It's a very exciting time to be a hockey fan in Happy Valley.

The Penn State men's and women's ice hockey programs are in their inaugural NCAA Division I seasons and are building towards a promising future.

The men's ice hockey team is currently playing as an independent, but will join the Big Ten for hockey next season where they will regularly face powerhouse programs such as Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The women's team is currently playing in the College Hockey America conference with programs such as Syracuse and Robert Morris.

However, the crown jewel of the Penn State hockey transformation will be the $88 million dollar Pegula Ice Arena, which is being built across the street from the Bryce Jordan Center at the corner of University Drive and Curtin Road. The arena is named after Terry and Kim Pegula, as they financed the entire stadium project with an extremely generous donation to the University.

The arena, which is scheduled to open on September 5, 2013, is expected to seat 6,000 and will have suites and club boxes. It will also have a community ice rink that will be open to the public 360 days a year.

About eight months into the project, construction progress is going well as the building appears to be ahead of schedule. All of the steel is in place and the construction crew is currently working on closing the building exterior while continuing to work on interior projects. The hope is to have the arena completely enclosed by early 2013.

The bricklaying on the community rink has started and will continue for awhile. Still to come are seats, walls and other items.

The concrete base of the lower seating bowl has been filled, and one of the most notable areas is the steep incline of the section where Penn State students will sit. The goal is to provide a successful home ice advantage and make things challenging for the opposing team by putting the boisterous students directly behind the opposing team's net for two periods a game.

In addition to being the home of Penn State hockey, the Pegula Ice Arena will be able to bring American Hockey League and National Hockey League games to State College.

To view the construction of the arena via webcam click here.

There is still plenty of great Penn State hockey to be played this year as both teams are about halfway done their schedules.

In January, the men's team will play two games that won't count in the standings, but are sure to give fans their money's worth.

On Jan. 11-12, the Nittany Lions will play two exhibition games against the Team USA Under-18 National Team at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. It will be a great opportunity to see some of the best young talent in the nation, and it will be a good test for the Lions.

For directions to the Greenberg Ice Pavilion, click here.

View the men's hockey schedule here and the women's hockey schedule here.

Don't miss out on this wonderful time for Penn State hockey. Plan your trip to Happy Valley to see a game today.

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