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DCT: Penn State/Neumann University hockey game not yet official

Submitted by on July 14, 2011No Comment

Outdoor hockey fever is sweeping Penn State.

That is, if the game is actually scheduled to takes place.

The Delaware County Times is reporting that Dominick Dawes, head coach of Division 3 team Neumann University, has confirmed that Penn State and Neumann University are currently working on plans for an outdoor game at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park that would be scheduled for January 4th, 2012.

When word that the Nittany Lions would be playing hockey in South Philadelphia first broke yesterday, Penn State fans were sent into a frenzy. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for Penn State fans in the Philadelphia area with the game scheduled to take place just 2 days after the hometown Flyers and Rangers square off on the same rink for the Winter Classic.

But as details surrounding the game continue to surface, it is starting to look as if the news and excitement over the potential outdoor game may have been a tad premature.

Although the deal is described by Neumann University men’s hockey coach Dominick Dawes as “definitely not a slam dunk,” there is a plan for Neumann, that once-small Catholic school in Aston that is growing its programs at hyperspeed, to host Penn State in a Jan. 4 ballpark non-brawl on ice.

In fact, the idea of the outdoor game itself might just still be in the preliminary stages,

Dawes said the original agreement was for Penn State to play the Knights Nov. 4, but that changed with the developments of the Winter Classic, which at last word was still being bartered by the money people representing the Phillies and the NHL.

Presuming the league finally reaches an agreeable leasing deal for CBP, the Flyers and Rangers would meet Jan. 2, then other community youth activities are scheduled to be held and the game between Neumann and Penn State would follow on the 4th.

But that didn’t stop the rumor from breaking on Twitter yesterday, which led to the subsequent blog posts/links announcing a Penn State outdoor game even though the Winter Classic itself, which would set the stage, the infrastructure, and the promotional blitz for any possible Penn State/Neumann game is still not finalized yet. In fact, the 2012 Winter Classic hasn’t been confirmed by the NHL or the teams expected to take part, but that’s not stopping Penn State and Neumann University Knights from announcing that they’ll be a part. From the Icers’ homepage,

Two days after the Flyers and Rangers take part in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizen’s Bank Park, the Penn State Icers will get their chance at playing on the same, grand stage.

The Icers will face NCAA Division 3 Neumann University on Wednesday, January 4th at 7 PM.

The announcement has since been deleted from various blogs, and the Icers website. But let’s hope this is just temporary and the idea actually comes to fruition.

The exposure that an outdoor hockey game will bring to the Penn State hockey program cannot be understated. An attention grabbing gimmick like this outdoor game just days following the Winter Classic is just what a program on the brink of rising to the Division I ranks like Penn State needs to make a splash on the hockey scene. Even the opponent will be a significant step up from the usual ACHA club-level opponents. What better way to attract the attention of scholarship athletes during the midst of our final ACHA season than scheduling the 2009 Division III national champions in an outdoor venue. A true coming out party for the soon-to-be newest member of the Division I hockey fraternity.

Should the ink finally dry on plans for the game to take place, the Icers and Knights will join an increasing number college teams being packaged around the Winter Classic. Last year, Atlantic Hockey foes Robert Morris and Rochester Institute of Technology faced off inside the CONSOL Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the lead-up to the Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals at Heinz Field.

Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies is set to play host to the 2012 Winter Classic

Hockey East rivals Boston University and Boston College both took advantage of a similar opportunity in 2010 when a sold out Fenway Park watched as Boston University beat Boston College 3-2 under the lights in the Frozen Fenway a week following the Winter Classic featuring the Flyers and the Bruins at Fenway Park. The Frozen Fenway turned out to be a PR bonanza for everyone involved; BU, BC and Hockey East. Tickets sold out in less than a week and the game was broadcasted by NESN, with the NHL Network picking up the NESN feed. With Sun Life Financial’s title sponsorship, the game even generated a profit which was divided up among all Hockey East programs. Just imagine the recruiting and financial advantages that Penn State, still a year removed from making the Division I jump, could gain from an attention-grabbing event like the Frozen Fenway.

And for the Penn State athletic program trying to convince fans to purchase tickets and season packages for Penn State’s inaugural season as a Division I program, the possible timing of an Icers game packaged around the Winter Classic couldn’t be more ideal.

Let’s just hope an official announcement will be made soon and who knows, if the game is a resounding success the possibility of a Penn State hockey game or a Winter Classic in Beaver Stadium might not be too far behind.

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