WEST HAVEN —The late Robert Fumiatti, a police officer who played for the West Haven boys hockey team and graduated in 1989, has been called legendary, a role model, a great parent, had a bridge named after him and has his name on a memorial wall in Washington, D.C..
On Wednesday at Bennett Rink he received another accolade and honor posthumously. The former Westies hockey player had his No. 8 retired during a pre-game ceremony before West Haven played Amity.
According to rink manager Chris Everone there was a crowd of 850.
On Jan. 2, the West Haven Board of Education voted unanimously to retire Fumiatti’s number.
“This is awesome, I’m so overwhelmed to see Robert honored this way,” said Stacey Fumiatti, Robert Fumiatti’s wife. “Thinking about it, he had his name placed on a memorial wall in Washington, D.C. and that was prestigious. But this honor, his number being retired, is a better honor. Everybody in town knew Rob and they are doing this for who he was, the great man that he was.
“I was hoping something like this could happen, but I was surprised when it actually happened. It makes you proud to be part of the West Haven community.”
Fumiatti died unexpectedly from a heart condition in 2007 at age 35. His death resulted from complications following five years of intense rehabilitation after an incident in 2002 when a gunman shot Fumiatti in the face coming out of a van to confront a suspected drug dealer. He survived the gunshot wound and eventually returned to his position as a narcotics dog handler.
In addition to his wife, Stacey, Robert Fumiatti’s three children Vinny (13), Madelyn (22) and Caitlin (19) participated in the ceremony. Also on hand were Robert Fumiatti’s sister Debbie Powers and brother Michael Fumiatti.
“This is awesome, an amazing tribute for Rob,” said Michael Fumiatti. “He was a cop but he was an amazing hockey player. It’s so cool to see the whole community come together to honor Rob.”
The honor and recognition of having his Blue Devils hockey number retired follows other impressive honors in recent years. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund added his name to the National Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. in 2011. In 2013, the former Kimberly Avenue bridge that connects West Haven and New Haven was named the Robert V. Fumiatti Bridge.
“This is a special night, a lot of alumni have come back here to honor Rob,” West Haven boys hockey coach Joe Morrell said. “During his rehab Rob became a volunteer coach for us and a motivational speaker.
“He also helped as a volunteer assistant with the Amity boys hockey team. He did a lot for us. What makes this hit home even more is Jan. 11 marks the anniversary of the day he died.”
Fumiatti is the first West Haven boys hockey player to officially have his jersey retired by the West Haven Board of Education.
In the game that was played, Tyler Cole had 34 saves to lead Amity to a 3-1 SCC/SWC interdivision win over West Haven.
Amity 3, West Haven 1
(at West Haven)
AMITY1 1 1—1
W. HAVEN0 1 0—1
1st Period: A: James Blum (Jason Cesjka), 11:03; 2nd Period: WH: Kevin Moriarty (Robbie Forleo) 1:27; A: Connor Bath (Mike Millr, Joe Schittina), 8:44;. 3rd Period: A: Blum (Csejka), 14:52; Shots—A 33; WH: 24; Saves—A: Tyler Cole 23; WH: Logan Cole 30; Records—A 5-1; WH 2-5.