Cal U Hockey Homecoming series a success again


By Emma Rawlings

Vulcans and Colonials players battle off a faceoff during the Vulcans win. Cal 1 has won every year for the Cal U Hockey Homecoming Series

Matt Hagy, Sports Editor

One of the best parts of homecoming week at Cal is the annual Cal U Hockey Homecoming Series that has been played at Rostraver Ice Garden on homecoming week since 2012. This event showcases the Cal hockey teams who have been a traditional power in their respective leagues. There has been normally two games every year on the night of the series and has seen Cal play many different teams over the years. This year Cal 1 faced off against longtime rival Robert Morris and Cal 2 squared off against a former Cal 1 rival, Penn State-Altoona. Cal 2 was dominated by the Nittany Lions 7-3 but received goals from Cole Bier, Devin Christy, and Patrick Huver. The nightcap was a more competitive affair as Cal 1 rallied from an early deficit to dispatch the Colonials 5-3.

     The games which are always the focal point of the homecoming series also are complimented by the events that also go on at the Ice Garden during and between the games. Fans could buy Cal hockey merchandise and can enter different raffles to win big prizes. Also between the games, fans are allowed to have a free skate on the ice which always attracts large numbers of people. Then probably the most popular attraction of the event is the Pittsburgh Penguin players that come out to sign autographs for the fans. Some previous Pens that have come out include Ben Lovejoy and also three players that came out while in Pittsburgh which include Joe Vitale, Robert Bortuzzo, and Simon Despres.

    This year, the Penguins brought out a mix of past and present to treat the fans at the Ice Garden. Defenseman Ian Cole was the only current Penguin there and some former Penguin great names included Brian Trottier, Warren Young, Troy Loney, and Phil Bourque who is now the Penguins radio color analyst next to Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange. Bourque has played a big role in the Pittsburgh area community since joining the Penguins as a player in the 80s. “I love coming out to events like this for the fans,” Bourque said. “I came to Pittsburgh from Boston and knew nothing about the city when I first came here but being here I embraced the city and the fans embraced me too. I quickly realized how appreciative the fans are here and going out to surrounding Pittsburgh communities they appreciate guys like me coming out and it makes me enjoy going out to these community events.”

    These players on the Cal teams are in the same position Bourque once was before he made it to the NHL. For Bourque it was a throwback meeting current Vulcan players thinking about his youth hockey days. “My youth hockey days were hectic and I was pushed a lot by my dad,” Bourque said. “My advice for kids and their parents that are in these youth hockey leagues is be a well-rounded athlete and love what you are doing. Be the best you can be and most importantly, have passion, and most importantly go out and have fun. After his NHL career was over, Bourque made the transition from the ice to the broadcast booth and was paired with Lange on Penguins Radio broadcasts.

    Bourque has been lovingly known now from Pittsburgh fans as the “Ol’ Two-Niner” a name that makes Bourque stand out with the Penguins. Bourque loves broadcasting but at first it was not the easiest transition. “I did not think the transition to the booth would be difficult,” Bourque said. “I played 18 years in professional hockey thinking I can be great right away but honestly at first I was not that good. Then I started watching other color analysts and saw how much they prepared and helped me make changes to how I broadcasted and most importantly as a broadcaster you need to be a good listener as well.” Having these players like Bourque come out made the 2015 Cal U hockey homecoming series all the more special and helps the event gain popularity as homecoming week comes around every fall semester. Now the both Cal Men’s hockey teams and the women’s team look ahead to the rest of the season and look to continue the strong tradition set out by teams in the past.