Gateway hockey celebrating 50th anniversary season

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Sunday, October 24, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Gateway ice hockey program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and alumni president Stefan Biancaniello said there are a lot of positive vibes surrounding what will be a year-long celebration.

“From humble beginnings in 1972 to undefeated WPIHL AA champions in 1976 to WPIHL AAA champions in 1996 to the present day, the Gateway hockey program has generated a rich history of program success,” Biancaniello said.

“Throughout this year, the hockey family will have events that remember the history, treasure the achievements and celebrate the legacy that is Gateway hockey. There is an open invitation to all to come join in the celebration and be a part of a program that for 50 years has helped young athletes embrace the spirit of competition, fair play and sportsmanship.”

Each year, the Gateway hockey alumni host a winter event at the former Center Ice Arena in Delmont, now known as Palmer Imaging Arena.

Biancaniello said this year’s event, set for Dec. 26, plans to be one of the marquee moments of the year.

Coaches and alumni from many of the 50 years are expected to be on hand, and the latest class of the Gateway Hockey Alumni Honor Roll — John Desmond, Ed Potts and Jake Breakwell — will be recognized and celebrated.

A group of alumni then will put on the skates for the annual black/white alumni game. Recent games through 2019 have generated interest from more than 40 alumni.

Both teams will be competing to win and get their names engraved on the Golden Gator Alumni Trophy.

Last year’s winter event and alumni game were canceled because of the ongoing covid pandemic.

Biancanielloi 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 enshrined in 2012.

The players on that first team were Jim Lachaussie, Frank Boesenhofer, Pat Traficante, Jeff Horvath, Tom O’Neill, Dave Jurmann, Steve Schonbachler, John Steele, Dave Kehlert, Dave Neill, Don Schuetz, Ed Graham, Ken Turocy, Jeff Yankech, Gary Taylor, Jerry Bass, Rene Lachaussie, Mike Kennedy, Larry Starkey, head coach Joe Zaccari and assistant coach Fran Czmerda.

The 1976 team, inducted into the Gateway Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, won 20 games en route to the WPIHL championship.

The Gators won three WPIHL playoff games, including the championship over Fox Chapel, before falling to Abington, 4-3, in double overtime in the state title game at Civic Arena.

The program’s most prolific goal scorer, Michael Sargo from the Class of 1996, was an individual 2010 inductee into the Gateway Sports Hall of Fame.

He also is a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, East Boros Chapter.

The four-time WPIHL all-star (1993-96) finished his Gateway career with 255 goals and 372 points.

He set the WPIHL Class AAA single-season scoring record in 1996 with 101 goals in 22 regular-season games and finished with 136 points.

Biancaniello said he and others are working with the Gateway School District to plan additional activities during the year.

He said he hopes to have designated nights at the Gateway junior varsity hockey games when coaches and alumni can come back and connect with the current crop of Gators players.

The youthful Gateway JV team, with no seniors and nine sophomores and freshmen on the roster, is 1-3 on the young season.

The Gators picked up their first win of the season Oct. 8 with a 4-2 victory over West Allegheny. Sophomore Hayden Hines scored twice, and freshman Connor Olson and sophomore Blake Marsh also found the back of the net for Gateway.

The annual Gateway hockey alumni golf outing, one of the major fundraising efforts each year, will be in August and will be a finale to the year of anniversary events.

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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