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UPG hockey helps out Toys for Tots

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
Norwin Star
Sandra Parreno of Greensburg Marine Detachment 834, center, is joined by Serra Catholic hockey player Jonathan Michael Lesnak, left, and Pitt-Greensburg hockey player Billy Lesnak during the Pitt-Greensburg hockey team's Toys for Tots collection drive at Center Ice Arena in Delmont on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. Matt Grubba | Norwin Star

It's the season of giving, and the Pitt-Greensburg hockey team used its home game last weekend to get in the holiday spirit.

The Bobcats' hockey club teamed up with the Greater Greensburg Marine Corps League Detachment 834 to collect donations to Toys for Tots during Pitt-Greensburg's game against Penn State-Behrend on Saturday night at the Center Ice Arena in Delmont.

Admission to the game was free for fans who brought a toy to donate, and fans supporting both teams were eager to contribute in the 5-year-old Pitt-Greensburg hockey club's first fundraiser of this kind.

“(Saturday) was our first time doing anything like that,” Pitt-Greensburg coach Tim Baldwin said. “It helps us to get our name out in the community, given that we're a small school and a young team, and its good to help a group like Toys for Tots.”

For a first-time event, the Bobcats' collection drive couldn't have been much more successful. According to Baldwin, the team was able to fill two and a half collection boxes with toys, and on top of that, it treated the fans to an exciting game on the ice.

“We had an outstanding crowd there for both teams, even though the team we were playing was coming down from Erie,” Baldwin said. “We don't know an exact number on what we collected, but it was probably our best crowd this season.”

Penn State-Behrend ended up coming from behind to win in the final minute of overtime, 6-5, which dropped Pitt-Greensburg's record to 7-6-1 on the season. The team features players that came from school districts across the WPIAL, and a large number of them are local to Westmoreland County schools, such as Latrobe, Norwin, Penn-Trafford and Hempfield.

Because of the local flavor on the team, Baldwin said, doing events such as last weekend's collection drive can help the fledgling program recruit and gain exposure while benefiting community groups in and around the Greensburg area.

“We participate in the Greensburg Parade each year, as a part of the school, but this is our first time doing an independent fundraiser as a club,” Baldwin said.

“We would have liked to win the game, but other than that, it was a very successful night. We even said right after the game that we'd want to do this again, and maybe do something for other charities throughout the season.”

While there is no fundraiser attached, Pitt-Greensburg's hockey team is back on the ice in Delmont for one last home game before Christmas, a contest on Friday at 7 p.m. against West Virginia.

Pitt-Greensburg's hockey season continues through February, and a schedule and other information can be found online at www.bobcatsicehockey.com.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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