Roller hockey league lauds players, past and present


Skaters from around the country gathered in North Bellmore on Saturday for the Bellmore-Merrick Roller Hockey League’s Player Appreciation Day.

The 30-year-old league honored its leaders and players, past and present, while alumni laced up their skates for a number of intense games.

The Bellmore Merrick Youth Association founded the roller hockey league in 1980. Some of the original players, who can recall competing on basketball courts at Newbridge Road Elementary School before North Bellmore’s rink opened in 1987, attended appreciation day.

Adam Alberico, an alumnus who helped organize the festivities, said the goal of the day was to honor members and raise money for the nonprofit group through T-shirt and raffle sales. The alumni group and league gave out dozens of pieces of hockey memorabilia, including hats, jerseys and cards signed by National Hockey League Hall of Famers and U.S. Olympians.

State Assemblyman Dave McDonough, of North Merrick, presented citations to several former league board members, including Richard Rollando, Ed Stepnowski, and Stephen and Kathy Sharkey. He also honored Michael Lugassy, who is with the league.

Former players Pat McCaffrey and Pat Braglia were inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame, along with longtime coach and referee Sam Slutsky. And the alumni honored the late Maxine Manara, one of the league’s founding members.

Alumni, who came from as far as Florida, Nevada and Massachusetts, took part in several roller hockey games. Luke Lane, a student at John G. Dinkelmeyer Elementary School, was named an honorary coach in the tournament and dropped the first puck.