Men's Ice Hockey Hits The Diamond To Benefit Autism

HAMDEN, Conn. - The Quinnipiac University men's ice hockey team played the Hamden Police Benevolent Association in a charity softball game to benefit autism at Hamden High School on Sunday, Sept. 13. The event, part of the Quinnipiac University Athletics Positive Play Community Outreach.High, was the first of two fund-raising events for the men's ice hockey team planned for the fall. Quinnipiac will also host several youth hockey organizations on Sunday, Oct. 4 for its exhibition game against University of Prince Edward Island at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.

Hockey sticks and a t-shirt autographed by the Bobcats were raffled off, as were a pair of former Quinnipiac All-American Reid Cashman's game-worn Pittsburgh Penguin gloves. Admission was free to the game while donations were accepted.

"This was a lot of fun for our guys," head coach Rand Pecknold said. "It's a great cause and we couldn't be happier to do our part. I want to thank Officer Mike Pantera, who was instrumental in organizing all of this, as well as the entire Hamden PBA."

Former Hamden Mayor and future Connecticut Adult Softball Association Hall of Famer John Carusone served as the game's public address announcer and emcee. Quinnipiac ice hockey administrative assistant Lori Onofrio, who also helped organize the event, threw out the game's first pitch. Onofrio's husband, Bill, is the Deputy Chief of Police in Hamden.

"We're happy to help," Pantera said. "We are very happy with the turnout tonight - I hope we made a few more people aware of the cause. To have people come out in tough economic times and support Quinnipiac and the Hamden PBA like this is a thrill."

Both dugouts were open to the public as several children migrated through the Bobcat ranks before heading to the Hamden PBA side. Volunteers walked through the stands for most of the game collecting for Autism Speaks, while several Quinnipiac athletic department volunteers manned the raffle table.

"This was a great plus for everyone," Pantera said. "The kids out here really look up to the Quinnipiac student-athletes. As usual, they conducted themselves as gentlemen - in a very professional and gracious manner. They are always a pleasure to be around."

While Hamden PBA was victorious in the game, the charitable group Autism Speaks will ultimately come out on top. A significant number of Bobcat fans turned out for the event, all contributing to the cause and participating in the raffle.

"We'll probably never play them in hockey," Deputy Chief Onofrio joked. "But we'll play them in softball any day!"

The Bobcats hit the ice for the first time on Oct. 4 when they host Prince Edward Island University in an exhibition game at the TD Bank Sports Center. Following that game, participating youth hockey groups from the area will have the opportunity to hit-the-ice and play in a series of mini-games on the Bobcats' home ice. Bobcat fans interested in tickets for the exhibition game, or youth groups interested in participating, should contact the TD Bank Ticket Office at 203-582-3905. Fans should also check the official website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.quinnipiacbobcats.com for season schedules and ticket information.