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Frank Pietrangelo - Manchester Storm

Frank Pietrangelo - The Storm Years : 1998 - 2000

Following two years in Europe, split between Italy and Germany, and with his 3 young children in mind, Frank decided he wanted to play in Britain and it seemed there was only one choice of where to play.

“I have the family to think about, particularly the children’s’ education and I thought England would be the best place. Everyone said go to Manchester and here I am” - Frank Pietrangelo, Manchester Storm Programme 9/11/1998

And so, then Manchester Storm coach, Kurt Kleinendorst signed Frank as number one netminder for the Storm squad that he was hoping would go one better than their runners up position the season before.

It didn’t take long for ‘Frankie’ and his excellent play to establish him as a favourite of the Storm fans - not since John ‘Vegas’ Finnie in the Storm’s first two seasons had a netminder been as popular with the fans. And this ‘popularity’ didn’t stop with the fans.

“Frankie has seen and done it all in a great career and has shown us already this season what a great goaltender he is. He is also a great guy and a good influence in the locker room.” - Kurt Kleinendorst, Manchester Storm Programme 4/10/1998

Frankie was enjoying his time in Manchester so much that midway through the 1998/99 season he signed a further two year contract with the club to keep him there until the end of the 2000/2001 season.

Of the 42 Superleague games in the 1998/99 season, Frankie played in 38 and was the only netminder in the Superleague to post a goals against average (GAA) of below 2 goals a game - posting a 1.92 GAA and a save percentage of 93.1. His closest rivals in the league, Stevie Lyle and Derek Herlofsky of the Cardiff Devils, both of whom played at least 12 games fewer, had a GAA of 2.31. In total, Frankie played in 56 games in the 1998/99 season with a GAA of 2.02 and a save percentage of 92.8. A performance Frankie himself described as a career year.

“Last year (1998/99) was a career year for me, that’s how much it meant to me personally and I don’t ever see me duplicating those numbers again, that’s life.” - Frank Pietrangelo, Manchester Storm Programme 2/3/2000

Manchester Storm won the Sekonda Superleague Championship in 1998/99 - thanks in no small part to Frankie’s play. To add to the championship win, 1998/99 also brought individual accolades for the Storm netminder - he was voted Sekonda Superleague Player of the year, Manchester Storm Fans’ player of the year, Manchester Storm Players’ Player of the year and represented the Superleague at the All Star game.

Frankie’s second season with the Storm, 1999/2000, was plagued by injuries - he suffered a broken rib, groin injury and had surgery on his knee during his second year in the UK. The disruptions caused by the injuries, coupled with a Storm defence weakened compared to 1998/99 meant that Frankie was unable to repeat the feats of the year before.

 During the injury ridden season he played in a total of 33 games (less than Mark Bernard, initially signed as backup) and he posted a GAA of 2.97 and a save percentage of 88.62. In the Superleague, where he appeared in 19 games, he had a GAA of 3.89 and a save percentage of 86.6.

Although the Storm failed to retain their Superleague Championship in 1999/2000 - Bracknell Bees took that honour - they did win one of the major trophies on offer, the Benson & Hedges Cup.

And, it was in this competition that Frankie once again contributed to the Storm’s success. In a two-legged semi-final against Cardiff Devils he posted back to back shutouts in a 4-0 home win and a 0-0 away tie to take the Storm to the showpiece final at Sheffield Arena against the London Knights.

The final ended in a 4-4 tie and not even overtime could separate the teams and so the fate of the cup was decided on a penalty shootout. Frankie, in net for the Storm, underdogs on the night, stopped all five of London’s penalty shots. That, coupled with Rick Brebant’s successful penalty shot was enough to win the cup for the Storm.

The knee surgery mentioned earlier sidelined Frankie for the Superleague run-in and the playoffs and he concentrated on getting fit for the next season.

Before the start of the 2000/2001 season Frankie announced that he would retire from the game once the season was over but that he was hoping to go out on a high with another championship with the Storm.

A change of coach at the Storm, Kurt Kleinendorst joined the New Jersey Devils as assistant coach and was replaced by Terry Chrsitensen, meant wholesale changes in the Storm roster with Frankie one of only 6 players from the 1999/2000 squad to be back for the new year.

The early season indications were that Frankie may be close to recapturing some of the form he had shown in the 1998/99 season - however, playing behind what was arguably the Storm’s weakest defence since their first Superleague season meant that the stats didn’t support this.

Come mid-September Frankie was once again hit by injury - suffering a groin strain. Although he did return from this injury it was aggravated during a match against Sheffield Steelers on 4 November and once again Frankie was sidelined - forced to watch from the stands. The game in Sheffield turned out to be Frankie’s last on-ice appearance as his retirement, enforced through injury, was announced on Friday 1 December.

During his shortened 2000/2001 season Frankie appeared in 15 games, posting a 3.98 GAA and a save percentage of 87.5.

Although no longer playing the game, Frankie has stated that he intends to remain involved with hockey through becoming a player agent.


In his first interview for the Manchester Storm match night programmes Frankie was asked if he had any ambitions, his answer...

“Obviously I would like to win something this year. With the team we have I think we can do it. I have a few more years left in me so to win a couple of championships would be nice.” Frank Pietrangelo, Manchester Storm Programme, 9/11/1998

Well, from where I’m sitting he did exactly that - two and a bit years, two major championships and recognition as one of the best netminders to grace the arenas of the Sekonda Superleague are achievements Frankie should be rightfully proud of.

It is unfortunate that he was forced from the game in the manner he was - he deserved the big send off he would have got from the Storm fans at the end of the season. It seems a shame that he didn’t wait a couple of days to return to Canada and say his farewells to the Storm fans at the next home game. Having said that, with some parts of the Storm faithful Frankie was a victim of his own success - having played so well in 1998/99 the fans expected this of him constantly and once he dropped below his own high standards, some fans questioned whether he should still be playing at the Storm if at all!! Such is the fickle nature of sports fans!

Those of us that were Storm fans during the 1998/99 season and beyond will never forget Frankie - he was a star on the ice, and on the odd occasions I met him off the ice, a gentleman. As the headline in Puck-Off, Storm’s 1999/2000 season fanzine, read..... God Wears #40!


Check out images of Frank during his Storm career in the Storm Years  galleries in the Images section