UNIVERSITY PARK — The student section for Penn State’s first Division I hockey game didn’t need to stand for the national anthem — they were already on their feet.
The sold out game at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion was standing room only with some people being turned away at the door. The crowd was loud until the end with Penn State ultimately losing the game 3-2 to American International College.
“It started off loud and they kept it there,” freshman Brett Dusch said of the student section.
Dusch said Penn State hockey is on the rise with the combination of the Division I classification and new Pegula Ice Arena opening next fall.
He said the Pennsylvania hockey fan bases in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will combine to make Happy Valley a hockey town.
James Wahl, a Penn State junior, said he isn’t a big hockey fan, but was impressed with the atmosphere and enthusiasm of the crowd.
He couldn’t compare the fans to that of a football game because the numbers are much higher in Beaver Stadium, but there were some reminders of other sporting events, such as the “We are” chants and the Nittany Lion sliding out onto the ice before the game without skates. The Penn State staple Zombie Nation was also blasted over the speakers after both Nittany Lion goals.
“It may not be as many people, but the intensity is there,” he said.
Dusch also said this was a great way to get his “hockey fix” with the National Hockey League currently in a lockout.
Despite the loss, Dusch thinks the Nittany Lions will be a strong team in the next few years with the new arena drawing recruits to the school.
“It’s just a perfect fit for Penn State,” he said.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.