Mark Pape was a long-time supporter of the Falcon hockey program.
The only thing Pape loved more than the program itself were the players and coaches who comprised those teams.
And those players and coaches fondly remembered the 60-year-old Pape, who died Saturday.
Pape — whose last name is pronounced poppy — owned Mark’s Pizza Pub, which was the hockey bar in Bowling Green during the 1980s and the early 1990s.
“He was a second father to a lot of guys,” said Eddie Powers, a native of BG who was a goalie on the Falcons’ 1984 NCAA championship team. Powers worked at Mark’s as a delivery driver, pizza maker and bartender in the late 1980s.
“Guys knew they could go to Mark’s and he would take care of them, and he took pride in that,” Powers said. “Guys knew they could get a pizza, even if they couldn’t afford it. He would let guys pay for it the next time they were in, or their parents would pay for it when they were in town.”
Affectionately known as “Pop,” Pape also made sure the players stayed out of trouble in the bar when possible fights were brewing.
He also was one of a number of community members who reminded the players when the team’s curfew was approaching
“He’d stop us from misbehaving,” said Wayne Wilson, a defenseman and co-captain on the NCAA championship team. He later was an assistant coach for the Falcons. “If he saw something going on, he’d step right in and take care of it right away.”
Pape handled almost all of the issues without having to call the police, Powers said.
“He handled a lot of the issues and did it without telling the coaches,” Powers added. “There were a few times, the coaches had to know. The coaching staff knew that Mark’s was a safe place for the players to go. The parents really appreciated what Mark did for the players. He really looked out for them.”
But Mark’s Pizza Pub was more than a hangout for the players. Pape became their friend and confidant.
“He was a good mentor to our players,” said Jerry York, the head coach of the NCAA championship team. He coached the Falcons for 15 seasons, starting in 1979. He’s now the head coach at Boston College.
“The biggest thing is he had the ear of the players,” said Buddy Powers, an assistant coach on the national championship and who later became BG’s head coach. “He was like a second father to some of them.”
Pape’s talks with the players often included an evaluation of how they were playing, Buddy Powers said.
Buddy Powers, who still lives in BG, remained in regular touch with Pape until his death. Buddy Powers currently is a scout for the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
“The biggest thing was if you were getting too big for your britches and your head was getting too big, he’d tell them that,” Buddy Powers added. “If you weren’t playing well, he’ll them that, too. He didn’t pull any punches with them.”
Eddie Powers said Pape became friends with the families of the players.
“Mark took care of them, too,” Eddie Powers added. “If you were on the inside of the team, you were treated like family. He enjoyed the families of each player.”
In addition to being a regular hangout for Falcon players, coaches and fans, Mark’s Pizza Pub was well known in the college hockey world.
Opposing coaches, players and fans frequented the bar, along with referees and linesmen from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
Pape bought the bar in the early 1980s from Tom and Josie Jeffire, who operated Dino’s Pizza Pub. The bar, located at the southwest corner of East Wooster and Manville, first became a popular sports and hockey hangout under the Jeffires.
“It was hockey central in Bowling Green,” Eddie Powers said.
Pape’s love of Falcon hockey began when he was a student at the university. He’s a 1973 graduate of Archbold High School and a 1979 graduate of BGSU. He played intramural hockey at BGSU
“He took a lot of pride in the program,” said Mike Furnas, a resident of BG, who had a 30-year friendship with Pape. “It was a part of him and who he was.”
“The program was near and dear to his heart,” said Scott Paluch, a defenseman for the Falcons, who later became an assistant coach and head coach at BGSU.
“There aren’t many people who cared about Falcon hockey as much as Mark did,” Paluch added. “He’s excited to see the program getting back to where it was. He took a lot of pride in the program.”
Paluch said Pape loved telling stories about the key moments in BG hockey history.
“He made sure those moments stayed alive,” Paluch said. “He loved talking about all of the big moments, regardless of when you played. He truly loved telling those stories.”
Pape and Furnas attended games at the Ice Arena, even after Pape sold the bar. Furnas also was a delivery driver, pizza maker and bartender at Mark’s during the mid to late 1980s.
“He treated his employees very well, like family,” Furnas said. “He was a great guy, a great friend.”
Pape was a member of a local committee, which was formed to help save the Falcon program and the Ice Arena almost a decade ago. The two had been targeted for elimination for budgetary reasons by university and athletic department officials.
“He took it personally when the program was threatened,” said Eddie Powers, who also was a member of the committee. “He made a lot of phone calls to help save the program.”
“He’s always been a friend of Falcon hockey,” Wilson said.
Pape was working for Dick Wilson GMC in BG at the time of his death.
“Mark’s was just a great place to go,” said former defenseman Rob Blake, who played at BG from 1987-90. “It was like a second home. He took care of us and watched out for us.”
“Every program has a person like Mark, and we were fortunate to have him,” Eddie Powers said. “He was very generous in his donations to the Falcon Club and the program. He was a great guy, a great friend, very kind and giving. We’re going to miss him very, very much.”