Hulking left winger Bill Bennett was born on May 31, 1953 in Warwick, RI and played his high school hockey at Cranston East. He comes from one of the top hockey families in the United States. His father, Harvey, was a Hall of Famer netminder with the RI Reds and the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Bill is one of five sons who also went pro. He follows his father and brothers Curt and Harvey, Jr. as honored members of the RIHHOF.
As a youth, Bill was the only Bennett boy intent on following his father’s path as a goaltender. By age 15 he realized his skills were more suited for the open ice and he moved to defense on his high school team. The transition was a complete success. After high school, Bill made the leap to Canada and got signed to play left wing with the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Juniors. His reputation now grew as a scrappy goalscorer.
Bill was signed as a free agent with the NHL’s Boston Bruins in 1976. The B’s assigned him to the Columbus Owls of the IHL for the 1976-77 season. After scoring 27 goals and 57 points that year, Bennett jumped to the AHL and the Rochester Americans for their playoff run at the tail end of the 1977 season.
Bill spent the entire 1977-78 season with the Amerks. His outstanding play caught the attention of the Bruins and Bill was called up the following season. During his time with the Bruins, the 6’5”, 235 lb winger was the biggest and considered the most imposing player in the NHL. Later that season, Bill returned to the AHL and the Americans. He continued to score at a team leading pace, ending the year with 33 goals and 71 points. It would be the highest single season point total any of the Bennett brothers would ever register as a pro.
After his personal best season, Bill returned to the top level of the game with the Hartford Whalers, which joined the NHL that summer when the WHA merged with the NHL. The Whalers selected Bennett in the 1979 Expansion Draft.
Following his year with the Whalers, Bill played several more seasons of pro hockey, including stints with the AHL’s Springfield Indians and Hershey Bears, the CHL’s Wichita Wind, and the IHL’s Fort Wayne Comets.
After his playing days, Bill returned home to Rhode Island. Over the following 40 years, to the benefit of several generations of our state’s young hockey talents, he became one our state’s most well-known ambassadors and teachers of the game as both a youth instructor and high school coach.
Taking over the operation of his father Harvey’s popular Bennett Skate Shop at the Cranston Municipal Rink, Bill would continue his father’s legacy of teaching the fundamentals of the game and guiding the development of skating and playing skills to countless local young men and women at the Bennett hockey schools and clinics.
Bill also remains familiar to New England fans, young and old, as a popular figure with the Boston Bruins Alumni Association, playing in Alumni games to raise money for local charities and serving as an instructor at the Bruins’ many regional hockey clinics.