In the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons, I had the pleasure of coaching the best Bantam Hockey team in Illinois. I had 15 boys and 1 girl on the team. The girl was Cammi Granato, who went on to captain the USA women's team in 1998 when they won Olympic Gold and in 2002 when they won Silver medals. Cammi has been asking me to round up the guys for a reunion for over 5 years. Well, this year we finally did it. On July 27, 2003, We played a friendly game of ice hockey at 7 Bridges Ice Rink, then we partied at the Granato's house. Don Granato broke Dan's shut-out with a set up from his son Rob. Rob had several goals of his own. Cammi scored several times once she was reunited with her former line mate, Jeff Jestadt. Jeff said it took several passes until he remembered that Cammi was a right hand shot. 63 year coach Lopatka bounced a bad angle shot off of the Brain's glove to give the reds the lead Tony's son and Julie set up the goal. Julie also set up Bob Granato's goal.
Here are some pictures from the championship years and the fun filled reunion.
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(Left) This is the group that made it to the game. (Right) This is the group that made it to the Party. (Back Row, Left to Right) Coach Branigan, Joe McGlynn, Jim Brannigan, Tom McKenna, Jeff Jestadt, Dan Lopatka, Bob Granato, Cammi Granato, Don Granato (Front) Coach Lopatka and Earni Basic.
Thanks to all of the Duffers who volunteered to help pay the ice bill, give us 2 goalies and get us to 2 lines. 73 year old, Papa Joe and The Brain had to drive through a 5 inch rain storm to make it.
(Left) Doc and Koss. (Right) Cammi and Bill Giffune (Klinger)
(Left) USA Olympic Star, Julie Chu teamed up with Tony's son to set up Beak's game winning goal. Julie was born in New York City and her Dad was born in China. She had to catch a plane, so she missed the team picture.
(Right) Cammi's cousin Bob gets a hug from his wife, Ami and Cammi. Ami played forward and told Bob to play defense. I never played with a husband - wife combination before. It provided some humorous banter. I'm glad my wife is a bowler!
(Left) Tommy McKenna thanks Natalie for hosting the wonderful get together.
(Right) My Grandson Jeff, Cammi and my son Ken. Cammi was impressed with Jeff's Hockey skills.
(Left) Don took Tom, Ami, Bob, Dan, Sabine and his daughter in law for a boat ride.
(Right) Cammi and Earni.
(Left) Joe McGlynn takes a quick nap while his wife, Kelly and daughter, Kylee pose for the picture.
(Right) Cammi poses with Dan, his wife, Sabine and daughter, Grace.
(Left) Cammi and Kylee. (Right) Grace tries to decide if she should share her ball with Kylee.
Cammi says good by to my wife and me. I was able to find my treasured State Champ Hat and Jacket.
(Front row Left to Right) Marc Cutilletta, Mike Hamilton, Jim Nelson, Joe McGlynn, Dave Sheedy, Tim Hodgman, Tom McKenna, and Jim Brannigan
(Back row Left to Right) Coach Jim Brannigan, Bryan Lore, Jeff Jestadt, Bob Granato, Don Yurisich, Coach Chuck, Derrick Doty, Cammi Granato and Coach Greg Lopatka.
(My son Dan Lopatka has his most of his head blocked out of the picture by Joe McGlynn.)
Jeff gives a hand to his team mate as Cammi and the boys wait for their name to be called..
Coach Lopatka praises his team at the awards banquet as his son Dan walks off with his State Champ Plaque.
We got a lot of media coverage, since we were the only team to have a girl leading the way. Cammi now plays professional hockey for the Vancouver Griffins.
Dan starts to find out that goaltending can be fun. We wore the Red sweaters in 1984-85 when we won the Northern Illinois Hockey League championship.
This is a newspaper article from our 84-85 team.
(There is a misprint, we were the Bantam AA Champs.)
Sorry, My wife did the highlight of Dan's name back in 1986, before we knew there would be an Internet.
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