“This is a Celebration”: RMU hosts 2023 Celebrity Hockey Face-Off


Jacob from On the Bench stick handles during the Second Annual Celebrity Hockey Game Photo credit: Julia Wasielewski

By Evan Basista, Contributor

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP — It was an exciting afternoon as the 2023 RMU Celebrity Hockey Classic took place at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. The second installment had a line-up as star-studded as the previous one.

Team White featured a number of RMU alumni, including Brittany Howard, Kristen Welch, and Brianne McLaughlin, current RMU players including Ally and Cam Hebert, former Penguins players Colby Armstrong, Phil Bourque, and Tyler Kennedy, Penguins radio play-by-play announcer Josh Getzoff, and WTAE broadcaster Andrew Stockey. The non-playing members included former Penguin Greg Malone, “Slapshot” star Dave Hanson, former Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, and local radio personality and “super-genius” Mark Madden.

Team Navy featured more RMU alumni, including Emily Curlett, Maggie Lague, Lexi Templeman, current RMU players including Wasyn Rice, Gavin Gulash, and Dominic Schimizzi, women’s head coach and alum Logan Bittle, former Penguins players Ryan Malone and Eric Tangradi, Penguins television play-by-play announcer Steve Mears, Jacob and Olly from the viral social media page “On The Bench”, local radio personality Chris Mack, KDKA broadcaster Ross Guidotti, and Pirates GM Ben Cherington. The non-playing members included former Penguin Bob Errey, RMU hockey play-by-play announcer Tim Benz, and former Steeler John Banaszak.

The goalies included RMU alum Elijah Milne-Price, former Penguin Ken Wregget, and Penguins staff member Luke Mohamed.

RMU women’s hockey coach Logan Bittle smiles during the 2nd Annual Celebrity Hockey Faceoff (Photo by Julia Wasielewski)

It was a fantastic atmosphere, with a sellout crowd and plenty of items to help support the fundraiser.

“It’s been outstanding,” said men’s hockey head coach Derek Schooley. “Having the celebrities we’ve had, the full crowd again, all in preparation for us playing on October 7th. It’s been fun. The enthusiasm and excitement, you can’t ask for anything more.”

Schooley was inducted into this year’s class of the St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame pregame.

“It was a lot of fun,” said freshman Dominic Schimizzi. “It was cool to see all of these alumni that came back. It’s nice after not having a game all year, so we get a little taste of referees. It’s a great opportunity to see the community come together again for RMU, especially the hockey programs.”

“The event was incredible,” said senior Ally Hebert. “Trying to get the program back was awesome. The game was fun; it’s always fun to play with them.”

“This is my second time doing this.” Colby Armstrong said.0 I think we know the reason why, too. It’s amazing. It’s crazy that the last time we did this, it was a hope and a prayer that the teams would return. I know Ryan Malone, Derek Schooley, Brianne McLaughlin, and many others that put a lot of hard work and effort into trying to raise money to get the teams back. This is a celebration.”

The game was full of offense, just as the previous year’s was. Some of the highlights included an absolutely beautiful spin-o-rama trickshot from Olly, a penalty shot goal by Tyler Kennedy, and a pair of penalty shot attempts from the Pirate Parrot. One of the main stars of the show was Schimizzi, who recorded a hat trick in the game.

“He’s a good kid,” said Coach Schooley, “and everyone’s out here having fun. It was all for a good time, and obviously, being a Pittsburgh kid, he probably enjoyed that.”

The score at the end of the first 25-minute half was 5-3 in favor of Team White, who scored two quick goals at the start of the game. Colby Armstrong got an assist on the opening goal, adding to his accolades which includes the fastest goal in Winter Classic history.

“Unfortunately the speed part of my game has long passed me by,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. We had a lot of people on our team, and a lot of people on the other team. Lots of alumni and ex-players. It was a good showing. I wish I could have gotten way more goals. I think I had a hat trick last year, we had to make a big push comeback. They blended the teams more this year.”

Armstrong also had a lighthearted altercation with the Pirate Parrot in the first half, and according to him, “I think it was on him. He tripped. I remember from last year, I wanted to get him. I told [Phil] Bourque on the bench, ‘I’m getting the Parrot.’ An opportunity presented itself, and I didn’t take him completely out. Did any feathers fly off? I was kind of concerned I hurt the Parrot, but for whatever reason, I just wanted to get him. I went right after him. I just remember he bugged me last year. He showed up again and I took my chance. It was a good penalty to take, I thought.”

At the end of regulation, it was tied at nine. The game then headed to a shootout in which every player participated, which was scheduled regardless of the score, but it meant a little bit more in a tie game. Team Navy won the shootout by a score of 6-3, including a goal by the Pirate Parrot, who finally converted on his third try.

The game obviously meant a little extra to the current players, some of whom have remained at RMU for all four years.

“I’m from Pittsburgh,” said Schimizzi, “and my sister graduated from RMU, so I was able to see the hockey program before it got discontinued. Now that it’s back, I think it’s gonna be more exciting than ever. I think just seeing the stands packed is really awesome.”

“I feel like they put their hearts into our team,” Hebert said. “To see it come back is really awesome. I think in the future, we’ll come back just as strong. I’m looking forward to it.”