FORT WAYNE – Imagine for a moment that you get to realize a dream. And it's awesome. But just days later you find out it had unknowingly torpedoed many of your other hopes and dreams.
Would it have been worth it?
That's about how Todd Mancuso feels today, after learning Thursday he had unanimously lost an appeal he had filed with the American Collegiate Athletic Association.
His college hockey career with IPFW is over and all because he spent one night – never getting off the bench – as an emergency goalie with the Komets.
"He doesn't have any eligibility left because he rostered in a professional game," said Rick Kaminski, the ACAA's Division III commissioner.
The Komets, who play tonight at Elmira, were in a need of a goalie Dec. 21 because Cody Reichard had just been called up to the American Hockey League.
It was short notice before they played at Reading, so they did what they had done several times before – called upon an IPFW goalie to be the emergency backup, meaning he could play only if there was an injury to the other goalie.
"It was pretty eye opening. For a player who has played for as long as I have, to get a call out of nowhere and take this new direction after being at it for so long, it was a good experience," said Mancuso, a sophomore. "It was fun. The guys brought me right in. I was just the new guy, but at the same time, you try to soak up every bit of it."
The Komets lost 2-1 in an overtime shootout and Mancuso's stint with the Komets was over. Less than a week later, website www.achatalk.com reported that Mancuso had jeopardized his eligibility at IPFW, which was quickly affirmed by the ACAA itself.
"It started coming up on social media feeds, 'IPFW goalie forfeits eligibility,' and then the questions started," said Mancuso, 21, who is from Midlothian, Ill., and chose IPFW in part because he wanted to play hockey there.
There used to be a loophole in the rules that allowed players like Mancuso to join professional teams as emergency goalies because they didn't actually get into the games or get paid.
"I don't remember exactly when it changed, but it changed a couple of seasons ago," Kaminski said. "It was always in the rules, but it needed to be clarified. … Before it read kind of like you had to play in the game, but in the case of a goaltender, they don't always get on the ice. So that was changed."
The change was ratified at the ACAA's annual meetings in Naples, Fla., the problem being IPFW is a club team without the budget to attend such functions. That's not the case with all ACAA programs, but it is with some.
Despite the ruling, Mancuso isn't blaming anyone.
"I'm not going to point any fingers," said Mancuso, who was 4-8-0 with a 5.02 goals-against average and a .820 save percentage for IPFW this season, playing behind Nathan Pratt. "All parties involved probably should have looked deeper into it with the new rule changes. I didn't even really think to look too far into it."
Mancuso has no plans to leave IPFW. He's an engineering major and wants the Purdue diploma.
"I'll definitely be sticking around town," he said.
Note: The ECHL's Bakersfield Condors have been sold by longtime owner Jonathan Fleisig to the NHL's Edmonton Oilers.
A previous version of this story misidentified the acronym for the American Collegiate Athletic Association.