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JTG 800th Win & Rink Dedication

JTG 800th Win & Rink Dedication

On Wednesday, December 1, the varsity hockey team traveled to Williston Northampton, in Easthampton, Massachusetts, for the first game of the season. It was the first time the team had taken to the ice in a regulation game since the heartbreaking defeat to Salisbury in the January 2020 New England Championship semi-final match.

The team outshot their opponents 44–21 and was able to come away with a 4–0 victory with captain Conor Callaghan earning the shutout. Charlie Gollob and Nic Capasso each had a goal and assist in the win. Liam Verdoni and Joe Connor had the other goals in win #800 for Coach John Gardner.

While it may have been the team’s first competition of the year, the Avon community was prepared for a win. As the team bus returned to campus just after 7 p.m., a custom 800 lighted sign blinked a greeting from Diogenes archway. With the chanting of 'J-T-G...J-T-G…' emanating from the Quad, Head of School Jim Detora was there to meet Coach Gardner and officially congratulate him on 800 wins. As Coach made his way through the arch, he realized the entire student body had lined the walkway to welcome him home and join in the revelry. Boys shared handshakes, fist bumps, high-fives, and kind words as Gardner passed through. Upon reaching Eagle archway, a new sound erupted: the varsity team, following in Gardner’s wake, had spotted the 7’ banner across the Village Green, hanging below the victory bell on the face of the Brown Student Center. They hooted and hollered as Coach now made his way in that direction.

When the entire group had reached the McShane Patio, Detora gave a short speech before Coach Gardner shared a few words of his own—notably that he was taken by surprise and was not prepared for such an event. He was touched, and thanked the crowd for their cries of support before ringing the bell.

Afterward, the community enjoyed celebratory cupcakes and the team headed to the locker room where a special cake and a video were waiting. Gardner and the team watched in the film room for 40 minutes as alumni—92, to be exact—ranging from NHL players to alumni, players, coaches, and parents, shared heartfelt words of congratulations with Coach Gardner as the team soaked in the significance of playing for such a legend.

The following day, the 800 banner was mounted on the interior of the rink in a place of prominence for all to see and work began on the installation of a special wall that would be unveiled on Saturday when the Avon ice was officially dedicated as the John T. Gardner Rink.

For the event, Vincent Mancuso ’81 returned as the keynote speaker. He played for Garnder for three years, and was captain of the varsity squad his senior year. Head of School Jim Detora also spoke before handing the program over to Coach Gardner to cut the ribbon alongside his wife Miriam. Afterward, those in attendance were able to watch the Winged beavers prevail once more in a 6-0 victory over Hoosac School.