Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Eric Manlow

( Photo Credit: Ebay )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Happy 45th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Forward Eric Manlow!

Manlow was born on April 7th, 1975, in Belleville, Ontario and was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the 1993 National Hockey League Entry Draft. Before his draft year, the 6′-0″ 180-pound forward played a majority of his junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League with the Kitchener Rangers finishing the last 16 games of his fourth season in the league with the Detriot Jr. Red Wings. In his OHL career, Manlow posted 95-118-213 numbers in 221 games.

After leaving the OHL he’d go onto being a journeyman in the minor-pro ranks for the next four seasons bouncing around in the American Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, and the now-defunct International Hockey League. In January of 2000, Manlow would sign mid-season as a free agent with the Boston Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins finishing the year with 17-16-33 numbers in 46 games. The NHL Bruins would sign him to a free-agent contract in July of 2000 spending most of his time with the Rhode Island club playing in 130 games contributing 29-86-115 numbers.

In his time with the NHL Bruins, he appeared in 11 games in the top league in the world tallying one assist. In July of 2002, he would move onto the New York Islanders organization signing as a free agent which he’d see his last 26 NHL games posting 2-3-5 numbers. Manlow would spend the rest of his professional hockey career playing in the AHL with his final year in the 2007-08 campaign with the Hamilton Bulldogs an organization he signed with a year before.

Eric would post impressive 142-274-416 totals in the AHL, 40-57-97 numbers in the ECHL but in limited time in the NHL only contributed 2-4-6 totals in 37 career games. Regardless of his lack of NHL success, Manlow would serve as a good depth player for several organizations and even had a championship-winning season helping the Hamilton Bulldogs to a Calder Cup raising year in 2007 in his second to last pro year before retiring from the game following the 2007-08 campaign.

 

 

( Photo Credit: Wikipedia )

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 173 that we recorded below on 4-4-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Kris Vernarsky

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios / Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Happy 38th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Forward Kris Vernarsky!

Vernarsky was born on April 5th, 1982, in Detriot, Michigan and was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft. The 6′-3″ 201-pound center was a product of the United States National Development Program before heading to the Ontario Hockey League to play for the Plymouth Whalers. In Kris’s time with the now-defunct Whalers club, he appeared in 169 career games and posted 52-93-145 numbers.

Although drafted by the Maple Leafs, Vernarsky never put on the historical Blue and White jersey and on May 13th, 2002, his rights were traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for 6′-2″ 214-pound defenseman Ric Jackman who played in only two games for the Bruins in the 2001-02 season. Kris only appeared in 17 career NHL games all the Bruins registering one goal in that timeframe. Vernarsky would spend the majority of his time with the Boston organization with their top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins. With the American Hockey League team from Rhode Island, the forward who was in his early 20’s at the time posted 20-25-45 in 125 games with Providence. During the 2004-05 campaign, he appeared in only five games and the Providence club would reassign him to the East Coast Hockey Leagues Florida Everblades ending his time with the Bruins organization.

Vernarsky would continue to play minor-pro hockey in the lower International Hockey League and the United Hockey League before giving the higher ECHL another go. In the 2010-11 season as a 28-year-old, he played in 51 games for the Wheeling Nailers posting 8-13-21 numbers in his final season of hockey before retiring.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 173 that we recorded below on 4-4-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Lorne Duguid

( Photo Credit: Flickr )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Duguid was born on April 4th, 1910, in Bolton, Ontario. At the age of 17, Lorne started his junior hockey career with the Montreal Victorias where he appeared in 31 games contributing 21-0-21 numbers. After his three seasons of juniors, he signed as a free agent to play in the International Hockey League in November of 1930 with the Windsor Bulldogs. The 5′-11″ 185-pound left-winger started his National Hockey League career in the 1931-32 season with the Montreal Maroons and would stay in the organization for a better part of three years going up and down from the NHL to the club’s minor-pro system. With Montreal in 66 games, he posted 4-8-12 numbers.

After his short stay with the Marrons, Lorne was traded to Detriot on October 28th, 1934 for cash and played in only five games for the Redwings before he was on the move again to another NHL franchise. On December 29th after his cup of coffee in the Motor City, the then 25-year-old Duguid was traded to the Boston Bruins for Gene Carrigan who never donned the Brown and Gold sweater for Boston but was in the Bruins minor-pro system with the Boston Cubs.

