The well-displayed poster featured two hockey teams, one dating back to 1898 that featured the Brown University squad that defeated Harvard, 6-0, in the first intercollegiate game ever played in the United States and the 1903 Hope High School hockey team that captured the first-ever state high school championship.
There was another unique display, one featuring the former Rhode Island Reds 1955-56 super squad that is assailed as the greatest minor league hockey team in U.S. history alongside Providence College’s 2015 NCAA National Championship squad.
Perhaps it was fitting that those two pieces of Rhode Island hockey history, which were nicely displayed on two tripod easels, were on each side of five men – all ice hockey aficionados – who Tuesday morning helped rewrite this state’s tradition-rich and illustrious sports history book.
“Today, 120 years after that first collegiate ice hockey game in the country, it is my privilege as the chairman to announce the establishment of the Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame,” declared Vincent Cimini. “The singular mission of the Hall of Fame will be to recognize and pay tribute to those R.I. hockey heroes whose achievements, leadership and contributions to our game both here and on the world stage have brought great distinction to themselves, their teams, their country and our state.”
Cimini said the idea of establishing a hockey hall of fame was conceived in late 2016 and since then the founding committee, comprised primarily of representatives of two hockey organizations – R.I. Hockey, the local arm of USA Hockey, and the famed Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society – has been diligently planning for the hockey shrine.
He announced Tuesday that the inaugural ceremonies for the induction of the charter class will be held this Sept. 20, 2018, at the Twin Fiver Event Center in Lincoln.
“Of all the major sports our state produces and contributes more players, coaches and executives to the highest levels of the game of hockey than to any other,” Cimini, a long-time marketing and advertising executive whose resume is steeped with hockey history, offered. “Our belief is that hockey it not simply a sport in R.I., it is an integral part of our state’s culture.”
For example, as Cimini pointed out: “Over six generations, the puck and passion for this great game has been passed from father to son and, now, from mother to daughter. We believe that the best of those who have played it, served it and distinguished themselves in doing so should be honored with their achievements preserved so that they may continue to inspire and pave the way for present and future generations of young men and women who dream of reaching the highest heights of our game.”
To date, R.I. Hockey represents 4,055 registered youth hockey players throughout the state, as well as hundreds of coaches and officials engaged in community youth leagues.
Cimini, who played the game at several levels, added: “Our non-profit organization began working quietly 16 months ago and our board of directors comprises nine dedicated volunteer individuals with direct and long-time connections to professional and organized hockey in Rhode Island.
He said the board’s primary purpose has been to establish criteria for induction, create a database and profiles of what are now 200 qualifying candidates, and to present an annual list of nominees to a Selection Committee for its impartial evaluations and selection. That committee will include carefully chosen individuals with expertise and knowledge of R.I. hockey.
“Everyone on our board is excited about this Hall of Fame,” offered Mal Goldenberg, a Director with the R.I. Reds Heritage Society, offered. “We’re talking about many, many exciting things that will create excitement and further enhance the game of ice hockey here in our state.”
The entire nine-member Hall of Fame includes: Cimini, chairman; Buster Clegg of the R.I. Reds Heritage Society, vice chairman; Robert Larence, president of R.I. Hockey and Hall treasurer; William O’Connor, secretary; Arnold Bailey, director; Jeffrey Hebert, director; Ray Morgan, director; and Richard Oliver, director.