Jennifer Parraga, BA’93
It’s a rivalry 12 years in the making.
The Mighty Dents and the University of Toronto (U of T) Dentistry hockey teams are tied at six games apiece and the right to call themselves champions of the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) President’s Hockey Classic.
A win on April 4 for the Mighty Dents at the 13th annual matchup will bring the coveted cup back to its rightful home at Western University and erase the sting from the bitter loss they suffered in 2019.
According to captain Jona Szakacs, the team is ready. That’s thanks to the years of hockey experience that so many members bring to the ice, including Szakacs, Theadora Imbrogno and centre Sarah McVey who played University varsity.
Szakacs himself played competitive hockey for most of his youth, was offered a hockey scholarship to play at an American college and offered a spot with the Okotoks Oilers, a team with the Alberta Junior A Hockey League.
The captain for the past three years and in his fourth year of dentistry, this will be Szakacs final match with the Mighty Dents. The team and the ODA Classic have been an important part of Szakacs’ time at the School.
“I’ve been such a sports fan in general and this game and team has been a way to bring people together, to build and deepen relationships with professors to learn from people. For me it’s just been awesome,” he said.
Theadora Imbrogno will be joining her classmates at the blue line. Known for her beauty plays, the fourth-year dental student brings years of experience to the team, having won OFSAA with her high school, playing for the Provincial Women’s Hockey League and receiving a scholarship to play at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania.
“I first heard about the team when I was touring the School, but didn’t realize just how important it was,” she said. “It’s been great to continue playing hockey, to connect with my peers, meet with the community and have fun.”
Honorary Coach Dr. Kenneth Wright has been involved with the team since 2012, shortly after launching the Dental Outreach Community Service (DOCS) Program. That year, the team decided to raise funds through the annual game and split the proceeds between charities chosen by the two teams. Since then more than $50,000 has been raised from proceeds and raffles from the games supporting DOCS and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
An avid hockey player himself, Dr. Wright attends all the intramural games during the year, and sits bench side during the ODA Cup. He and his wife Jean also host a dinner with the team.
While they remain opponents on the ice, the two teams find plenty of opportunity to enjoy time together during pre and post-game times.
Thanks to sponsor Patterson Dental and planning by the schools’ social representatives, the teams have a pre-game dinner, and spend time reconnecting.
“One of the best things about the game is the collegiality between the two teams when we are off ice,” said Szakacs. “It’s so nice to spend time with the U of T students and revisit the friendships we have developed as a result of the game.”
Watching the friendly rivalry and collegial spirit year in and year out inspires the ODA to continue sponsoring the game, a role they have taken on since the inception of the Hockey Classic.
“It’s always a fun and exciting game and we are proud to be part of the annual event that builds, cultivates and fosters strong, positive relationships between students, faculties and the ODA,” said Rose Zisko, who oversees student services with the ODA.
Dr. Wright agrees, and says that as hotly contested the game is on the ice, the annual event brings the profession together, and strengthens the relationship between the only two dental schools in Ontario.
“It’s the highlight of the school year,” said Szakacs.
The 2020 Mighty Dents Hockey Team
- Shane Huffman – 4
- Christian Colavecchia – 5
- Jona Szakacs – 7
- Andrew Hogan-Cann – 11
- Aaron Anastacio – 15
- Todd Kaiway – 16
- Theadora Imbrogno – 92
- Trent Murphy – 22
- Anddy Nevill – 27
- Brendan Wong – 28
- Steve Tracogna – 94
- Sarah McVey – 17
- Daniel Lam-Sidun – 3
- Luke Nogaio – 21
- Marjorie-Ann Hurtubise – 9
- Alex Good – 19
- Young-Jin Cheon – 6
- Justin Lamont – 14