The Mercer Bulldogs traveled to Laurel, Maryland to participate in the UCT Winter Festival on January 18-19. It was our first away tournament, and the team and families had so much fun that we’re already discussing where we’ll go next! Aside from playing in three games, our Bulldogs got to bond away from the ice, it's easy to bond over a weekend filled with hockey!
Our first game on Saturday morning was a wild contest with the Montgomery Cheetahs from Montgomery, Maryland. The game was scoreless for almost the entire first period until the Bulldogs put one home to take an early lead. After that the floodgates opened and goals became abundant between the two teams. Kevin A., was stout in net making saves to keep the score tied while his teammates tried to put the puck past the Cheetahs’ goalie, who was equally up to the challenge. It was a fast-paced contest with Bulldogs and Cheetahs racing up and down the ice all game long. The first game turned out to be a great start to the weekend!
One of the great features of the UCT Festival was the opportunity to play on Whitey’s Pond, a small outdoor rink located at the Gardens Ice Center. What a thrill it must have been for Troy J. to make his Bulldogs game debut on this unique outdoor rink!
Our second Saturday game took place outside in the elements against the Steel City Icebergs out of Pittsburgh, PA. They proved to be a formidable foe as they established an early lead on the small ice. The Icebergs were big, strong and fast which made it an even more difficult challenge for the Bulldogs on the smaller surface. The cold wind even made it difficult for our goalie to hold his stick! It took time, but the Bulldogs eventually put some pucks past the Icebergs' goalie and got back into the game. As much fun as the Bulldogs had on Whitey’s Pond, there was some relief when the final buzzer sounded so players and parents could get back inside into the ‘warm’ indoor ice rink!
On Saturday night, the Bulldogs participated in the medal ceremony. They were given their medals by the US Naval Academy Women’s Ice Hockey team in front of a large cheering crowd. Then the real fun began as the Bulldogs families had a party back at the hotel with a dip in the pool, pizza in the common area, and even some knee hockey in the hotel hallway.
After a night of much needed rest, the Bulldogs took on their final opponent, the Connecticut Storm. Thankfully this contest was on an indoor rink and similar to the Cheetahs' game - an even matchup. Both teams raced up and down ice at a feverish pace, trading goals and scoring opportunities with one another. A great performance from all of the Bulldogs who put forth a fantastic effort for the third straight game!
The players and families that traveled to the tournament were fantastic representatives of the Bulldogs organization, and we are all very proud of how they performed and conducted themselves both on and off the ice. And special thanks to Mike Hickey, David Lucia and all the ASHA volunteers for making this event such a tremendous success! We’re excited for those players who were able to participate and are looking forward to more players joining in on our next tournament!
Click here for more Bulldog pics from the tournament's photographer, Whitney Harrington.