For three seasons at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Penn., Nathan Longpre and Chris Kushneriuk teamed up to lead the Colonials. Longpre, now in his third season with the Chicago Wolves, became the school’s all-time leading scorer. Kushneriuk served as the team captain their senior year.
The Ontario natives’ full-color photos were plastered next to each other on the team’s media guide. They were listed as Robert Morris’ top two players to watch. They even signed their first pro contracts at the same time — Longpre with the American Hockey League’s Worcester Sharks and Kushneriuk with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers.
Though they stopped being teammates upon joining the professional ranks in March 2011, they never stopped having each other’s back.
When Kushneriuk was diagnosed with Stage 4 testicular cancer in June 2012 — triggering a rugged fight that required chemotherapy, two bone marrow transplants, and surgery that removed 35 percent of Kushneriuk’s liver as well as his left kidney, gall bladder, and infected lymph nodes in his abdomen — Longpre stepped forward last February and shaved his head to raise money to fight cancer.
The good news? The 27-year-old Kushneriuk was declared cancer-free in August.
“I’m still in contact with him pretty much every day,” Longpre said. “He’s back in Pittsburgh getting his master’s degree and helping out with the Robert Morris hockey program and being involved.”
And more good news? Longpre and several of his Wolves teammates want to keep taking the fight to cancer. Forwards Ty Rattie and Chris Porter and defenseman Brent Regner are joining Longpre this month in putting their locks on the line for Chicago Wolves Charities.
“They volunteered,” Longpre said. “It speaks volumes about how other guys want to help out.”
Once the first $500 is raised, Porter commits to shaving his head. At the $1,000 mark, Rattie is required to say goodbye to his hair. When the total reaches $1,500, Regner is as good as bald. When the donations hit $2,000, Longpre shaves his head for the second February in a row.
Proceeds from the donations will help Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Little Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, and Chicago Wolves Charities.
“It’s a good cause to get people to start thinking more,” Longpre said. “There are so many cases now and we need the money for various things, including research and trying to resolve these cancer cases. We’ll keep finding out ways to treat them and care for the people who have it.”