In two years of service for Boston, Duguid would appear in 31 games posting 2-4-6 as another utility player when needed from the farm team. Lorne would finish his professional NHL career in Boston but his hockey career would carry on in minor hockey until the 1940-41 season in the American Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Hornets. Duguid passed away on March 21st, 1981 at the age of 70. In his six-year NHL career, he would go down in the record books posting 9-15-24 numbers.

( Photo Credit: Flickr – Duguid To The Right )

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Jim O’Neil

( Photo Credit: HockeyGods.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Jim O’Neil was born on April 3rd, 1913 in Semans, Saskatchewan and played a majority of his junior hockey in his home province with the Saskatoon Crescents (N-SSHL) and Wesleys (N-SJHL). Before joining the National Hockey League Boston Bruins team in the 1933-34 campaign the 5′-8″ 160-pound versatile forward played 46 games for the Bruins minor-pro team the Boston Cub posting 13-17-30 numbers.

O’Neil played a better part of four seasons with the Bruins organization totaling 6-26-32 numbers in 140 games with his first NHL club from the ages of 20 to 23. He would leave Boston to play two seasons appearing in 16 games and tallying four assists with the Montreal Canadiens organization bouncing up and down from the NHL club to below minor-pro affiliates. After leaving the Habs team, O’Neil would return to the Bruins organization but never to return to the NHL. Jim would be of service to the Boston club as a “break glass in case of emergency” scenario playing in the American Hockey League with the Providence Reds, and Hershey Bears until the end of his professional hockey career.

O’Neil passed away at the age of 84 on October 17th, 1997 and in his time making stops in Boston and Montreal through his six-year career he posted 6-30-36 numbers. In his time in the American Hockey League contributed 109-311-420 numbers before retiring after the 1945-46 season.

( Photo Credit: HockeyGods.com )

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Ray Getliffe

( Photo Credit: LondonSportsHallOfFame.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Ray Getliffe was born on April 3rd, 1914, in Galt, Ontario which is located just outside of the Greater Toronto area (Now Cambridge, Ont). Getliffe played his junior hockey for nearby London and Strafford communities before turning pro in the 1935-36 season only playing in one game that season. During the first year with the Bruins organization, he like so many young players back then would play at the minor-pro level getting accustomed to the higher skill around them. With the Bruins minor-pro affiliate Boston Cubs, Getliffe would appear in 29 games in his first year of professional hockey posting 16-14-30 numbers.

Getliffe would get into full National Hockey League action when he appeared in 48 games in 1936-37 as a rookie and contributed 16-15-31 numbers. As a member of the Bruins, Ray would be with the organization for four seasons spending three of them with full-time work at the NHL level. In that timeframe, the 5′-11″ 175-pound forward posted 37-40-77 numbers in 128 games with Boston. After a 36-10-2 record, the Bruins captured the regular-season title in the 1938-39 campaign and would go onto win the team’s second Stanley Cup with a 4-1 series victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. During the 1938-39 regular-season, Getliffe posted 10-12-22 numbers during the regular and in 11 games in the postseason that year had a goal and an assist for his first career Stanley Cup.

( Photo Credit: LondonSportsHallOfFame)

After celebrating his first league championship, the following season the Bruins traded Getliffe to the Montreal Canadiens along with Charlie Sands to the Habs for Herb Cain in October of 1939. Ray would only need four seasons before capturing his second career Stanley Cup when the Habs won it all after the 1943-44 hockey season. Getliffe ended his 10-year NHL career at the close of the 1944-45 season. In six years with the Canadiens organization after the trade from Boston, he posted 99-97-196 numbers in 269 games with the Habs. Getliffe would live another 64 years after retiring from the game of hockey passing away at 94 on June 15th, 2008. Ray would post 136-137-273 career numbers in 397 NHL games in his ten years at the highest level of hockey in the world.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Shawn Bates

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By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Happy 45th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Forward Shawn Bates!

Shawn was born on April 3rd, 1975, in Melrose, Massachusetts. He attended High School in Medford, Massachusetts and per the great folks at HockeyReference.com he played three seasons posting 105-130-235 numbers in 69 career games for the Mustangs. His best High School season came in the 1992-93 campaign when he contributed 49-46-95 numbers in 25 games. As an 18-year-old Bates would attend Boston University where he’d appear in 160 career games posting 73-71-144 numbers. As a 19-year-old right-shooting center he joined the IIHF World Junior Championships Team USA Under-20 team in the middle of his collegiate years where he appeared in seven games for his home nation posting 5-1-6 totals.

