Twelve years after playing in the 2006 Torino Olympics, Brian Gionta makes his return to Olympic ice. The former NHL star will lead Team USA in PyeongChang as a team captain.
The five-foot-seven, 180-pound forward will try to get the U.S. back on the Olympic podium as the oldest and most veteran player on the team.
Here’s more on his family and career:
1. Gionta Grew Up in a Middle-Class Family in Rochester, New York
GettyTeam USA hockey captain Brian Gionta speaks to the media during the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field on January 1, 2018.
Gionta grew up in a middle-class family in Rochester, New York. He is the middle child of Sam and Penny Gionta. His father Sam, owned a hardware store and his mother, Penny, worked as a dental hygienist.
One winter, Gionta’s mother enrolled Brian and his brothers Joe and Stephen in skating lessons to keep them occupied during the long, cold and snowy New York winters.
Growing up, Gionta was often told he wouldn’t make it because of his shorter height and stature. Some teams turned him down because of his size. However, his mom, who is about 5-1 and father, who is 5-4, never let that deter Gionta.
“We never thought, ‘Oh, this team’s really big,’ we just dressed up the boys and sent them to play,” Penny Gionta told the New York Times. “Maybe we were a little brain dead, but we didn’t want them to be intimidated by anyone. We didn’t want them to have small-man’s syndrome.”
Gionta said he developed a strong work ethic and matured early because of family responsibility. He worked at his father’s hardware store, managing several duties. He explained that watching his father run that store with only one employee inspired him to work hard.
2. His Brother, Stephen Plays in the AHL
GettyStephen Gionta of the New Jersey Devils prepares to play against the Ottawa Senators at the Prudential Center on January 21, 2016 .
The Gionta Brothers have striking similarities in their careers. They both grew up as small, but quick players. Went on to play at Boston College, and both got their professional starts with the AHL Albany River Rats and NHL Devils. Each also reached the Stanley Cup Finals in their second season.
Brian played for the Buffalo Junior Sabres and became a standout at Boston College. His younger brother, Stephen played in the U.S. development program and five years later arrived at Boston College.
They were in the same organization for four years. Brian was a third-round pick of the Devils in 1998 and reported to AHL Albany in 2001 after college. Stephen signed with New Jersey as a free agent five years later and reported to Albany after winning an NCAA championship.
Stephen was called up by the New Jersey Devils on November 4, 2010. He made his NHL debut the following day playing in a home game 3–0 shutout loss to the New York Rangers.
After 11 seasons within the New Jersey Devils, Gionta …read more