How many university professors do you know who can navigate a management technology PowerPoint presentation or monitor the path of a hockey puck with equal aplomb?
That would be one; Texas A&M International University professor of Information Systems Dr. Stephen Lunce. Dr. Lunce is director of graduate programs for TAMIU's College of Business Administration and an off-ice official in charge of penalty time keeping for the Laredo Bucks Hockey Team, the newest franchise in the Central Hockey League (CHL)
About the only detail Lunce can't recall about his first hockey game, an event that would start a life-long love of the game, is if it was in 1969 or 1970. Along with another couple, Lunce and his future wife, Barbara, now TAMIU's registrar, attended a CHL playoff game between the Dallas Blackhawks and the Oklahoma City Blazers at the Fair Park Coliseum on the Texas State Fairgrounds.
He fondly recalls that a primary reason for attending the game was "because it was a cheap double date." More than 30 years later, Lunce can still remember what made him an instant fan.
"I remember Roger Wilson of the Blackhawks smashing one of the Oklahoma City players into the glass right in front of us," Lunce recalled, "I was really impressed with the skill and toughness it took to play the game, I was hooked immediately."
Through the coming years, Lunce would follow hockey closely and gain an even greater appreciation of the game. While teaching at the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Dallas, he was a season ticket holder for the Blackhawks for over 10 years.
Lunce became such a hockey fanatic that even relocation to Laredo in 1992 could not suppress his love for the game. He regularly attended Dallas Stars games on business trips to Dallas and beginning in 1999 he and Barbara started attending the Stars' annual New Years Eve game as part of their wedding anniversary celebration.
With the arrival of professional hockey in Laredo in spring 2002, Lunce eagerly purchased season tickets for the Bucks. He met Bucks head coach and general manager Terry Ruskowski at the TAMIU Dusty Golf Tournament last April, and volunteered to help the organization in any way.
When the Bucks started to organize an officials crew last August, supervisors of officials Tom Wade and Duane Burdorf, discovered that Lunce had an extensive knowledge of the rules of the game.
They felt Lunce was a natural to serve as one of the off-ice officials in charge of penalty time keeping. The penalty timekeeper's primary responsibilities include maintaining an accurate record of all penalties, reporting shots on goal on the scoreboard and posting penalty times on the scoreboard. Lunce has embraced his new position enthusiastically and will end up working between 20 and 25 of the Bucks' 32 home games this season.
And, as much as Lunce enjoys his duties with the Bucks, the team is just as pleased to have such a dedicated team member. Coach Ruskowski says Lunce and the entire officials crew are considered an integral part of the organization and their efforts are greatly appreciated.
"Dr. Lunce is a good guy, and he does his job well as an off-ice official," Ruskowski said, "We are fortunate to have a good group of off-ice officials here in Laredo. Dr. Lunce does a good job for us. He is very enthusiastic, and he is an important part of the Bucks family."
His wife Barbara said it's natural that her husband is quite involved with professional hockey in Laredo.
"He has followed football, baseball, hockey and golf closely for many years," she said, "He has also maintained statistics for fantasy leagues for years and is a good extemporaneous speaker so his involvement as an official does not surprise me."
While working with the Bucks has several perks, Lunce always returns to his love of the game for his primary motive for giving his time to the hometown team.
"If you like athletics, like speed and an intimate setting, hockey is the ultimate sport," Lunce said, " and it's really a treat to come to the arena every night and have the best seat in the house."