Bates was drafted by the Boston Bruins after completing his final year of High School at Medford going in the fourth-round (103 Overall) in the 1993 National Hockey League Entry Draft. After completing four years at Boston University the then 22-year-old forward signed an entry-level contract with Boston. Shawn would spend the next four seasons with the Bruins organization playing in 98 games for the B’s top minor-pro affiliate Providence Bruins contributing 45-48-93 totals. His time in the NHL with Boston he played in 135 games only posting 14-14-28 numbers in those four years.

After having five points in 45 games in Boston during the 2000-01 season, Shawn and the Bruins parted ways with the 26-year-old signing a free-agent deal with the New York Islanders. By looking at his stats with the NHL Islanders club, Bates seemingly had a better fit in their system playing in the organization for a better part of six years. In his time with the Islanders, he posted 58-112-170 totals finishing his NHL career after the 2007-08 campaign.

Bates would give International Hockey a try when he went overseas to play in Finland for the HIFK Helsinki team. As a 33-year-old in the SM-Liiga Finnish League, the Massachusetts native put up some decent numbers in 20 games contributing 5-16-20 totals in his first time playing for another country as a free agent. Bates would make another attempt at the North American professional league with another shot at the American Hockey league level this time in the 2009-10 season with the Manchester Monarchs signing as a free agent in early December of 2009. Shawn only managed to get into ten games for the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings where he contributed only one assist.

Shawn would retire from the game after the 2009-10 season posting career totals of 72-126-198 with his stops in Boston and New York in ten years of NHL service. In his time in the AHL, Bates would post career 48-49-97 totals.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 173 that we recorded below on 4-2-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Dwight Foster

( Photo Credit: Legends of Hockey / HHOF.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Happy 63rd Birthday To Former National Hockey League Forward Dwight Foster!

Foster was born on April 2nd, 1957 in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in Canada’s most popular city for a better part of his childhood. After playing many years of youth hockey around the mecca of hockey (Toronto) Dwight joined the Ontario Hockey Associations Kitchener Rangers as a 17-year-old. After Fosters rookie season which he contributed 39-51-90 numbers in 70 games during the 1974-75 season, he would go onto play the next years in Kitchener serving as the team’s captain. In his OHA career, all with the Ranger club Dwight would post 171-250-421 numbers with his best year offensively in his second to last season in Kitchener going 60-83-143 earning the leagues Eddie Powers Trophy for most points.

Dwight was selected by the Boston Bruins in the 1977 National Hockey League Amateur draft with the B’s taking him with the 16th pick in the first round. That same year Foster was also selected by the now-defunct World Hockey Association when the Houston Aeros took him in the first round with the 10th overall pick. He would start his professional hockey career bouncing up and down from the NHL Boston club to the minor pro affiliate the Rochester Americans. With the Americans team, he posted 11-21-32 numbers in 25 appearances and even played several games for the Broome Dusters in the North American Hockey League posting 1-3-4 numbers in 7 games. The Broome Dusters played their games at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, New York, and the Dusters club was actually the inspiration for the movie “Slap Shot” per Wikipedia.

After spending his first four seasons with the Bruins team posting 47-70-117 numbers in 192 games played, Foster signed as a free agent in July of 1981 with the Colorado Rockies organization following the 1980-81 season where he had his best NHL campaign contributing 24-28-52 in 77 games for Boston. After playing one season in Colorado, Foster and the Rockies franchise would relocate the organization to New Jersey in June of 1982 and be named the Devils. Not spending much time in the Ocean State in October of 1982 Dwight was traded to the Detriot Red Wings for cash.

After playing several seasons with the Red Wings organization, in March of 1986 Foster was traded to the Boston Bruins for his second tour of duty for Edmonton, Alberta native Dave Donnelly who totaled 9-12-21 numbers in 62 games for the Bruins. Joining the Boston club late in the 1985-86 season, Foster didn’t register a point for the Bruins in their remaining 13 games of the season but in his final NHL campaign in 1986-87 he would contribute 4-12-16 numbers in 47 games.

