Denfeld News

Feb. 12, 2010
Duluth News Tribune

Denfeld's Tomassoni gets coaching at all levels
By Rick Weegman

It didn’t take Keith Tomassoni long to figure out that one of the privileges of being the son of the Harvard men’s hockey coach was easy access to the team.

“I remember after the games being able to go down to the locker room and walk right in,” Tomassoni said. “Other kids would be asking for autographs and I would just walk right in the door.”

Now a Duluth Denfeld senior, Tomassoni is still reaping the benefits of being around his father.

Ron Tomassoni, who spent 20 years on the Crimson staff, posted a 140-115-26 record in nine years as head coach before stepping down from the Boston-area Division I program in 1999. When the family moved to Duluth soon after, Tomassoni made sure to further his son’s development by coaching his mite, squirt and pee-wee teams.

“When I was coaching at Harvard, unfortunately I couldn’t be around very much,” he said. “I didn’t have the opportunity to see my son as much as I wanted to because the demands on a Division I head coach are great.”

Kevin Smalley knew the elder Tomassoni would be an asset so when he became head coach at Denfeld five years ago, Smalley asked him several times to join the staff. All to no avail.

“I told [Smalley] at that time that I felt I could help him more by helping out with the youth hockey teams. And I didn’t want to miss the experience of watching [Keith] grow,” said Ron Tomassoni, a 1976 graduate of Eveleth High School, who went on to play and coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“But he kept calling me and asking me, and when Keith became a high school player [three seasons ago] he asked me again. I sat down with my son first and talked to him about it before I said yes because I wanted him to be comfortable with it. He didn’t hesitate and said, ‘Go for it.’”

Keith Tomassoni is glad his father accepted the role.

“He obviously knows a tremendous amount about the game,” said the 6-foot-1, 170-pound left winger, who leads the Hunters in goals (18) and is second in points (32). “We have a really strong relationship on and off the ice. On the ice he’s my coach, and off the ice he’s my dad. We spend a lot of time together.”

Tomassoni’s clicked on an all-senior line with center Logan Talarico and right winger Jason Johnson.

“He has a dangerous mix of size and speed,” Johnson says, “and when you add the shot he has, he becomes a good goal-scorer for us.”

Smalley has noticed Tomassoni’s improvement during his three seasons on varsity. He logs a lot of ice time, including on power plays and penalty-killing units, and hopes to eventually land a spot in junior hockey and then on a college team.

“He worked hard all summer long — the kid put time and effort into it and dedicated himself to getting better. And you certainly see it on the ice this year,” Smalley said. “Keith’s a very smart kid and, obviously, his passion is to continue to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if that door opens up and some people contact him.”

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