From the days of worshipping Bobby Orr to the modern successes of local players Brendan Collier, Matt Grzelcyk and Micaela Sindoris – the tradition of hockey in the Town was chronicled in expert fashion by a video released last Thursday designating Charlestown as the first winner of Pure Hockey’s Home Ice program.
The Home Ice program by the national hockey retailer Pure Hockey – a company founded in Boston – just kicked off last week and Charlestown was the first to be honored.
“As a Boston guy, I think it’s wonderful to start in Charlestown,” said Pure Hockey CEO Dave Nectow during a ceremony on Monday at Emmons Horrigan O’Neill Rink. “I think about all of the talent and commitment to hockey that has come through Charlestown over the years…These are people who love the game of hockey. We had so many people who were authentic and show what hockey is about. I think of Edie at the snack bar (who was featured on the video). She was nervous but did really great and that’s because she’s authentic. It’s the authenticity, and what’s better than Charlestown for that.”
Pure Hockey spokesman Matt Rosenthal said the designation wasn’t as much about achievement as it was about capturing a community that simply loves the game.
“It wasn’t so much about how many players made the NHL or how many championships have been won,” he said. “It’s more about the atmosphere and what goes on behind the scenes and Charlestown really fit the bill.”
The designation came with a $5,000 equipment donation to Charlestown Youth Hockey Association (CYHA), but the publicity of the five-minute video and three vignettes that were produced additionally (on Jack O’Callahan, Micaela Sindoris, John and Matt Grzelcyk) that have taken the Town by storm.
The video starts by highlighting the working-class nature of the Town in days past – talking with Jack Sullivan of Sullivan’s, Jack Sindoris and John Grzelcyk about the grittiness of the Town. That fed right into how the love of hockey grew out of the success of Bobby Orr in the 1970s.
The video shows pictures of the rink, highlighting current players like Sindoris, Collier, Grzelcyk, Jimmy Vesey and even snack bar legend Edie Evans – a mother to all the children in the CYHA program
“You wouldn’t know what Charlestown is without hockey,” said Sindoris on the video.
“We all wanted to be Bobby Orr and that’s all we did was play hockey,” said O’Callahan in the video.
“The thing about the kids from Charlestown who made it is they never forgot where they came from,” said Sullivan.
“There is no greater place to play hockey than in Charlestown,” added Collier in the video.
Also highlighted outside of the ice was the Eden Street roller hockey rink, where the annual Kitchen Kup has become a part of the Town’s tradition as well.
Kup Founder Joe Brennan said he was really excited to see the positive spotlight on Charlestown for hockey.
“I’m glad the Town got the spotlight again; they deserve it,” he said. “The sun is shining bright on the sport and the Town right now. It’s humbling to see all the attention. We just hope to continue the tradition with more success stories and fewer setbacks.”
CYHA Board member Steve Lakus and the league Board had a great deal to do with getting the attention of Pure Hockey and showing them the great tradition that has existed for generations.
Board member Al Carrier said the publicity from the video is great for the league and the Town.
John Grzelcyk said he was really impressed with the final product, which came from Fogo Productions and was filmed all last fall. A big part of the video and a separate vignette tell the story of Grzelcyk working at the Garden for the Boston Bruins and watching his son grow up as a youth hockey player in Charlestown all the way to a pro for the Bruins.
“It’s good for the Town,” he said. “I think they did a great job showing the dedication and the families that make up hockey here. I did it because of the donation they were making and hopefully it will get some new athletes in here to play who may not be able to afford the equipment…The video of Matt and I came out good. They used the word ‘tutelage’ and a lot of people were surprised by that. You know how that is. Really, though, I was glad to see them show youth hockey players like Jack O’Callahan and Micaela.”