Blog 2018-09-11T07:34:52+00:00

History Blog

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. [...]

LaSalle’s Clem Harnedy – in his time, “The greatest goalie ever developed among native-born Americans.”

New Englanders know Walter Brown as the former owner of the Boston Bruins, who later founded and owned the Boston Celtics with his close friend and RI Reds’ owner, Lou Pieri. However, Brown’s greatest contribution to sport may have been the development of hockey in the United States, which he [...]

Zellio Toppazzini: Such a Distinctive Name, You’d Think They’d Get the Picture Right!

As the R.I. Reds “Player of the Century”, Zellio Toppazzini had little difficulty getting his name on the list of top scorers or professional hockey greats. He had 786 points in 785 American Hockey League games. But Topper had no luck at all getting his picture on hockey trading cards. [...]

RI’s Bill Mandigo is the Winningest Coach in All of Women’s Collegiate Hockey

Burrillville High School’s accomplishments on the ice are legendary, not only in Rhode Island but throughout New England, as well. So, too, are many of the players and coaches it has produced. It may be surprising to many that the most successful coach of all whose early contact with the [...]

Main Event: Chuck Scherza vs Rocky Marciano When Discretion was the Better Part of Valor

In his 13 seasons in pro hockey, Chuck Scherza of the R.I. Reds earned a reputation as a scorer, fierce checker who could dig the puck out of the corners, and a tough customer who never backed down from a fight. His career penalty totals rank third on the list [...]

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 [...]

The 1974 NHL Draft – Shrouded in Secrecy but Delightfully Highlighted by a Japanese Imposter

The Buffalo Sabres will receive the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft. Their only other #1 picks became NHL legends - Gilbert Perreault (1970) and Pierre Turgeon (1987). This year, they are expected to select Sweden’s Rasmus Dahlin. It’s doubtful, however, that this occasion will be any more [...]

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 “Digit” Murphy Leading China’s Women’s Hockey Hopes for the 2022 Beijing Olympics

The growth and success of the USA in gymnastics, soccer and other sports, including hockey in the early days, has been helped along and fueled by the talents of coaches from other nations. So it is that China recently came calling to one of Rhode Island’s favorite daughters, Margaret Digidio [...]

The “Hobey Baker” Award was almost the “Frank Brimsek” or “John Mariucci” Award

In February of 1978, Charles Bard, CEO of the Decathlon Club of Bloomington, MN, attended a convention at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. There, he learned of the development plans for the Wooden Award, created to honor the outstanding collegiate basketball player of the year. He learned about its beginning, [...]

Slap Shot’s Real “Hanson” Brother Played For the RI Reds & Son Played with P-Bruins

Paul Newman’s movie, “Slap Shot”, opened 40 years ago to fairly negative reviews but over time has become a consensus pick as one of the top sports flicks of all-time. The trio that stole the show was the Hanson Brothers. And at the center of that mayhem was David Hanson, [...]

“Hat Tricks” – Everything & Anything You Ever Wanted to Know About “Hat Tricks”

If you were entertaining a visitor from Mars and brought your visitor to a hockey game, how would you explain all those hats thrown onto the ice by fans in the crowd after a player scores three goals in the game? Admit it, the hockey hat trick is an action [...]

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 [...]

70 Years Ago – Warburton, Pulliam & Galipeau – RI’s First USA Olympians

The Olympics of 1940 and 1944 were both cancelled because of WWII, but even before the '48 Games at St. Moritz got underway there was another war erupting - a hockey war - that threatened the inclusion of hockey and the appearance of RI’s first Olympic hockey players. The conflict [...]

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, 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 7 Gold Medals playing for the USA National Team. But did you know she was born in Rhode [...]