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oel Gingras wasn't just the big brother. He was
the bigger brother. So when Johnathan Gingras
took umbrage with Joel's treatment of a friend
during a pickup hockey game on a pond in
Doylestown, Pa., valor trumped discretion and Johnathan
confronted Joel.
"I got right up in his face, and that probably wasn't a good
idea because he was way bigger than me and could have
torn me to shreds," said Johnathan, SBU class of 1986. "And
Joel punches me with his hockey glove on."
Of course, Johnathan decided to dig a deeper hole.
"So I called him a (expletive)," he said, "and Joel drops his
glove and hits me square in the chin with a closed fist."
Fast forward to the early 1980s, the heyday of NCAA Div.
III varsity hockey at St. Bonaventure, when Sam Farace, Brad
Pennock and Johnathan Gingras -- the three leading scorers
in school history -- were leading the Bonnies to four Interna-
tional Collegiate Hockey League titles under head coach Dr.
Jim Moor.
"We're playing at Kent State (Jan. 27, 1984) and I'm hav-
ing one of my best games. I had four goals," Johnathan re-
Kent State wasn't about to let him score a fifth.
"I'm standing in front of the net and get completely
cross-checked from behind," Johnathan said. "I get up,
and there's Joel on top of this guy, trying to wrench his
head off. I'm sure Joel thought, `He might be my little
brother, but lay a hand on him and you'll die.'"
lmost 30 years later, the roles are reversed,
Johnathan looking out for Joel's back, working
tirelessly with the help of family and friends to
keep alive the memory of his beloved brother.
Johnathan laughs about getting smacked in the
mouth by Joel because, well, that's what brothers
sometimes do.
"Anyone with brothers or sisters knows it can be a
real love-hate relationship," Johnathan said, "but it was
really nice to know he was going to be at Bonaventure
with me."
It wasn't the plan, really.
Johnathan was intent on playing hockey in college, and
when his dad suggested looking at St. Bonaventure and
Moor expressed mutual interest, they came for a visit.
Joel, who had attended community college and was three
years older, was suddenly intrigued by the idea, too, and
tagged along with Johnathan and Archbishop Wood High
School teammate Jim Kusters on the recruiting trip to Bona's.
They toured campus, visited with future teammates like
Tom Morrissey, '85, and had lunch at the Beef `N' Barrel.
"I really loved the warmth of it, the size of it, and the
people we met were just so down to earth, like my home-
town. Bonaventure is like an old pair of jeans that you put
on and they just fit perfect," Johnathan said. "Joel and I
never really had a conversation about it, but I think he felt
the same way."
A sophomore transfer and marketing major, Joel gradu-
ated in 1985, leaving an indelible mark on his friends.
Jay Altmeyer's college decision came down to a coin flip
-- St. Bonaventure or Providence -- "and when the coin
came up Providence, I said I have to do two out of three
and it came up Bonaventure, Bonaventure." He called him-
self "the luckiest guy in the world" because he met the
Gingras boys.
"The bonds of friendship we formed (freshman year)
winning a championship together, those were bonds that
were cemented for life," said Altmeyer, a freelance TV
sports producer. "We were blood brothers."
And Joel, outgoing and already 21 when he began his
Bonaventure career, was big brother to them all.
"Joel was our Pied Piper," Altmeyer said.
Johnathan was anything but a wallflower, yet even he
was impressed by the circumference of Joel's circle of
"He never ceased to amaze me," said Johnathan, a re-
gional vice president with Prudential Life Insurance. "I'd
walk into Club 17, and he'd be having a beer with a guy
I've never seen before. He just had a way of connecting
with all sorts of people. The charity we run is a compilation
of all different sorts of people from every walk of life --
corporate executives, hedge fund managers, steelworkers,
plumbers ... kind of like all the different kinds of people
Joel was friends with at Bonaventure."
Just three years after graduation, in the spring of 1988,
Joel was struggling with peripheral vision, blacking out while
looking over his shoulder, bumping into things because his
balance was off. A CAT scan revealed a brain tumor that
doctors were able to only partially remove because it was
"entwined in his brain like a spider web," Johnathan said.
Joel (left) and Johnathan Gingras during their time
at St. Bonaventure in the 1980s.