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Battista beaming after PSU's first Big Ten win

Updated: Sunday, February 9 2014, 11:15 PM EST

By Ashley Chase
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.

Seeing the Pegula Ice Arena come to life last fall was the result of a career long effort by Joe Battista. 35 years ago he was a Penn State freshman hockey player, later coaching the club team for 19 years. During that time, battista won more than 500 games and six national titles. Battista became an associate athletic director, overseeing Penn State's transition to Division I and the donation and construction of Pegula Ice Arena.

"It was a 35 year dream come true,” says the Penn State alum.

But Battista accepted a new job in October after the arena opened, working for the arena's donor Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres. It’s that job that brought him back to Pegula Ice Arena this weekend.

"We killed two birds with one stone,” says Battista. “J.T. Compher from Michigan is one of our draft picks so I got to spend time with their staff and got to see him so that was great."

As fate would have it, in Battista's return visit to the barn he helped build, one more piece of history would take place on the ice at Pegula.

The puck dropped, and four goals and 32 saves later, Penn State earned their first Big Ten conference win.

"This is what we always dreamed of,” beamed Battista. “That crowd was into it, the student section was awesome.”

Battista, glowing with pride, says, “I feel so great for Coach Gadowsky and his staff and the players.”

“For Matt Skoff to get a shutout, and it to be Michigan? That's just icing on the cake."

An emotional Battista was misty-eyed watching the game end. “It's just amazing. It's what we always hoped it could be.”

Thousands of happy fans, an ecstatic team, but maybe no one's smile bigger than Joe's.

Battista beaming after PSU's first Big Ten win


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