After year absence, Gateway alumni reunite for annual Black/White hockey game

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Sunday, January 23, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Stefan Biancaniello surveyed the landscape at Palmer Imaging Ice Arena in Delmont on Dec. 26, and his heart was warmed.

After covid canceled Gateway hockey’s 2020 alumni gathering, Biancaniello hoped things would return to the way they were.

With more than 40 alumni in attendance for a kickoff event to the 50th anniversary year for Gateway hockey, Biancaniello said he was pleased to again be able to share in the celebration of the organization’s rich traditions.

“It was great to see everyone who came,” he said.

“We had been publicizing it through the current Gateway hockey organization, and they did a terrific job of getting the word out that it was the kickoff for the 50th year anniversary. It was a wonderful turnout.”

Gateway hockey took to the ice for the first time in 1972, and in four short years, the Gators went undefeated and captured the WPIHL Class AA title.

Gateway also won the WPIHL AAA title in 1996.

A centerpiece of each year’s celebration is the recognition of three alumni inducted for their contributions on and off the ice to the Gateway Hockey Alumni Honor Roll.

Honored this year were John Desmond Jr. (1995), Ed Potts (1991) and Jake Breakwell (1992).

Biancaniello said the alumni honor roll began in 2008 to acknowledge past players and coaches who, ‘through their dedication and support of Gateway hockey both on and off the ice over time, contributed to the great legacy that is Gateway hockey.’

The induction process each year lasts four months, from early April through mid-October. To be eligible, an alumnus must be nominated.

More than 40 players and coaches have been inducted to the alumni honor roll. Also, the inaugural 1972 team was inducted in 2012.

The alumni organization also initiated the recognition of the several coaches — Dennis Shannon, Mike Sargo Sr., Ray Leith, Sean Biancaniello, Gene Perhac, John Desmond Sr. and Rob Wareham — for their dedication in leading Gateway teams over the years.

Of the alumni in attendance, 38 of them played in the Black-White alumni game.

“We had guys on the ice who represented all five decades of Gateway hockey,” Biancaniello said.

“It was a close, competitive and fun game.”

Team White won 8-5 and got to hoist the Golden Gator Alumni Trophy.

Biancaniello said there will be other events planned throughout the year. The next event will be in connection with the Gateway junior varsity team’s Feb. 4 game against Norwin at 6:15 p.m. at Palmer Imaging Arena.

Additional coaches will be celebrated, including the current coaching staff led by head coach Shawn Jesih. A formal push for the annual alumni golf outing fundraiser, set for Aug. 6 at Cloverleaf Golf Club in Delmont, will be announced.

“The wheels have begun to turn on that,” Biancaniello said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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