Big matchups deserve big venues.
And that's what Mercyhurst announced today.
The Lakers announced their series with Ohio State, scheduled for Jan. 2-3, will be played at the Erie Insurance Arena.
Moving the games to the downtown Erie facility, which recently underwent a $42 million expansion and renovation and seats 6,000 for hockey games, is a way for the Lakers to showcase their program to the region.
Dubbed the "Snowtown Throwdown" (with Buffalo Wild Wings as the title sponsor) the weekend series was modeled in part off RIT's Brick City Homecoming hockey game which pits the Tigers against a big-name national opponent at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena.
"It's a chance for us to showcase our program here locally to perhaps some fans who might never have seen us play," Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said. "We're hoping that we could maybe follow their footsteps and be able to find away to pack the Erie Insurance Arena. A name like Ohio State should help that cause, but it's not just for us. We've attached this game to a very important charity and we're hoping to help make a difference."
Gotkin stressed the importance of the charitable tie-in which gives a portion of all ticket sales to The Warming Center hosted at the Mental Health Association of Northwest Pennsylvania. The organization opens up shelters when the temperature falls below 32 degrees. Last year there more than 25 nights when the temperature dipped below freezing and the centers serviced more than 400 people. With the forecast for another cold winter, the organization is in need of more funding.
The Friday matchup on Jan. 2 will begin at 7:05 p.m. while Saturday's contest will be at 2:35 as part of a doubleheader with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. The Otters host the Windsor Spitfires at 7 p.m.
This will be the first game Mercyhurst is playing in the Erie Insurance Arena since it underwent a $42 million expansion and renovation. The arena seats 6,000 for hockey games.
The Lakers last played in the downtown facility, then known as the Erie Civic Center, on Nov. 30, 1991. The Lakers were still a Division III program and defeated Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 6-1. The program moved into its on-campus Mercyhurst Ice Arena eight days later.
Meanwhile on the ice, the Lakers are coming off a split with Hockey East's Merrimack. They get a big test this weekend when they play No. 4 Colgate.