Original Livonia Franklin hockey captain Dan Longeway and longtime coach Terry Jobbitt dropped the ceremonial first puck before Friday’s game at Devon Aire Arena against Dearborn Unified. The Patriots won, 5-1.
Nostalgia permeated the air Friday, Dec. 1 at Livonia’s Devonaire Ice Arena.
But an “alumni night” for Livonia Franklin’s varsity boys hockey program could be launching something special for the future.
The Patriots’ original team captain, Dan Longeway (1974 graduate) and longtime head coach Terry Jobbitt, participated in pre-game ceremonies which were emceed by current coach Dan Phelps.
“I played defense, I wasn’t fast enough to play anything else,” joked Longeway, following the festivities. “We had a league of our own in Livonia, it was Franklin, Churchill, Stevenson. … The games were played at what was called Ford Field, which is now Eddie Edgar.
“It was indoor, our first year they didn’t have glass, so it was still fencing. … we practiced here at Devonaire. It’s much nicer now.”
When Longeway played (1972-73, 1973-74 seasons), the head coach was Paul Ferguson.
During the 1980s, Jobbitt took over the team and coached it for 25 seasons.
“Dan Phelps is an excellent coach, putting on a program like this, getting all the alumni involved,” Jobbitt said. “I think it’s a fabulous idea. … hopefully we’ll bond (and) get Dan more of an alumni association, that’s what he wants to do.”
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Longeway and Jobbitt each dropped a puck at center ice, with players from the current Franklin (co-captain Jonah Pollack) and Dearborn Unified teams (Andrew White) sharing the moment.
Franklin then made it a truly special evening with a 5-1 win. Scoring two goals each were Trey Ziebol (four-point night) and Jacob Cox (three-point night) — with the fifth tally scored by Ric Anderson.
The winning goalie was co-captain Will Augustine as the Patriots improved to 4-1-1 on the young season.
A number of friendly faces from Franklin’s past packed Devonaire (admission was free, but they were asked to fill out questionnaires to gauge interest in ongoing alumni events and activities).
Longeway shook hands with one of his Franklin teammates, Harold Vella. They posed for a selfie and briefly kibitzed about decades gone by.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Longeway said. “Just to see Franklin Hockey come back, to see the school come back, and just to be part of it.
“Hopefully the program takes off. It’s exciting for us, just trying to give back a little bit.”
According to Phelps, in his second season as head coach, Devonaire was chosen for the alumni night instead of Eddie Edgar because “it’s close to the campus and it used to be a quasi-home for Franklin. … It brings a nostalgic twist of the neighborhood and the community right around Franklin.”
Phelps said he is hopeful that the event will bring old friends together and spark a connection with the current program.
But it is important for today’s players to honor the past.
“The current team, we’re trying to instill in them a culture we’re trying to develop,” Phelps explained. “Part of that is, we have a poster at Eddie Edgar, ‘From Our Past We Forge Our Future.’
“We want these guys to honor and understand that, because 20 years goes by fast. Someday, these guys we hope a tradition can be carried on and they’ll be part of it.”
Phelps added that he wants to get something started that has staying power.
“You think about the great schools, the Notre Dames, the Harvards, all the great collegiate schools,” Phelps said. “Even great preps like Catholic Central and Divine Child and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, their alumnus are a big part of their programs.
“We’re trying to do that here with Franklin. It’s in a very embryonic state.”