With the Fall Semester here, and another recruiting season in the books, it's time to look ahead toward the start of the 2005-2006 hockey season. It's with great pride that we begin our tenth season of competition in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). Before outlining the specifics of the new exciting schedule that finds the Billikens on home ice 19 times, dipping back into some old rivalries for the tenth anniversary season. Lets turn back the clock for a few moments. Ten years ago, what was happening ten years ago with SLU Hockey? Well, right about this time ten years ago, we were gathering as many players as possible that were already enrolled at SLU and just getting the word out around St. Louis to as many of the "good players" around town that could handle the course work and schedule that SLU would play. The core players then started with the "Big Seven" the Captain, Chris Benigno (Forward, CBC Prep HS), Assistant Captain, Matt Jost (Forward, CBC Prep HS), Assistant Captain, Brendan Moore (Forward, De Smet Prep HS), Jeff Bennet (Forward, CBC Prep HS), Chris Coulter (Forward, Chaminade Prep HS), Bill Zerega (Defense Vianney Prep HS) and Jason Price (St. Louis Blues Junior B). These players provided the first "heartbeat" of Saint Louis University Billikens Hockey as it's known today. It was because of their competitiveness that the team was founded and why it continued to develop over the past ten years. In any good organization you need leaders, these seven players, night in and night out competed hard and led by example. I was proud to have been associated with these gentlemen in hockey but also honored to get to know them at all. From time to time, and not often enough, we still see each other and when we do the first question from each of them is "How's the team looking this season, Coach?". After all these seasons, they still want to know, and quite honestly if it were up to them, they would be lacing up their skates again just to try and compete in one more game for SLU". The original players truly had a passion for the game and today have a passion for their team. But they also had a supporting cast around them. Players equally important in helping the team during the first season.
Here's a trivia question. Who did the Billikens play in their first ever home game at the U.S. Ice Sports Complex on October 11, 1996? I'll give you the answer later.
The rest of the original SLU roster in 1996, was comprised of the following members; Alex Graham (Goaltender, Vianney Prep HS), Player Rep - Jon Wofford (Goaltender, De Smet Jesuit Prep HS), Chris Smith (Forward, Fort Zummwalt HS), Eddie Moiser (Forward, Fox HS), Jason Clark (Forward, Granite City HS), Mike Good (Defense, Hazelwood Central), Rich Kling (Forward, De Smet Jesuit Prep HS), Brian McGraw (Defense, De Smet Jesuit Prep HS), Lee Hale (Defense, Lindbergh HS), Tim Watkins (Forward), Vince Ko (Forward, Parkway Central HS) Dale Rossan (Forward, CBC Prep HS), Pete Odman (Defense, Webster Groves HS), Vince Marino (Forward, St. Louis University Prep HS), Joe Caspermeyer (Forward) and Tom Hill (Forward). In total, 23 men hit the ice that first season for SLU.
Time for another trivia question. But before the question, here's the answer to the last question, University of Illinois. So here's another question, what was the Billikens win loss record for their first season?
All in all, its been a very rewarding experience bringing the original team together and now, just like in the beginning recruiting players that are strong competitors on the ice and remain very close with each other over the years. I have attended graduation ceremonies of our seniors, and then it seems soon after, weddings of our players where one of the other players are standing up as the best man. I guess that just about says it all. When the best man in your wedding has played on the ice with you, lived in cramped quarters for the entire season on road trips, taken long bus trips, struggled through classes you get pretty tight as life long friends and that's the byproduct of our efforts putting the SLU Billikens on the ice.
The record in season one, 11-15-0. In our second season, the Billikens would appear in their first of three ACHA National Tournaments over the past nine seasons; 1997-1998 Division 2 Nationals Somerset, NJ (15th), 1998-1999 Division 2 Nationals Salt Lake City, UT (5th), 2002-2003 Division 1 Nationals Athens, OH (8th). The performance on and off the ice is a real testament to the commitment and strength of the SLU Men's Hockey program.
With regard to the 10th Anniversary schedule, we have mixed in a few teams that we have not faced in years that were on the very first schedule. The University of Missouri - Columbia (Mizzou) visits Saint Louis on Friday October 7, 2005 and Saturday October 8, 2005 for the Billikens home opener weekend. The DePaul University team visits the Billikens late in the season on Friday, February 3, 2006 and Saturday February 4, 2006. And the St. Louis Blues Alumni team plays SLU on Saturday August 20, 2005 in a game to benefit Dawson Ivanowski, a Mite player in the Kirkwood organization that was recently diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer (for more information visit www.hockeyforhope.com). All three of the teams mentioned above appeared on the first schedule for the Billikens ten years ago and for "old time sake" and a great cause we will meet them in competition again in the 2005-2006 season. All of our home games are played at The Summit Center - Chesterfield, MO, "The Home of the Billikens". For more info, see the Tickets section of this website.