Obituary: Christopher Diozzi, The Heart of Belmont High Hockey

Photo: Chris Diozzi. 

Chris Diozzi was the heart of one of Belmont High School’s great boys’ ice hockey team.

At 5’9″ and about 175 lbs, Diozzi was not the biggest athlete, especially for a defenseman. But as a reporter noted at the time, Diozzi  “played large” on the ice, a testament to his grit and determination when skating in the crimson and white Marauders jersey.

“On a team of talented players, [Diozzi] was the frosting on the cake,” said his high shool coach, Dante Muzzioli.

Christopher Jason Diozzi of Boston drowned in the waters off Dennis on Cape Cod Saturday, Aug. 27. Diozzi was 31.

Reported missing by friends on Saturday night, his body was recovered Sunday afternoon, Aug. 28. In a statement, the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office wrote: “nothing at this time to suggest the cause of death was anything other than accidental.” 

Diozzi’s death remains under investigation, with the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner handling the case, according to the DA.

For the past four years, Diozzi was an associate director of institutional sales at John Hancock Investments in Boston.

In Belmont, Diozzi – who excelled on the playing field and in the classroom – will be best remembered for his time on the ice at “Skip” Viglirolo Skating Rink, the home of the Belmont High School Marauders. 

“Chris was that once in a lifetime player, a great person who just breathed confidence,” said  Muzzioli, calling from Italy at his daughter’s wedding. 

“He was the leader that we needed, a go-to guy in every sense of the word,” he said.

As a senior, Diozzi captained the 2002-3 Marauders to a co-championship of the Middlesex League, the first league title for Belmont in 40 years. 

On a team with such outstanding athletes as Paul Garabedian, Peter Shelzi, Schuyler Wiggin, Kevin Vona and Mike Hannon, Diozzi was the player that everyone looked up as he led by example; scoring countless timely goals, getting back on defense to stop a breakaway and encouraging his teammates on the bench and the ice. 

That season Diozzi and Garabedian were named league co-MVPs, leading the team to an 18-4-1 record and sending Belmont to the first of two consecutive spots in the MIAA Super Eight state championships.

“He was an impact player who [was on the ice for] more minutes than any other player I ever coached. Chris was that important,” said Muzzioli. 

After a post-grad year at Deerfield Academy and a season with the Walpole Jr. Stars of the Eastern Junior Hockey League (where he played defense with future NHL-er Matt Gilroy), Dozzi took his talents to Trinity College (Class of 2009). There he was a four-year starter, playing 100 games and scoring 17 goals and 35 assists for 52 points, co-captaining the team his senior year and being named to the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) All-Conference Second Team.

In his senior campaign in 2008-9, Diozzi was a semifinalist for the Joe Concannon Award as the best American-born college hockey player in New England at NCAA Division 2 and 3.

For the past several seasons, Diozzi came back to the home rink in Belmont, joining his old coach on the bench to teach a younger generation the skills and embrace the passion of the sport. 

“[Chris] was a success in everything he did because he dedicated himself to what he was doing. We should try to celebrate that life,” said Muzzioli. 

Son of Thomas and Stavroula – Lou – Diozzi, Chris was the brother of Matthew and Andrew. Nephew of Angie Stefanou and William Kane and the late Anna Kane, and cousin of Stephanie and Stacey Kane, he is survived by many relatives and friends. 

Visiting hours will take place today, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Faggas Funeral Home, 551 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown.

The Funeral will take place at Faggas Funeral Home on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, at 9 a.m., followed by a service in the Taxiarchae Greek Orthodox Church, 25 Bigelow Ave., Watertown at 10 a.m. Burial will take place at Mt. Auburn Cemetary.
In place of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Christopher J. Diozzi Memorial Scholarship, c/o Cambridge Savings Bank, 40 Leonard St., Belmont, MA 02478.
[This story was updated with additional quotes at 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 2]

A Final Shift on the Ice: Tributes for Hall of Fame Hockey Coach ‘Muzzy’

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.” 

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Seeking Added Revenue, Moozy’s Expands to Breakfast Hours

Photo: Moozy’s in Belmont. 

When it’s July and the temperatures reach 90 degrees, owning a successful ice cream store like Moozy’s at the intersection of Trapelo and Belmont is the easiest business around, said owner Dante Muzzioli. All he  has to do is open the doors and the crowds follow.

But in February, when record winter snow levels made finding his front door a challenge, Moozy’s’ business literally freezes in place.

“It’s a ghost town when the weather gets cold. It gets really rough for six months,” said Muzzioli. “It’s a nice spot and it looks beautiful but I’m still trying to recoup the money I lost over the winter.”

In an attempt to expand his revenue base, Muzzioli came before the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, July 27, seeking to expand the hours on his Common Victualler license to allow the popular ice cream shop to compete in the breakfast trade.

The former long-time head coach of the Belmont High School boys ice hockey team – in May, Muzzioli was inducted into the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame – said while he has been keeping Moozy’s – located at 2 Trapelo Rd. – afloat by transferring funds from his other businesses, “it really has to stand on its own” to continue in operation over the long term. 

“It’s all about survival and that place can not survive without a change,” said Muzzioli.

Muzzioli, who runs a successful landscaping firm and other businesses, was seeking to open the store beginning at 6 a.m. during the week to compete with nearby eateries and coffee shops such as Starbucks, Aram’s Cafe and Teddy’s Kitchen, each in nearby Cushing Square. 

The breakfast trade would include coffees, bagels, pastries and plates for sit-down service, serving residents on their way to work – the store is located on an inbound stop for the bus to Harvard Square – and those seeking a weekend morning meal. 

“I think the town needs a nice high-end breakfast place,” he said. 

Yet those living in the residential neighborhoods across Trapelo Road worried that new hours would exacerbate parking issues on their streets in addition to an earlier start to commerce in the area. 

Oak Avenue’s Rita Butzer Carpenter said there would not be enough parking at the store – there is no lot parking for the store – to accommodate a high-volume coffee shop-type operation, suggesting language be included with any approval that would prevent the store from accepting a Starbucks “kiosk” selling that brand of coffee at the location. 

Carpenter’s neighbor Dr. David Alper said a 6 a.m. start would be “egregious” to the neighbors especially on the weekend. He sought a compromise in which the store would open at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on the weekend.

Selectmen Chair Sami Baghdady, who said that he would hate to see the town possibly loss an independent store and risk seeing a chain coffee shop take its place, voted with his two fellow members to allow the store to open at 6 a.m. during the work week and 7 a.m. on weekend.

Muzzioli said the vote will allow him to see the operation moving into the future on a more stable financial footing. 

“This will help because now we have something that isn’t weather impacted. Breakfast is everyday,” said Muzzioli.