Team History

2002-2003 Season Summary

A team is born

The 2002-2003 school year marked the birth of a new club sport at the Penn State Altoona Campus… Ice Hockey.  Chris Cogan, a native of Altoona, realized that after graduating high school in June of 2002 that he wanted to continue playing ice hockey at the collegiate level at Penn State Altoona.  Therefore he set out in the summer of 2002 with the goal of forming an ice hockey team at Penn State Altoona since the school had not ever had an ice hockey team.  He began posting signs throughout campus recruiting players, hoping to get enough to field a team in the fall.  He also began contacting PSU Altoona school officials to see how to go about starting up a team and began working on contacting local college hockey leagues and teams for any information to assist with scheduling games.  He found that this would not be an easy task.  Not only would it be challenging to obtain the approval of the Club Sports Department and Student Government Association at PSU Altoona to become sanctioned and allow use of the school’s name and logos, but finding enough players, finding schools who would be interested in playing games, obtaining sufficient funding, getting uniforms, and working with the local hockey rink Galactic Ice on the logistics of allocating enough ice time for a college team to play games and practice, would prove to be very challenging.  This did not discourage Chris and instead took the challenge head on and tackled each area one at a time.  After preparing a budget for the team, he was faced with the challenge of trying to determine a way to make a budget of approximately $12,500 affordable for a small group of players to pay for.  Therefore over the summer Chris went around to local Altoona businesses to sell ads for in the 1st annual program to be handed out at home games, raising approximately $4,000 to contribute to reducing the budgeted expenses for the players to pay out of pocket in dues.  He also held many conversations with then Club Sports Director at PSU Altoona, Peter Hopsicker, and worked with College Hockey East (CHE), an ACHA Club Division III league based out of Pittsburgh, to start the process of joining a league and scheduling games.   By the time the Fall 2002 Semester started, the turnout for the team was even better than Chris could have hoped for – 16 students had shown interest.  The final piece to put in place was to find a coaching staff.  Chris’s hockey coach during high school was Dave Weaver, who also happened to be the General Manager at Galactic Ice.  Chris approached Dave and asked if he would be interested in being the first Head Coach of the PSU Altoona hockey team and he agreed to take on the role.  After months worth of hard work over the summer and with the fall semester quickly approaching, everything began to take shape.

As September 2002 approached, the club was still working on getting approval from the Student Government and the Club Sports Department; therefore not making it possible to be a member of College Hockey East.  Chris had been in contact with the then Commissioner of CHE, Chuck Kuzniewski, who recommended calling other league members to see if they had interest in playing.  Thus, PSU Altoona ended up scheduling an independent 12 game schedule against teams from College Hockey East for the 2002-2003 season.

Under Head Coach Dave Weaver, the club, going under the name “Altoona Collegiate Ice Hockey”, played its first game ever on October 11th 2002 against St. Vincent College at Galactic Ice, showing strong potential of what was to come.  By this point, now officially serving as the club’s president, Chris had been working for a month on the by-laws and constitution for the club in preparation for the presentation at the upcoming Student Government meeting.  Then, after practicing and playing almost an entire month going under the Altoona Collegiate Ice Hockey name, the ice hockey club was brought before the SGA on October 22nd, 2002 and finally received approval and sanction by the Penn State Altoona Student Government Association, officially giving birth to Penn State Altoona Ice Hockey.

The team then played its first “official” game on November 1st 2002 against The University of Pittsburgh at Galactic Ice.  PSU Altoona was defeated in a close battle 2-0 in front of a large local fan base. The season continued on, playing other CHE teams such as Indiana University of PA, University of Pitt Johnstown, Penn State West, California University of PA, and West Virginia University D-II.  The most rewarding game of the season for PSU Altoona came when the Lions defeated California University of PA on home ice January 18th 2003, recording the first win ever for the Penn State Altoona Ice Hockey Team.  By this point the club had expanded from a small number of 16 players, to 21 players.

Penn State Altoona Ice Hockey’s inaugural season was one to remember.  After a challenging start, the team pulled together and ended the season on a positive note after being very competitive at the College Hockey East Provisional Tournament held at IUP in March 2003.  PSU Altoona ended the 2002-2003 season with an overall record of 2-9-1.  This season was not measured by wins and losses, but rather the overall success of getting the program up and running.  This team showed that no matter what the odds, you have to keep pressing forward to achieve success, and in the end, it will pay off.
Heading into the 2003-2004 Season

May 2003 – the Penn State Altoona Ice Hockey Club was voted into College Hockey East as a Provisional Member. CHE is the premier ACHA Division III college club ice hockey league for Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.  At the time, the league itself consisted of 11 club college ice hockey teams not including PSU Altoona.  The teams in CHE at that time were: Penn State West (Penn State McKeesport and Beaver campuses), Penn State Erie - Behrend, St. Vincent College, Indiana University of PA D-II, University of Pittsburgh D-III, University of Pittsburgh - Johnstown, Allegheny College, Edinboro University of PA, Carnegie Mellon University, California University of PA, and Case Western Reserve.  Penn State Altoona also will be playing non-league games against West Virginia University D-II, Penn State Berks, and Wheeling Jesuit College.

July 2003 – due to the withdrawal of Youngstown State University from CHE, PSU Altoona was voted into the league as a full time member, skipping the year of provisional status by filling in the spot in the central division of CHE for YSU.  This decision was made based upon the fact that PSU Altoona already played a “non-official” CHE schedule during the 2002-2003 season, participated in the CHE provisional tournament at the end of the 02-03 season and had a tremendous amount of positive feedback from all of the CHE teams who played PSU Altoona that year.  This made PSU Altoona eligible for the CHE playoffs and championship.

August 2003 – the Penn State Altoona Ice Hockey Club registered with the ACHA Division III.  As part of USA Hockey, the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) is the governing body for college club ice hockey teams. This made PSU Altoona eligible to be nationally ranked with all ACHA DIII teams, and after a year of provisional status in DIII, membership also made PSU Altoona eligible to attend the ACHA Division III National Tournament starting at the end of the 2004-2005 season, if qualified.

October 2003 – The Penn State Altoona Ice Hockey Club began its first full season of competition as a full-time member of CHE under new Head Coach, Mike Bowman.