Air Force Hockey Team Plays Florida Tech In Charity Game At Ice Plex

By  //  April 23, 2015

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Panthers win 10-6

Hockey players from the Air Force Technical Applications Center (left, in white) and the Florida Institute of Technology (right, in  maroon) paired off for a charity game March 21, 2015, to raise funds for wounded warriors.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Hockey players from the Air Force Technical Applications Center (left, in white) and the Florida Institute of Technology (right, in maroon) paired off for a charity game to raise funds for wounded warriors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

BREVARD COUNTY • ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA — It may have been 84 degrees outside, but inside the Space Coast IcePlex, the ice was frozen solid and the enthusiasm sky high.

Thirteen members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center faced off against players from Florida Institute of Technology’s hockey team last month to raise money for the wounded warriors.

The charity game was the brain child of Master Sgt. Aaron Trudel, AFTAC’s radiochemistry lab superintendent. He and co-worker William Hungate, a senior operations officer, share a passion for the sport and thought it might be fun to put a team together.

“About a year ago, Aaron and I had traveled together for a site survey for work,” said Hungate.

“I could tell by his accent that he was from the northeast, and from that we learned we both love hockey.”

From their conversations and passion for the sport, Trudel put feelers out to the base and local community hoping to find a team they could challenge to a charity match.

 Air Force Technical Applications Center forward Brent Matteson, far left, tips the puck past Florida Institute of Technology's goalie, Chris Kennedy, during a charity hockey game. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Air Force Technical Applications Center forward Brent Matteson, far left, tips the puck past Florida Institute of Technology’s goalie, Chris Kennedy, during a charity hockey game. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Hungate had played for the FIT club team several years ago, and through his connections with past and current players, the university athletes agreed to a match with AFTAC.

Air Force Logo - Silver and Blue 3D, with text“Here’s where the real fun began,” said Trudel.

“Another co-worker of mine, Brent Matteson, and I had been playing in pick-up games every Sunday for a few months. Two other AFTACers, Joe Dreher and Luke Peffers had skated together before so we recruited them.

“We generated enough interest within the center to get 13 people on the roster, including Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Goodwin, who had never played in an ice hockey game in her life.”

Hungate joked that their first practice as a full team occurred during the game’s first period, the second practice was the second period, and the third period was their first game.

“We had never practiced as a team before we stepped on the ice for this match,” he said.

“But we certainly came together and played as if we had been skating together for a long time. Just goes to show you the acumen and heart of our players.”

Sled Hockey Thrives At Space Coast IceplexRelated Story:
Sled Hockey Thrives At Space Coast Iceplex

The teams paired off at the Space Coast Iceplex in Rockledge, with AFTAC’s vocal group, Atomic Blue, delivering the National Anthem and AFTAC’s vice commander, Lt. Col. Jeff Dyball, dropping the ceremonial puck.

Through three periods of exciting back-and-forth action, without a single penalty, injury or fight, the Panthers came away with the victory, 10-6.

“From my standpoint, there wasn’t a loser in this game,” said Hungate.

“For starters, the look in the eyes of the Florida Tech players when they saw we knew what we were doing and how to play was maybe a little more than they expected. But the true winners in this are the veterans who will benefit from the funds raised for the wounded warriors.”

FIT_Seal-580At the end of the game, the team lined up for the traditional handshake, then gathered at center ice as Trudel and Hungate presented a symbolic check to Iceplex manager, James Francis, in the amount of $2,340.

“In addition to the FIT Panthers and the fans who came out to support us, I can’t thank the folks at Space Coast Iceplex enough for their generosity, as well as the Blue Jackets who donated their time to serve as off-ice officials,” said Trudel.

“This game never would have happened if these people didn’t come together for our worthy cause.”

Of note: the three ceremonial pucks that were dropped each contained the name of a fallen warrior to honor their ultimate sacrifice.

“Our goalie, Keith ‘Spyke’ Schneider, plays a lot of charity games for the wounded warriors, and he has an extensive collection of pucks that have been dropped for courageous patriots who have given their all,” said Trudel.

“Spyke plans to bring all those pucks to Arlington National Cemetery someday.”

Team AFTAC has already scheduled other local and regional hockey clubs interested in playing for charity in the future.

“We hope the momentum from this game grows and word gets out that we are a team to be reckoned with.” Trudel boasted.

AFTAC hockey team plays FIT in charity game-580-2

Members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center choral group, ‘Atomic Blue,’ sing the National Anthem a cappella prior to a charity hockey game between AFTAC and Florida Institute of Technology. Pictured from left to right: Rick Rousseau, Amy Burch, Kerrilee Meeker and Norvel Perkins. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

AFTAC hockey team plays FIT in charity game-580-3

Lt. Col. Jeff Dyball, center, vice commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, drops the ceremonial puck as Aaron Trudel, left, and Thomas Larkin, right, faceoff. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

AFTAC hockey team plays FIT in charity game-580-5

Aaron Trudel (left) thanks the crowd at the Space Coast Iceplex for their generosity in raising more than $2,300 for wounded warriors during a charity hockey game March 21, 2015. Trudel and his team from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., presented the ceremonial check to Iceplex manager James Francis. AFTAC went head-to-head with the hockey club from the Florida Institute of Technology. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

AFTAC hockey team plays FIT in charity game-580-4

Air Force Technical Applications Center forward Shawn White anticipates a pass during a charity match against the Florida Institute of Technology Panthers. (U.S. Air Force photo by George Mirda)


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