Penn State University's club hockey team will head outdoors to Citizens Bank Park for a meeting with Neumann University, an NCAA Division III team, on Jan. 4, 2012 -- two days after the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers meet there in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
In its last season competing at the club level on its way to becoming an NCAA Division I team in 2012-13, Penn State (13-1-0) is the top-ranked team in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The Nittany Lions will face a Neumann squad (5-3-0) that is ranked No. 15 in the USCHO.com Division III poll.
"As Penn State becomes a Division I hockey school, what better way to make a statement than to compete on the largest stage in the State of Pennsylvania when they face off against Neumann University at Citizens Bank Park,” Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko said. “There are a tremendous number of Penn State alumni living in the greater Philadelphia region who are looking forward to this game. We are thrilled to host this game as part of a week-long celebration of hockey in Philadelphia. It will be great for the City and great for the school. We’re really looking forward to welcoming Penn State Division I hockey to Philadelphia.”
In addition to the Penn State-Neumann matchup, the 43,000-seat stadium will host the Rangers-Flyers contest on Jan. 2, as well as a meeting between the Adirondack Phantoms, the Flyers' AHL affiliate, and the Hershey Bears on Jan. 6 in in the third-ever AHL outdoor game.
In 2012-13, Penn State will play its first varsity season since 1945-46 as an independent before joining the newly-created Big Ten Hockey Conference along with traditional powers Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin, in 2013-14. The fall of 2013 will also mark the opening of Pegula Ice Arena, named after Buffalo Sabres owner and Penn State alumnus Terry Pegula, who donated the funding for its construction.