Life After Prep Hockey Can Prove Unglamorous

Posted: March 13, 1986

Think of basketball and West Philadelphia High School comes to mind. Think of football and it's Ridley.

But if hockey is mentioned, there's one school that stands alone.

Between 1977 and 1982, no other Philadelphia-area school dominated in hockey as did Archbishop Carroll High School. Although the years have slipped by, the Patriots' hockey prowess has not been easily forgotten.

"We made such an impact," recalled Scott Chamness, who is easily Carroll's most celebrated puck carrier. "How often does one team dominate every game, every ice shift, like we did? We won games by scores of 20-0 and averaged around 13 goals a game. It's something you never can forget."

Chamness scored 69 goals in 1980. In all, he tallied 271 goals in 64 games (1977-80) for a 4.3 goals-per-game average, a record that may never be broken. During that same period, Archbishop Carroll was 101-8-2.

But his playing days have ended. At 23, Chamness works for his family's business, Keystone Printing Inc. of Philadelphia.

Chamness, center Greg Arnold and defenseman Carmen DiGiandomenico, were among the most recognized names in area hockey as well as the backbone of Carroll's three Intercounty League championships (ICSHL), two Flyers Cups and one Pennsylvania Cup during Carroll's five-year reign.

"I had pleasant memories of high school," said Arnold, 24, who is a stockbroker at Paine Webber. "At times now, I wish I were playing again. If I had gone to another college and played under someone else, maybe it would have turned out better."

Arnold and Chamness sniffed the roses in high school but their flowers wilted badly after high school.

"The thing was," Chamness said, "coming from Philadelphia and being a good hockey player was something new back then. There aren't many blue- chippers here. We were told to strive to play in a Division I college and go from there. We (Chamness and Arnold) thought going to a prep school would enhance ourselves when we went to college."

Whether going to Canterbury Prep in New Milford, Conn., enhanced their careers is debatable. One thing is certain, both say - they erred in choosing their respective colleges.

Chamness went from Canterbury Prep to St. Lawrence University, in Canton, N.Y. St. Lawrence, a Division I school, is to hockey what Penn State is to football. Arnold enrolled in Vermont, also Division I, after his year at Canterbury.

"I didn't get involved with their decision on colleges; I left that up to the kids and their parents," said Gary Vetre, 31,, of West Chester, who coached Carroll from 1977-82. Vetre says Chamness and Arnold were bucking odds by going to major colleges.

"They were never challenged in high school," Vetre said. "No one could touch them at their level here. But Division I has all those Canadian and Massachusetts kids playing. Scott and Greg were a couple of kids from Philadelphia. They were like the black sheep."

Two players, two different colleges, yet identical problems confronted them. Neither enjoyed their collegiate careers; both felt they weren't given the chance to showcase their ability.

"St. Lawrence was the wrong choice," said Chamness. "I didn't get much ice time and when I finally got on a starting line in my sophomore year, I fractured a vertebra in my back. That set me back seven weeks and that was the season. The following year, I got a knee injury. I said, 'Enough.' "

Chamness left St. Lawrence after his junior year and joined his family business in January of 1984. He is presently attending night school at Drexel, working toward a bachelor's degree in business administration.

Arnold's tale is similar.

"I didn't know what to do once I got to Vermont," Arnold said. "It was a struggle for me and I was very unhappy. It got to the point where I began to think about what I was going to do the rest of my life because I didn't have much going with hockey. They wanted a European skater and that wasn't me. I didn't play much in two years. That's when I decided to pursue my financial career."

Arnold joined Paine Webber last June, a month after graduating from Vermont with a bachelor's degree in economics.

"I don't regret it," he said.

DiGiandomenico, 23, has a different story to tell. His has a happy ending.

He's a car salesman for Porter Buick in Media, a job he's held since graduating from Elmira College in New York in September with a bachelor's degree in business management.

Whereas Chamness and Arnold gambled by selecting formidable Division I powerhouses, DiGiandomenico realized that Division II was better suited for him. Unfortunately, DiGiandomenico chose the University of New Haven (Conn.), and after two years, the school dropped its hockey program, forcing him to transfer to Elmira.

"I never thought the program at New Haven was in trouble or they'd drop the sport," DiGiandomenico said. "But I'm not unhappy about going there. The thing is, I knew my own ability. I knew I wouldn't play regularly at a Division I school."

DiGiandomenico says his days at Carroll prepared him for the business world as much as his degree.

"All that competition in high school helped me," DiGiandomenico said. ''It made me a competitive person. It taught me how to work and deal with people. Hockey made me a stronger individual in that sense. I'll always remember people telling me that after Scott and Greg left (in 1980) that we wouldn't win. That made me work harder because people said we couldn't achieve anything. Well, we won the Pennsylvania Cup in 1981."

Chamness, Arnold and DiGiandomenico believe their individual experiences should serve as a warning to other high school hockey players forced to choose between a Division I and II school.

"I think kids need better guidance in choosing a college," Arnold said. ''We were above-average players who needed a prep school. But the problem is directing the mass amount of kids to a college rather than working with a select few to make sure they get into the right school."

Chamness says he isn't sure if there's a lesson to be learned but, "My advice is that every kid should seek out all opportunities presented them. Look for someone who really wants to help you and is willing to give you the opportunity you need."

Arnold says he'd like to see the Carroll players reunited and play in a men's league. But he won't dwell on the glory days gone by.

"Believe it or not, I get the same kick out of seeing someone's investment grow these days as I did scoring goals, and I mean that," he said.

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