Thursday, December 29, 2011

Union's Station

While it's not signed and official just yet, Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette is reporting that a series between Penn State and Union is in the works for November 23 and 24 next season. The games are to be played at Messa Rink, the home ice of the Dutchmen.

Without a doubt, Union is a program in ascendancy. The former NCAA Division III school joined Division I in 1991 and spent more than 15 seasons toiling below or near .500. Former coach Nate Leaman's program turned the corner with a 21-12-6 mark in 2009-2010 and took another step last season by winning the ECAC regular season title and qualifying for its first NCAA Division I tournament. The Dutchmen lost in the opening round to eventual champion Minnesota-Duluth but still, point made. Leaman parlayed that success into a job at Providence in the offseason, but the team hasn't missed a beat this year under former assistant Rick Bennett at 9-3-5 so far and No. 10 in the polls. Also, a small senior class of four means that a large percentage of this year's team will face PSU in November (although one of the four is leading scorer Kelly Zajac, brother of New Jersey Devil Travis).

Of course, Guy Gadowsky and his staff already know Union rather well from their time at Princeton, one of UC's conference rivals.

Once the weekend set with Union becomes official, it will join an October 20th game against RIT at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena and an October 30th game at DIII Fredonia State on PSU's rapidly-filling fall schedule. Additionally, two games each at Michigan State and Wisconsin, four games against the U.S. National Team Development Program, and two games at the Robert Morris Hockey Showcase over the holidays (possibly including two of RMU, Miami and Ohio State) have been confirmed, but without firm dates.


  1. I like what games have been confirmed for Penn State's first year as a DI hockey program. I am from Western New York, so I am familiar with RIT hockey (I will be making the drive to the Blue Cross Arena next season) and I am an alumnus of Cornell, so I am very familiar with the universities that play in the ECAC. Union has been a challenging team even for perennial ECAC-Championship-contender Cornell. Union appears more vulnerable and beatable than it was under Leaman (I think that the position at tenth in the nation is somewhat soft), but it will be a good test for a nascent Penn State program. I hope that Penn State-ECAC games become even more common. I would love to see a Cornell series at Lynah next season and then at Pegula Ice Arena the following year. Lynah (and Yost) are the best college hockey has to offer with hostile fans. Supposedly, Cornell admins are discussing making the biannual event at Madison Square Garden played against traditional rival BU an annual event wherein even years Cornell would play a non-BU opponent,and odd years Cornell would play BU. A larger portion of the Cornell fanbase would like it to alternate between B1G hockey opponent and BU. The rumor that Cornell and Michigan have agreed to play at MSG on November 24, 2012 seems to indicate that a BU-B1G alternation might develop. A Cornell-Penn State series would be great, but a Cornell-Penn State game at Madison Square Garden would be a great event with two loyal fanbases (that happen to be my alma maters, a great plus) making the environment amazing. I was very excited last year when JoeBa announced that Penn State was discussing playing against Cornell. I hope there may be more affirmative news about that shortly.

  2. Aaron - I'm in love with all of what you propose. I don't have a degree from Cornell, but I was quite obsessed with the school between about 7th and 9th grades, until King Football swept me to Penn State. In my fantasy world where I have unlimited mobility, I'll be going up to Ithaca for a Ph.D. in two years(maybe I'll work it out, who knows). Gorges (haha) campus and town. Count me in for any PSU-Cornell games, whether at Lynah, Pegula or MSG.

    Call me apprehensive, but excited. As someone who used to mumble over the "Dearborn" part of "Michigan-Dearborn" when asked about the weekend's schedule, I still can't believe this is all happening. Given that we'll have somewhere between 10 and 15 non-DI games next year, I think we have a shot at breaking even. Soft 10th or not, hopefully we can at least hang in with a Union or a RIT.