Amesbury Maples Legend Series: Larry Fournier

( Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family )

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Growing up in my hometown of Amesbury, Massachusetts, it was unfortunate for me as a passionate hockey fan to not see any of these Amesbury Maples hockey team legends play, but stories of the past from those who witness firsthand are always just as good. Like back in the day when former Amesbury Middle School athletics teacher Leo Dupere, who often used old Maples player comparisons when a young man, was making an end-to-end rush during the popular floor hockey season. Dupere was a longtime Maples player himself and had a tremendous hockey career. The former Northeastern University standout will be the subject of a future article and was a mastermind when it came to player development.

Every player that donned the Kelly Green and White jersey certainly earned the right to be a member on the roster throughout the years, but you also have to give an assist to the Amesbury families and their ability to produce generations of hockey talent under their respected roofs. The Fournier family was no slouch when it came to a family legacy in this area, and for those who don’t know, I’ll explain a lot more below.

The Fournier last name was brought up often in my Maples research that I’ve been doing for the past 3-4 years. The first mention was when Freddie Fournier Sr. stepped on the ice during the 1950-51 season. Fred, a tremendous skater, and from a hockey history standpoint, I’d compare his skills to former Bruins player Derek Sanderson who was a pest to play against. With the way, both could forecheck, and the ability to strip the puck off an opposing player with their skilled reach was most impressive to hear. Fournier’s offensive attributes were also a key to his success as he used his speed to transition the other way for defensive relief.

(Photo Credit: The Fournier Family)
Fred Fournier Sr. (right) showing you what I meant about his style of play.

Speaking of defense and strong skating, I should stop rambling and get to the point of my fourth Amesbury Maples Legend Series article, which is my tribute to Fred’s son, Larry Fournier. This was another great research project and want to thank all that were involved and who I personally met. Gathering information about a person’s unselfish acts from our Amesbury community on and off the ice are my favorite projects, and I hope everyone enjoys this article — most importantly the Fournier Family.

Larry Fournier: The Original Larry Legend

(Photo Credit: The Fournier Family)

Before Boston Celtics, great Larry Bird stepped on the parquet floor of the original Boston Garden and later be nicknamed “Larry Legend,” there was another Larry in the Merrimack Valley already earning legendary status with every day contributed to the game he loved. Born in 1953 to the parents of aforementioned Maples Legend Freddie Sr. and wife Lorraine (Lariviere), young Larry was the second born to the family of five who had Ricky leading the way (former Maples player) down to Fred Jr (former Maples player), Glenn (Retired AFD, 35 YOS), and rounding it off daughter Lynne who I had the pleasure of meeting as mentioned below.

Larry Fournier was a product of outstanding homegrown development that you are going to continue to hear from me when it comes to the history of the Amesbury Maples and the clubs sustainability for over 75 years. The tutelage from his father and older sibling Ricky helped mold the young prodigy’s game to be his best and represent family and community with the utmost respect on and off the ice. Fournier, a quiet young man, had his athleticism speak louder than words as he’s been mentioned to have excelled in multiple sports growing up and was a fantastic golfer like his father.

Having never met Larry myself and only hearing stories of the past, I wanted a better understanding of how Larry was as a person was on a day-to-day basis, I thought it was important to get in touch with his siblings as they’d know best for that character factor. Younger sister Lynne told me he was very active and would hardly be seen lounging around with nothing to do. She mentioned to me at a local coffee shop in Amesbury that he would often go on long trips around the area on his bicycle or would go on foot and run miles for exercise and pass the time. Without prior notice, one morning he woke up very early and rode all the way to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire and back in the same day. After hearing that, I was hooked into learning more about that never-quit attitude and that mentality when it came to his game on the ice.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

The young Fournier rose through the Amesbury Youth Hockey leagues to be considered as one of the city’s all-time athletes. The three-time All-League Defenseman helped his Amesbury Indians High School team to a 52-5-3 record when he played from the 1968 to 1972 seasons. After graduating from Amesbury, the 18-year-old Fournier made his first appearance on the Maples roster during the 1972-73 winter season and immediately started playing like a pro in the higher leagues he played in. There was no shortage of leadership when it came to developing Larry’s game.

