||Coach's Corner - Division I - May 2005|
|With summer upon us, and another recruiting season almost in the books, it's just about time to start looking ahead toward the start of the 2005-2006 season. It's with great pride that we start our tenth season of competition in the ACHA. Before we get into the specifics of the new exciting schedule that finds the Billikens on home ice 19 times and dips back into some old rivalries for the tenth anniversary season. How about if we turn back the clock for a few moments? Wow, ten years ago, what was happening ten years ago with SLU Hockey? Well, right about this time ten years ago, I was 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 we would play. My core players then started with the "Big Seven" our Captain, Chris Benigno (Forward, CBC Prep HS), Assistant Captain, Matt Jost (Forward, CBC Prep HS), Assistant Captain, Brendan Moore (Forward, DeSmet Prep HS), Jeff Bennet (Forward, CBC Prep HS), Chris Coulter (Forward, Chaminade Prep HS), Bill Zerega (Defense Vianney Prep HS) and Jasson Price (St. Louis Blues Junior B). These players provided the first "heartbeat" of Saint Louis University Billikens Hockey as we know it today. It was because of their competitiveness that the team was founded and why I personally continued to develop the team over these 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 am proud to have been associated with these gentlemen in hockey but also honored just 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. These players had a passion for the game and today have a passion for their team. But they also had a supporting cast around them. Players that were equally important in helping the team during our first season. |
Nows about as good as time as any to throw a trivia question out there. 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 a bit later.
The rest of the original roster was comprised of the following members; Alex Graham (Goaltender, Vianney Prep HS), Player Rep - Jon Wofford (Goaltender, DeSmet 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, DeSmet Jesuit Prep HS), Brian McGraw (Defense, DeSmet 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 I give you the question, here's the answer to the last question above, University of Illinois. So here's another question, what was the Billikens win loss record for their first season? Hmmm….
Well, all in all, it was a very rewarding experience bringing the original team together and now, just like in the beginning the players stay very close with each other. I have attended graduations, and then it seems frequently 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, etc… you get pretty tight as life long friends and that's the byproduct of our efforts putting the SLU Billikens on the ice.
OK, the record in season one, 11-15-0. Not so bad for a group of players that came together through some luck, coincidence and planning. I could go on with other trivia questions but I digress.
With regard to the 10th Anniversary schedule, we have mixed in a few teams that SLU has 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. The DePaul University team visits the Billikens late in the season on Friday, February 3, 2006 and Saturday February 4, 2006. And we are currently in negotiation with the St. Louis Blues Alumni team to play us in a mid August, 2005 game to benefit a youth player in the Kirkwood organization. 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 look forward to meeting them in competition again in the 2005-2006 season.
Again, it's with great pride and dedication that we put together our teams for the 2005-2006 campaigns at the Division 1 and Division 2 level. We invite you out to all of our functions this coming season as we celebrate "A Decade of Hockey Excellence". Why not get a foursome together for our Annual Golf Outing on Sunday September 18, 2005 at the newly redesigned, Forest Park Golf Course, or attend the Annual Blue and White Games on Saturday evening September 17, 2005 when the D1 Bills face off against the SLU Billiken Alumni Players at 6:30 p.m. followed by the D2 teams game against Western Illinois University. If you can't get there for these events and want to help the team maybe placing an ad in the 10th Anniversary Game Night Program or as a Banner Ad on our website would be appropriate. Please see the fund raising section of our website www.sluhockey.com for all the details.