Hall to honor state champion RFA hockey teams

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Rome Free Academy’s state hockey championship squads from the 1985-86 and 1987-88 seasons are this year’s honorees for the Rome Sports Hall of Fame’s Ellie Bruce Exceptional Team of Excellence Award.

Those two squads coached by Rome Sports Hall of Famer Dick Meiss will be recognized during the 42nd annual Hall of Fame awards dinner to be held on Sunday, July 29, at 5:30 p.m. at the Beeches.

The dinner will feature the induction into the Hall of Fame of Tom Barry Jr., Kelley Commerford Cobb, Tom Pugh, Ronald “Whitey” Schultz, Gerry Staudmyer and the late Tom Neidl.

The 1985-86 team finished with a record of 21-4, and the 1987-88 squad posted a perfect 25-0 mark. Both teams claimed Division I state championships.

Top scorers on the 1985-86 team were Steve Zanon, with 42 points on 15 goals and 27 assists; 2014 Rome Sports Hall of Fame inductee Derek DeCosty, with 41 points on 24 goals and 17 assists, and Todd Phillips, with 37 points on 22 goals and 15 assists. Goalie Bob Fontana had a won-lost record of 17-3.

The Black Knights won their second straight Central High School League Division I championship that season and advanced to the final four at Glens Falls for the third year in a row. Rome edged Potsdam, 4-3, in an overtime semifinal game before skating past rival Skaneateles for the fourth time that season, 6-4, in the title game.

The 1987-88 RFA team claimed the Section III crown and capped off its 25-0 season with a 6-2 win over Albany Academy in the state championship game.

Leading scorers for the undefeated Black Knights were Zanon with 58 points on 34 goals and 24 assists and David Petrelli with 41 points on 19 goals and 22 assists, while goalie Rob Galluppi posted a 1.63 goals-against average to anchor the RFA defense which was also led by 2013 Rome Sports Hall of Fame inductee Jim Pinti.

Nine players were members of both state champion teams: Pat Calandra, Jerry Closinski, Randy Denton, Peter Mastracco, Petrelli, Pinti, Peter Previte, Mike Welch and Zanon.

Al Williams, a 2016 Rome Sports Hall of Fame inductee, and Peter Kieffer were assistant coaches for both squads under head coach Meiss.

The Hall of Fame team award is sponsored by Bruce, a co-founder of the Hall and longtime member of the board of directors. Honorees are recognized with a permanent awards plaque at the Hall.

Previous honorees were the World Series of Bocce championship teams captained by Donna Ciotti, the 1955 and 1978 state champion Smith Post baseball teams, a three-year stretch of unbeaten Rome Free Academy football squads coached by Donal Bruce in the 1960’s, the 1973-74 Section III champion RFA boys basketball team, the 1994 state champion RFA field hockey team and the 1983-84 and 1984-85 state champion Rome Catholic High ice hockey teams and a pair of state champion relays from the 1977 RFA swimming and diving team.

The awards dinner on July 29 will be preceded by a public reception from 2:30-4 p.m. at the Rome Sports Hall of Fame located at 5790 Rome-New London Road.

Dinner tickets costing $35 for adults and $15 for children ages 12-and-under are available for purchase at the Rome Sports Hall of Fame. Hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. 

A limited number of tickets are available, and none will be sold on the day of the banquet.

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