Gay Hockey Team Wins League Championship

Mon. April 11, 2005 12:00 AM

Chicago, IL - The dream became reality Sunday for the Chicago Gay Hockey Association.

In its third year of operation, the CGHA won the Rolling Meadows H2 Senior Men's League championship, defeating the Misfits 3 in overtime, 4-3. The championship is the CGHA's first and is a first in Chicago for a predominantly-gay hockey team.

"It's an awesome feeling to win. This was a great accomplishment," said Andy Rogers, an original team member who scored the game-winning goal in the championship game.

Added team president and founder Chuck Jacobson, "It's so exciting for the CGHA to not only reach the championship game, but win it. This is what we dreamed about years ago when the team was established."

The championship win was anything but easy for the CGHA, formerly know as Team Spin and now playing as the Black Wolves. They fell behind 2-0 in the first period before Michael Ko scored off a pass from Andy Rogers at 7:45 of the second period, cutting the score to 2-1. The Misfits made it 3-1 with 5:18 remaining to play in the third.

With about two minutes to play, the CGHA called a timeout and pulled goalie Keith Halverson, opting for six skaters. Center Larry Zyks won the faceoff to Rusty Fleury, whose shot on goal was stopped - but Rogers tapped home the rebound, making the score 3-2 with 1:53 remaining.

The Black Wolves continued the pressure and again pulled Halverson after Zyks won the faceoff and moved the puck into the Misfits' zone. Fleury grabbed the puck on the left-hand side and sent it back to defenseman Brian Merlot, whose shot on goal was tipped in by Ringo Leung with 1:32 remaining in regulation time.

"Winning our first playoff game (9-0 over the Slashing Pumpkins in the quarterfinals) made me believe we could keep going, win it all," said Rogers, who also scored the game-winning goal April 8 in the semifinals, a 2-1 overtime win. "The team was energized, excited for the playoffs. We really wanted to win it all, and I think our drive and never-say-die attitude on the ice proved it.

"This is my first championship in 10 years of playing hockey ... I couldn't be happier."
Rogers scored the game-winning goal against the Misfits on a breakaway with less than a minute to play in the first sudden-death overtime.

"Just like any team, gay or straight, we set out to win the championship. It's a thrill to accomplish our goal. It feels great," Jacobson said.

Added Ryan Ruskin, another original CGHA team member, "We really hope this championship will help generate more interest, awareness and support in the team, especially within the gay community. We're proud to represent the gay community and hopefully the community now will support us a little more."

The CGHA will take to the ice at the Allstate Arena this Saturday, April 16, for a game (starting at 3 p.m.) against the Chicago Whalers, which precedes the Chicago Wolves minor league hockey game that evening. Tickets to the CGHA game ($15), which also include admission to the Wolves game, are only $15.

For more information on the CGHA, or to order tickets to the Allstate Arena game, call: (773) 968-7474.
Chicago Gay Hockey Association