( Photo Credit: The Fournier Family / Unknown Local Paper )

Having played with the likes of defensemen Jim Henderson, Steve Klien, Roger Nadeau, Randi Picard, and Carl Vedrani on the blue line in his rookie season and names like Goerge Dodier, Leo Dupere, Doug Gleason, and Jack Morrill up on the offense, he didn’t exactly have to go far when seeking to get advise. He also came into the league as the Maples semi-pro organization was celebrating its 50th consecutive season as one of the top amateur teams in the United States since 1924. Larry also joined older brother Ricky and cousin Mike Fournier in his first year and unfortunately missed playing alongside his father Fred Sr. when he hung up the skates a year prior after the 1971-72 season and an honorable 22-year career. Fred Sr. also managed the Maples organization as a player for 10 seasons but relinquished his post after the 1962-63 season.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

A lot of great things happened to Larry during the 1972-73 season as seen above but he also took a serious step in his hockey development as a postgraduate when he attended the Berwick Academy Prep School team in Berwick, Maine. Fournier showed his skills to the best of his ability and was fortunate to join the Berwick Prep team on a two-week trip to Sweden to participate in a youth tournament and play a few other teams throughout Scandinavia that year.

While playing with Berwick Academy, Fournier was fortunate to play and roommate with 1980 Team USA Gold Medalist Mike Eruzione. After leaving Berwick, Eruzione would go onto play at Boston University for four seasons before joining the United States team who would make history that year in Lake Placid, New York.

(Photo Credit: 15 Minutes With)

Eruzione, a Winthrop, Mass. native talked about his time with the Berwick Academy hockey club in a Foster’s Daily Democrat article written by John Doyle and mentions how great that team was playing alongside players like Fournier and others. Eruzione said:

“I remember we were awfully good and it was an honor playing for Pop. (Former Head Coach) He was a legend and a great guy to play for. I remember how good we were. Prep Schools couldn’t play against us. We played a lot of College JV teams. We played UNH a ton. We were basically all PG’s, some local kids.”

After the 1972-73 season, Fournier would attend Salem State College for one season and would play under legendary coach Barry Urbanski. According to a Larry Fournier Tournament Program’s brief history, the talented defenseman was a late cut in his dream of being an Olympian in 1980 representing his country during the Winter Games from Lake Placid, New York.  Fournier made it as far as the Eastern Region which was a great accomplishment for an Olympic bid.

(Photo Credit:  The Fournier Family)

Fournier returned to the Maples organization and was heavily involved in several semi-pro leagues from 1973 to 1986 according to the Fournier Tournament pamphlet. When it comes to a player’s defensive game on the ice, you can’t get any better than to have a chance to talk to his linemate and best friend, Steve Klien. Steve was a 24-year veteran of the Maple organization and a member of the greatest two seasons of his and Larry’s high school career when Klien joined the team as a freshman while Larry was to have his best season on record in his junior year. Klien says both became instant friends after one practice together and a bond that would continue for years. Off the ice, the fierce defensive tandem would often take their support for each other as teammates when they were walking about town. Klien said:

“Funny thing I remember we’d be walking downtown and if someone was walking at us we always made them go around as we walked never let anyone between us. Then after they passed by we would turn to each other an say “no one splits the D”!

(Photo Credit: Fournier Family / Local Newspaper Unknown)

Klien also mentioned Larry’s time and passion for coaching as he was heavily thought of from three different school systems. As taught to him as so many from the past advised him, he was very well known for his defensive coaching abilities. He was the assistant coach to mentioned Maples Legend Leo Dupre behind the Amesbury High School bench and also with Newburyport and Triton which are two schools located in the Northeastern part of Essex County.

Per an article that was written on March 15, 1988 by Daily News Sports Editor Kevin Doyle, former bench boss of the Amesbury High School hockey team Leo Dupre had this to say about Larry’s coaching style:

“You knew you could give Larry the defensemen and not worry. He had a knack to develop them. He had an even temperament and vast knowledge of the game and was a great help to me as a head coach.”

