Students Enjoy Some Sweet Hockey


Christopher Palm

Hershey Bears end their night with a win.

When students first arrive on campus at Penn State Harrisburg for the semester, the education toward their degree is their top priority.

Sometimes, they need a little break from their studies, to unwind from the stresses and strains of lectures, assignments, and exams.

That’s when the Programming and Activities Committee (PAC) steps in with the inclusion of fun and entertainment.

“Penn State Harrisburg PAC is basically a small committee organization where students plan and make fun events for Harrisburg campus students,” said Juliana Lenge, a PAC committee member.

While the Kulkarni Theatre in the Student Enrichment Center has stage productions and Intercollegiate Athletics has NCAA Division III sports, PAC provides opportunities for students to attend events off campus.

While the Harrisburg area is not State College, there are plenty of off-campus activities students can enjoy that they will not find in Happy Valley.

“Last semester, we went to Hersheypark,” said Lenge.  “We also host events also on campus.  It kind of depends on our budget.”

With Hershey being a 20-minute drive from Middletown, a lot can be said about the sweetest place on Earth.

When people think of Hershey, they think of the great American chocolate bar everyone has come to know and love as well as Hersheypark.

Not too far from Hersheypark is the Giant Center, the very first thing coming into the Hersheypark complex.

Besides being known for its chocolate and its amusement park, Hershey is also known for its rich history of hockey.

Giant Center has played host to the Hershey Bears minor league hockey team since it first opened in Fall 2002 and has played host to numerous concerts and sporting events like high school basketball, the Harlem Globetrotters and, just recently, WWE wrestling.

“I think it’s great because it really brings a lot of the students together,” said student Gabe Donatelli.  “They get to know each other and hang out.  It’s a great opportunity for students.”

The Hershey Bears currently play in the American Hockey League (AHL) as the top minor league affiliate team for the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

This past February, Penn State Harrisburg’s PAC put together a small field trip for students to attend one of the Bears games on a Saturday night.

“We always love having PSU students attend our games and it was great to see a sponsored trip at our game recently,” said the Hershey Bears in a statement.  “Having a great institution like this in our backyard is a luxury and we’ve enjoyed seeing PSU students graduate to become valuable members of our Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Hershey Bears team.”

Because the trip was on high demand, there were a limited number of seats for one bus.

Inside Giant Center, fans could feel the suspense of what was a typical weekend hockey game on home ice as the Bears took on the Belleville Senators, the top affiliate team for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.

“I think it’s pretty fun and interesting,” said student Carissa Yeager.  “I thoroughly enjoy some of the fights that go on.  There are a couple of unique plays like I don’t know how they keep track of the puck.”

From the starting lineups announced to the first puck drop, the atmosphere can be described as electric for some students who have never been to a hockey game, let alone a minor league game.

The atmosphere inside Giant Center was more electric even when the Bears scored a goal, from the crowd cheering to the goal horn going off, leading up to fans chanting “B-E-A-R-S, BEARS, BEARS, BEARS.”

“I believe [the activities] are beneficial,” said Lenge, “because so far, students are busy and pre-occupied with classes, we don’t really have a lot of activity during the weekend.”

With attending the Hershey Bears game as the example, PAC does what they can as a means for students to make friends on campus for the benefit of being more sociable while going to college.

“It gives students the ability to not only be on campus but actually have fun getting out of campus and having a fun night to themselves,” said Yeager.

“I would just like more events like this,” said Donatelli, “getting the word out more about [Hershey Bears hockey] because a lot of people don’t know about them.”

As the final seconds ticked down to the final buzzer, the students who attended the game left Giant Center happy as the Bears beat Belleville 5-4 in what was a close, nail-biting game.

As for the Hershey Bears, their relationship with Penn State runs deep in not only offering the Penn State Harrisburg student body an opportunity to witness a hockey game but also their partnership with Penn State Health with Milton S Hershey Medical Center located just down the road from Giant Center.

“We are thrilled to work with Penn State Harrisburg and students in the local community,” said the Hershey Bears in a statement.  “We look forward to having more PSU students cheering on the Bears this season and with the students all the best as they charge towards the finish line of another exciting academic year.”

Aside from riding roller coasters at Hersheypark and on-campus sporting events, attending a Hershey Bears hockey game is one sweet memory that students at Penn State Harrisburg will never forget.