The French-Canadians influence on molding life and customs in northern Rhode Island cannot be overstated. That fact is even more profound when considered in the context of ice hockey.
While some RI hockey greats simply came to know and fall in love with hockey, Paul Guay, raised in North Smithfield, RI, was born into it.
A 2020 selection to the RI Hockey Hall of Fame, Paul learned the game from his father, Jean, an orthopedic surgeon and the revered longtime team physician for the Mount St. Charles hockey team.
Jean, originally from nearby Bellingham, MA, was the 1948 valedictorian at the Mount and a Providence College graduate. He returned to his high school alma mater in the 60’s to become the hockey team’s physician and a fixture at MSC’s Adelard Arena. He would later be inducted into the Academy’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
Jean met his wife, Marilyn, a nurse, while doing his internship at Philadelphia General Hospital. They raised seven children – Tom, Michelle, Lise Anne, Joel, Paul, Marc and Bruce.
In his early years, Paul was immersed in his love for hockey and was caught up in the glory of the game while listening to his dad’s stories about his beloved Montreal Canadiens.
Paul developed his considerable hockey skills playing with his four very talented brothers, led by older siblings Tom and Joel, on local ponds and in the various youth hockey programs in northern Rhode Island. The intensity of his passion for the game blossomed when his father began taking him to games at Adelard.
There he fell in love with the pageantry surrounding Mount hockey. He would later star in that arena, captain the team, earn All-State honors, and help lead the Mount to four state and two national crowns – several playing alongside another All-Stater, his own brother, Joel.
Paul would be recruited to play for Lou Lamoriello at Providence College, but before lacing them up with the Friars, Paul was selected by the Minnesota North Stars in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He opted for education and to play at Providence College.
Under Lou Lamoriello’s tutelage, Paul would become a star at PC. He scored 57 goals and 105 points in two years, setting the Friars’ single-season goal scoring record with 34 tallies in his sophomore season and playing for a short time with brother, Joel, who had made the team.
The high-scoring right-winger skipped his junior and senior years at PC after he was chosen to play with the US National Team. In 1984, he became the first Friar to play in the Olympic games when he suited up for Team USA in Sarajevo. Immediately following the Olympics, the young forward joined the Philadelphia Flyers, who acquired him for veteran Paul Holmgren.
Paul scored eight points in the final 14 qames of the Flyers’ season, but was traded the following year to the Los Angeles Kings where he played for four years. He later skated in a handful of games for the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders but was chiefly an offensive sparkplug in the AHL and IHL during his last few years as a pro.
In all, Paul played in the NHL for seven seasons. Over his ten campaigns of professional play, Paul showcased considerable scoring prowess with eleven teams, recording 20 goals or more in five campaigns. He retired after the 1993 season with the Springfield Indians and after scoring in double digits for a sixth consecutive season. Paul was inducted into the RI Interscholastic League Hall of Fame in 2015.
Despite all of Paul’s success on the ice, he was not the only Guay to make hockey headlines. The entire RI hockey community takes special pride in the achievements made on the ice and in the classroom by his younger brothers, Marc and Bruce, both of whom played on two state championship squads at MSC and then went on to star at Notre Dame.
Marc, a goaltender and a 1982 Mount graduate, was a standout in the nets for the Irish in 1986 while being selected an Academic All-American. That year, he was also named the recipient of the prestigious Knute Rockne Award, named after the legendary Notre Dame football coach. Presented each year by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley, it recognizes the University’s outstanding male athlete who has distinguished himself as a student and as an athlete.
Remarkably, four years later, Bruce, a talented forward and the youngest in the family, replicated his brother Marc’s feat at South Bend by winning the 1990 Knute Rockne Award for his play on the ice and his academic accomplishments. Both brothers would continue their educations pursuing careers in medicine.
In fact, four of Jean and Marilyn’s children followed their parents into the medical field.
Marc, Bruce and Lise Anne all graduated from Chicago’s Loyola Medical School. Marc becoming a practicing Ear, Nose & Throat specialist, Bruce specializing in Internal Medicine, and Lise Anne is an ophthalmologist. Sister Michelle followed in her mother’s footsteps, becoming a Registered Nurse.
While Tom and Joel went into the private business sector, Paul has made his mark in public service. He traded in the “C” he proudly wore on his Mounties jersey and with several professional hockey teams for a captain’s badge in the Pawtucket Fire Department, where he is today responsible for the welfare and performance of an entire company of first responders. But hockey is still at his core.
Occasionally, you may find Paul and his brothers suiting up for the Mount’s annual reunion game at Adelard Arena, an ice surface Paul continues to be at home on. A former youth coach in the Woonsocket and northern RI area, Paul remains in very close touch with his former high school team, lending his experience and knowledge to a new generation of hockey players.
Since 2004, as an assistant coach, he has helped guide his high school alma mater to the same kind if success he saw as a player, and seeing them add seven more state titles to its legendary history along the way.