Gadowsky. "We've been able to schedule some marquee matchups both home and on the road that will help provide a measuring stick for the program moving forward."
The Nittany Lions will also play at least six games against NCAA tournament teams from a year ago. The Air Force Academy, which captured the 2012 Atlantic Hockey regular-season and tournament crowns en route to its second straight NCAA tournament appearance, highlights the home slate and will visit University Park for a two-game series Nov. 9-10.
Two weekends later, Penn State will travel to Schenectady, N.Y., for a pair of matchups against 2012 Frozen Four participant and ECAC Hockey champion Union Nov. 23-24. On Jan. 25-26, the Nittany Lions will make the trip to Michigan State, which appeared in the 2012 NCAA tournament, for a weekend series against the Spartans.
Penn State, which last played a varsity game on March 3, 1947, against Georgetown, will open its first-ever NCAA Division I season on Oct. 12 when it hosts American International. Following Friday night's matchup, the teams will face off on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Casey Plaza, home to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League.
Following Penn State's opening weekend, the team will embark on a season-long five-game road trip. The Nittany Lions will travel to western New York to face NCAA Division III's Buffalo State (Oct. 19) and RIT (Oct. 20), with the latter being played at Blue Cross Arena, home of the AHL's Rochester Americans.
The Nittany Lions will then visit Army (Oct. 26) and Sacred Heart (Oct. 27) before they conclude their road trip against NCAA DIII Fredonia State (Oct. 30).
November will begin with three straight home games, starting with Buffalo State on Nov. 3. Following the Air Force series, Penn State will travel to Union before heading east down Interstate-90 for a two-game series against Holy Cross on Dec. 7-8.
The Nittany Lions will then return home on Dec. 15 for a matchup against Robert Morris before playing in the Pittsburgh College Hockey Invitational Dec. 28-29 with Miami (Ohio), Ohio State and Robert Morris. Opening night pairings for the four-team tournament have not been set.
Penn State will open the New Year in Storrs, Conn., with a pair of matchups against Connecticut (Jan. 4-5) before hosting the U.S. National Under-18 Team Jan. 11-12 and NCAA Division III Neumann on Jan. 15.
The Nittany Lions will then face Hockey East foe Vermont on Jan. 19 at the Wells Fargo Center, home of the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers. Penn State will also host Alabama Huntsville Feb. 8-9 before concluding the season in Madison, Wis., against the Badgers on Feb. 24-25.
The Nittany Lions will also host six exhibition games against American Collegiate Hockey Association club opponents, including Arizona State (Nov. 30, Dec. 1), Ohio (Feb. 1-2) and Oklahoma (Feb. 15-16).
The 2012-13 campaign will mark Penn State's first at the varsity level since 1946-47. Penn State previously sponsored men's hockey as a varsity sport from 1940-47.