Triton Head Coach Dan O’Connell also chimed in on the 1988 article by Daily News Editor Doyle saying after spending 16 years with the team. Fournier was O’Connell’s assistant coach for two seasons:

“It doesn’t make much sense that one guy could coach in three systems and remain well-liked and well-respected by the people in all three. But that was Larry Fournier.”

In September of 1987 at the age of 33, Larry Fournier passed away from a short battle with cancer. His legacy and memory continued for over 28 years with so many charitable donations and successful Fournier Tournament Committee events that raised more than $130K to graduate students that were eligible from Amesbury, Newburyport, and Triton according to the Larry Fournier Official Facebook Page.

(Photo Credit: The Daily News/Kevin Doyle)

Dupere also mentioned that his dedication to the game went to the final days of his life when he missed only a few practices while coaching at Newburyport and was a regular attendee at several area summer hockey camps before leaving us in the fall of 1987. In 1988 and information shared from the article that Doyle wrote, Larry was to be honored by the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association for his commitment to hockey and in the article Leo Dupere mentioned:

“Larry knew and liked everybody and had a great personality. You just don’t want a guy of his magnitude to be quickly forgotten. This award is a class act by the association,” and saying that “Larry was a model person. He left something for all of us who knew him.”

To End…

In the fall of 2017 Minnesota State resident, Roger Krafve got in touch with me after he did a website search related to the Amesbury Maples. He wanted to know if I had any information on an old jersey that he bought on Ebay from a collector in Texas. After I viewed the photos and particulars of the fantastic item, I said the jersey looked close but needed more details. He later sent me a photo of the tag on the inside and found that the Kelly Green and White jersey was manufactured in Brockton, Mass. by a company named Stall & Dean, who was one of the oldest sporting goods manufacturers in America and outfitted the NHL’s original six franchises until the league expanded in 1967.

To make this particular part of my tribute short, it was later confirmed that the jersey was, in fact, the hockey jersey worn by the late and great Larry Fournier. I later shared my findings with Michael Gorman who is working with Global Property Developers as a team to get a hockey facility back to Amesbury and erase a 40-plus year absence.

Through the mutual contact in the process, Mr. Gorman asked me for purchasing inquiries of the jersey to bring it back to it’s Amesbury home and closer to our town’s legacy when it comes to the Fournier family and their contributions to the area. Mr. Gorman mentioned he’d like to honor Larry and surviving family with a shrine somewhere in the new facility in the foreseeable future at the South Hunt Road location later to be called the Amesbury Sports Center.

In a June 26th, 2018 article written by Jim Sullivan of The Daily News out of Newburyport, Mass., The Town of Amesbury Planning Board approved the hockey mega center’s plan and taking positive steps forward to finally breaking ground. For the official Global Property Developers Corporation presentation that was released in 2016-17, please CLICK HERE

On Sep. 7, the aforementioned Jim Sullivan wrote an update about the permits that were granted from the City of Amesbury for the project that will cost $48 million. That article can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

Check out the photos of Larry’s Jersey below.

       

I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone that had a hand in this project and if it weren’t for those folks who helped out this wouldn’t have happened. Special appreciation goes out to Larry’s siblings Lynne and Glenn for the great conversations about your brother and other family members that have reached out with great information. Big thanks to Steve Klien for sharing his memories about his best friend to add to this project. Always a Class Act when I have Maples related questions. I will continue to thank the late and great sports researcher Bert Spofford for his amazing work gathering information for the Maples 75th Anniversary Ceremony in 1994, and to all of you that took the time to read my tribute to this unbelievable person.

Below is a video of the aforementioned Roger Krafve who found Larry’s jersey on Ebay and a little history of his hockey collecting throughout the years.

I hope you all enjoyed this read, and ask if anyone has Maples Hockey related news or photos that you’d like to share and contribute to future articles, please send me an  email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com.

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