Penn State hockey set to start inagural season tonight

Rob Carr - Getty Images

Penn State has not had a varsity hockey team since 1947.

Penn State will play its first NCAA Division I hockey game on Friday night against American International.

Ice hockey has been a club sport at Penn State since 1971. The Nittany Lions were one of the nation's top teams at that level, but the history of hockey at Penn State actually dates back to 1940, when the first varsity team was formed. That team was disbanded in 1947 though.

The move to Division I was sparked by an enormous donation by Terry Pegula back in 2010. That money is being used to finance a new arena, which will be home to the men's and women's hockey teams beginning next season. For this season, they will compete in the Greenberg Ice Pavilion.

In addition, next year will mark the re-introduction of Big Ten hockey, which has not existed since 1981. This year, the Nittany Lions will compete in Division I as an independent school.

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