On Sept. 17, 2010, Terry Pegula helped make college hockey history. The Buffalo Sabres’ owner joined a press conference at his alma mater to announce his $88 million donation to Penn State, building the school a new ice arena and creating the 59th Division I men's ice hockey program.
From there, the figurative ball began to roll and the buzz began to grow.
On April 24, 2011, the school named Guy Gadowsky, who coached Princeton to two NCAA tournament appearances, the team's first coach. He wasted no time in getting his first Nittany Lions team together, getting to pick from one of the nation's top club teams on his own campus.
The Penn State men's hockey team opened its inaugural D-I season Friday with a 3-2 overtime loss to American International. The teams squared off again Saturday in Wilkes-Barre, where PSU earned a 4-3 overtime win -- its first of the season. (Photo: Penn State Athletic Communications)
In early September, Gadowsky named his first recruiting class, five sophomore transfers who will be the de facto team leaders for the new coach.
Former Mercyhurt forward Taylor Holstrom was the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year in 2011, and fellow ex-Laker Nate Jensen's father, David, played for the U.S. Olympic team in 1984 before playing with the Minnesota North Stars.
"It's huge for us to have those five individuals with Division I experience," Gadowsky said. "[Holstrom], along with the other four guys, are going to be extremely important in helping our program make the transition from club hockey to Division I."
In their final season as a club team, Kirchhevel (57 points) and Holstrom (40 points) ranked among the national scoring leaders as Penn State went 30-3-0 en route to a top seed in the postseason tournament before losing in the semifinals.
Their success left a big impression on the coach.