Special to the OBSERVER
After an absence of 26 days, the Fredonia State men's hockey team returns to the Steele Hall Ice Arena this Friday against the Buffalo State Bengals.
When the puck drops at 7 p.m., it'll bear a memorial mark for a long-time supporter of the Blue Devil hockey program.
Pat Coughlin was a cancer survivor for nearly three years before succumbing earlier this year. His wake and funeral brought many former Fredonia State men's hockey players back to town, and their return necessitated a visit to Coughlan's Pub, a downtown Fredonia establishment operated by Pat and his brother Joe.
See COUGHLIN, Page B4
In the midst of telling stories about working in the bar, renting apartments above it, and playing alongside the Coughlin brothers during the annual Blue Devil Alumni Game, someone among the former players came up with the idea of paying tribute to Pat in some way during the 2012-13 hockey season.
"There's a long history between the Coughlin family and the hockey program," Blue Devil head coach Jeff Meredith said. "Pat certainly was a great friend of our program and so many of our older hockey alums are very, very close with Pat and his family. When the alums were in town they talked about how we could honor Pat and pay tribute to him. Some of the guys thought maybe stickers for the helmets and things along those lines, but we decided to go with the Blue Devil logo (over) a shamrock with Pat's initials in it."
The pucks have been in use at all home games this season and have become a collector's item among people who knew Pat. "This year," Meredith said, "I have had (hockey) referees during or after the game ask me for one of those logo pucks because they would go down to Coughlan's after the games and got to know Pat pretty well."
Friday's game will be the Blue Devils' first one on home ice since Nov. 3, when the Blue Devils scored a 2-1 overtime win over SUNYAC opponent Morrisville. They followed that with a 3-1 win at Potsdam ahead of consecutive road losses at Plattsburgh, Cortland, and Oswego. The Blue Devils were outscored 16-3 in the three games and dropped to 4-5 overall, 3-4 in the SUNYAC.
Buffalo State brings a 2-4-1 SUNYAC record into Friday's game. The Bengals are 3-5-1 overall and 1-4 in road games. Conversely, the Blue Devils are 3-1 at home.
"Buffalo State," Meredith said, "is probably one of the most underrated teams in the country right now. I don't think they've hit their stride yet. I know they have been working hard and their expectations are much higher than the record that they have right now. But it I think Buffalo State is, as always, a very dangerous team."