Holy Ghost Prep will begin its post-holiday hockey schedule with a trip to western Pennsylvania. The Firebirds will face Shady Side Academy on Wednesday (6:30) before taking on North Allegheny, last year’s Class AAA state runner up, in an outdoor game on Friday at Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park (7:00 start).
Senior forward Brian Butler one of his team’s captains, is looking forward to the trip.
“It’s such a great experience,” he said, “especially for us, and the younger guys to get to know each other even more.
“I know we’re playing two high-caliber teams. And it’s important for us to compete, and that’s what we do well. And that’s what we’re looking forward to doing; just go and compete.”
Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside was a prep-school teammate of Mike Bagnoto, his counterpart at North Allegheny.
“Mike Bagnoto, and I were teammates at Northwood Prep back in 1981,” Whiteside recalls, “and we’ve created a friendship over the years. And North Allegheny competes in the Jamestown (N.Y.) tournament (a fixture on the Holy Ghost Prep schedule) as well. So, when this opportunity came up, I reached out to Mike and he said “Let’s do it.’”
Apart from the two hockey games, the Firebirds will also be participating in a seminar organized by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation entitled Finding Your Dream in Pittsburgh.
The student-athletes will explore how to use their passion for hockey to create relationships with marginalized students. They will also learn how professional sports teams use their influence to lift up communities in need.
The seminar is part of the Spiritan Immersion Program and, along with the outdoor game, the brainchild of Holy Ghost Prep graduate Jim Britt Jr. who heads the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Whiteside said. “It’s another opportunity for our hockey program and our school to just find out a little bit more about other schools.”
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