Former Trail Jr. Smoke Eater, Peter Geronazzo, secured his place in Colorado College history as one of its greatest players after being inducted into the Colorado College Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony Oct.29.
Geronazzo grew up in Trail where he played his minor hockey, followed by a three-year stint with the Jr. Smokies. In his final year with the team, 1990-91, he led Trail to the KIJHL championship, scoring two goals including the winner in a Game 7, 5-2 victory over the Columbia Valley Rockies.
The Jr. Smokies was coached by Dan Bradford, and had local players like Mike Tavaroli, Gord Rebelato, and Corey Neil filling out the lineup. Geronazzo was an integral part of the championship team and took MVP honours in the KIJHL playoffs, then helped the Jr. Smokies defeat the Port Coquitlam Warriors in three straight to win the Cyclone Taylor Cup, Trail’s last championship before moving to Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League then to the BCHL in 1995.
The J. L. Crowe graduate then went on to Colorado College as a walk-on and watched the 1991-1992 Tiger ice hockey team from the stands. But his time on the sidelines was short lived as he eventually became one of the school’s most prolific scorers, an All-American, and a Hobey Baker top-10 finalist.
Geronazzo collected just seven goals and seven assists in his official freshman season of 1992-93 when the Tigers finished dead last in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and won only eight of 34 games overall.
However, he would prove instrumental in a remarkable turn-around that saw the Colorado College Tigers roar to an unprecedented three consecutive regular-season titles in the WCHA.
During those ‘93-94, ‘94-95 and ‘95-96 campaigns under head coach Don Lucia, the Tigers posted 86 victories in 124 outings and Geronazzo was credited with the game-winning goal in 20 of those contests.
In 1995-96, Geronazzo captained the Tigers team to the NCAA Frozen Four final. The Tigers beat a Vermont team – backstopped by goalie Tim Thomas and led by Martin St. Louis – 4-3 in double overtime, to move on to face the University of Michigan in the NCAA title game.
The U of M, with goalie Marty Turco and forward Brendan Morrision, would prevail, however, beating the Tigers 3-2 in overtime. Colorado College finished 33-5-4 that season and Geronazzo was one of eight Colorado players to garner All-WCHA accolades, joining goaltender Ryan Bach on the league’s elite First Team before being awarded All-American honors.
The Trail native tied with linemate Colin Schmidt for the Colorado College scoring lead with 29-28-57 as a junior in 1994-95, and completed his collegiate career with 91 goals and 87 assists in 146 games. His 178 points rank him 13th on the program’s all-time chart.
A New York Times preview of the ‘96 NCAA tournament read:
“The Tigers, from a college with an enrollment of 1,850, have been the best team in the Western Association for the past three years . . . They were voted No. 1 in the nation in the five polls throughout the season and their four losses — none at home — were all by one goal. Eight of their players were named to all-WCHA teams and nine have scored 10 or more goals.
The big gun is Peter Geronazzo, who scored 66 points.”
Following college, Geronazzo went on to play six seasons of professional hockey including stints in Europe, the IHL and the ECHL.
He lives and coaches youth hockey in Colorado Springs, and is a USA Hockey Level 4 certified coach. He is happily married to Molly and has two children, Jake and Juliana.