Shaler grads lead Duquense Roller Dukes to Tier 2 championship
Four Shaler High School graduates were members of the Duquesne University roller hockey team that won the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Roller Hockey League Tier 2 championship last month.
Juniors Jay Grubic, Mike Tarr and Craig Steedle and freshman Luke Vogel have been playing together since middle school when they joined forces as members of the Shaler Area Inline Hockey Association.
The Roller Dukes pulled off a sweep of CCAC-South in a best of three series at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center, winning Game 1 by a count of 3-2 and posting a 3-0 shutout in Game 2 to clinch the series.
Grubic, Tarr and Steedle are part of the Duquesne defensive corps, while Vogel plays forward.
Grubic and Tarr are a defensive pairing for the Roller Dukes. Playing together for so long has allowed them to develop a sense of what the other is going to do in game situations. Grubic tends to jump into the offensive play, while Tarr's responsibility is typically to stay at home on the defensive end.
“We had years in high school to learn each other,” Tarr said. “(Playing with Jay) is easy. I know what he's going to do. He knows the same about me.”
For the season, Grubic racked up five goals and four assists, while Tarr netted four goals and five helpers.
Fellow defenseman Steedle came through with eight goals and two assists on the season from his defensive spot. He touts the benefits of playing with his Shaler teammates and their no-nonsense style of play for helping the Roller Dukes to new heights during their recent championship run.
“Growing up, we pretty much had the same straightforward style of play,” Steedle said. “We have good skills, but we're not really fancy. We play more of an ice (hockey)-type game.”
Vogel had five goals and five assists on the year.
Among Vogel's tallies was the tying goal in the Game 1 win over CCAC-South, which he scored from behind the net on a bank shot off the opposing goalie's backside.
Though this is his first year playing for the Roller Dukes, Vogel has enjoyed being reunited with his fellow Shaler grads and getting to know the rest of the players on the team.
“I couldn't ask for better teammates,” Vogel said.
The 2012-13 campaign was the first full season that roller hockey was recognized as an official club sport by the university, and winning a title this season is a source of pride for this year's team.
Team captain Alex Regina, a doctorate student and Hempfield High School grad, was among those who spearheaded the effort to get club status for the Roller Dukes.
Regina came through with a team- and career-high 14 goals this season and coordinates the team's activities all the way down to details like uniform design.
Goalie Jon Skonezny, another Hempfield product, has been a teammate of Regina's since the ninth grade. Aside from two players from the Philadelphia area, Duquesne's Tier 2 team is made up entirely of talent from the Pittsburgh area.
With most of the roster intact, the Roller Dukes are hoping they're primed for another title run next season.
Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.