The club team will play four games at its home rink in Callahan Park at 10 a.m. Oct. 13 against the University of Buffalo; at 10 a.m. Oct. 27 against Gannon University; at 10 am. Nov. 10 against Medaille University; and at 10 a.m. Nov. 17 against D’Youville College.
Admission is free, and, following the $1.8 million renovation of the rink at Callahan Park, there is spectator viewing.
Practice began last week, supervised by Greg Miller, coordinator of residential network services at Pitt-Bradford, and the team opened away Sept. 29 at D’Youville College. Matthew Pekular, a junior petroleum technology and environmental studies student from Pittsburgh, was the driving force behind starting the club.
Pekular has played amateur hockey since he was 4 and continued playing in high school for Bishop Canevin in Pittsburgh.
During his second winter at Pitt-Bradford without hockey, he decided to do something about that.
“I had an itch to play college club hockey, and I was looking to get involved on this campus,” he said.
He began recruiting some students to join a list saying that they were interested, then took the list to Dr. K. James Evans, vice president and dean of student affairs. Evans asked Pekular and two other interested players, Richard Obermeyer, a senior criminal justice major from Bradford, and Anthony Citrini, an athletic training major from Pittsburgh, to write a proposal and make a presentation for Dr. Livingston Alexander, president, to seek approval. Once approved, funding became the next challenge. The university will pay for transportation to away games, but students are funding the cost of equipment and ice time themselves.
An early supporter of the students was Ray Geary, executive director of the division of continuing education and regional development, whose sons played hockey. Geary is now the club advisor and has helped with publicity and fundraising.
Pekular said he received help, also, from Lori Mazza, director of athletics and recreational sports; Tim Sneeringer, director of recreation, intramurals and aquatics; and Betty Spindler, administrative assistant for athletics and recreational sports.
The athletics staff helped with contacting other club teams, scheduling, finding referees and executing contracts for the ice rink.
By the time Pekular and other students were recruiting new members at the fall semester club night, there was a good amount of interest, he said. “We’re in a hockey area,” he said. “There’s so much enthusiasm around here.” Some students, he said, had not even skated before and spent the summer practicing at home.
Students playing and volunteering on the first-year team are Pekular, defense, club president; Citrini, defense, club treasurer; Joshua Kausner, a 2013 graduate, forward; Obermeyer, forward; Jeffrey Engels, an athletic training major from West Valley, N.Y., forward; Nicholas Gier, an environmental studies major from North Collins, N.Y., forward; Elizabeth Rix, a criminal justice major from Shinglehouse, defense; Matthew Tobin, an engineering major from Exton, defense; Artie Geahr, a member of the sport and recreation staff, goalie;
Justin Demontier, a sports medicine major from Russell, forward, club vice president; Russ Marold, a petroleum technology major from Kane, forward, club secretary; Nikolas Cubbison, an undeclared major from Evans City, forward; Ty Riley, an undeclared major from Bradford, forward; Emily Volpe, a pre-physical therapy major from Brockport, N.Y., volunteer; Allison Nolan, a sports medicine major from Girard, manager; and Shane Marucci, a sport and recreation management major from Celoron, N.Y., volunteer.
Away games will take place as follows: 4 p.m. Oct 12 at Medaille; 8:15 p.m. Oct. 26 at Alfred State; 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at Pitt-Greensburg; and 1 p.m. Nov. 23 at Gannon University.
Pictured, the new Panther Hockey Club facing off against D’Youville College in its first game.