The dressing room at the Boston Arena rang with victory shouts Saturday night as members of the Norwood High School hockey team embraced each other following the big win over Needham that gave Norwood its third Bay State League championship. The team had just clinched the crown after knocking off Needham 3-1 before a packed house. On the return trip to Norwood, a gigantic parade formed at the Islington bridge, and the boys on the team and their coaches were escorted onto a fire truck and paraded through town with horns and 3irens blasting as Norwood let loose in appreciation of the feats of championship Norwood hockey team ably coached by Don Wheeler.
The team had to come from behind to attain victory and the crown which was won by Walpole last year. Needham had taken an early lead with only 13 seconds pone in the first period, but the Norwood skaters tied the contest in the second period on a goal by Sophomore Richy Hebner. As the third period started the team knew that Walpole and Wellesley had tied 2-2 and a win would mean the championship. They roared out and completely overwhelmed Needham who had previously beaten them 4-1.
At 2:38 of the third frame the bubble burst as Paul Angclo fed Hebner a pass at his own blue line and the sophomore stickhandled through three Needham forwards. He still had two defensemen to beat, he went right around them and fired a blazer that caught the upper left-hand corner of the net and Norwood had the championship. Norwood kept pressing and fittingly Captain Jack Bayer put icing on the cake as he banged in a Paul O’Donnell rebound, and that was if it wasn’t for the outstanding play of Needham goalie Jim Cruickshank, who stopped 29 Norwood shots, the game would have been a complete rout.
After the final whistle had blown, the players swarmed onto the ice to mob Norwood netminder Tommy Smelstor and the rest of the team who had brought them the big prize. The Norwood dressing room was bedlam as the players grabbed each other and their coaches, Head Coach Don Wheeler and assistants Rev. Dan Young and Jimmy Gormley. Then came the big parade through town as thousands of fans cheered the victors.
This is the 3rd Bay State Championship for the Blue Blades. They won the crown in 1957 under George Ronan, and again in 1961 under Jack Monbouquette.
Coach Wheeler gave the whole team credit for they worked hard all year and deserved it. He stated that it was strictly a team effort with every boy on the squad helping in his own way to bring the Bay State Hockey Championship back to Norwood.
The game started at about 7:15 with both teams receiving a warm ovation as they skated on the ice. Needham got the opening faceoff and went right in and scored as Fran Olsen took a pass from Bill Hassenfuss and fired a hard shot into the corner on which Smelstor didn’t have a chance. Was this going to be a repeat of the first Needham game or would the team bounce back in championship form?
Norwood immediately took over as they were, all over the Needham goalie. Hebner fed Angelo but Cruichshank saved and also stopped Richy’s bid to bang in the rebound. Things got a little rough and O’Donnell and Chambers received match penalties at 3:36 of the period. Bayer made a rush but was stopped in close. Tom Clifford hustled in and tried to bang in the rebound but Cruickshank again made the stop.
Norwood’s second line came on again and Hebner put on a show as he threaded his way through the Rocket defense and fed Paul Angelo but Paul couldn’t control the pass. The rugged Norwood defense, Rich Lovell and Tim Twomey, stopped a couple of Needham drives with great poke checks.
Lovell went to the brig at, 7:45 but Hebner, Timmy, Blane, and Angie held the fort. Rich had another golden chance but hit the post as the Norwood fans were holding onto their seats. Ed Sullivan, Needham defenseman, decked Hebner with a beauty of a check that sent Richy to the ice. Captain Jack Bayer and Tommy Clifford made top threat but Cruickshank again saved. Twomey went off for holding at 11:09 but Al Whitty broke up a couple of Needham rushes as the period ended. Norwood completely outplayed the Rockets but were trailing 1-0, mainly on the 11 saves turned in by the Needham net-minder Jim Cruickshank.
The second frame saw Norwood again threaten early. Lovell fired a blazer at the 10-second mark that Cruickshank gloved. Henrich had a clean shot but Smelstor dove out and made the save. Lovell again was a bull as he stopped consecutive rushes by Hasseniuss and Henrick.
The Blue Blades continued to dominate but couldn’t dent the strings as Hebner, Blane Maus, Paul O’Donnell, and Angie were stopped by the unbelievable Cruickshank. Blane had a clean break and was swarmed all over by a Needham defenseman but no penalty was called.
Was this going to be another frustrating night of Norwood being stopped by that goalie? Hebner quickly settled this as Paul Angelo look a potshot from in close and Richy was right on the spot to bang in the rebound to knot the count as the Norwood fans went wild. The goal was scored at 11:22 and was Hebner’s 7th of the year. Norwood skated to the dressing room like a determined team and Needham looked like they were on the downgrade.
Walpole had tied Wellesley as Norwood skated on the ice for the third period knowing that a win would mean the title. They were all fired up and immediately rushed into the Needham zone. Clifford and O’Donnell had pot shots but Cruickshank saved. Needham tried to clear the puck but the Norwood skaters were all over the ice breaking up rushes.
The Norwood second line came to the ice and wasted no time in wrapping things up. Lovell stopped a Hassenius rush in front of Smelstor and Angelo picked up the plug and fed Hebner and the rest is history as Richy put the puck in the Needham net after one of the best demonstrations of stickhandling ever seen at the Arena. The goal came at 2:39.
The team sensed victory as the momentum was building up. Paul O’Donnell fired from in close and Cruickshank saved but the hustling Norwood Captain, Jack Bayer, banged home the rebound and Norwood had the game and championship. However, Norwood didn’t let up. O’Donnell, Clifford, and Hebner all had good chances as – the game neared the. end. Rich Lovell brought the crowd to its feet as he threw a fierce check on Hassenfuss that sent Walt tumbling to the ice. The players looked at the clock … 30 sec, 20-sec, 10 see, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, …. and it was all over.
Norwood-— g, Smelstor; rd, Twomey; Id, Lovell; c, T. Clifford; rw, Jack Bayer, iw, O’Donnell. Alternates: Hebner, Maus, Angelo,. Whitty, B. Clifford, Donahue.
Needham— g, Cruickshank; rd, Roberts; Id, Chambers; c, Hassenfiis; rw,- Olson; lw, Henrick. Alternates:. Wood, Lawrence, Stone, Sullivan, Saimsicgle.
Scoring: 1st Period, Needham, Olson (Hassenfus) 13 sec. Second Period, Norwood, Hebner (Angelo) 11:22. Third Period, Norwood, Hebner (Angelo) 2:39, Norwood, Bayer (O’Donnell) 3:21.
Saves: Cruickshank 29, Smelstor, 9
By FRANK WALL
Norfolk County Press, February 20, 1964
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