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Men’s hockey to play in charity game

Brendan Howe, Rocket Contributor

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The Slippery Rock Pride men’s hockey team will give back to the community with its annual benefit game this weekend against the University of Pittsburgh.
The game, in which the proceeds will go towards the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, will feature the College Hockey Mid-America’s top two teams.
 In the previous two years, the team has aided causes with their Pink the Rink game in support of breast cancer awareness and partnered with the “It’s About the Warrior” Foundation for a Veteran’s Night. This season, the team decided through a coach who works in the medical field to support the Free Care Fund.
 The players took the initiative to plan the charitable event and feel very strongly for the cause. “Anytime you can be a part of an event that benefits such a good cause like Children’s Hospital units, it’s an honor,”  head coach Dave Grimm said. “You have high hopes for the event because you want to be able to give as much as you can for the kids there.”
 Prior to the game, there will be a ceremonial puck drop and an appearance by a youth hockey player who is also a cancer survivor. “It’ll be pretty awesome [to play for such a good cause]. We do it every year and it’ll be great to do it for the kids,”  junior forward Stephen Reu said.
 The contest itself will be an important one for both teams. Slippery Rock currently sits two points behind the first-place Panthers in the College Hockey Mid-America (CHMA) standings. Pitt’s recent success includes last year’s regular season CHMA crown and a conference playoff championship in 2015-2016.
 
“Every conference game is a challenge, but the game Saturday night against Pitt has a little bit more meaning,” stated Grimm. “We’re so close in the conference standings that whoever wins this game goes into the semester break with a lot of confidence standings and momentum to start the second half.”
 The Panthers swept the Pride in the season series last year, but the team feels improvement over last year’s squad. “We feel like we played them tight both games last year and our team has come a long way since then. We’ve been a much more structured and disciplined team,” Grimm said. He feels the team sports comfortable goaltending and a penalty kill that has been outstanding thus far. “If we continue to move forward with the hard work and the mindset that you give your teammates everything you’ve got every practice and every game, we’re going to continue to have a lot of success as a team, this year and beyond.”
 The players are looking forward to the challenge that a solid Pitt team presents. “It’s the first time we’ll have played a team that above us in the conference and they’re a pretty good team,” commented Reu. “It’ll be a big test for us and, if we can win both games this weekend, we can go into break at the top [of our conference].”
 The team expects a few hundred in attendance for the event, which will be played at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry on Saturday night at 10:00 pm.

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Men’s hockey to play in charity game