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Rules of the Game

Ice hockey is a winter indoor team sport, played on a rectangular sheet of ice with rounded corners.  Most rinks in North America, including Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena, are 200 ft. long by 85 ft. wide, with a 3 ½ to 4 ft. wall (boards) surrounding the ice surface (international and Olympic rinks are 100 feet wide).  A red line divides the rink in half, and two blue lines separate the rink into 3 zones.  The area between the blue lines is the neutral zone, the 2 remaining zones are referred to in terms relative to each team, so that one team’s offensive (or attacking zone) is the other’s defensive zone.  The object of the game is to score a goal by forcing the “puck” (a disk of frozen, vulcanized rubber) completely across the goal line that the opposing goalie protects. Goals are usually the result of a skater shooting the puck with his stick, but often the puck will carom off of the stick or body of another player (on either team) before crossing the goal line (deliberately kicking or hitting the puck into the goal does NOT count as a goal).

Each team may place 6 players on the ice, usually 5 “skaters” plus a goalie.  When a player commits a penalty, he is removed from the ice for 2 minutes (minor penalty), or, in more serious situations, 5 minutes (major penalty) and sits in the “penalty box” (sometimes players from both teams are penalized concurrently).  When a player is penalized his team must play “short-handed” for the duration of a 2-minute penalty or until the opposing team scores.  When a 5-minute penalty is enforced, the short-handed team remains so for the duration of the penalty, regardless of how many goals are scored by the opposition.  For ten minute penalties and longer (misconduct/game misconduct), teams do not skate shorthanded unless there is a 2-minute or 5-minute penalty associated with the misconduct.  Fighting is not allowed in college hockey; players penalized for fighting must miss the next game that the team plays.

When a team is trailing late in the game, it often removes its goalkeeper and puts an extra skater on the ice.

Games consist of three 20-minute periods.  If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, a 5-minute overtime period is played with each team at full strength (unless one or more penalties are in effect); the team that scores first wins. If the overtime period is scoreless, the game ends in a tie.  Under conference rules or the mutual consent of both teams, overtime periods may be played with only 4 skaters per team, and if the overtime period is scoreless, a shootout may take place.  In post-season tournaments, all overtime periods are 20-minutes long, and play continues until the first team scores.

The same rules apply to both the men’s and women’s game, with the exception of checking (that is, making an intentional effort to run into an opposing player to dislodge or gain control of the puck from that player); in the women’s game, checking is not permitted.

Penn State Men’s Ice Hockey History

Penn State first fielded a student-organized hockey team in 1909.  By the 1938 season, the University had allocated money to support a club team, and in 1940 the team was granted varsity status; play continued through the 1942-43 season.  After a 2 year hiatus due to WWII, the team resumed play for the 1945-46 season under the leadership of assistant football coach Jim O’Hora.  After that season, Penn State did not field an ice hockey team.

After a 25 year absence, Penn State again fielded a men’s club hockey team for the 1971-1972 season.  Later in the decade, the team joined the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Conference MACHC), winning league and/or playoff championships in 1976, 1977, and 1979.  In 1978, Holuba Hall replaced the then current ice rink, and the team was force to outdoors, or in rinks in Mechanicsburg and Johnstown.  The team left the MACHC in 1980, becoming an independent.  On January 16, 1981, the team played its first game in the new Greenberg Ice Pavilion (vs. Upsala College), and was a national semi-finalist in 1982 and 1983, before defeating Arizona for the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) national championship in 1984 under John Shellington.

Joe Battista (“JoeBa”) succeeded Shellington for the 1987-88 season, and coached for 19 seasons, compiling a tremendous record of 512-120-27.  His teams, the “Icers,” won 6 ACHA championships, including 4 in a row from 2000-2003 (Penn State also won the championship in 1998, then lost in the 1999 championship game to Iowa State, which then vacated the title for using ineligible players – preventing the Nittany Lions from having 6 consecutive national championships).  Most impressively, the Icers played in 10 national championship games from 1998-2007 (the last under Coach Scott Balboni).  Battista was a founder of the ACHA in, and was named Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2002.  He is also a member of the ACHA Hall of Fame, along with Icers Josh Brandwene (the current Penn State women’s varsity coach) and Alon Eizenman.

The Icers’ all-time leading goal scorer is Kevin Jaeger (134, 2001-5); Ross Cowan holds the single season record (44, 1992-3).  Goalies John Sixt (1995-99) and John Gray (1989-93) share the career record for wins as a goalie (65), and Gray holds the single season record (28, 1992-3).

The greatest moment in Icers history was the “Magic City Miracle,” the 2000 ACHA National Championship Tournament held in Minot, North Dakota.  The Icers won their final 3 games in overtime, after trailing with little time left in each game.  In the quarter-final game, against Tournament host Minot State, the Icers trailed by 2 goals with under 4 minutes to play, but scored twice within a minute to tie the game; Todd Dakan scored the game-tying and winning goals.  In the semis, the Icers trailed with under 2 minutes remaining when Alon Eizenman tied it up, and Ryan Wick scored the winning OT goal.  In the championship game, Dakan scored another game-tying goal (with under a minute remaining) and Eizenman scored the game winner in the 1st overtime.

On Sept. 17, 2010, Terry and Kim Pegula announced a gift of $88 million dollars (the largest single gift ever made to Penn State) to build a new hockey arena and support both a men’s and a women’s NCAA Division I hockey team.  Guy Gadowski, a successful collegiate coach at Alaska (Fairbanks) and then Princeton, was named head coach for the 2011-12 season, the last for the Icers as a club team.

