CHS coach notches 200th win on memorable night

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Head coach Brian Shuman celebrates with his players after Saturday's win vs. Mansfield -- the coach's 200th of his career.

Head coach Brian Shuman celebrates with his players after Saturday’s win vs. Mansfield — the coach’s 200th of his career.

CHS boys hockey coach Brian Shuman notched his 200th career victory and the Bulldogs maintained their perfect league record while also doing their part in the fight against cancer during a memorable Saturday night at the Canton Ice House this past weekend.

Playing in the second game of a special doubleheader co-hosted with Xaverian Brothers High School, the Bulldogs, clad in pink uniforms, out-dueled the Mansfield Hornets 3-1 in an exciting, back-and-forth contest to notch their 10th win of the season. Johnny Hagan, Bubba McNeice, and Jack Goyetch each netted one goal for the host team while senior goalie Quinn Gibbs came up with several key saves to help keep the Hornets at bay. Defensemen Charlie Malloy and Jack Connolly also had big games for Canton as the Bulldogs improved to 7-0-0 in league competition and 10-1-4 overall.

But as Shuman himself was quick to point out afterwards, the night was “more than just a hockey game.” Billed as “Hockey Fights Cancer Night” and featuring raffles, a silent auction, contests and giveaways, the event was yet another powerful display of community solidarity as well as an important reminder, said Shuman, of the “real challenges people face and how those challenges dwarf those faced by athletes in a typical sporting event.”

Held in memory of Reo Todesca, a Canton native and mother of Xaverian assistant coach Paul Todesca, the event raised hundreds of dollars for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute while also providing an opportunity to honor and remember other loved ones and friends — including many within the Canton hockey community — who have endured their own battles with the disease.

“That was one of the things that we talked about before the game,” said Shuman. “This was in tribute to one really special person, Reo Todesca, but it was an emotional and meaningful night for a lot of people on the ice, on the bench, and in the stands. It was about honoring and remembering that person, but it’s also about all the other people who have to go through it as well.”

Senior Jack Goyetch (Mike Mao photo)

Senior Jack Goyetch (Mike Mao photo)

In terms of reaching his own personal coaching milestone — 200 victories in only his 13th season at the helm — Shuman said part of him wishes it happened on another night. But those in attendance were more than happy to share the moment with the popular head coach, who was honored after the game by players, ex-players, fellow coaches, and Bulldog hockey fans.

“For me, [this milestone] is less about the wins and more about the opportunity to reflect on how wonderful an experience it has been coaching here,” said Shuman, who has guided the Bulldogs to seven straight league titles and helped deliver Canton its first ever boys state championship in 2010. “Wins, losses or ties, I wouldn’t trade this experience coaching in Canton for the world. The players I’ve coached are some of the finest people I’ve ever met. The coaches I’ve worked with are some of my best friends. The parents I’ve met over the years are absolutely wonderful, and the community itself is just a special one.”

In a statement, CHS Athletic Director Danny Erickson said that Shuman would be the first coach to emphasize that it’s not about the win totals. “But a milestone like winning 200 games,” he said, “does provide a great chance to celebrate all of the elements of coaching that have made Brian such an amazing coach — compassion, knowledge, heart, care, hard work, grit, and overcoming adversity. He is a master coach in all of these areas.”

As for his current Bulldogs squad and where it stacks up against the rest of Division 2, Shuman acknowledged that the team has had a great season to date, with its only loss to date coming against an equally formidable Franklin team. The Bulldogs have outscored the competition by a combined 43 goals (55-12) and have put 29 pucks in the net during its recent five-game winning streak.

Still, Shuman said there is a lot more work to be done and stressed that the race for a state championship is “wide open” this year. “There are a lot of really good teams out there that can win this whole thing, and we’re in the mix for sure,” he said. “But it’s a matter of who is playing well at the right time and hopefully we’ll continue to improve.”

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