Photo: Belmont High captains Dave Bailey (left) and Trey Butler with retired coach Dante Muzzioli.
Just before the puck was dropped to start Saturday afternoon’s contest between Belmont and Arlington in the aging Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink, Dante Muzzioli arrived at his familiar spot on the right-side “home” bench as he had for nearly fifty years, first as a 13-year-old youth player, then an assistant and finally as head coach of the Belmont High School Marauders
But on this spring-like afternoon, Muzzioli wasn’t holding a stick or game program in his hands but instead was carrying his first grandchild, James Sabo, as he stepped on the ice.
This past Saturday, Jan. 30, “Muzzy” was honored on home ice, for the years spent as coach and mentor to the hundreds of student-athletes under his wing.
With his wife, Janet, daughters – Krista, Simone and Leah Sabo – and extended family with him on the ice, Muzzioli’s accomplishments were announced and they are impressive: 30 years as head coach and a member of the Massachusetts State High School Ice Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame. There were more than 300 wins, two consecutive Super 8 appearances, a pair of Middlesex League titles, numerous times in the MIAA Division 1 state tournament and the volunteer work he and his teams performed throughout the town, from helping offload Christmas trees for Belmont Lions Club to working with Toys for Tots and Wreaths Across America.
But his greatest achievement is not found in facts or figures, wins or loses, said Muzzioli.
“Some teams have won the league and participated in the Super 8 Tournament; others may have found the wins few and far between. In the end, they all blend together and it’s the relationships and memories along the way that I will cherish for a lifetime,” he said.
After receiving a plaque and a framed jersey from Belmont’s team captains, a coaches jacket from Belmont Athletic Director Jim Davis, flowers for his wife, a proclamation and words of appreciation from the Board of Selectmen and a standing ovation from the assembled spectators and his countless friends, Muzzioli – a successful businessman, contractor, developer and recently, ice cream shop entrepreneur – said that “[i]t’s all about the memories … they stay deep embedded in your heart forever.”