Dwight’s NHL career saw him play for four teams appearing in 541 games posting 111-163-274 numbers and 420 penalty minutes. After ten seasons playing in the top professional league in the world, Foster would hang up his skates and retired in 1987 due to knee injuries. They say his best years in the NHL were when he centered Rick Middleton and Stan Jonathan for the Bruins which was a nice mix of offensive capabilities with the added grit factor.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Alex Smith

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Smith was born on April 2nd, 1902, in Liverpool, England but grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. The 5′-11″ 176-pound left shooting defenseman played a majority of his National Hockey League career with the Ottawa Senators winning a Stanley Cup in 1927. On January 25th, 1933, Smith was traded from the Senators to the Boston Bruins for future considerations which ended up being Earl Roche who played only three games going pointless during the 1932-33 campaign.

In 61 games played for the Bruins, Smith posted 9-10-19 numbers in two years of service. He was traded by the Bruins to New York Americans for cash considerations in October of 1934. In his 11 year NHL career, Alex would make stops in Boston, Detriot, New York, and Ottawa. Playing in 443 NHL games, Smith would go onto post 41-51-82 numbers in a playing career that lasted from 1925 to 1935 and amassed 645 penalty minutes. The former defenseman passed away at the age of 61 in November of 1963. Smith who was nicknamed “Boots” was inducted into the Lisgar Collegiate Institute Athletic Wall of Fame in 2009.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday John Wensink

( Photo Credit: bostonbruinsalumni.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Happy 67th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Forward John Wensink!

Wensink was born on April 1st, 1953, in Cornwall, Ontario and was a seventh-round selection (104th Overall) of the St. Louis Blues in the 1973 National Hockey League Amateur Draft. Before being selected by St. Louis, the 6′-0″ 200-pound played his junior career with the Cornwall Royals where he appeared in 169 games and posted 30-54-84 career numbers in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Wensink had his best season of major-junior hockey in his NHL draft year when he contributed 9-26-35 numbers in 52 games in his final season with the Royals.

John’s first year in the NHL didn’t go exactly as planned for the rugged rookie left-winger as he only appeared in three games for the Blues in the 1973-74 season. After being out of hockey for a season and a half due to having back surgery, Wensink would sign with the Boston Bruins on October 12th, 1976 and be sent down to the Bruins American Hockey League affiliate the Rochester Americans. With the AHL Americans, Wensink would appear in 49 games posting 11-15-26 numbers as a 23-year-old in the 1976-77 season. In that same season, he would return to the NHL when Boston recalled him and he posted 4-6-10 numbers appearing in 23 games finishing the 1976-77 regular season.

Wensink would play in Boston for a better part of four years and posted 57-55-112 numbers. In his first full season with the B’s John would compile 181 penalty minutes and finish his time in Boston amassing 429 minutes in the penalty box in 248 career games with the Black and Gold. After having his best career NHL season (28-18-46, 76GP) with Boston in 1978-79, his numbers went down to 9-11-20 the following season. In October of 1980, The Bruins lost Wensick in the waiver draft as the Quebec Nordiques selected him as the new NHL franchise was transitioning from the defunct World Hockey Association into what is now the NHL.

John would play only three more seasons in the NHL after leaving Boston making stops in Quebec, Colorado, and New Jersey. He ended his NHL career posting 70-68-138 totals in eight years of service and a whopping 840 penalty minutes. John would retire from the game of hockey after the 1984-85 season playing in Holland for the SIJ Nijmegen club where he contributed 15-12-27 numbers as a 31-year-old veteran.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Amesbury Maples Legend Series: George Herbert “Fuzzy” Thurston

( Photo Credit: Amesbury News )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

In the early years of the Amesbury Maples organization, first-team managers Armand Hudon and Emilien “Mickey” Jutras would predominantly scout local talent in the town of Amesbury, Massachusetts. As the team was gaining notoriety in the Merrimack Valley of Essex County with their play on the ice, the need to get better year-by-year sometimes had the organization looking outside of town for additional talent. During the first six winter seasons of the club’s existence, the Maples believed in the homegrown experience but before the 1930-31 campaign changes had to be made to keep the competitive drive alive.

Before the 1930-31 season, the Amesbury club would suffer their first loss when it came to the player on the roster with the death of goaltender Raoul “Chiefie” Lemoine. This was the first time the Maples would go outside of the town’s borders looking for a replacement between the pipes as the “next one” in goal John Reddy was a greenhorn and not up to the task as a developing player. The team would go to Haverhill, Massachusetts to acquire netminder Earl Ryan but would also make another bold move looking to another popular hockey hotbed area in New England which was making noise in the hockey community since the early 1900s.

