History Blog

Norm Rosa: The Maestro of RI Auditorium Ice was the Pulse of the Arena

A few decades ago, Norm Rosa's schedule would have looked something like this: R.I. Reds hockey, then a Celtics basketball game, then the comedy team of Martin and Lewis, the rock music of the Grateful Dead, a Rocky Marciano boxing bout, the graceful spins and jumps of the Ice Capades, [...]

The Legend of Jerry Zifcak – The Pride of Burrillville Broncos Hockey

John Zifcak was the eldest of Phillip and Frances Zifcak's sons. With ten siblings to help take care of, he didn't have a lot of time for sports, but was athletic enough to join the Rhode Island State Police where he had distinguished career, retiring as a Lieutenant specializing in [...]

The Long and Lasting Legend of 17-Year-Old Norm Desaulniers

It’s every sports-minded young person’s dream to hit the home run that wins the game…nail the shot that beats the buzzer…score that sudden death goal. The ultimate thrill, however, as improbable as it might be, would be to someday “play in the bigs.” If you grew up in Rhode Island [...]

Post-War Hockey at Brown: Wes Moulton’s “Miracle on Ice”

Since its historic beginnings in 1898, Brown men’s hockey has endured two dormant periods. The first began in 1906, and play was not resumed until 1926. The second iceless stretch began after the 1938-39 season, when along with wrestling, hockey fell victim to the budget axe at the end of [...]

RI’s Hockey Coaches: A Legacy of Stardom and then Paying it Forward

Many ex-RI Reds coached at all levels of the game all over the continent after their time in Providence - names like Bessone, Blake, Cook, Flaman, Polano, Reardon, Schmidt, and Sinden, to name just a few. Fortunately, many of those Reds we cheered for settled in Rhode Island and paid [...]

Miracles: The Miracle on Ice and the One that Came Next

Virtually every single American knows the ever-so-famous “Miracle On Ice” story of the 1980 USA ice hockey team during that year’s Winter Olympics, held in Lake Placid, NY. However, few are familiar with the events that followed for Team USA, as a country and the world’s ice hockey community wondered [...]

If you skated in RI, your blades were likely sharpened on a Roger Guillemette machine

From youth leagues through college in the late fifties and sixties, Woonsocket’s Roger G. Guillemette was one of New England’s most highly accomplished hockey talents. A super-quick forward, Guillemette enrolled at nearby Mount St. Charles before transferring to LaSalle Academy for his sophomore year. The All-State forward would go on [...]

Jack Ferreira & The Legend of “Mr. Magoo” – Debunked

When visiting the Boston University athletics website, the entry on their Terrier hall-of-fame goalie, long-time NHL executive and Rhode Island native, Jack Ferreira, reads: “Ferreira, who was legally blind and nicknamed ‘Mr. Magoo’ by his teammates, gave up just 2.0 goals a game and recorded eight shutouts.” While his stats [...]

Hank Coupe: the Renaissance Man of RI Hockey did it all from the ice on up

Like so many other Rhode Islanders whose hockey careers are highlighted by both on- and of-ice achievement, it is impossible to categorize Henry J. Coupe, Jr. as simply either a “Player” or “Pillar” member of our nation’s hockey community for he excelled at both. Born in 1921 in Cranston, “Hank”, [...]

A History of #EBUG (Emergency Back Up Goalie) in Providence

If you're a hockey fan, odds are overwhelming that you’ve heard the story about David Ayres and #EBUG: https://www.nhl.com/news/hurricanes-emergency-backup-goalie-against-maple-leafs/c-315410618 And a great story it is. However, it's one we've heard in these parts before. You'd have to have seen a few faceoffs to remember this one. 20-year-old George Dermksian, who played goal for Central [...]

The Bennetts in Japan: A tale of two very different hockey cultures

If you're a fan of hockey in Rhode Island, you no doubt know a lot about the Bennetts. Here's something you probably don't know: In 1980, two of them -- Curt and Harvey Jr., their NHL careers completed -- went to the Far East and played two seasons of professional hockey [...]

The Hockey Game That Changed Aviation History!

It isn't often that a stick to the face alters the course of history. The course of a game, maybe. The course of someone's dental profile, possibly. But history? Well, according to Sean Braswell of the website ozy.com, there's a good chance the story of modern aviation began "with an [...]

Johnny Pesky & Milt Schmidt Both Laced Them Up in Providence

No, that's not a Photoshopped image. That really is Johnny Pesky in a Bruins uniform next to Milt Schmidt. We all associate Pesky, of course, with baseball in general and the Red Sox in particular: Player in the '40s and '50s, manager in the '60s, TV/radio announcer in the early [...]

“Fastest Gun in the History of Hockey.”

That was the opening sentence of a Providence Evening Bulletin story in February 1973, and for a couple of glorious weeks that aptly described North Providence High School’s Ron Bruno. And the Rhode Island high school hockey world basked in his radiated glory. Bruno, a senior left wing for the [...]

Rhode Island: Birthplace of Hockey’s First Full-Time Goalie Facemask

From youth leagues to the pros, the goaltender’s facemask is standard and required equipment. Younger generations might be surprised to know that it hasn’t always been that way. Prior to the 1950’s, no self-respecting goalie, let alone hockey player, would be caught hiding behind a mask. While, from time to [...]

