PITTSBURGH– While most Penn State fans might associate cold and snow at Beaver Stadium with a late November football game, men’s ice hockey coach Guy Gadowsky and football coach Bill O’Brien hope they’ll someday have pucks on their minds, too.
Speaking as part of the Penn State Coaches Caravan event at the Omni William Penn Hotel on Monday, both coaches raved about the prospects of hosting an outdoor hockey game at the home of the Nittany Lions’ football team.
“Personally, I think it’d be really exciting,” Gadowsky said. “We’d have to borrow [O'Brien's] building. That’s probably more up to him.”
Gadowsky looked at O’Brien, who passed the buck himself.
“You’d have to check with [supervisor of outdoor athletic facilities] Herb Combs,” O’Brien said with a chuckle. He then reflected on his visit to Boston’s Fenway Park for the NHL’s 2010 Winter Classic game between the hometown Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers before throwing his weight behind the proposal.
“That’s a great deal. I’ve seen it first hand, that’s pretty neat, so yeah, I’d be all for it.”
Gadowsky said alumni have frequently asked him about the possibility of playing a game outside and he believes there would be a lot of support for such an event on campus.
In January, Gadowsky’s Icers club team lost a 6-3 decision against NCAA Division III Neumann at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies and 2012 Winter Classic, played between the Flyers and New York Rangers on Jan. 2.
The Edmonton, Alberta native said at the time that he loved the event and that it took him back to playing outdoors in his childhood.
Fellow Big Ten foes Michigan and Ohio State have played in front of some big crowds during outdoor events in recent years. The two teams clashed in the elements at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, home of the Indians, on Jan. 15 and drew a crowd of 25,864. And in 2010, the Wolverines hosted Michigan State at Michigan Stadium for a game dubbed “The Big Chill,” which was attended by over 100,000 fans.
To draw those types of numbers, Gadowsky and Co. will have to grow the program, which will play its first season at the NCAA Division-I level beginning this fall. Flanked by successful National Hockey League franchises on both ends of the state, though, the coach likes his chances of building interest to the point that an outdoor game could become a big event at Penn State.
“You’ve got the Flyers. You’ve got the [Pittsburgh] Penguins and we’re right in the middle,” Gadowsky said. “If you go out at night when they’re playing, there’s jerseys, it’s rocking, so I think there’s going to be a lot of passion with that, a lot of support for hockey.”