The game of hockey was gaining popularity in the mid to late 1800s with the influx of French-Canadian citizens migrating down to New England to find work in the thriving horse-drawn carriage and textile mill industries. The first game recorded in the United States was credited to have been played at the St. Pauls Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire in 1883. Exeter, New Hampshire was the next area to take off with the interest of the game especially at the Philips Exeter Academy prep school and was a major source of producing talented hockey players for generations. In 1911 the first organized game of “shinny” was played in Exeter which spurred major interest with many playing on several waterways throughout the town.

With the town of Exeter becoming that “hotbed” of hockey talent in the Southern New, Hampshire community, it wasn’t hard for the Amesbury Maples management team to do their due diligence with scouting future talent as Exeter is only 11 miles to the north. After increased negotiations, the Amesbury club got their hands on one of the best up and coming defensemen in the Northeast of the United States working out a deal that would allow this individual to play for the Maples but also return home to play games for his hometown team. The Maples were already known to be a strong “shutdown” defensive club but the acquisition of this player on the backend would make opposing teams fearful as they crossed center ice trying to gain traction in the offensive zone.

George Herbert “Fuzzy” Thurston Jr

Born in Exeter, New Hampshire on September 15th, 1903, to the parents of George H. Thurston and Ellen S. Day Thurston. Father George worked as a was a mortar tender for a successful concrete business in the area and the couple would grow their family to 12 children with only eight of the offspring being mentioned in the 1918 census. The young Thurston (Fuzzy) who was the ninth child in the family picked up the game of hockey quickly as he grew up at two Exeter residents. His first house around the time of his birth was on High Street and later the family moved to the River Street Extension area. Both locations were alongside the Squamscott River where winter season activities were plentiful and nearby for constant development.

( Photo Credit: HockeyGods.com )

As a young person, Fuzzy would learn the speed of the game on open ice along the mentioned Squamscott waterway but would also take advantage of a flooded rink that was constructed on the Academy’s Plimpton Playing Fields when the local rivers weren’t safe. The flooded rink at Plimpton Field measured 175X75 and on the smaller ice surface, the Thurston honed his defensive attributes. There’s a big difference from the pond or river games as a stray puck sliding away gives participants the time to catch their breaths but in a contained environment the game moves so much faster. Thurston would attend Exeter Public Schools until he was 16-years-old forgoing further education to work with his father in the masonry trade and did not graduate after two-years of High School. In my research assisted by the great folks at the Exeter Historical Society, Fuzzy never attended Philips Academy as he was heavily rumored in previous years.

( Photo Credit: Exeter Historical Society )

As an out-of-school 16-year-old working with his father in masonry spending a majority of his time constructing buildings and walls in Hampton, New Hampshire, Fuzzy would join the Exeter Hockey Club halfway through an eight-season run where the team reportedly only lost one game. During this period of time, Thurston played center for the Exeter club making him a valuable asset being able to play multiple positions. After playing many years with the Exeter Sextet, Thurston would extend his playing time and accepted a defensive position with the Amesbury Maples a club who’ve had him in the organization’s crosshairs for quite some time when it came to scouting players from afar.

Fuzzy joined the Maples team in the organizations beginning of National stardom when he donned the Kelly Green and White sweater for the first time in the 1930-31 winter season. That year the hard-hitting defenseman along with a roster of (C) Eddie Nichols, (LW) Charley Broderick, (RW) Albie Roy, (C) Chewy Williams, (W) Archie Cloutier, (D) Everett Picard, (D) Aurel Picard, Tom “Ike” Wall, and goaltenders Earl Ryan and John Reddy would finish Thurstons first season with the Maples compiling an  18-2-1 record. That same year the Maples played so well in the Essex County League the Amesbury club participated in the prestigious NEAAU Tournament which was held at the Rhode Island Auditorium in Providence, RI. This annual postseason regional tournament was constructed of the best amateur hockey teams in New England and the winner of these games would go onto play in the AAU for a chance to win a National title against well known collegiate talent at that time. This was one heck of a rookie season for Thurston but his story is far from over.

Thurston was not only heavily scouted by the Maple team in previous years but was also looked at from the higher levels of hockey as well. After a successful rookie season with the Amesbury team in 1930-31, Fuzzy would only need to play five games for the Maples in 1931-32 where he compiled 13-2-15 numbers ranking him fourth in team scoring. Leading the way in scoring during the 1931-32 winter campaign was Harlan “Chewie” Williams who posted 43-7-50 totals when the Maples club finished that year with a record of 17-4-1. The Amesbury club scored a total of 146 goals that year giving up only 44 all season to their opponents. This number in goals-against was heavily credited to a Maples defense and goaltending that opposing forwards often never got behind.

