By Rodney McKissic
The Canisius men’s hockey program’s hopes of opening the season at Penn State fell through on Tuesday when Army confirmed its game against the Nittany Lions will be played as scheduled.
The federal government shutdown placed Friday night’s game between Army and Penn State in doubt and the Nittany Lions – who were hosting their first game in the $102 million Pegula Ice Arena – sought out Canisius as a possible replacement, according to Canisius.
It seemed like a natural fit as Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula has ties to both schools. Pegula also funded the HarborCenter, currently being constructed across the street from First Niagara Center, which will be the official home for the Golden Griffins beginning in Sept. 2014.
Nittany Lions officials contacted Canisius late last week to see if there was interest in being the first opponent in the new facility, and the Golden Griffins were granted a special waiver by the NCAA Tuesday morning that would allow the program to add a 35th game to their schedule. NCAA rules limit hockey programs to 34 regular season games.
But Canisius learned Tuesday afternoon that Army will be able to play in the game, according to Canisius athletic department spokesman Matt Reinhour. Canisius opens its season Saturday against at Dwyer Arena against rival Niagara University.