Saturday, October 22, 2011


Here's an interesting development for tonight's game...

Gary Heenan will not be behind the bench when the Utica College men’s hockey team opens its regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Heenan, the founder of UC’s hockey program and the only coach in the team’s 11-season history, will serve a one-game suspension for a secondary violation of NCAA rules and will miss the Pioneers’ game with SUNY Brockport. Assistant coach Juliano Pagliero will lead the team in his absence.

The violation, discovered and reported to the NCAA by UC athletic director Jim Spartano, involved a workout that was posted on the team’s web site last spring for the notification of the players. The workout, posted by an assistant coach, was described as “mandatory,” which is not allowed.

“I was aware of the rule,” Heenan said. “I was unaware the language was in there. Our guys were totally aware the workouts were voluntary. I’m disappointed in myself for not catching this. It’s an unfortunate way to start the season.”

Spartano said he and Heenan agreed the suspension would be for the first regular season game rather than tonight’s exhibition game with the Royal Military College.

“We wanted it to be meaningful,” he said. “I’m 100 percent certain it was inadvertent. It was something that slipped through the cracks. Gary stepped up to the plate and accepted responsibility.”

Heenan will be in the building for the game, but Spartano said he will not be allowed on the bench or in the locker room or have contact with the players.