( Photo Credit: HockeyGods.com )

Thurston’s two seasons with the Maples and previous playing career in Exeter didn’t go wary of the keen eyes of the higher Boston Olympics scouting staff who came calling for Fuzzy after only five games in the 1931-32 season. The Olympics organization was a minor-pro team compiled of talented “All-Star” players throughout New England and was owned and operated by Walter Brown. Brown a key member in the development of ice hockey in New England was also the founder of the Boston Celtics in 1945 as manager of the old Boston Garden. The relationship between Brown and Thurston could be dated back to the years between 1923 and 1926 where Brown could’ve watched Fuzzy play as he was close to the Exeter, New Hampshire community as a student of Philips Exeter Academy.

Walter Brown and his team of “All-Stars” which included Thurston would set sail on January 26th, 1932, on the S.S. Majestic for a tour of Europe playing several highly skilled teams along the way. The Boston Olympics six-week tour would see game action in 14 cities and nine different European countries which included stops in popular places overseas like Davos Switzerland, London England, Milan Italy, Munich Germany, Paris France, Prague Czechoslovakia (Now the Czech Republic), and Vienna Austria. The Olympics team would come back to the United States in mid-April of 1932 sailing into New York City aboard the steamship Antonia bringing back an impressive record of 20-1-2 and playing in front of an estimated 90,000 European spectators. During these games abroad, Thurston posted 4-5-9 numbers but was listed as playing center as Brown would have seen him play back in Southern New Hampshire when he was with the Exeter Hockey Club. Without the services of Thurston the very next year in 1933, Brown orchestrated the first gold medal in United States hockey history winning it all at the Ice Hockey World Championships tournament.

Fuzzy also took his hockey talents outside of New England when he was invited to play for the Eastern Hockey Leagues Bronx Tigers. At the time during the 1933-34 season, he was still playing for the Maples organization but left the Amesbury club for the tryout. The Tigers played their games at the Bronx Coliseum in New York City. Thurston only appeared in five games earning zero points in his short stint ultimately leaving New York to finish the winter season back in the Northeast of Massachusetts with the Maples club.

( Photo Credit: Ohrstrom Blog )

After returning from the lavish European trip with the Olympics funded by Brown, Thurston would return to the Maples team and be a cornerstone for the Amesbury club on the defensive backend for the next five seasons. Fuzzy did not play for the Maples during the 1937-38 hockey season accepting a paying job as head coach of the University of New Hampshire’s freshman club. That season without the grizzled veteran on defense, the Amesbury team posted a winter season record of 15-5-1. Thurston would return to the Maples team the following year and would be a consistent presence defensively as the Amesbury team had higher accolades in mind.

The second-biggest thrill in Thurston’s hockey career came during the 1939-40 winter season when he helped the Maples earn an Essex County Championship with a 19-3-2 record claiming a spot in the annual NEAAU Tournament held at the old Boston Garden. The Maples would go onto beat Massachusetts Higham Cove team 3-1 in the quarter-finals, beat Hyde Shoe of Cambridge, Mass. 3-1 in the semi-finals and beat a powerful Sacred Hearts club from Concord, New Hampshire 7-0 in the finals, The Amesbury sextet would go onto win the organizations first and only New England Hockey Championship. The Maples would move up to the National Bracket after their 1939-40 NEAAU title to play in the AAU Tournament held in Lake Placid, New York.

( Photo Credit: Amesbury News )

The Maples team would be involved in a six-team elimination tournament against heavily favored University of Minnesota team that scored 100 goals in 16 undefeated games leading up to the AAU tournament. The Amesbury team received a bye in the first round of the tournament and went right into the semi-final round against the belly of the beast where the Minnesota club was ready and waiting. The game between the Maples and Gophers was pretty close having both clubs tied at two apiece mid-second period but the loss of Thurston on the backend after an injury just made it just too easy for the Gophers who finished the second frame with a 6-2 lead. The Maples would continue to push being a man down and outnumbered when you look at the player’s benches due to the fact that the Gophers came to Lake Placid with a full roster and the Maples did not. Amesbury would go onto score two more goals in the final period at Olympic Arena but Minnesota kept piling it on finishing the contest with a 9-4 Gopher victory ultimately ending Amesbury’s dreams of a National Championship. Thurston had the 2-1 go-ahead goal in the first period before leaving the ice in the second period for the remainder of the game.

