"I felt we made a mistake in building a baseball field. I thought that should have been the ice skating rink, because I think hockey in this state right now, not just hockey, but ice skating, if you come up to our office building at 6:00 in the morning, some mornings you can't get a parking spot because parents have taken their kids up here to skate...I think hockey will be a great addition to our intercollegiate program. [The Pegula gift] is a great, great gift. And I think very far-sighted and I'm really pleased with it." - Joe Paterno

Sunday, October 28, 2012

TCN to Broadcast PSU-Vermont

UVM sophomore defenseman Nick Luukko, here working against Maine's Joey Diamond in a game last season, has friends in high places at Comcast.

According to a television schedule given on the website of Lehigh Valley newspaper The Morning Call, January 19th's Penn State-Vermont clash at the Wells Fargo Center, now being called the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff, will air on The Comcast Network.

TCN - formerly known as CN8 and not to be confused with usual Flyers carrier Comcast SportsNet - is broadcast across Comcast cable systems in four states and 20 television markets (as with many things like this, the best bet is to check your local listings for availability). Most of the channel's lineup is aimed at a senior demographic, although it carries its share of sports programming as well, including indoor soccer, minor league baseball, and some collegiate events. TCN also serves as an overflow channel when two of the major Philadelphia teams carried on local channels are playing simultaneously.

As for the game itself, it should be a good one. Vermont, as I've been saying for a while, represents the best chance for the Nittany Lions to take down a major-conference program in this first year. Recruiting losses, coach defections and pro signings all gashed what wasn't a great team to begin with (UVM was 3-23-1 in 2011-2012) during the offseason, and the Catamounts (0-1-2, 0-1-2 HEA) are projected to once again be the dregs of Hockey East. At the very least, they should be a more attainable target than Union, Michigan State or Wisconsin. Penn State, on the other hand, has exceeded most reasonable expectations so far and has started 4-1-0 against NCAA Division I competition. While all five of those games have come against teams in Atlantic Hockey, DI's only mid-major conference, a bad major-conference program hardly seems out of reach for the Nittany Lions at this juncture.

The game's being televised, or even existing in the first place, is only partly due to Penn State. Comcast Spectacor and Flyers president Peter Luukko's son Nick is a sophomore defenseman on the Catamounts and (surprise!) was a sixth-round pick of the Flyers in the 2010 draft. Comcast Spectacor, of course, owns both Philadelphia's NHL team and, more significantly here, the arena they play in.

Other UVM players to watch Brett Bruneteau, a center who transferred from North Dakota and is a Washington draft selection, and brother Nick, a junior defenseman. The Bruneteaus have quite a hockey lineage, perhaps rivaled only on the Penn State side by the Patrick family - Brett and Nick's great uncle was Mud Bruneteau, who scored for the Detroit Red Wings at 16:30 of the sixth overtime period on March 24, 1936 to end the longest game in NHL history. Junior forward Connor Brickley, still another NHL pick (Florida, 2nd round, 2010), is a former National Team Development Program product and competed for Team USA at the 2012 World Junior Championships.

The clash with Vermont is the third PSU game to make it to a traditional television outlet viewable by a large number of Penn State fans. Previously, the January 26th game with Michigan State and the February 25th matchup at Wisconsin were announced for Big Ten Network. Some games, including the October 20th win over RIT and the other games of the MSU and UW series, have been or will be broadcast in areas local to the home teams.

Of course, if TV isn't good enough for you, tickets for the clash go on sale this Friday, through ComcastTIX.

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