Five Ice Cats compete in team challenge

For the first time in Pitt-Johnstown hockey history, players from the team competed in the Division III American Collegiate Hockey Association Select Team Challenge over the past weekend.

Pitt-Johnstown’s head coach Dave Layman was selected, along with five of his players, to be a part of the team. Coach Layman operated as one of two assistant coaches.

The selected team’s head coach was Robert Morris University’s Division III head coach Craig Bioni, and the second assistant coach was the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg head coach Tim Baldwin.

Pitt-Johnstown’s selected players were forward Eugene Mack, sophomore goaltender David Dunkleberger, forward sophomore David Kutzer, forward freshman Troy Schall and defensive freshman Derek Grove.

A selected few players who have been chosen from each of the teams will go on to compete in Europe against European professional hockey teams.

The trip is to be a 10-day tour over Christmas break, which will be filled with hockey and sightseeing.

Coach Layman said the weekend tournament was like an all-star event because each team consists of players from multiple leagues, and that is also a tryout at the same time because of the all-national selections at the end.

Layman said his players looked to be contenders to all-national selections with some like Dunkleberger and Grove, who were front-runners in their positions.

“It all comes down to how they played at a high level,” said Layman.

Dunkleberger said the team participated in a full practice with a full roster the Sunday before the tournament, which was their last official practice, but the five selected players tried to find time to skate whenever they could.

“We skated every chance we got on our own,” said Dunkleberger.

Grove said he was honored just to be selected. He said there was a lot of talent on the team this year and that there were many who could have been selected.

“It is nice knowing that the five of us were selected, and were able to represent UPJ,” said Grove.

Mack said the team had a good chance of making it to the championships as long as they worked together as a team.

Dunkleberger noted Empire League as one team in particular as a rival team.

The team is also composed of players from the Northeast region of the nation and are players that the Pitt-Johnstown players competed against in regular season.

Dunkleberger said the players’ overall goals for the tournament were to play well at a high level, win as a team and work toward a national selection.