Brian Joseph Gionta (born January 18, 1979) is an American professional ice hockey player and captain of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League (NHL), and is the second American-born captain of the Canadiens and its first sole American-born captain (the first, Chris Chelios, was a co-captain with Guy Carbonneau). He goes by the nickname "Gio" from his teammates and The Rochester Rocket, dubbed by the media. Although small in stature compared to most other players (Gionta is currently the second-shortest player in the NHL; Nathan Gerbe is one inch shorter), he is known for his tenacious play.
Gionta was drafted 82nd overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. The diminutive but fiery forward attended high school at the Aquinas Institute in Rochester, NY, then skated for Boston College from 1997 to 2001, winning a National Championship as Eagles captain in the 2000–2001 season. He was mentored by current Florida Panthers forward Marty Reasoner; also a Rochester, NY native; and enjoyed his best statistical season in his freshman year on a line with Reasoner, posting 30 goals and 62 points in 40 games as the Eagles fell to the University of Michigan in the National Championship game in Boston.
Gionta followed up with a 60 point season his sophomore year as BC was eliminated by Hockey East rival, the University of Maine in the Frozen Four semifinals, then a 33 goal, 56 point season in his junior year as the Eagles fell to North Dakota in that year's National Championship game.