Special sold-out weekend salutes Romney history

hockey practiceAfter more than 40 years hosting thousands of cheering students, hundreds of exciting hockey contests, several All-Americans and at least one Olympian, Golden Romney Field House’s farewell tour will spotlight a pair of sold-out games this weekend.

Romney Farewell Weekend on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3 and 4, features a game with archrival Plattsburgh, an alumni contest and the home regular-season finale against Potsdam. The increased demand—the first time Romney games have ever sold-out in advance—reinforces the excitement that has built for the weekend activities. The games air live on college station WTOP—channel 10 on campus, channel 96 on Time Warner Cable in the Oswego community.

While Oswego’s nationally ranked hockey team is slated to skate next fall in a state-of-the-art arena at the new Campus Center, the character and history of Romney has made the former airplane hangar, by all accounts, a tough place for visitors but a cozy oasis for fans of the home team.

When Oswego State Hall of Famer Gardner “Tully” Wells joined the athletic department in 1959, he envisioned bring a hockey program to the lakeside campus. He reportedly found interest but needed a building. Accounts say he found an unused airplane hangar and had the structure disassembled, shipped by the truckload, reassembled and renovated.

It opened around 1963 as the first ice rink in the SUNY system, named for Golden Romney, a longtime chair of physical education at the college. In addition to hockey games, it has also hosted SUNY Oswego’s May Commencement ceremonies since 1964.

After two years as a club sport, the Laker ice hockey team began intercollegiate play in the 1966-67 season, compiling a 15-4-1 record. Now in its 39th season, the program has only had seven losing seasons.

Oswego’s 14 All-American mentions include Pete Sears, a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic hockey team who still coaches Laker goalies.

Romney Field House has hosted SUNY Athletic Conference tournament championship games as well as National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament contests. Oswego has gone to the national championship game twice (on the road), coming away just short in 1991 and 2003.

This year’s squad, currently ranked among the top 10 in the country, has its eyes on glory despite its relative youth.

One of college hockey’s most storied rivalries will see the Lakers host Plattsburgh on Friday, Feb. 3. The next night’s game against Potsdam will mark the building’s regular-season finale and will recognize both this year’s seniors and the many former players expected to attend. Some of these hockey alumni will take part in a special, admission-free game in Romney at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4.

With the Lakers battling for a top seed in the SUNYAC tournament, and the home games that would come with it, fans hope that Romney still has a few memories remaining even after the farewell weekend.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Parting shots—The Oswego State ice hockey team practices in Golden Romney Field House earlier this month. With the hockey program expected to move to the Campus Center upon the completion of its convocation center/ice arena this fall, Romney’s farewell weekend will feature the storied building’s final two regular-season games on Feb. 3 and 4, against Plattsburgh and Potsdam.

(Posted: Jan 25, 2006)