By Ross Forman
Mickey Sangiacomo will keep a close eye this upcoming season on the Cyclones’ midget minor team as his grandson, Ian Bain, is skating the family legacy.
Sangiacomo will watch any hockey, though, all games, all levels – especially though the play of Ian, a defenseman.
“I just love the game, always have,” said Sangiacomo who, on Oct. 5, turns 70.
This senior, semi-retired Carol Stream resident has certainly left his mark on the local hockey scene. He’s been the president of the Flames and Admirals’ organizations, has served on the Central States Development Hockey League for more than 10 years, and was one of three co-founders of the Southwest Spring League, with Rocky Saganiuk and John Dunne. The SWSL has featured 100-plus teams (mites through bantams), representing such programs as the Sabres, Leafs, Cyclones, Jaguars, and others.
The SWSL this summer honored Sangiacomo, its president for 10 years.
“It was pretty important, memorable,” being honored, he said. “I’m just a guy who loves to watch the kids play.” After all, when he led the Flames organization for about eight years, he often watched 20 to 25 games per week, every week of the season.
“To see so many people take time out of their schedules, on a Wednesday night, to go to the (event where honored, held at) Nonnie’s (Pizza Restaurant & Bar in Woodridge), I was very humbled and flattered. The list (of attendees included) John Dunne, Linda Becker and so many past and current team presidents. Some people came from Indiana and others from all around the Chicago area. It was a very special night.”
For a special man in the local hockey scene, Sangiacomo, after all, helped build the SWSL into a yearly tradition. He built countless “tremendous friendships,” he said, through the league and watched an amazing amount of eye-popping goals and brilliant goalie saves over the years.
The seasons were short, then followed with playoffs. But never short on fun or memories.
“To see grandparents come to Championship Sunday at Darien, that was incredible to me. And we often had 400 or 500 fans (attending) Championship Sunday,” he said. “We put a show on, including awards presentations. We tried to make it a spectacle for the kids.
“The league was about relationships, fun and good times.”
Often, more than 1,500 players skated in the SWSL.
“(The league) served a lot of purposes. Mostly though, it was fun for the kids and not too costly for their parents,” Sangiacomo said. “Championship Sunday was something special; it was a lot of fun.”
Sangiacomo has long operated a family-run hot dog restaurant, Mickey’s, in Bellwood. His son, Anthony, 26, played locally and then for three years at DePaul University; he first started skated at age 4, and Dad was right there then too. Sangiacomo also has two daughters.
Sangiacomo played back in the 1950s, and had success in speed-skating and figure skating, too.
His kids are taking him to Vegas to celebrate his 70th Birthday.
“Hockey has been a great way of life for me, with my family and my extended hockey family. It’s all been great memories,” said Sangiacomo, who plays golf multiple times per week, every week.
Now Ian will add goals, body checks and more to Sangiacomo’s memory bank. “He’s turned into a pretty decent player, and I really enjoy watching him (play),” Sangiacomo said.
Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years, and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.