For the third year in a row, the South Charleston Memorial Ice Arena will play host to a West Virginia University hockey game.
For the second year in a row, the building will not just be the site of a game, but the Backyard Brawl on Ice.
The Mountaineers club hockey team will play host to the University of Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. Monday. For first-year coach Zach Sonnefeld, it's his first trip to the Kanawha Valley for the big game.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play down in Charleston," said Sonnefeld. "We draw really well there. I'd honestly like to play more than one time a year considering how well things go down there."
Sonnefeld, a Wheeling native, has plenty of experience coaching youth hockey in the Northern Panhandle, but has been pleasantly surprised by how the transition to the collegiate level has been for him.
"Things have been easier than I expected them to be," said Sonnefeld. "In youth hockey, you're competing against other sports. At this level, there is a lot more focus because you have a group of guys that just want to play hockey."
The Mountaineers won last year's meeting in South Charleston 2-0. Tom Anderson and Christian Lawton each scored a goal for the Mountaineers, while goalie Chris Wilder stopped 34 shots.
Earlier this season, WVU (11-11-1) knocked off the Panthers 5-4 in Harmarville, Pa. Luke Sonnefeld, Matt Jarrett, Nick Persichetti and Conor Frei each scored a goal for the Mountaineers, while Kevin Quirk scored two goals and Sean Maniuszko had two assists for the Panthers (9-9-1).
"We won the game in a shootout," Sonnefeld said of the first meeting between the Panthers and Mountaineers. "We couldn't get anything going in that game. We've corrected a lot of things that were going wrong for us. As the team starts to learn, they start to click and we're now looking for bigger and better things.
"Pitt's got a good transition game and they're good at putting the puck in the net when they have to. We have to be cognizant of that and not be lazy in the offensive zone."
Sonnefeld also takes pride in the fact that five of his players are from his hometown of Wheeling, something he feels adds to the appeal of Mountaineer hockey in the Mountain State.
"West Virginia's not a hotbed of hockey," said Sonnefeld. "It's really a niche sport. But I think our in-state players look forward to this experience. We have good crowds occasionally off campus in Morgantown and we're gaining traction in Wheeling when we go there. But it's not like when we travel to Charleston."
WVU is led by Kris Anderson and Dusty Campbell, who have each scored eight goals on the season. Sean McFadden and Joe Sasala each have 11 assists and Wilder has saved 89 percent of the shots taken against him.
Pitt's Justin Thomas leads his team in goals with 20, while Brian Foster has recorded 15 assists. Panther goaltender Mike Whitney has saved 322 of 366 shots on goal.