This past weekend while the nation remembered the 10th anniversary of September 11, the Pittsburgh Hornets held the first ever “Patriots Challenge” at the RMU Island Sports Center.
The event featured three teams from the areas of the country most impacted 10 years ago, the New Jersey Rockets (New York City), Team Maryland (Washington DC), and the Pittsburgh
Hornets (Shanksville, Pa.).
The Challenge consisted of five games, three on Saturday and two on Sunday, with each team hoping to win the Patriots Challenge Cup donated by the Mascali family. Joe Mascali was a fireman who gave his life on September 11 and is one of the thousands of men and women being honored by the event. His nephew Jack Mascali plays for the Rockets.
Each team participated in community service projects for the event. The Hornets will make care packages for those in the 171st wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.
Several professional hockey teams donated items to the Challenge’s silent auction, including a team autographed Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Winter Classic Jersey, a team autographed Washington Capitals stick, and a U.S. flag that was flown over the Capitol donated by Team Maryland. Proceeds will go to the Wounded Warriors Project (WWP), an association set up to honor those who were injured in the line of duty during and after September 11.
The end of the first day resulted in victories by all teams with the Rockets winning Game 1 against the Hornets (2-1) with goals scored by Mascali and John Daniello of the Rockets. Dan Knightly and Nicholas Gallo both had an assist. Billy Carr of the Hornets scored their only goal of the game with assists by Dalton Piacitelli and Matt Krieger.
Game 2 was won by Maryland with a final score of 2-0. Both goals were scored in the last period by Jack Belmans and Matthew Deegan. Nic Band had two assists and Andrew Erwin added one.
The Hornets crushed Maryland in Game 3 ending the day with a score of 9-1. Liam Walsh and Tanner Palocsik of the Hornets were the stars of the game, each with a hat trick and two assists for Walsh. Andrew Hachmeister and Patrick O’Neal both added a goal and an assist each. Anthony Szurlej also added to the Hornets’ goal tally. Krieger, Trevor Gilliland, and Ryan Quinn all had two assists while Carr, Cameron Fisher, Justin Kidd, and Piacitelli each had one. Aaron Greene scored for Maryland with an assist by Koby Kovacs and Deegan.
The first game of Day 2 ended Maryland’s time in Pittsburgh as they lost to the Rockets (1-0). On the 10 year anniversary of his uncle’s fateful day at the World Trade Center, Mascali scored the game-winning goal for the Rockets with 10:08 left, moving his team towards the final game against the Hornets.
Game 5 kept the victory here in Pittsburgh as the Hornets defeated the Rockets and won the Patriots challenge with a final score of 9-0. Once again Walsh and Palocsik led their team to victory with two goals and two assists from each. Fisher scored as well and had two assists. Gilliland added both a goal and an assist while O’Neal and Carr each scored a point. Quinn had two more assists and Brayden Lange, Piacitelli, and Szurlej each had one.
The Patriots Challenge was a success, raising over $12,000 for the Wounded Warriors Project. Three Pee Wee Major Hockey Teams battled for the Cup, with the Pittsburgh Hornets emerging as the winner. While the teams fiercely competed over the weekend, each person remembered the men and women we lost 10 years ago and those who continue to give their lives every day to keep us safe.
The Patriots Challenge will resume next year at the New Jersey Devils’ Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.