Booing Norwood’s Hebner Is Tribute to His Hockey Ability
By NEIL SINGELAIS
They call Norwood High’s Richie Hebner the “Ted Williams” of high school hockey because he’s so good Bay State League fans swarm to his games to boo him.
This kind of conduct is deplored in schoolboy circles but Hebner can find solace in knowing that the razzing he takes is actually a tribute to his ability as a hockey player.
There are high school coaches and college scouts who have gone on record as saying that Hebner is the best high school hockey player ever produced in Massachusetts.
Hebner. who has been in the Bay State League spotlight since his sensational debut as a freshman, will probably come in for more catcalls Saturday when he takes the ice against Milton at 7 p.m. at Walpole’s Four Seasons Arena.
A victory or tie will qualify Norwood for the State Hockey Tournament under the 75 percent ruling.
Hebner, a 6-0 210-pound senior center is the most exciting player to come out of the Bay State League. But he has become a controversial piece because of his hard-nosed style of play.
“People get on Richie because he plays a rough game and on occasion has bounced players around.” explained Norwood coach Don Wheeler, “but this dug to the fact the boy wants to excel so much at hockey he sometimes gets overzealous.
“And Richie, like Ted Williams, was accused of not being a team player. There were complaints he was hogging the puck too much.”
However, Wheeler made it clear that Hebner’s attitude has completely changed this Winter, and “he’s even gone as far as to sacrifice his chance to win the league’s individual scoring leadership by playing several games as a defenseman when injuries piled up at Norwood.”
At present Hebner is deadlocked with Dedham High’s Joe Keaveney for scoring honors. Each has 36 points with three games remaining.
“Ever since I had a heart-to-heart talk with Richie early in the season, the boy has been a pleasure to work with,” said Wheeler.
“You won’t believe this,” he added, “but Richie is capable of playing better hockey, even though he’s the best right now.”
Hebner. incidentally, has scored 73 goals in his four-year high school career and it now stands as a league record.
Another reason why Norwood is only one point behind first-place Needham is obvious.
Neil Higgins, a 5-5, 130-pound sophomore goalie, has been outstanding with nine shutouts—a school record- and only eight goals allowed in 15 games.
Said Wheeler: “Higgins has the fastest reaction and recovery of any goalie I’ve seen. He’s fast on his feet, plays the angle shots well, and protects the open sides superbly.”
“Neil has been tutored as a goalie since he was 10 by such well-known hockey personalities as Bill Chadwick, Cooney Weiland, and Bernie Burke.”
In addition to being the league’s stingiest team. Norwood also has the distinction of being the highest-scoring— 59 goals.
Hebner has been getting help in the scoring department from his senior wings,
Bill Hasenfus (6-0, 145) and Capt Bob Donahue (5-7, 150). The second line saw sophomore Harry Pascoe (5-6, 135) ousting Richie Graham (5-6, 145) for the centering job. Pascoe is flanked by wings Pete Oberlander (5-10, 165), a junior, and Tom Shea (5-9, 185), a sophomore.
Norwood’s defensive strength comes from sophomore Jack Cronin (5-9. 180) and senior Bob Clifford (6-0, 175), with Russ Tobin (6-0, 185), a junior, filling in as swingman.
Moving in occasionally to give both lines a breather has been senior Mario Ranalli (5-10, 145), who can go at center or wing.