Penn State played its first varsity game (as an independent) on October 12, 2012, at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion, losing to American International 3-2 in overtime; Casey Bailey scored the first varsity goal.  The next night, in Scranton, the Nittany Lions won their first varsity game, defeating American International 4-3 in overtime.  As the season progressed, the Lions won impressive road games against Rochester Institute of Technology, Army, Michigan State, and Wisconsin, and also defeated Ohio State in Pittsburgh and Vermont in Philadelphia.  Penn State split weekend series with Michigan State and Wisconsin on the road, and with Air Force at home.  The team played the last official game at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion on February 15, 2013, defeating Oklahoma (of the ACHA) 3-0.   Their final record was 13-14, and 3-2 vs. Big 10 teams. 

For the 2013-14 season, Penn State was a charter member of the new Big 10 Hockey Conference, along with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.  The season began in the new Pegula Ice Arena with a 4-1 victory over Army; Nate Jensen scored the first goal in the new venue.  Although the Nittany Lions finished the season with an 8-26-2 record (4-17-1 in the Big 10), that record is deceiving.  Penn State had the 2nd  most difficult schedule in the country, facing 5 of the nation’s top 10 teams a total of 15 times (and 3 of the “Frozen Four” participants 8 times).  Although they lost all of those games, 8 were decided by 1 goal.  The Nittany Lions stunned the hockey world by defeating Michigan in double overtime in the opening Big 10 Championship Tournament game before falling to Wisconsin 2-1 in the semi-final match. In January, Penn State’s David Glen voluntarily missed 3 games in order to undergo a procedure for donating potentially life-saving bone marrow to an unidentified recipient.

The 2014-15 season was even more exciting.  Penn State finished with a 18-15-4 record (9-9-2 in Conference), more than doubling its win totals from the previous year. The team was eliminated by Ohio State in the opening round of the Big 10 Tournament. The team led the nation in shots per game (39.2). In only 2 seasons of Conference play, The Nittany Lions defeated every Big 10 team at least once.  Guy Gadowsky was named the Big 10 Coach of the Year (the 3rd school at which he has received such an honor), Casey Bailey was named to the All-Big 10 1st Team, and Bailey and Taylor Holmstrom were the school’s first candidates for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in the nation.  P. J. Musico became the first goalie and first Big 10 player to win the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award.  After the season, Casey Bailey signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs and became the first Penn Stater to play in, and score a goal in, a National Hockey League game.

In 2016, David Glen won the Senior CLASS Award signifying the nation’s outstanding senior student-athlete in men’s Division I hockey.  

The 2016-17 season was a magical one.  Penn State earned its first-ever top ten ranking, and advanced all the way to #1 in early January.  As a 4th seed in the Big Ten Tournament, the Nittany Lions opened things up by defeating Michigan 4-1.  The next night, versus regular-season champion Minnesota, Erik Autio fired in the game-winner with 6:27 remaining in the 2nd overtime for a 4-3 victory.  There was more overtime magic the following night against Wisconsin in the Tournament finals.  With an automatic NCAA Tournament bid on the line, freshman Liam Folkes scored both of Penn State’s goals, the game-winner coming again in the 2nd overtime, this time with 13:27 remaining.

The Lions did not rest on their laurels.  In their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, they dismantled a highly-respected Utica team by a score of 10-3, the most goals ever scored in the Program’s 5 year history.  The next night, the magic ended, as eventual National Champion Denver beat the Lions 6-3 in the Tournament quarter-finals, but not without a fight.  Penn State ended the season with an amazing top-ten ranking of 8th in the country.  Sophomore defenseman Vince Pedrie was named to the All-Big Ten 1st Team.


 The 2017-2018 season included more fireworks and drama, including 13 games against eventual “Frozen Four” participants.  Andrew Sturtz became the all-time PSU goal-scorer (54), the most of dramatic being a score at Ohio State with 0.7 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 5 (the Nittany Lions eventually won in a shoot-out).  Penn State fared very well against Ohio State (which eventually made it to the “Frozen Four”), sweeping both games in Columbus and splitting 2 at Pegula.  They did even better versus traditional national power Minnesota.  Early in the season, the Lions split with the Gophers in Minneapolis, but then came the final weekend of the season.  The Lions needed to sweep Minnesota to gain home-ice advantage in the Big 10 Tournament, and they did, playing their best hockey of the year.  The next weekend, also at home, Penn State again swept Minnesota in 2 games in the opening round of the Conference Tournament, before losing in the semi-finals at (eventual national runner-up) Notre Dame on a goal with 31 seconds left.  The late season heroics were enough to garner a 2nd consecutive invitation to the NCAA Tournament where they faced defending National Champion Denver in Allentown.  Just as they did last year, the Pioneers eliminated the Nittany Lions, this time with a convincing 5-1 victory.  Penn State ended the season ranked 13th nationally.


Among the individual accomplishments of the season were Guy Gadowsky’s 100th victory as head coach at Penn State and Trevor Hamilton’s defensive exploits.  Hamilton was a 1st Team All-Big Ten selection, and was voted the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year, the first Penn State player to win a major Conference award.  Hamilton led all Big Ten defensemen in scoring (29 points) and for the 2nd consecutive season led the nation in blocked shots (104).


Big Ten Tournament Champion

NCAA Tournament Appearances

Final Top 10 National Rankings
2017 (8)


Guy Gadowsky (2012-present) 103-91-17

2015 Big 10 Coach of the Year


Casey Bailey 2012/3-2014/5

1st Team All-Big 10
First Penn Stater to play in NHL (Toronto)
First Penn Stater to score an NHL goal


1st Team All-Big 10 – Casey Bailey (2015), Vince Pedrie (2017), Trevor Hamilton (2018)

  • Big Ten Defensemen of the Year - Trevor Hamilton (2018)

Senior CLASS Award – David Glen (2016)

Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award – P.J. Musico (2015)

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