The Thayer Academy boys varsity hockey team dominated the ice against neighboring rival St. Sebastian’s Feb. 24 to bring the Valicenti Cup back home.
The silver anniversary of the rivalry series, the Friday night event saw alumni return to share stories and honor the life and legacy of Arthur T. Valicenti Jr. ‘51 P ‘75, ‘75, ‘77 GP ‘10, ‘14, Thayer’s longtime athletic director as well as coach of its football, hockey, and baseball programs. Eager fans received rally towels as they entered Valicenti Rink at Thayer Sports Center, and many of the more spirited fans received giveaways between periods of both games.
Prior to the games Athletic Director Bobbi Moran welcomed guests and also introduced Upper School History Faculty Matt Dunne, who shared his reflections and led a moment of silence in honor of Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael T. Ernst ‘04, a United States Navy SEAL who died Feb. 19 in a training accident. Abbie Dupie ‘26 sang the National Anthem, and a crowd of over 200 enthusiastically cheered her performance.
The girls varsity team played first, hosting a talented squad from Buckingham Browne & Nichols and coming up on the short end of a 3-1 final. Morgan McGathey ‘25 was outstanding for the home team when she picked up the puck in the neutral zone, beat two defenders, and snapped off a shot that the BB&N goalie never saw coming.
“It was a tough loss, but the girls never gave up,” said head coach Brandy Fisher-Bailey P ‘28, ‘29, who added that the score did not reflect the gritty play on both sides of the puck. “They battled as a team until the very last second. The coaches were inspired by their effort and proud of the team’s performance.”
Following the game Moran and Olivia Valicenti ‘14, Coach Valicenti’s granddaughter, presented both the Valicenti Cup and game MVP honors to the Knights.
Thayer held a reception for fans in the sports center’s second-floor hospitality suite, and there Head of School Chris Fortunato P ‘26, ‘28 welcomed guests, students, parents, guardians, alumni and members of the Valicenti family. He offered his appreciation for Coach Valicenti’s 33 years of service to Thayer.
“In the fall of 2019 we dedicated the Arthur T. Valicenti Rink thanks to the generosity of his former player, Van Whisnand ‘62, and many others who joined Van in honoring Arthur with a donation to create this facility,” said Fortunato.
Fortunato introduced David Hymovitz ‘92, new head coach of the boys varsity hockey team, who shared memories of playing for Coach Valicenti; Hymovitz also shared his vision for the future of the Thayer boys hockey program. Dale Valicenti ‘77, Coach Valicenti’s son, then reflected upon his father’s legacy as a coach, mentor, and lifelong supporter of athletics. Moran wrapped up the speaking portion of the program by offering her appreciation for Coach Valicenti’s work to build the foundation of Thayer athletics before offering her vision for its future.
The boys game saw its first score 30 seconds in when Brady Erickson ‘24 collected the puck off a nifty pass from Matt MacDonald ‘26 and Josh Halliday ‘24. Later that period Tommy Anderson ‘25 scored off an assist from Blake Stuzynski ‘25 and Ryan Bradley ‘24. Anderson collected his second of the game a few minutes later when he teamed up with Brady Kudrick ‘25 and Halliday on a power-play goal to send the Tigers into the locker room with a 3-0 lead.
The second period was a back-and-forth battle for control of the ice in which neither team scored, but the third period opened with Halliday scoring off an assist from Kudrick and Teddy Lally ‘25. Captain Shane Taddia ‘23 notched one of his own on an assist from Halliday and Ryan Mottau ‘24, bringing the crowd to a frenzy. Halliday collected his second goal of the game on another power play off assists from teammates Taddia and Anderson. The Arrows collected their lone goal with 1:30 left in the third period for a 6-1 final.
Following the game Moran and Morgan Valicenti ‘10, Coach Valicenti’s grandson, presented the Robert H. Ferriter ‘73 Cup to Thayer goaltender Beau Lane ‘23, the game’s MVP, who collected 26 saves on 27 shots. Fortunato then presented the Valicenti Cup to Hymovitz and his players who promptly erupted in a Stanley Cup-esque celebration.
“The Valicenti Cup was such a special night for our team,” said Hymovitz. “Our players were ready to go from the start and capitalized with a goal 30 seconds into the first period, which set the tone for the rest of the game. They continued to be relentless all night and were not going to be denied.”
The new coach continued: “I’m so happy for our seniors to finish their career off this way, and I’m so proud of our entire team for how they competed, stayed disciplined, and were able to come away with the victory in front of so many of our Thayer fans, supporters, and especially the Valicenti family!”