GU hockey returns downtown Saturday

Every hockey player dreads the end of his or her competitive playing career, and I faced that unsettling reality at the start of the 2014 fall semester.

I decided that working part-time at the Erie Times-News sports department, schoolwork and duties with The Gannon Knight were more important to my future than playing the sport I love.

I believed that it was time to step up as professional and leave behind something that I had identified with for over 18 years. Near the end of the fall semester, the Rev. Jason Glover, Gannon’s coach, presented me with an opportunity to rejoin the team for remainder of the season.

I was elated to reunite with teammates I have bonded with over the past three years and begin to get to know the talented freshman class.

The transition back into playing has been difficult, given the rust that accumulated during my time away from the game, but it feels amazing to be back out on the ice.

I’m thrilled to be able to fill in a gap that I’ve been missing for nearly half a year, and most importantly play in front of my parents a few more times before hanging up my skates at the end of the season.

Bar league hockey teams will still be on my horizon, but there is nothing like the intensity of a full-contact game where you are not only representing your university, but the men that you have battled alongside.

It has been unfortunate that the club hockey squad hasn’t been able to play home games at the Erie Insurance Arena – which many fans had grown accustomed to attending in previous years – this season due to scheduling difficulties and the closing of another local rink, Erie Ice.

The Knights have played their home games at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena in Jamestown, N.Y., which is a brisk 55-minute drive from campus. It is a top-class facility, but it has caused difficulties for the Gannon fan base to travel and support the team.

But fans have no need to worry because your chance to see the hockey team is here. The Knights will take on the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Erie Insurance Arena, which is only a short five-minute walk from campus.

Glover said that the game being played in downtown Erie will offer an opportunity to resurrect the Knights’ beloved fan base.

“I think Gannon students are really going to turn up for the game,” he said. “There will be a magnetic energy that the team is going to feed off.”

Glover added that the game against Cal U is very important for the playoff future for the Knights and an electric crowd will revitalize the squad on its playoff push.

During the game there will also be auctions and raffles, with all proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.

Admission is free for all Gannon fans. The doors to the Arena will open at 5:30 p.m. and warm-ups will take place at 6 p.m.

The freshman class hasn’t been able to embrace the electric atmosphere of a rocking downtown Erie arena, but the veterans remember the support of Knight fanatics fondly.

Senior defenseman Conrad Thibault said he is proud of any chance he has to represent the Knights and it is even more special when the games are played downtown.

“It will be exciting to play in front of our family, friends and fans one more time,” he said, “especially at a game that will have events to benefit the troops.”

Glover said that the game being played so close to campus will continue the momentum generated over the past two seasons of Gannon support.

It will also give the younger fans a chance to get a feel for what Gannon hockey games will be like next season when the Knights are, hopefully, permanently hosting home games at the Erie Insurance Arena.


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