Historic Upsets and Wins: Memorable Moments in Penn State History

Penn State hockey

Penn State University has a rich history when it comes to sports, and hockey is no exception. Over the years, the Penn State Nittany Lions have had their share of ups and downs, but some moments stand out as truly historic and unforgettable. From unexpected upsets to thrilling wins, these moments have solidified Penn State’s place in the world of hockey. In this article, we will delve into some of the most memorable moments in Penn State hockey history, and relive the excitement and triumph of these historic wins.

The Birth of Penn State Hockey

Hockey at Penn State was not always a well-known or established sport. In fact, the Nittany Lions did not have an official team until 1939, when alumni Robert A. Rearick pushed for the creation of a varsity hockey team. The first few years were tough for the team, as they struggled to find their footing and build a competitive program. However, in 1949, the Nittany Lions secured their first significant win, defeating long-time rival Pittsburgh in front of a home crowd of over 2,000 fans. This victory marked the beginning of a new era for Penn State hockey.

Breaking the Eastern Powerhouses

In the 1950s and 1960s, eastern schools such as Boston University, Boston College, and Providence dominated the world of college hockey. These powerhouse teams consistently outmatched the Nittany Lions, making it difficult for them to compete at a national level. However, in 1963, Penn State shocked the hockey world when they defeated Boston University 4-3 in the Beanpot Tournament, an annual event that showcases the top college hockey teams in Boston. This win was a major upset and put Penn State on the map as a formidable opponent.

The Nittany Lions had another stunning upset in 1975 when they defeated the University of Minnesota-Duluth, a top-ranked team at the time. Led by star player Dave Sinclair, Penn State won the game 10-6, marking one of the most significant wins in the school’s history. This victory not only earned Penn State national recognition but also solidified the team’s place in the division I hockey world.

Penn State Joins the Big Ten Conference

For decades, Penn State hockey competed as an independent team, meaning they did not belong to a specific conference. However, that changed in 2012 when Penn State officially joined the prestigious Big Ten Conference. This move was seen as both a challenge and an opportunity for the Nittany Lions, as they would now have to face some of the country’s top hockey programs on a regular basis. This shift marked a new chapter in Penn State’s hockey history, one that would bring both exciting moments and difficult challenges.

In 2017, Penn State made a significant statement when they won their first Big Ten Championship. Despite being the youngest team in the conference, the Nittany Lions defeated favored teams like Wisconsin and Minnesota to secure the title. This win not only showcased the team’s skill and determination, but it also solidified their place as a top contender in the conference.

A Historic NCAA Tournament Run

The 2017-2018 season was a memorable one for Penn State hockey and its fans. The Nittany Lions made history when they earned their first-ever bid to the NCAA tournament. As the 3rd seed in the Midwest Region, Penn State faced off against the 2nd seed Denver in the opening round. In front of a sold-out crowd, the Nittany Lions pulled off another upset, defeating Denver 5-1 and advancing to the regional final.

In the regional final, Penn State faced off against top-seeded Ohio State, marking the first time two Big Ten teams had ever played for a spot in the Frozen Four. Despite a hard-fought battle, Ohio State ultimately came out on top, ending Penn State’s tournament run. While their journey ended in defeat, this historic run was a significant accomplishment for the team and a moment that will be remembered by Penn State fans for years to come.

Looking Towards the Future

Fast-forward to today, and Penn State hockey is more competitive than ever. The Nittany Lions have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten Conference and have consistently produced top-level players who have gone on to play professionally. In addition, the team has a brand new state-of-the-art arena, the Pegula Ice Arena, which has brought even more excitement and energy to Penn State hockey games.

From humble beginnings to historic upsets and wins, Penn State’s hockey journey has been nothing short of remarkable. As the team continues to push forward and compete at the highest level, one thing is for sure: there will be plenty more memorable moments in Penn State hockey history.


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