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Everett’s Giantonio celebrates league win with Division 1 title

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Everett native Julian Giantonio is excelling as a hockey coach and just completed his third year leading the University of Delaware’s Division 1 team. Giantonio, who graduated from Everett High School in 2001, just won this year’s league title, his best overall achievement, which includes another coaching stint with North Dakota.

“It’s funny because I thought that we were young this year, we’d be rebuilding a bit because we graduated so many, but I really tried to scout hard and find the right players,” said Giantonio in a phone interview. “I asked our players who they thought the right fits were … there’s no better scout than a current player.”

Scouting is just one part of Giantonio’s repertoire. This last campaign showed just how seasoned the Everett native is getting at managing players and teaching hockey.

First, some context. The league title came down to the final game of the regular season. Stony Brook had beaten Liberty University in their final game of the season and was in first place in the standings by one point. Delaware played the University of Rhode Island in their final game; it was tied 2-2 after regulation, and penalties ensued. Max Freeman, a sophomore who had been having an off game, got the nod from Giantonio to take Delaware’s third penalty.

“He was having a really crummy day, his head was down,” Giantonio said. “I actually benched him for a few shifts … But I remembered that in practice he’s a competitive kid. He excels in those situations, those shootouts. I wanted to show him I still believed in him.”

Freeman took the ice, knowing a goal from him would deliver Delaware the league title. He skated toward the net, drew the goaltender out and then rifled a shot into the upper corner of the net to win the game.

That moment showed that Giantonio understands not only his players, but the athletic psyche. He credits his father for exposing him to hockey from all vantage points. Growing up, Giantonio was a forward. But his father made him look at hockey from a goalie’s perspective.

“I read Vladislav Trediak’s book – the goaltender from the Soviet Union,” said Giantonio. “I really learned what goalies were looking for: how they played, how they approached shots. And it helped my hockey … That’s something I bring into coaching. You obviously want to build a team from the goalie up. But even beyond that, that approach my dad gave me helped give me insight into always looking into what’s next … new drills, new tactics, new coaching materials … You can say that hockey isn’t as organic as it used to be. We’re not using projectors or using chalkboards to draw up plays, but instead now you’re looking for the latest coaching app or something like that. But it’s about keeping up with the times, the changes in technology, the changes in the game.”

That approach is paying dividends for Giantonio. For now, though, he remains proud of his Delaware team and what they were able to accomplish this season, even though he’s looking for the next step up in coaching. “I’d like to strike while the iron is hot,” Giantonio said. “I’ve had a lot of great experiences and I want to coach at a more elite level, the NCAA level.”

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