This was not supposed to be Steve Pitoscia’s week in the spotlight.
No, this week was supposed to be reserved for his daughter, Hailey, and the family’s restored boat, the Rehbein, which were recently featured in the News Tribune.
Right before that story could hit the web, however, Duluth East announced Steve Pitoscia as the new Greyhounds boys hockey coach. He replaces the legendary Mike Randolph, who resigned June 1 after 36 seasons, 658 victories, 18 state tournament appearances and two state titles.
Pitoscia said he’s not one to seek the spotlight. He would rather have had this week be all about his family, and when it comes time to drop the puck on the 2021-22 East boys hockey season, he’d like to see all the attention that’s been focused on the Greyhounds’ coaching job shift back to the players.
“I want to do honest by these kids, and that’s what it is all about,” Pitoscia said. “My favorite thing will be when all of this is over, and no one cares about me anymore. We just care about the kids. This fall, I just want to do them proud.”
A former Greyhound himself, Pitoscia coached East’s Bantam AA program for 17 seasons from 2001-18. He also served as an assistant coach at East (2000-01) and Duluth Marshall (2018-19).
Pitoscia spent the past two seasons in Omaha, Nebraska, working with the Omaha Lancers of the Tier I junior United States Hockey League and coaching the Omaha Mastery AAA hockey program’s 18U and 16U teams. From sunup to sundown, he was at the rink working with the Lancers and, later, his Midget AAA players.
Pitoscia said he was able to build some strong connections in the game of hockey during his two years in Omaha.
“The network that you can build at that level is incredible,” he said. “Everyone from the NHL on down comes to watch those games. It’s awesome in that sense.
“The showcases that they host, there are so many guys scouting those events because you can watch so many kids in one concentrated area.”
As much as Pitoscia said he enjoyed Omaha, the chance to be closer to his family and lead a “blue blood” high school program like Duluth East — that he has played and coached in — was too good to pass up.
Succeeding a coach like Randolph, who is 49 wins shy of the state record for a coach, is not something that bothers Pitoscia, he said, noting there’s no comparison between Randolph, who has almost 700 wins, while Pitoscia has zero as a Minnesota high school head coach.
Pitoscia said his competitive nature will push him to continue the standard set at East of making the state tournament and trying to win it. He also wants to help teach the student-athletes he works with how to be professionals — whether that is in the NHL or as an engineer or doctor..
“We’re going to go to the rink and work hard and focus on those things,” Pitoscia said. “We’re going to try and be good people in the community and have people look at Duluth East hockey players as the kids they want to hire when they get their first job.”