Opening face off at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena against Duquesne University. (L-R) Roland DeFelice, Dave Vance and Chris Carlton.
“A New Look for the Team”
1974 – 1975
“Green and Gold Takes to the Ice”
It was the 6’th season for the Polar Bearcats. After years of sporting the Farrell inspired Black and Gold Bruin color scheme, the team switched uniforms to a solid gold shirt with green trim, letters, and numbers. It was hoped that the new sweaters modeled after the NHL California Golden Seals uniforms would help the team revitalize itself and get back on the playoff trail as it had experienced in the 1972-1973 season. Unfortunately, the team lost many close games and dropped several key games near the end of the season and narrowly missed a playoff spot. It was a season that created some great on ice rivalries and hard fought games and practices.
Danny Morris was elected Caprtain. Voted as Assistant’s were Chris Carlton, Dave Vance, and Denny Brunetta. Vince Kadlubek had finally decided to hang up the skates and moved in as an Assistant Coach under Al Reinshagen. “Soda” contracted mononucleosis and was unable to obtain the high level of performance the team would have needed to be successful. Jeff Fondl moved to the blue line and Denny Brunetta and Keith Coon decided to give it another year.
Typical of the way the campaign went for St. Vincent, a scheduling mix up had only part of the team show up for a game against St. Francis in Johnstown. While most of the team was still in Latrobe on a Sunday afternoon, a handful of players were willing to make a game of it. Fortunately, the brother of first year star player Roland DeFelice had accompanied the team to watch the game at the Cambria County War Memorial. Bob DeFelice borrowed some old pads and played the first two periods while the rest of the team hustled to Johnstown. The iron men who started the game were doing well enough on their own. With the fresh legs that had just arrived, SVC blitzed the Frankies with 8 goals in the 3’rd period to end with a 10-3 victory.
Eventually tough losses in close games created tension among the team. Two factions developed and as a result there were frequent scuffles in practice. Finally the Polar Bearcats needed a win in the final game of the year against Duquesne to make the playoffs. Although playing inspired hockey in the first period, SVC fell behind 3-2, but a crushing shoulder check by Chris Carlton on Dukes star forward C.H. Bender at center ice finished him for the game and with C.H. out of the lineup hope remained. Coming out strong, Sat. Vincent finished the second period with a 5-3 lead. Every player was thinking upset and playoffs. Unfortunately, the team could not muster any goals and gave up an agonizing 3 tallies to Duquesne to end up losing by a 6-5 margin.
So the season ended. The new green and gold sweaters failed to work their magic. Not only did the team suffer losses on the ice during the 1974-1975 season, tragedy struck the team off the ice as well. Andy Vahaly, the Assistant Director, passed away before the end of the school year as a result of a hemorrhage while playing cards with a group of friends in his dorm. A mass of Christian Burial was held in Andy’s honor at St. Vincent Basilica. It is in Andy’s memory that the team spirit award is given each year.