By Ron Weis (NHL Commissioner from 1 980 to 2 012)
The Nittany Hockey League had its beginning Christmas Eve 1 980 as an outgrowth of several parent-youth ice hockey games sponsored by the State College Youth Hockey Association. During these games a number of parents enjoyed themselves so much that they wanted to get together and have pick-up games for adults only. The opportunity presented itself on Christmas Eve 1 980. After a youth hockey game, about 20 adults without any equipment rented the outdoor ice from the University, chose teams and played “shinny” for about an hour.
I remember it was snowing, and the puck frequently would burrow under the snow on long passes and become lost altogether. Despite the obstacles, a good time was had by all and several more games were held. The next season the enthusiasm was even greater as Penn State opened the new indoor rink. Waiting for the completion of the rink, the season was delayed.
We began by inviting all interested parties and then divided the group into three teams according to the color of the jersey that was worn. Red, White, and Blue. these three teams were shortly joined by a fourth team in Green, schedules were drawn and we were underway. No referees, no face offs. Everyone was on the honor system acknowledging our own sins by surrendering the puck to the opposing team. We played as real ladies and gentlemen!
Over the years the number of teams has fluctuated, but the core purpose of playing hockey “just for the fun of it” has remained.