On the evening of Sunday, Oct. 27, at Bristol’s Grundy Arena, a group of middle school-aged boys from Bensalem laced up their skates with determination before flying onto the ice, ready to take on the opposing team of Wissahickon.
For most, this wasn’t their first hockey experience at the arena, with many previously playing for the Grizzlies and Senators.
But for all, this was the first time they had the pleasure of sporting blue jerseys emblazoned with Benjamin Franklin’s lightning bolt, kite and string (designed by a player’s family) and the beloved Owls mascot, officially representing their own Bensalem Township School District.
Earlier this year, local couple Dave and Allison Gasiewski made the decision to form an ice hockey team exclusively for Bensalem middle schoolers.
“We know there are many young hockey players in the Bensalem community. While watching our two sons, Andrew and Kyle, play at Grundy for the Grizzlies and Senators, we noticed many surrounding communities also had middle and high school teams, like Pennsbury, Truman and Neshaminy,” said Allison.
Though Bensalem had a team in the past, it dissolved, leaving young players no choice but to join other teams if they had a passion for the ice. But, according to Dave, if Bensalem students wanted to play hockey at the high school level, it would be nearly impossible.
“You have to have a middle school team to roll into a high school team,” he explained.
In order to give his children and their peers the chance to play in high school and represent the Bensalem community, Dave began gauging interest for a middle school team in early 2019. His idea was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.
Currently, Dave serves as head coach of the team, which consists of players who attend grades 5 through 8 in Bensalem. This includes all public elementary and middle schools as well as the private and charter schools. Jordan Roth, a teacher with Bensalem School District, is the assistant coach.
“The hope is to do one year just middle school, and then have a high school team as well next year,” Dave said.
The season runs through March and, so far, Bensalem isn’t doing too shabby. After their first three games, the Owls were 2-1 before taking on Pennsbury on Nov. 17.
Family, friends and community members filled the bleachers as Dave led the team in a pre-game pep talk.
If the outcome of this game is any indication of what’s to come during the rest of the season, with Bensalem winning 5-0, it’s safe to say these boys are a force to be reckoned with.
Anyone interested in joining the team in 2020 can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tryouts will take place in May. For more information, visit facebook.com/bensalemmiddleschoolhockey or follow the team on Instagram at @bensalem.hockey.
Upcoming games include: Dec. 8, at 6:15 p.m. at Grundy Arena against Plymouth Whitemarsh; Dec. 15, at 6:15 p.m. at Grundy Arena against Abington; Dec. 22, at 6:15 p.m. at Hatfield Ice in Hatfield against Wissahickon; Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. at Grundy Arena against Central Bucks South; Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. at Grundy Arena against Upper-Lower Moreland; Jan. 26, at 6:15 p.m. at Grundy Arena against Truman; Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. at Revolution Ice Garden in Warminster against Plymouth Whitemarsh; Feb. 23, at 5:45 p.m. at Revolution Ice Garden against Abington; and March 1, at 6:15 p.m. at Grundy Arena against Pennsbury. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com