The road to the Stanley Cup just might pass through State College this season.
The two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins will play their first preseason game Tuesday night at Pegula Ice Arena, meeting the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m.
With tickets for the game long ago snapped up, “Hockey Valley” figures to provide a good warm-up for the season for the NHL teams.
The Sabres, who opened their preseason schedule Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, are returning to Pegula Ice Arena. They lost 2-1 to the Minnesota Wild last year in the first pro game hosted by the 5-year-old arena. The Sabres are owned by Terry and Kim Pegula, whose $102 million donations helped build the campus arena and elevate the Nittany Lion men’s and women’s programs to varsity status.
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Unfortunately, the Penguins announced Monday some of its top stars — Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Matt Murray — will not be on the ice. Bryan Rust and Olli Maatta, however, are in the lineup posted by the team. Pittsburgh beat the Nashville Predators in six games to take the Stanley Cup last season, the team’s fifth championship.
Buffalo has not posted its lineup for Tuesday, but its top player, center Jack Eichel, was not in the lineup Monday night against the Hurricanes.
The Penn State men’s team will not be taking up residence in Pegula Ice Arena until it plays an exhibition game Oct. 1 against Canadian college program Ottawa, but will have rooting interests for both teams. Nikita Pavlychev is a Penguins draft pick, and Brett Murray was a Sabres selection. Both are sophomore forwards.