The Birth of Burrillville Hockey: Tom Eccleston Needed an Edge.

As the 1937-38 RI amateur hockey season began, a 28-year-old defenseman, Tom Eccleston, Jr., was playing in the state's best amateur circuit, the Intercity League. His Greenville Townies played before paying customers at the legendary RI Auditorium. Tom needed an edge because the league had just announced that an Intercity [...]

Michael Spinks vs Harvey Bennett, Jr. Boxing in the City of Brotherly Love

Back in the summer of 1977, Harvey Bennett, Jr. was coming off, perhaps, his most eventful professional season. He started the 1976-77 campaign with the Washington Capitals but was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in November. During the season he was chosen to play alongside his brother, Curt, with the [...]

RI High Schoolers Came to the Rescue When the Flu Turned the RI Reds Blue

George “Butch” Keeling and Ed Yagnesak may not be household names in RI Reds’ history, but for about a week in October of 1957 they were the talk of all local hockey. That’s when the “Asian Flu” reached North American shores and effectively decimated the Providence Reds roster as it [...]

Brother Adelard and the Colorful History of “The Flying Frenchmen”

When Alfred “Al” Thurier was inducted into the Mount St. Charles Hall of Fame in 2013, the hockey legend was characterized as the Academy's “original Flying Frenchman.” As his career developed Thurier was better known as “Fred.” His was a pro career that began in 1937 and ended in 1952. [...]

How a Barber and the Providence Clippers Revived Men’s Hockey at Brown

We know that Brown defeated Harvard 6-0 in the very first organized intercollegiate ice hockey game played in the United States on January 19, 1898. Brown went on to enjoy more success in those early years against collegiate teams from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, and club squads [...]

Remembering When the Friars Wore “Cooperalls”

Cooperalls were a brand of ice hockey equipment manufactured by Cooper Canada. The name has since become a generic term for all hockey pants featuring a waist-to-ankle outer shell. Cooperalls were marketed from 1972 to 1975. Promoted as "a complete hockey uniform system", it consisted of an elasticated girdle extending [...]

RI’s Malcolm G. Chace, the “Father” of Ice Hockey in the United States

In mid-century and despite having no major home sports team, sports columnist John Hanlon’s insightful articles and whit combined with Frank Lanning’s legendary cartoon style to help rank the Providence Journal sports pages among the best in all of America. Hanlon was a commanding yet gentlemanly press box presence at [...]

Nancy Schieffelin, “Founding Mother” of Brown & USA Women’s Hockey

In the Fall of 1964, Brown University’s men's hockey coach, Jim Fullerton, cleverly arranged for Nancy Schieffelin '67, an experienced hockey player enrolled at Pembroke, the coordinate women’s college for Brown, to join a team practice disguised in full uniform. The exercise was to show the men's team how well [...]

Cosby Led USA to First World Title. Later Outfitted Reds & Other RI Teams.

In the early days of international hockey, Canada was all but invincible. It won the first four Olympic tournaments (1920, ‘24, ‘28, ‘32) and the first two International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships (1930 and ‘31) without losing a single game. When looking closely at the scores, one could [...]

  • The First Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament (Summer 1920 games in Antwerp, Belgium)

The First Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament

It may seem odd, but the very first Olympic ice hockey tournament did not take place in Winter. It was held at the 1920 Summer games in Antwerp, Belgium. At the time, organized international ice hockey was still relatively new. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the sport's governing body, [...]

  • Harold Grimes, Hope

“The Brown Cup”

In Rhode Island, the game of Ice Polo was the predominant ice sport at both the high school and collegiate levels at the turn of the twentieth century. Like today’s field hockey, it was played with short sticks with rounded ends and a rubber ball. It was taken up by [...]

  • Frederick Charles Albert Waghorne, Sr.

“More Whistle, Less Cowbell”

Frederick Charles Albert Waghorne, Sr. was born on October 16, 1865 and passed away in 1956. "Old Wag”, as he was known, is an honored member of the International Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He is best known for his prolific career as a referee – officiating over 2,400 [...]

How the E-22 Landed at the Auditorium

What do the names Kleenex, Formica, Xerox, Scotch Tape, Coke and Zamboni all have in common? Well, they are "eponyms." Eponyms (we had to look that one up) are proprietary brand names that have become synonymous with product categories: Kleenex with soft facial tissue, Formica with counter tops, Xerox with [...]

RI’s Bob O’Connor: USA “National Coach-in-Chief”

Rhode Island has been known for many, many successful and influential coaches at all levels of the game over the past century - Belisle, Eccleston, Mousseau, Cimini, Lamoriello, Ernst, Fullerton, Degidio, Mandigo, Crins, Army, Augustine, Wilson, Hynes, Capuano, Leaman, McCurdy - to name just a few. One name that stands [...]

RI Cheers for USA’s Kacey Bellamy

You may know that Kacey Bellamy, former assistant captain and defensive star of the 2018 USA Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, is a 3-time Olympian. You may know that she has won a remarkable 8 IIHF Gold Medals playing for the USA National Team and 1 Olympic Gold. But did you [...]