Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
September 11, 2023 // Diocese

Knights of Columbus Hockey Team Combines Love of the Game, Love of God

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

The idea was a simple one, according to Knights of Columbus member Rob Morgan: Why not combine things he loves – God, the Knights, and hockey – and see if there was interest in forming
a team in South Bend that would celebrate all three?

In August of 2022, Morgan said he began to explore the possibility of beginning a team with some of his brother Knights and discovered “that there was more than just a little interest.” He added: “My original plan was to try and make up the team with all Knights. I had a great start, because five of the team members came from my council in South Bend, Ave Maria 5521. The other guys are from other councils in South Bend, Elkhart, LaPorte, and Mishawaka. Right now, we have approximately 16 members. Currently, nine are Knights, four are Catholic, and three are not.”

The team plays games once a week at the Ice Box Games Skating Rink in South Bend against other recreation league teams from various businesses and organizations around the area, Morgan said. The Knights play year-round.

Provided by Rob Morgan
Members of the Knights of Columbus hockey team pose for a picture at the Ice Box Skating Rink in South Bend. Pictured left to right in the back row are Dave Waltman, J.P. Burford, Pat Webb, Joey Ahlersmeyer, Nic Sherk, Nate Rohrer, and Taylor Williams. From left to right in the front row are Mike Hagen, George Sphorer, Rob Morgan, and Ed Ahlersmeyer.

According to Morgan, the rec-league teams don’t usually have a coach; it’s simply a group of guys who come together every week to play the sport they love.

“Currently, however, because of medical issues, I am the coach,” Morgan said. “I would rather be in the net and called ‘tendie’ (goaltender) instead of ‘coach’ by the guys. I do have to say that I have learned a lot about the game, being involved with activities on the bench and assigning positions, which, I must add, I get a lot of help doing so from the guys on the team.”

While the team loves the chance to score goals and win games, the primary goal is to have fun and bond together as men and hockey players.

“Aside from the sheer joy of playing hockey with some really great people, the camaraderie – as a Knights of Columbus team, and for those of us who are Catholic and Knights – we want to combine our love of God with the game that we love. We do begin each game with a prayer,” Morgan said.

Win or lose, the time together on the ice creates memorable moments for the players.

“One of the best memories of the team was when we were only playing our third or fourth game,” Morgan said. “We ended up tied at the end of regulation. We went to a shootout. This is where each goalie is on the ice and takes turns taking shots from opposing players until someone scores. We were tied at the end of the first round, which consisted of three shooters per round. We were two shooters into the second round, and I called on Nate [Rohrer], one of our newest skaters, to take his turn shooting. He scored the winning goal, and his first goal, to the extreme joy of everyone on the bench,” recalled Morgan.

“The most challenging aspect running the team is getting enough players each game. We all want to play, and sometimes it is not a problem; however, reality is what we have to deal with. Even though we all love the game, jobs, family, injuries, last-minute changes get in the way at times. So calling around and getting guys to sub is a challenge. I have a list of guys and gals who will sub if they can, which is greatly appreciated.” 

Morgan said anyone interested in getting involved is invited to contact the South Bend Senior Hockey Leagues at the Ice Box, or a local ice rink, to get on a team or get a team signed up to play. If you’re interested in playing with the Knights, contact Morgan at [email protected].

“We have a great sponsor who the guys really appreciate: Andrew Weiss, who is our local investment adviser with the Knights of Columbus and has helped steer guys my way,” Morgan said. “If you aren’t sure if you want to play, or are older, just stop by your local ice rink, watch, and talk to the guys and gals you see there. I don’t think you will find a more enthusiastic bunch of folks. I started at the age of 55 and played until I was 70. It was the best decision I ever made. Unless my wife is in the room, then it was the second-best decision I ever made.”

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