New Kensington campaign chairs score support for Penn State hockey

January 16, 2013

The new Penn State ice hockey team received rave reviews from Penn Staters over the holiday break as more than 20,000 fans attended the inaugural Three Rivers Classic, Dec. 28 and 29, in Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center. And Penn State New Kensington played an active role in igniting the local alumni base.

The Nittany Lions, in their first year of NCAA-Division I play, took third-place in the four-team tournament, falling to eventual champion Robert Morris University, 6-0, in the opener and defeating Big Ten rival Ohio State, 5-4, in the consolation game.

Patrick and Mardelle Kopnicky, co-chairs of the campus’ For the Future campaign, organized alumni socials for both days of the tournament. The socials were co-sponsored by the Penn State Alumni Association and the Nittany Lion Club.

A Meet the Lions event followed the Robert Morris game. Alumni had an opportunity to talk with head coach Guy Gadowsky and his players. Gadowsky gave the fans an “inside-the-ropes" perspective of the 2012-13 team.

For the second game, the Kopnickys secured the Lexus Club, the exclusive multi-purpose facility on the upper-level of the Consol Center that offers an expansive view of the Pittsburgh skyline. Following the game, Penn State alumni headed to the club for food and refreshments, and to listen to Joe Battista, associate athletic director for hockey operations, talk about Penn State’s ice hockey program and next year’s opening of the Pegula Ice Arena, the Nittany Lions’ new campus home. The coach and team captain Tommy Olczyk also addressed the Penn State faithful.

“The evening was huge success as guests streamed into the Lexus Club before and after the game to socialize and network,” said Mardelle Kopnicky, who was named to the campaign post in 2011. “After the game the room was packed with 500 Penn Staters. Joe Battista was blown away by the response from alumni.”

In addition to the Kopnickys, Penn State New Kensington was represented by campus students. Lauren Blum, student life coordinator, accompanied the students to the game.

“The students in attendance were very appreciative of the opportunity to attend the event and network with alumni,” said Blum, who holds a master’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “Future games and receptions could turn out to be a really great opportunity for the University to show appreciation to the Pittsburgh region’s support of Penn State.”

Penn State ice hockey in Pittsburgh will continue for at least another year. The Nittany Lions, as well as Robert Morris, have been invited to 2013 classic in December. The other two participants will be announced at a later date.

The Kopnickys, residents of Natrona Heights, Pa., are leading the committee charged with securing $3 million in new support for the campus by June 2014. They have offered their financial support as well as their time and energy to the campus, providing annual gifts to scholarships for many years and creating the Patrick and Mardelle Sacco Trustee Scholarship in 2008.

The Penn Staters, who met as students at University Park, have been married for 44 years, and they are lifetime members of the Penn State Alumni Association. They are now retired. Patrick was principal architect for Kvaerner Metals in Pittsburgh, and Mardelle was owner of Kopnicky Nationwide Insurance in Brackenridge. Though neither attended Penn State New Kensington, they became involved with the Alle-Kiski Society, a regional chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association based at the campus, in the 1980s. Both served terms as president of the society.

The Kopnickys have served as leaders for a number of organizations in the region. Mardelle is the past president of the Allegheny Valley Chamber of Commerce and Allegheny Valley YMCA, and Patrick is the past president of the Council of Friends of Harrison Hills Park. In 1994, they were recognized for their community service by the Penn State Alumni Council.



  • Joe Battista, associate athletic director for hockey operations at Penn State, was the keynote speaker at the reception. He talked about the ice hockey program and the new Pegula Ice Arena.

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated January 17, 2013