Penguins-Sabres from Pegula


The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres took to the ice in the second-ever NHL preseason game held at Pegula Ice Arena. (Photo Credit: Austin Ehrensberger)

Drew Cagle, Staff Writer

Last year’s NHL preseason game at Pegula Ice Arena between the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild had a flair for the dramatic. This year’s game between the Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins was no different. Buffalo took the narrow victory by a score of 4-3 in overtime.


Local ice hockey fans were very excited for this game, as pro hockey doesn’t come by State College very often. Mike Cross, an Assistant Athletic Director at Penn State, and one of the people who helped organize the game, said about how these game came to be: “Those discussions started in conversations with Terry Pegula back when he was coming through on a visit and couple years ago. We were floating the idea out there and eventually got in conversation with some of the Sabres upper management and came to an agreement to do the Sabres-Minnesota. Because the first event went so well, it gave us an opportunity to do it again.”


Cross also commented on what the local hockey fans could take away from the experience: “I think it’s an opportunity for local hockey fans to see hockey at the highest level. The NHL, obviously those players are among the most talented in the world. And it gives them an opportunity to experience up close and personal some of those skills.”


With so many fans having a great time at this year’s event, there would certainly be fans looking for more of these games. Cross also said: “It’s certainly possible…. [It’s] hard to know at this point, but we’re certainly willing to have the conversation and the Sabres will certainly be the place where we have that conversation first before we start talking with anyone else.”


In this year’s game, the Sabres got the game-winning goal from center Jack Eichel, who scored on Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith just 25 seconds into overtime.


Pittsburgh got goals from Zach Aston-Reese, Jay McClement, and Olli Maatta. Aston-Reese scored at 8:12 in the first period, and McClement scored on the powerplay at 2:34 in the third. Maatta’s goal came at 8:12 in the third period while on the powerplay. Maatta will definitely be on the Penguins’ roster come opening night, but the goals from Aston-Reese and McClement could help their bid to make the Penguins roster this year.


The Sabres received scores from Jason Pominville, and Matt Tennyson, before Eichel won Buffalo the game. Pominville scored at 12:41 in the first to open up the scoring, and then knocked another puck past starter Antti Niemi at 10:38 in the second. Tennyson scored at 17:15 in the 3rd against DeSmith before Eichel scored for the final margin.


After seeing these exciting preseason games here in State College, local hockey fans will be thrilled if the NHL comes by Pegula Ice Arena again.