Smiles all the way around at alumni game

Members of the Paul Smith’s College alumni team, in green, and skaters on the current college squad gather for a group photo following Friday’s game. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — A hot time in a cold rink.

That might be one way to describe the scene at the Saranac Lake Civic Center on Friday, as Paul Smith’s College held its second alumni hockey game. The contest pitted this year’s Bobcats team, which is playing in its first season as a club level squad, against alumni from the college.

The alumni team raced out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back on the way to posting a 10-8 victory. The alumni led from start to finish, although the current Bobcats icers did make things interesting in the closing minutes when they scored three times in a span of 40 seconds to slash their deficit to 8-7 with just over two minutes left in the game. But the alumni responded in a big way, answering with two quick goals to seal the deal.

The game was played in front of a big crowd that included many current students who boisterously filled the stands.

Unlike most sporting events where the winning side leaves happy while the losers are disappointed, skaters on both teams stepped off the ice with smiles on their faces.

Bill Musson, left, and Donovan Hack celebrate a goal for the Bobcats. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

One of the Bobcats skaters was Paul Smith’s College player Connor Gale, who was instrumental in bringing back hockey to the school last winner after the sport had a brief run during the early 2000s before the program was dropped.

“I know I love playing hockey, and I knew that a lot of people on campus wished there was a hockey team, so I got a group together. It was about seven to start, and we just started a club,” Gale said describing how the seeds of the rebirth of hockey Paul Smith’s were sewn. “We actually debuted, our first game was our alumni game last year.

“We ended up having about 16 skaters by the time the alumni game came around last year,” Gale continued. “We had to loan a couple guys to the other team because there weren’t many alumni. We won last year, I don’t remember what the score was.”

“It was a different story this year,” said 2010 Paul Smith’s graduate Casey Gerrish, who coaches the Bobcats but skated for the alumni squad Friday. “We had some good players out there. Second alumni game. We’re going to do this every year and it’s just going to get bigger from now on. Friday night, Winter Carnival, the best night to have it. The atmosphere is unbelievable.”

“I love this game, I only started it a handful of years ago, and it’s great to wear the school uniform and go out and play the game we love. This game tonight was just about fun. We have a bunch of guys on the team who just started. We had one kid who was playing for the first time in a game. That’s what this was about; getting people interested in hockey and coming out and joining the club. Even people who have never played before. We have a home for them here.”

Brothers Cody Liguori, left, and Bronson Liguori, stage a mock fight after the game. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

The Paul Smith’s College hockey team has two matchups remaining in its inaugural season. The Bobcats play again Sunday at the Saranac Lake Civic Center against SUNY Canton’s club team with the opening faceoff slated for 10:15 a.m. The ‘Cats final game of the season is slated to be held in Tupper Lake on Feb. 23 against St. Lawrence University’s club squad starting at 1:30 p.m.

[This story has been corrected from an earlier version that misidentified Connor Gale.]

Bobcats goaltender Katey Snyder faces a shot from 1997 graduate George Flay during action Friday. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Hockey fans were smiling during Friday’s alumni hockey matchup. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Joseph Epler carries the puck for the alumni team while Richie Holton pursues the play. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)