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Hooray for 'Hockeyville'

Student's essay leads to big win for Rostraver ice rink

Cal U pride will be on display when the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the Saint Louis Blues Sept. 24 at the Rostraver Ice Garden near Belle Vernon, Pa.

Home ice for the University’s three hockey clubs, the venue will host the National Hockey League preseason game — and receive $150,000 in upgrades — as the 2017 winner of the Kraft Hockeyville™ USA contest.

Cal U senior Chris Kostick, the clubs’ equipment manager, nominated the Rostraver Ice Garden for the nationwide contest, which recognizes “America’s most passionate hockey community.” 

Kostick’s essay described the struggle to rebuild after heavy snow in 2010 collapsed the rink’s roof, leaving several high school programs and the Mon Valley Thunder youth hockey team, as well as the Vulcans, out in the cold.

The Rostraver rink was one of 10 selected for the contest from among 1,300 nominations.

Community members and hockey fans took it from there, voting online, via text and on Twitter through several rounds of the contest. In the final round, Rostraver beat out the Bloomington (Minn.) Ice Garden.

“I spend almost every night of the season at the rink and see firsthand just how much it means to the community,” says Kostick, a parks and recreation management major.

“I decided I would take a chance and submit the nomination, and fortunately it was selected. The community took the reins from there and ran with it.”

NBC, which will broadcast the preseason game on its sports network, had cameras rolling at “watch parties” in Pennsylvania and Minnesota as the contest winner was announced.

The Ice Garden was packed with local hockey fans, including Cal U players and University mascot Blaze, when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman revealed the winner during an NHL playoff game.

“It was so loud, I was afraid I wasn’t going to hear through the earpiece that the NBC crew had me outfitted with,” recalls Kostick, who was interviewed with rink owner Jim Murphy.

“It was incredible to see how many supporters came out to the celebration, and how much it meant to the community.”

Derek Partsch ’10 can relate. The Cal U graduate is manager of sponsorship and group ticket accounts for the Johnstown (Pa.) Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League.

And he served on the committee that helped the Cambria County War Memorial earn the Kraft Hockeyville title in 2015.

“I could not be happier to see Rostraver win, and I’m proud of the Cal U hockey teams for their work during the contest,” says Partsch, who earned his degree in sport management.

“I know how gratifying it was to be a part of Johnstown’s win in 2015, and knowing students from my alma mater are sharing the same accomplishment is a great feeling.”

Kostick singled out Jamison Roth ’04, Cal U’ director of recreational services, for rallying the community for the contest and helping to plan for the Sept. 24 game. “I am proud to represent a University that puts so much effort into something that benefits the community and one of its student organizations,” he says. M

By Bruce Wald ’85, information writer at Cal U

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