The Greenberg Ice Pavilion has been the home of the Penn State hockey program for more than 32 years. This past weekend the facility hosted its final games as the men’s hockey team (12-13-0) swept a pair from ACHA opponent Oklahoma (21-12-2-3).
Guy Gadowsky and the Nittany Lions played their final games in Greenberg during the weekend.
The Berg, as it’s affectionately called by many, first opened in January 1981. The arena has hosted and seen some of Penn State hockey’s signature moments, including its seven ACHA national championship teams and the program’s long awaited transition from the club level to NCAA Division I.
“Seeing all the history that’s come through here, how long they’ve been playing in this arena, it’s pretty cool,” said Penn State forward Kenny Brooks of playing in Greenberg’s final game.
On Friday night, in accordance with a season-long theme, the Nittany Lions fell behind again but were able to score four unanswered goals to defeat Oklahoma 4-1. Late in the opening period, Oklahoma defenseman Augie Hoffmann fed Jordan Greenberg in the slot with a perfectly placed cross-ice pass that Greenberg tapped in to put the Sooners up 1-0.
Oklahoma held the lead more than halfway into the second when senior forward Michael Longo, playing in his final home games as a Nittany Lion, netted a wrister from straight on to tie things up 1-1.
From then on, Penn State began to pour it on. With 3:22 remaining in the second, Mark Yanis took a Justin Kirchhevel pass from the corner and ripped one top shelf to put Penn State up 2-1.
The Nittany Lions then added two more goals in the third. Only 36 seconds into the frame, Brooks took a Curtis Loik pass and scored from point-blank range to extend Penn State’s lead to 3-1. Then to cap it off, at the 5:32 mark of the period and while on the power play, Taylor Holstrom ricocheted a wrist shot off of the crossbar and in to make it 4-1.
On Saturday, in the final varsity game ever to be played at Greenberg, the Nittany Lions sent the arena out in style with a 3-0 victory.
The game entered the third period still knotted at zero, when a series of penalties, including a five-minute major and an ejection of Oklahoma forward Chad Liley, sparked a Penn State scoring barrage.
Loik struck first for the Nittany Lions, when with 16:36 left in the game, he snuck a shot from distance past a screened Oklahoma goaltender, to put Penn State up 1-0.
After the Liley penalty at the 10:59 mark of the frame, the tide swung favorably in Penn State’s direction. In a matter of 14 seconds, Brooks and Longo each scored their second goals of the weekend to seal a 3-0 Nittany Lion win and mark the end of an era.
Greenberg has taken a lot of heat from players and coaches throughout the season mostly in regard to its outdated nature. The low glass has been the consistent complaint of Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky all year. It’s lack of height has caused an abnormally high number of pucks to go out of play, resulting in games with too many whistles, at times near 100, and no flow.
Last weekend, the lack of technology prevented a video review aiding Penn State and causing Alabama-Huntsville coach Kurt Kleinendorst to sarcastically say the old building has a lot of “character.”
It’s only fitting that in Greenberg’s final game, the place began falling apart. On Saturday, with 4:08 left in the first, a panel of glass by the scorer’s table was shattered, stopping play and causing the first intermission to come early.
However, as much frustration as Greenberg may cause, the Penn State hockey program has had tons of memories in the facility and its closing is bittersweet.
“I’m going to miss this arena,” said Gadowsky. “I have kids that play in this arena and love this arena.”
Next season the Penn State Hockey program will move over to the Pegula Ice Arena, the product of an $88 million donation by Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula. Currently under construction, the arena is planned to have features that many are saying will make it the premier facility in college hockey. The opening of the arena was announced this past week and Penn State will host Army on Friday Oct. 11, as the Nittany Lions begin their second NCAA Division I campaign.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about Pegula Ice Arena,” said Gadowsky. “The community is going to love this rink, and our student athletes, it’s going to be so important for them and developing them to be the best hockey players they can be, and the best students they can be. ... It’s just going to be so nice. I could not be more excited to get into Pegula Ice Arena.”