Hockey team will honor slain Stamford man

November 18, 2016

STAMFORD — In a tribute to Joseph “Joey” Comunale, the 26-year-old from Stamford who was murdered in New York City over the weekend, the Westhill-Stamford co-op boys hockey team is retiring his no. 9 jersey at an upcoming alumni game.

“He was a great leader and he always gave it his all every time he stepped on the ice,” said John Santagata, one of the team’s coaches. “He was a fierce competitor but the second the game was over he would shake everyone’s hand.”

Santagata coached Comunale while he was a student at Westhill High School and earlier with Stamford’s Youth Hockey Association. Comunale was also close friends with Santagata’s son, Nicholas.

“I’ve known him since he was 7 or 8 years old. He was part of that whole group who grew up together and played youth hockey,” he said.

Comunale continued to play hockey on adult leagues in Stamford. He also played baseball and softball, following a successful career as a baseball player for Westhill.

Santagata said Comunale’s jersey will be retired at the Nov. 26 alumni game at Terry Conners Rink.

Comunale’s body was found Wednesday in Oceanport, N.J., after his family in Stamford reported him missing. Comunale had spent Saturday night partying with friends in Manhattan.

“You’ll never find anybody with a bad thing to say about this kid,” his father, Patsy Comunale, told The Advocate Friday.

James Rackover, 25, and Lawrence Dilione, 28, were arrested Thursday in connection with the killing, but were not charged with murder.

Comunale was stabbed 15 times before his body was buried in a shallow grave, police said.

“He was such a great kid,” Comunale said. “He had everything to live for.”