Andrew Cogliano, left winger for the Colarado Avalanche, with Fr. Mike Corcione at. St Peter’s Church in Woodbridge, Ont.. Photo courtesy St. Peter’s Church

Avalanche of activity as St. Peter’s meets Lord Stanley

  • September 7, 2022

Arguably the greatest trophy in all of pro sports paid a visit to St. Peter’s Church in Woodbridge, Ont., in late August.

Andrew Cogliano, the 35-year-old left wing for the Colorado Avalanche, arrived at the parish on a Friday afternoon, and he received the sacraments with the Stanley Cup in tow.

“This is always where his home is,” said Fr. Mike Corcione, OFM, the pastor at St. Peter’s for over two decades. “He and other (pro) players go play in other cities throughout (Canada) and the United States, but they have their roots back here.”

Cogliano’s day with the Stanley Cup was chockful of activities. The busy itinerary started with a fire truck parade around his native Vaughan. The officers of Vaughan Fire & Rescue chauffeured him to the Al Palladini Community Centre where youth hockey players were invited to get up close and personal with the 35-inch tall, 34.5-pound silver chalice.

St. Peter’s was the third of four destinations visited by Cogliano on this whirlwind day. He capped the public engagements at the Meta Centre. Special needs children posed for photographs with Cogliano and Lord Stanley.

According to Corcione, Cogliano’s mother Teri, a daily churchgoer, was instrumental in ensuring St. Peter’s was on the agenda. The visit was an intimate, low-key affair in front of the parish attended by “30 to 40 people.”

“It was my first time seeing the Stanley Cup and hopefully not the last,” said Corcione with a chuckle. “We took pictures with it, but nobody picked it up to carry, so Andrew guarded it well.”

Famously, the Avalanche damaged the 130-year-old trophy within minutes of receiving it on June 26, after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final. Forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel, now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, slipped and dented the curved edge at the bottom of the cup as he glided into the front row of the team championship picture.

Corcione said the parish thrillingly rooted for Cogliano and his Avalanche mates as they completed their odyssey towards the summit of professional hockey. Cogliano, dealt to the Avalanche by the San Jose Sharks at the 2022 trade deadline, chipped in three goals and three assists in 16 playoff contests, which included a key goal and two assists in five Stanley Cup final matches.

Down 2-1 to Tampa Bay in Game 4, Cogliano leveled the match at 2-2 under three minutes into the third period with an in-the-slot deflection off his body. His goal set the stage for Nazem Kadri’s dramatic winner at 12:02 of overtime.

But perhaps the veteran forward’s biggest contribution was his leadership in the locker room. Cogliano, branded a “heart-and-soul guy” by his teammates and coach Jared Bednar, was credited for fueling the Avalanche’s rebound after a tough Game 5 defeat with a speech urging the players to “stay in the moment.”

On July 5, Cogliano signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract to remain with an Avalanche team that enters the 2022-23 campaign as the odds-on-favourite to repeat as champions. The forward will commence his 16th NHL season with 174 goals and 252 assists for 426 points in 1,140 games played.

As for Corcione, the Stanley Cup visit was an unexpected honour in his last days at St. Peter’s. On Sept. 5, he began his appointment as pastor and spiritual guide for St. Anthony of Padua Church in New York City.

He joked that maybe one of the reasons for this placement “is for the New York Rangers to win the Stanley Cup next year.”

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