MONTREAL, SEPTEMBER 21, 2015- Head coach Gianni Cantini and a number of players from the St. Léonard Arctic of the AAA Quebec Junior Hockey League visited John Paul I Junior High School on Monday, September 21 (10 am) to help kick off their 2015-2016 season and announce a new partnership with the English Montreal School Board.
On Wednesday evening, October 14 (7:30 pm) more than 600 EMSB students will be in attendance when the Arctic host the Montreal East Rangers at Garon Arena (11212 Garon) in Montreal North. The team’s St. Léonard local is under renovations. John Paul I students Marina Genovesi Vanessa-Marie De Angelis, Cheyenne Sky-appleton-Osbourne and Donna Marrone will sing the national anthem at the game. They did a dress rehearsal at the launch event. Arctic players then took part in a floor hockey scrimmage and shootout with some John Paul I students.
The Arctic have a number of EMSB grads on their roster. Lina Di Giovanni, a long-time EMSB parent volunteer and vice-president/co-owner of the Arctic, is excited about welcoming students and their families to many games this season. She has already decided that team uniforms will have an EMSB logo on the shoulder. Her husband, Joe Perretta, is the co-owner and president.
“Most of our students are now in CEGEP and studying really hard,” said Ms. Di Giovanni. “That is an important factor for us.”
At John Paul I the players were introduced and they promoted the importance of staying in school while playing hockey at a high level. Representing the team were EMSB alumnus Michael Fratangelo and Matthew Valente (Lester B. Pearson High School Sports Études program); Peter Ianatelli and Corey Scalia (Vincent Massey Collegiate), Massimo Lorusso (Pierre de Coubertin Elementary), Dino Landucci (Dante Elementary School) as well as Anthony Fiorino from Laval and Guillaume Briand Briere from Kirkland. Mr. Cantini himself is a graduate of John Paul I and Laurier Macdonald High School.
“When Joe and I bought the team, we did so because we were so impressed by these hockey players, the determination and the dedication,” said Ms. Di Giovanni. “I had never seen anything like this before. These players practice three nights a week from 6 pm to 8:30 pm and play two to three games a week. To me they are like role models for us and for all the younger players who have a dream. They have been playing since the ages of four and five years old and are so disciplined. They chose the way of the sport, which of course helps them in school. They are not on the streets causing problems or whatever. We always have a game on Sundays, so they have a curfew on Saturday night - which is their only day off- and they have to be home by 10 pm to rest. If this is not discipline, I don't know what is. This is the AAA and for them it means a lot. Some will go on to the Quebec Major Junior League and some will just hang up their skates. This is why Joe and I bought the team; to give them an opportunity to fulfill their dreams, especially the anglophone and Italians, because they are not in demand in a big French league like this one and Joe and I believe that everyone deserves a chance.”