It seems a stretch to suggest that Eric Tangradi might have been born a bit early. • After all, the guy still is two weeks shy of his 24th birthday, so his pro career is much closer to its formative stages than its final ones. • Still, even though the career path Tangradi elected to follow led him to his desired destination, the NHL, at a fairly young age, he might have been tempted to take another if the option had been there.

Had Penn State's hockey program, which is in its first year of Division I play, been competing at that level when Tangradi was making career-related decisions as a teenager in Philadelphia, he might have chosen to play for the Nittany Lions rather than going to the Ontario Hockey League.

"Being a Philadelphia kid growing up, you don't really find out too much about Division I hockey until you turn 15 or 16 years old," he said.

"If there was a program at Penn State, being a hockey fan, I'm sure I would have seen multiple games before I even turned 15.

"It definitely would have been an option of mine and may have lured me from going to play junior."

Tangradi, who said he likely would have majored in engineering had he attended Penn State, has some ties to the school.

His girlfriend is an alumna and won a national championship with the women's volleyball team.

"I was able to walk the campus and see [what it is like] there," he said. "It's a really unbelievable school and an unbelievable campus. Athletics and education are incredible there."

Coach Guy Gadowsky's program remains a work-in-progress and will be pitted against traditional powers such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Michigan when Big Ten conference begins play next winter.