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College Hockey:
What They're Saying About Penn State

Penn State has issued a lengthy list of statements from hockey dignitaries regarding its announcement that it is starting varsity programs for men and women in 2012.

Here’s what they’re saying:

Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner:

“The National Hockey League would like to congratulate Penn State University on its entry into NCAA hockey’s Division I. Given the tradition of academic and intercollegiate excellence that long has been synonymous with Penn State, I am sure the Nittany Lions will supply their fellow students and fans with winters full of thrills while providing college hockey’s traditional powers with stiff competition.”

Paul Kelly, executive director of College Hockey Inc.

“The entire hockey world is excited about Penn State’s joining the ranks of Division I college hockey. The addition of a world class academic and athletic institution like Penn State will provide a tremendous boost to NCAA college hockey and to the sport generally, especially in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. We are thrilled at this development.”

Mike Emrick, hockey broadcaster:

“Legendary football coaches have always shared a respect and interest in the game of hockey. Perhaps because of the shared aspects of speed and contact involved … or the curiosity of how hockey players could play at such an intense level MORE than once a week. It was Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne who was there on St. Joseph’s Lake in South Bend to help bandage the cut of a Michigan State player whose leg was sliced by an Irish’ skate blade. Bo Schembechler was a frequent visitor to Michigan’s Yost Arena to watch some of his select players who represented the Wolverines on both the gridiron and on the ice. I can only envision Joe Paterno finding some common ground between his iconic program and its new fledgling cousin in Happy Valley. I congratulate those at Penn State who have taken a leap of faith to bring this great game and all that comes with it to the next level. I look forward to seeing it grow the sport in a state that has quickly become the hockey hotbed of America.”

Barry Melrose, ESPN hockey analyst:

“Pennsylvania is probably the hottest hockey market in the country right now … if you take into account the recent success of the Penguins and Flyers, add on the Hershey Bears and their consecutive Calder Cups, the great fan bases in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Erie … interest in the game is at an all-time high. For Penn State to bring in a Division I program now, and to be able to provide opportunities for the sport to grow even more in Pennsylvania I think is fantastic!”

David Morehouse, Pittsburgh Penguins CEO:

“On behalf of Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins, I want to congratulate Penn State for creating an NCAA Division I hockey program. It’s a great day for hockey any time you can develop more opportunities for young people to play our great game — and I know fans in Happy Valley and across Pennsylvania are going to going to enjoy the speed, excitement and creativity of Division I hockey. With this year’s Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four coming to Pittsburgh, this is another sign of the tremendous growth of hockey in our region and our state.”

Ray Shero, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager:

“Adding another Division I hockey program in our state is a great step for hockey in Pennsylvania, so we salute the Nittany Lions for this achievement. Pennsylvania amateur hockey is producing more and more Division I players and pro prospects, and this will give more of them an opportunity to stay ‘home’ in Pennsylvania, get a great education, and play a high level of hockey.”

Craig Patrick, former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager and national champion at Denver (1968, 1969)

“Penn State’s move to Division I is the most significant event for the sport in years. Adding Penn State’s brand to hockey will make Pennsylvania one of the top hockey states in the country. With seven NHL teams within 225 miles of State College, there is already a strong base of hockey fans on the campus. This is a perfect environment for hockey recruits who will love the location, the academics, and the atmosphere. My sons C.J. and Ryan, and my nephew Curtiss all loved their total college experience as student-athletes in Happy Valley.”

Peter Luukko, president of Philadelphia Flyers parent company Comcast-Spectacor:

“Penn State’s new Division I men’s hockey program further solidifies Pennsylvania’s ever-growing hockey presence. This will have a very positive impact on the continued development of top-notch hockey players in Pennsylvania by providing an additional opportunity to play locally. Earlier this year, the NCAA recognized hockey’s ever-growing popularity and participation in Pennsylvania’s by awarding the NCAA Frozen Four to two Pennsylvania towns in consecutive years — Pittsburgh (2012) and Philadelphia (2013). Additionally, both the Pittsburgh Penguins and our Philadelphia Flyers have appeared in the last three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals. Pennsylvania is definitely one of the top hockey states in the U.S.”

Mike Milbury, former NHL coach and general manager:

“When you have a world-class institution with the prestige and name recognition that Penn State carries, anyone at any level of hockey will be thrilled to hear that they are joining the ranks of Division I. I hope that the hockey program can quickly reach the same level of national success that some of their other sports have achieved both on and off the field.”

Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager and former Providence captain:

“This is wonderful news. Penn State is a great academic institution, with a rich athletic history. Hockey will be a great addition to their athletic department.”

Pierre McGuire, hockey broadcaster and former Hobart player:

“It is always good news for hockey when another opportunity for elite players is developed. The fact that the program is being created at institution with the academic and athletic legacy of Penn State makes it that much more special. This program has the potential to equal and surpass any other college program in the United States. As the late, legendary “Badger” Bob Johnson used to say … ‘It’s a Great Day for Hockey!’ Hats off to Penn State and best of luck to them!”

Mike Eruzione, 1980 U.S. Olympic captain and former Boston university player:

“Any time a university with the name recognition of Penn State decides to make a leap like this, it is tremendous on two fronts. One, for what they stand for and two, it gives kids another opportunity to play at the Division I level. I think it’s great for hockey.”

Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach:

“I’ve always believed that hockey could be a major sport here at Penn State, and I’m glad we’re getting behind it.”

Jim Delany, Big Ten commissioner:

“I’m excited to hear that Penn State will establish NCAA Division I men’s and women’s ice hockey programs beginning with the 2012-13 academic year. Big Ten institutions have always provided broad-based opportunities for student-athletes, and the introduction of ice hockey at Penn State will provide even more opportunities for deserving young men and women to experience intercollegiate athletics. With the addition of Penn State, the Big Ten Conference will have six institutions sponsoring men’s ice hockey programs leading to the presumption that there will be a Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Championship at some point in the future. We plan to have many conversations both internally with our chancellors, presidents, administrators, and coaches, and externally with the hockey community as a whole as we endeavor to balance all of the unique interests in play. Our expectation is that a conference championship would not take place before the 2014-15 academic year and our goal, like others, is to support, promote, and continuously strengthen the sport of hockey both locally and nationally. Whatever we do, we will communicate to all interested parties in a respectful and responsible way. We congratulate Penn State and wish them the best of luck as they embark upon this worthwhile endeavor.”

Red Berenson, Michigan coach:

“Penn State is a major university, so when they make a commitment to play Division I hockey, it will be good for college hockey nationwide. All programs should benefit.”

Ron Mason, former Michigan State coach and athletic director

“I think it’s wonderful that Penn State will have Division I hockey. I’ve long thought that if Penn State ever decided to elevate its program that it would be a school that would challenge for championships. This is a good move for the school and for college hockey.”

Jerry York, Boston College coach:

“I was very happy to learn that Penn State chose to elevate its men’s hockey program to Division I status. Any addition to the college hockey world is a good one and adding a Big Ten school like Penn State is great. The Nittany Lions have a first-class sports program that operates with great integrity.”

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  • Danmanfu

    The big question: Will UND choke? Overly high expectations and an attitude of superiority may be their downfall.

    • Go Irish

      or justified

    • Guest

      Or, there really isn’t that much of a difference between any of the four teams that are in the Frozen Four and UND losing might not be a choke job but instead might be getting outworked and outscored.

    • Nyqi

      How are they acting superior in any way?

    • Michigan Choke….

      Sounds just like a Michigan football game against Ohio State to me. One teams fans do all the talking, and coincidentally all the losing as well…. Does this sound familiar? The only difference is UND isn’t overrated

  • Brandtson42

    I don’t think that UND is really acting all the superior or overconfident in any way and how anyone can say that is absurd. They have dominated the first two games of the tournament and after the game did they over-celebrate?? No, they just went and smacked the goalie’s pads in a sign of respect and went to shake hands with the teams. They are workman-like individuals with a goal and they are taking every game like its their last in which it is. So where is the arrogance?? The Overconfidence?? The only overconfidence is that stupid CCHA writer who said they aren’t scared of UND. So say what you want they are bringing their lunch pails and are going to put in some work tomorrow regardless of the outcome.

  • Austin Linebaugh

    all i have to say is I’m a Michigan fan Go Blue!!!! A red wings fan also all 4 teams r deserving to be in the frozen four and that is that North Dakota has great players senior leadership and good goal tending on the other hand Michigan returned a lot of seniors just for this moment and also have a good goalie who is coming into his own. I give an advantage to UND on paper but Michigan does have the greatest coach of all time cant argue that with me UND fans he will have the Wolverines ready I promise u. Anyone can win the championship even though i think whoever wins the UM UND game will win it all that doesn’t matter their is parody in every level of hockey thats what makes it a great sport, and all i have to say is look what Butler did in basketball that means any team can beat anybody. Good luck to all four teams should be all good games, and Go Blue!!!!

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