( Photo Credit: TeamGB.com )

After the 1939-40 campaign which was the best known in Amesbury Maples history, the 37-year-old Thurston returned to the team for another triumphant run for a National Title but after a successful season that had the Maples earn a 16-4-1 record, the team from the Northeast once again got into the NEAAU Tournament at the famed Boston Garden. After beating the Lynn Rangers 7-3 in the quarter-finals, beating the Pla-Mor sextet from Lexington, Mass. 3-1, the Maples just didn’t have enough in the tank to beat the Hingham Cove Mass. team losing in the final round by the score of 5-2. After this 1940-41 season, Thurston and the Amesbury team did not see much action on the ice due to World War II and the fact that many of Fuzzy’s teammates enlisted into the war efforts. With a minimal roster and powered light restrictions at night, travel restrictions during the day there were only a couple of games mentioned in the papers from the 1941-42 winter season to the 1947-48 season.

The Maples team was back up to a full roster and regular-season schedule without wartime restrictions in the 1947-48 campaign. The pleasant return of the game to the supporting Amesbury community was also a perfect time to introduce a new home rink on the “flats” of Amesbury. The new rink facility called the Powwow Skating Arena was up to league specifications of 200X85 located on the corner of South Hampton Road and Clinton Street Extention. Unfortunately, Thurston did not play at the new home rink nor did he return to the Amesbury club opting to move back to his hometown of Exeter with his longtime wife Mary V. Thurston. It’s heavily rumored that Fuzzy continued to play hockey until the age of 66 for various Exeter club teams and was also an ambassador of the game when it came to teaching younger players much like the guidance he needed as a member of the Exeter Youth Hockey that he was a part of so many years ago.

( Photo Credit: Amesbury Gazette )

Thurston was a hard worker on and off the ice but when it came to supporting his family he continued to be s self-employed mason that his father George Sr. taught him so many years ago until 1941. His mason skills also got him a job with the Philips Exeter Academy School when he returned home after leaving the Maples team. Fuzzy was employed by Philips Exeter until 1952.

On October 31st, 1987, George Herbert “Fuzzy” Thurston Jr. passed away at the age of 84 at the Exeter Health Care Center after a brief illness. His wife of many years passed away in December the year prior. In 1960 Philips Exeter Academy honored Thurston for his contributions to hockey in the community. He was very active with Exeter Youth Hockey as an administrator and coach for many years following his playing career. He was known as Mr. Hockey to many in the Exeter, New Hampshire area and in 2017 the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey inducted Thurston into their prestigious Hall of Fame immortalizing his playing career along with his commitment to the game and youth development.  The New Hampshire Legends Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 2002 to recognize and honor those men and women who have made significant contributions to the sport of ice hockey in New Hampshire by their participation as Players, Coaches, Builders, Officials or members of the Media.

My appreciation to those who’ve contributed to this and many articles in this Amesbury Maples Legend Series

I’d like to thank Mr. Bert Spofford for all his hard work in gathering a majority of Amesbury Maples’s information and stats I used above and in many of these articles. Rest In Peace Bert! As always I have to thank the Picard family for the abundance of newspaper clippings and information that Tammi (Picard) Perkins’ father Alphonse Picard gathered over the years before his passing. Also, a shoutout to the Cloutier family for their contributions when this Maple project originally got started.

Pertaining to this article, I’d like to send my sincere appreciation to Barbera Rimkunas as she’s the Exeter Historical Society Curator and was a great help when I reached out in November of 2019. Although not listed, if anyone else from the Exeter Historical Society helped Barbera in gathering most of the information above, I also want to say thanks for your effort in this project.

Below are some of the websites that I obtained information for this research project on the Amesbury Maples Legend  Mr. George H. “Fuzzy” Thurston that I also owe many thanks as another avenue to track down facts along the way.

ExeterHistory.org

New Hampshire Legends Of Hockey

HockeyDB.com

SeacoastOnline.com

HockeyGods.com

If anyone has an old Amesbury Maples hockey equipment, images, or information and would like to contribute to this continued Legends Series, please send me an email to blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com and let’s talk! Thank You!

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