We knew it wouldn’t take long for the Penn State program to take shape, and we’re starting to see a little bit of that emerge, on multiple levels.

This week, we learned the names of two Nittany Lions recruits thanks to recruiting guru Chris Heisenberg: forward Jake Friedman of the Eastern Junior Hockey League’s South Shore Kings and goaltender Tim Carr of the EJHL’s New Hampshire Junior Monarchs.

We also heard definitive word, through the Wisconsin State Journal’s Andy Baggot, that Penn State has received permission to interview Wisconsin women’s coach Mark Johnson for its men’s head coach opening.

My thoughts: We will hear more names connected to Penn State, so let’s not jump to conclusions. That being said, Johnson would be a great person for the job, and I figured his name would be connected to the opening in some fashion. I think it will take a lot to get Johnson out of Madison (and I’m not talking about money), but the lure of being able to do for Penn State what his father, Bob, did for Wisconsin could be appealing.

Meanwhile, I had a chance to meet Joe Battista, Penn State’s associate athletic director for ice arena and hockey operations, a few weeks ago when he was checking out a Minnesota-Wisconsin game in Madison as part of his tour of facilities. He was carrying with him designs for the Pegula Ice Arena — named for the program’s lead donor — and it looks like it will be an impressive building along the lines of many newer college hockey arenas. A single tier for student seating behind the goal the opponents defend for two periods could be imposing if it turns out like the pictures depict.

So what does this all mean for the future of college hockey? I get the sense that we’re going to start to get those answers soon. People who will be impacted by the development of a Big Ten hockey league are starting to get a little antsy for definitive words on when that entity will come about.

Here are my impressions from talking to people involved in the process: The Big Ten will sponsor hockey (like it or not), and if I was forced to predict the season that it starts, I would say 2013-14. Not everyone is convinced of that, or whether it would be good for Penn State to be playing Big Ten hockey in its second season as a program, but I think that’s where things are trending.

The Pegula Ice Arena should be ready for play in September 2013, a year earlier than projected last September, when Penn State confirmed its plans to form varsity programs. At that time, the school said it would be joining a conference in the 2014-15 season, but that timeline seems to have accelerated along with the facility’s.

What does it mean for the rest of college hockey? That, my friends, is the ultimate “stay tuned” question.

  • Hockeys4realmen

    If Wisconsin and Minnesota think making and moving to a Big 10 conference is going to help them recruit, they’re nuts. In the Midwest we play hockey the way it was meant to be. The way real hockey players play. The Canadian way!!! Hard hitting, fast moving hockey. Not that “basketball mom” hockey played out east where if you check a guy the mom’s start crying and the refs need oxygen between periods from blowing their whistle every time one of the mommy boys gets checked. :)

    • Brecky

      You sound jealous. :) Dissing eastern hockey makes no sense. The last three champs are from Boston, and the last midwestern team to win (Mich. St.) was lucky to beat Boston College. Matter of fact, starting in ’97, a Hockey East team has been in every championship game except 2005 (DU beat N.Dak).

    • Rangerfan2487

      Really bro ?sounds like an eastern team destroyed one of your little teams as a child both physically and on the scoreboard…no need to diss eastern hockey when its just as good if not better than midwest..

  • bklein09

    Yay BT Hockey! As a Michigan fan I’m really excited and I think the other leagues (WCHA, CCHA) will be just fine. The WCHA is ultra deep and has a number of great teams and tradition. And the CCHA has Miami and ND to hold down the fort until some other programs step up. Let’s not forget that NMU, LSSU, etc have great hockey tradition and have won championships.

    • Anonymous

      I could see some of the ex-WCHA teams in the CCHA leave for the WCHA when the Big Ten conference starts. I like Coach Jackson’s (Notre Dame) idea of combining the CCHA and WCHA into one big conference. Then break the conference into sub-groups of 6. One of the 4 groups would consist of the Big Ten schools (UMTC, UW, UM, MSU, OSU, PSU)

  • Joe Addario

    Like love & marriage, big 10 & hockey go together.

  • Frattin for Hobey

    Not to sure I am a fan of a Bit Ten hockey conference. Are you going to play with only 6 teams in the conference? pretty sure that’s the number of bt schools with hockey. mich, mn, wi, mich st, o st, and soon penn st. Why take great teams away from two conferences just to form another and add another auto bid. better to have Penn St. join HE or CCHA maybe AHA. Just my opinion.

  • MoFan

    H4rm, the tier 1 Boston leagues pulled out of USA Hockey I thought so that they could check earlier. I’ve seen mite checking games, my mite participated in a tourney with checking. ‘Nuff said.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone knows that there will be a Big Ten hockey conference. The question is when and if any more non hockey B10 schools step up to Div 1. WCHA will be fine with DU, CC, UND, Neb-Om, Alaska,MT, BSU, Duluth and MN State. If they add Fairbanks and Air Force, they will be set and survive nicely. THe CCHA will finally need to add UAH, which they never should have denied in the first place.

  • PeteS

    Anyone know if Illinois is considering moving up to D1 hockey? Especially with the news that a Big10 conference would be formed.

  • Painter

    What about Ill, Iowa, and Prudue step out of the shadows of club sport and into the big leagues. Even if the Big Ten helps out with loans to get the clubs into Div 1.

  • AnOn

    How is it that they are signing players but dont have a coach?