West Chester’s hockey program has had some tremendous players who had storied careers while donning the purple and gold. Jim Gehring, Pat Johnson, Bob Gialienella, Steve Jones-all among the elite hockey players to come through West Chester.
It’s time to add one more name to that list.
Steve Meade, who just completed his fourth and final season as a member of the Golden Rams hockey team, has been a fixture for the squad since his freshman season in 2009-10.
Meade, who is known for his offensive skill, has scored 167 points (85 goals and 82 assists) in his 131 games as a Ram-well over a point-per-game average. He has only gone three games without a point one time in those four years, and has recorded 53 multi-point games. Several times, even as a rookie, he has had multi-point games four or five games in a row.
“The kid can score,” veteran Rams goaltender Randy Japchen said. “He puts himself into the right places and he finds ways to bury [the puck]. Hes’ smart with the puck, he makes smart decisions and he sets up guys to score. Usually when kids stay in a league for a while their tendencies get picked up, and you see their scoring drop. [But] he’s been consistent.”
Throughout his career, Meade has had the ability to make those around him better. His point totals are not due to extremely high goal numbers, but a remarkably balanced number of goals and assists. If he has to do the work, he can and will, but just as often he uses his puck handling ability, smarts, and ice vision to give his linemates a chance at a goal.
“Steve is one of those unique players that always finds the puck,” junior forward Matt Sklodowski said. “Playing with Steve this year really benefited my game in both ends of the rink… offense becomes much easier and more consistent when having a line mate like him.”
A lot of what has made Meade such a lethal player is his ability to play all facets of the game with skill and hard work. He is a good defensive forward, positions himself well, and is more than willing to dish out a hit.
“He [could] score goals, kill penalties and throw his weight around,” Sklodowski said. “You always knew Meader was going to give you 100 percent, which is what you look for in a captain.”
It was only going to be a matter of time before Meade was named captain, and he finally got the “C” late in the 2011-12 season. There could not be an example of a better person to wear the letter.
“Meader was definitely a captain that lead by example on and off the ice. He was the president of our club who always knew how to go about things the right way,” Sklodowski said.
Meade also set an example for other players in the classroom, achieving Academic All American twice in his four years.
“Being named captain my junior year was a huge honor,” Meade said, “An opportunity like that is certainly something special because it’s rare at the college level. Being captain is no easy task, but I can credit my coaches and more specifically the GM Dom Belizzi with helping developing me into a leader.”
That’s the other thing about Meade, he gives credit where credit is due, and is so modest he even gives credit when it is not due. He is quick to point out that he would not be as good of a player without good linemates, and gives credit to his coaches and veteran players for helping shape him into the player he became, and to his family for helping him get to this point.
“As a freshman, we had a lot of seniors on the team, but players that significantly helped me out were Eric Keene, Mike Longo, Jon Hendricks, Pat Johnson, Chris Baer, and Jeff Shockly, along with junior at the time, Steve Jones,” Meade said. “It was a great group of guys who really wanted to help me grow as a player, so they were always teaching me the ins and outs of little parts of my game to make it better.”
“I learned alot about the game from both Coach Gonzo and Coach Dorsey as well. They were really helpful in allowing me to see the game slower and really control plays.”
“Also, thanks to my parents Steve and Shirley, my girlfriend Amanda, and my Uncle Mac who were basically in attendance for every single game over my four year career here. They made it easy to go out on the ice every night knowing I had their support 100 percent of the time. It really is a tough sport that you put a lot of time into, and knowing that you have support from people off the ice who love you-it really makes it that much easier.”
He will give some credit to himself, however, and is proud of what has been able to accomplish as a Golden Ram.
“I take the most pride in the fact that I was able to stay healthy for all of my games here, and knowing that I always played my games at the highest level possible that I could every night,” Meade said.
As Meade finished up his senior year and gets ready to graduate from West Chester, he is able to look back and see that he took much more away from his time with the hockey team than just a handful-albeit large handful-of goals and awards.
“The biggest thing I will take away from playing here will certainly be everything I learned-from in game strategies, to developing a great work ethic-but also the great friendships I have gained from having the pleasure of playing for this organization,” Meade said.
“We built friendships and relationships that are truly unexplainable and you only understand them if your involved with them…playing for WCU was a phenomenal experience, one I certainly will never forget,” Meade said.
Meade might have laced up his skates for West Chester for the last time, but a lot of what he stood for and did as a player and person will be right back next season, displayed by all of those he helped and influenced during his storied career here.
Kenny Ayres is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at KA739433@wcupa.edu.