Charity hockey game honors former student
“He was a friend for everybody.”
That’s how St. John Vianney High School’s hockey head coach, Stephen Scanapicco, described Dan Falco. “Everybody knew who Dan was.”
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In 2009, Falco suddenly passed away from Reye’s Syndrome, a rare fatal disease which affects all the organs in the body. The cause and cure are currently unknown. At the time, Falco was a sophomore at the Holmdel high school.
He was an excellent student athlete, earning stellar grades while being a member of the football and wrestling teams. Falco was one of the most popular students at St. John Vianney, and for good reason.
“I don’t think you could find anybody in the student body that would have anything other than glowing things to say about Dan Falco,” said Scanapicco. “It was very tragic.”
On Jan. 14, St. John Vianney’s hockey team honored Falco during their game against St. Rose High School, Belmar, in the Sun Center in Trenton. The Lancers donated a portion of ticket sales to the Dan Falco Scholorship Fund in St. John Vianney High School.
Anyone who bought a ticket to the game was not only able to watch St. John Vianney take on the Purple Roses, but they also had access to a special post game barbecue for both teams in the parking lot and reserved seating to see the Trenton Titans take on the Reading Royals later that night.
Before the game, the Lancers huddled up on the ice in their usual pre-game ritual. However, this time, when they broke the huddle, they chanted “Falco,” in a touching reminder of the young man they were honoring.
Ultimately, St. John Vianney would lose to St. Rose, 5-2. Freshman forward, Matthew Kidney, scored the Lancer’s first goal at the 8:16 mark in the first period, with an assist from sophomore forward, Andrew Galante.
Senior forward, Nicholas Saporito would score SJV’s final goal at the 8:45 mark in the second period, with an assist from fellow senior forward, Christopher Baker.
But there was no question the game was about more than just winning or losing.
“It was probably the way Dan would have wanted it, a team effort,” said Scanapicco. “Everybody was involved. It was a good game, hard fought, and nobody gave up, and I can’t ask for much more than that.”
In a great showing of sportsmanship, both teams gathered on the ice after the game for a group photo. St. Rose was skating in honor of Tim O’Neill, the brother of head coach, Peter O’Neill, who passed away from Lou Gerhig’s disease. A portion of their ticket sales were donated to staytough.fightHARD, a foundation set up in honor of O’Neill.
Both teams are looking to make this charity game an annual event.
The season has been successful so far for St. John Vianney. With a record of 6-3-1 (at the time this was written), the Lancers are in first place in the Shore Conference B Division and they plan on staying there.
“We’re gonna have to fight hard to keep that spot,” said Scanapicco. “Thankfully, the kids are starting to play well together. We’ve got a good group of kids and it’s starting to look and feel like a team, and we can’t go wrong with that.”
Scanapicco’s sights are set even further than the number one spot in the division.
“Hopefully we’ll continue a little more success down the road and get some postseason experience with these guys.”[[In-content Ad]]