The past week has been a bittersweet one in the sports pages of The Tribune-Democrat.
On Oct. 14, writer Mike Mastovich brought us the story of a former local athlete who has realized his dream in the National Basketball Association. A day later, Mastovich delivered the news that one of the best pro hockey players that our region has produced is hanging up his skates.
Josh Piro, who won four state hockey championships at Bishop McCort High School, played in 318 professional games over the past decade. His career included stops in his hometown (with the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs) as well as his adopted hometown of Elmira, N.Y. (with the United Hockey League’s Elmira Jackals).
He went to Europe in 2010 to play for Germany’s Herford Ice Dragons and ended up leading the Ober Liga in scoring.
The 33-year-old Piro will still retain ties to Johns-town with the Slap Shot Cup tournament at Cambria County War Memorial Arena and Planet Ice, but he’s looking forward to a new job in Pittsburgh as well as some scouting and advising duties with a Toronto player management organization.
“I have a lot to be thankful for,” Piro said. “I am very grateful to so many people who have supported me throughout my hockey career. Hockey has given me so much and has given me a gratifying life.
“I feel it’s time to move on. I’ve done a lot of what I wanted to do. It’s been an incredible ride. It’s mixed emotions, but I’m content.”
North Star graduate Monte Shubik isn’t moving on, but he is moving up. Shubik was recently named an assistant coach with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
Shubik has been with the organization for the past 10 years, including the previous six seasons as the team’s video coordinator. Now, he will oversee Philadelphia's video department and also assist head coach Doug Collins in offensive game planning.
Shubik, the son of former North Star coach Andy Shubik, has basketball in his blood. He served as the manager for the Penn State team while in college and, in addition to his time with the 76ers, the sport has taken him to England and Venezuela.
He was a scout for the Britain men’s national team and advised the squad during the Olympics this summer.
“It was a great experience walking through that Olympic Village,” he said.
We hope that Shubik will have more great experiences with the 76ers in the future.
“We’ve had some rough years,” he said of the NBA team. “I’ve been fortunate that some of these coaches have kept me. It says a lot about the organization to keep me.”
It also says a lot about Shubik and what he brings to the team.
We wish Shubik and Piro nothing but the best in their new endeavors.
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