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Jon Christiano named new head coach of St. Joe’s hockey

Updated: May 7

Photo Courtesy of St. Joe's Athletics Dept.

Kenmore, NY- Jon Christiano, a former Buffalo Sabres assistant coach and Director of Pro Scouting has been named the new head coach of the St. Joe’s Federation hockey program.  

After an extensive six-week search, a committee led by Director of Athletics Brian Anken decided Christiano’s list of accomplishments and vision for the future was the difference between he and other well qualified candidates.

“He checked all the boxes and then some,” Anken said after introducing Christiano Monday morning in the school’s auditorium. Dozens of current Joe’s hockey players and administration officials joined the press conference to meet the new coach.

Christiano, a 1976 graduate of St. Joe’s takes over for Rich Crozier ’94 who had been at the helm the previous 15 years. Crozier (along with longtime assistant Don Held) stepped down in late March, opening one of the more coveted high school coaching positions in New York State.

“Rich (Crozier) was part of the initial process in finding his successor,” Anken said. "He (Crozier) had built so many good relationships throughout WNY hockey it was imperative that we look at who he thought would fit the Joe’s culture and continue on our tradition of being a championship level hockey program.”

“They hit a home run,” said Crozier. “Jon is an exceptional hire. As an alumnus I couldn’t be more excited for the program. His depth of knowledge and experience can’t be overstated.”

Christiano is well known for his ability to develop players at all levels, most recently as an assistant coach at Nichols School.

“It was crazy that someone like Jon was available, his resume and experience now leading a high school hockey program is quite special,” Anken said. “We had lengthy talks with a number of interested candidates including coaches within our program. Each of which could have been considered for the job. It should be noted that all of them have indicated a willingness to continue on in their roles, in fact they all expressed interest in working wherever needed which speaks volumes.”  

Besides spending time with the Sabres and Nichols, Christiano was an assistant coach of the Italian National Team. He also spent many years with the Rochester Amerks in the  late 90’s and into the early 2000’s.

Christiano knows full well the tradition and the values representative of the St. Joe’s brotherhood. “My journey started right here,” Christiano said. “I’m excited to return and work with you guys in this successful program. A big part of coaching is setting up a culture. I look forward to continuing that hockey culture.”

Max Gilbert, a sophomore defenseman who helped the team capture a state title this past winter was excited to hear Christiano was taking over. “I went to a few of his clinics, and I know he is going to be a good coach for us,” Gilbert said. “He’ll have an impact on our program, and on all of the players. He’s the type of coach that is willing to take his time to improve his players abilities and guide us to where we want to go.”  

Like Crozier at the start of his coaching career at St. Joe’s, Christiano is walking into a good situation. The program has won 13 state championships and although they graduate 12 seniors this year, there’s still plenty of talent walking the halls on Kenmore Ave. The program currently has 120 hockey players among the five hockey teams.

‘‘We’re here to get better everyday and get better as a unit. I want to see players move up the ranks. That all starts with a commitment to your teammates. It’s a new day and we start from scratch. It’s about you guys, we’re here to help you,” Christiano said.

Christiano told Nichols that this would be the only job he would leave them for. He was quite happy in his role there, but this is the oner job that he had wanted. “It’s exciting to come back here and share my experiences with the kids. Hockey has changed a little bit but the style of play, you try to be as skillful as you can be and outwork the guys that are lined up against you.”

Christiano currently resides in Grand Island but grew up in Kenmore, his parents still live there. His son played Federation hockey for Grand Island.


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