Pennsylvania doesn’t have the reputation for hockey like, say, Wisconsin or Minnesota, but six-plus years ago when Terry and Kim Pegula made an $88 million donation to Penn State to build an ice rink and start varsity programs, they wanted the state to gain that stature.
Gadowsky thinks that dream is well on its way to reality.
“Everything that Terry Pegula said was going to happen has happened,” Gadowsky said. “This (hockey arena) has been a big catalyst for hockey in this area.”
In just the fifth season of Division I hockey, Penn State is ranked No. 11 in this week’s U.S. College Hockey Online poll and is contending for a spot in the NCAA tournament heading into this weekend’s final home games of the season against Wisconsin. When Gadowsky or any of the Nittany Lions are roaming State College, they frequently hear compliments from fans.
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“It’s nice to know the team hears from the community,” Gadowsky said. “I think they know that we’re contenders to do something special, which is a first.”
But the vision was about more than just one team.
Gadowsky also said he has heard much more from in-state youth coaches than he used to, and he said he didn’t appreciate how big the sport was in Pennsylvania. And while he doesn’t have any say in the matter, he would like to someday see the NHL’s Stadium Series with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers brought to Beaver Stadium.
“I feel like (for) a lot of other Pennsylvanians, that would be a really cool thing,” he said.
The Flyers and Penguins tangled Saturday at Heinz Field.