Back in the 1970’s, my older brother Denny and I always looked forward to attending as many high school state tournament games as we could. Most of the early round basketball match-ups were played at area high school gyms while the hockey games usually took place at the Boston Arena. The ultimate goal of the winter sports teams, of course, was advancing to the title games at the Boston Garden.
Looking back, the number of “Townies” on the rosters of high school hockey teams that competed at the Boston Arena was truly amazing. It was a special era indeed; the Boston Bruins had won two Stanley Cups and Charlestown was in the midst of an incredible hockey boom that would produce five NHL draft picks.
Some “Townie” icemen enjoyed spectacular success. The Reardon brothers, Ed and Gerry, as well as Mark Fidler and Billy Cotter, got the puck rolling at Matignon while Paul O’Neil, Jack Wilkins, Mike Devlin, Ralph “Buddy” Goodwin and Mike Fidler helped establish Malden Catholic as one of the elite teams in the State. Boston Latin featured Jack O’Callahan, and Charlestown High School was a City of Boston power with Paul Morrissey, Jack Humphrey, Paul Wilkins and Franny Murphy grabbing headlines. In addition, Christopher Columbus was stocked with the Chisholm brothers, Mark and Bobby, Tommy Tibbetts, Jack Morrissey, Bobby Harty, Kevin Maher and Paul Byrnes.
Other talented “Townie” players, such as Steve “Smucky” Tryder and Phil Coleman at Catholic Memorial, and Vinny Fratalia, Mike Shackford and Bobby Gould of Pope John XXIII High School, also provided exciting moments. O’Neil, Whelton, Kelley, Myers, O’Connor, Powers, Yandle, Vesey, Wrenn, Nolan, Sodergren, Mansfield, Dobie, DeRosa, Guitar, Ryle and so many others helped establish Charlestown as a hockey mecca for collegiate scouts and coaches.
I get a sense today that Charlestown is on the verge of another hockey boom with several potential NHL picks on the horizon. Matt Grezlyck, Brendan Collier, Aaron Titcomb, Conal Lynch and John Caldwell have been blessed with God-given talent and each possesses the intangibles that have professional scouts frothing at the mouth. The same can be said of the current generation of Vesey, Humphrey, Wrenn, Sodergren, Doherty, DeRosa, Myers and Fidler.