The NAHL: Michael “Mickey” Richard Roach

   Michael “Mickey” Richard Roach cultivated his natural hockey talent resulting in the most successful professional hockey career out of all the USNAHL players. Roach played for 21 seasons. Following that, he coached nearly 6 seasons of professional hockey and another 11 seasons of coaching Senior Amateur hockey. Roach’s coaching career focused on cultivating the talent in others rather than himself.

   Born on 1 May 1895, Mickey Roach, a second-generation Nova Scotian, left the Maritimes for Boston in time to start high school. He attended Boston English High School with tailored curriculum towards the trades. Even as early as the 1912/13 season, he played on two teams, English H.S. and the Boston Arena intramural Skate Boys. Listed as Roche, the Boston Globe named him to their All Interscholastic second team for hockey. For the 1913/14 season, Roach moved on from the Skate Boys to the Pilgrim Athletic Association team while still playing for English H.S. Once again, the Boson Globe named Roach, as “Roache”, to its Interscholastic team. But, placed him in the first team along with Frank Downing, Robert Paisley, and Percy Wanamaker. Roach’s skill and determination to develop that skill were evident.

   After graduating, Roach played on the Boston Arenas for two seasons, but was driven for more. Much like the English and Huntington school teams, the Boston Arenas were limited to local play. The Boston Athletic Association team played in the developing intercity amateur hockey league. Despite his preeminence in Boston hockey circles, he moved to New York City in time for the 1916/17 season.

   For the next two years, Roach played in the greater New York City league. First, he played with the Crescent during the 1916/17 season. In a four-team intercity league, the Crescents lost in the final match to the Boston Arenas. In 1917, World War I finally caught up to the United States. Amateur hockey greatly changed resulting in the creation of the U.S. National Amateur Hockey League (USNAHL). Roach, a clerk for the BonBright investment bank, played on Cornelius Fellowes’ New York Wanderers. In November 1918, the war also finally caught with Roach. He became a Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) cadet and traveled back to Toronto to start training.

   Always looking for hockey, Roach picked up the uniform and picked up the stick. On 14 December 1918, the R.A.F. played one exhibition game against the Dentals in Ontario Hockey Association’s (O.H.A.) Senior A division. The R.A.F. bowed out of the season. Roach and Thomas “Flash” McCarthy, who joined him from New York, joined the Hamilton Tigers for the remainder of the season. This move started Roach’s NHL playing career.

   Starting with the St. Pats in 1920, he played seven seasons in the newly formed NHL. He moved from the Toronto St. Pats to the Hamilton Tigers, who elevated from the amateur ranks. For the 1924/25, Roach moved with the Tigers. Bill Dwyer renamed the Tigers to the New York Americans, referred as the Amerks, and moved them to New York City. As a result, the Amerks and Roach were the first hockey team to play in Tex Rickard’s Madison Square Garden in December 1925. While Roach finished his NHL career in New York City, he continued to play on for three more seasons in the minor leagues.

    While playing with the St. Pats, Roach married Elsie Alida Tobey, an Ontario native, in March 1920. Even though Roach played in Ontario, he established his family back in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In April 1921, his first son, Clifford Roach, was born there. However, not all of his four children could claim a Nova Scotia start. On 8 November 1922, their second son, Warren, originated in Boston. Finally, Ontario was home to his two daughters, Elsie and Eleanor. Despite the numerous locales for key life events, they called Nova Scotia home.

   Roach’s last season as player was the 1929/30 season with the Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons participated in the International Hockey League after the dissolution of the Canadian Professional Hockey League. In 1930, Roach accepted a manager/coach position with the Buffalo Bisons. In this new role, he started developing players for the NHL. From 1930 until 1936, Roach coached the Bisons, Syracuse Stars and, very briefly, the Rochester Cardinals. Roach left as a consistent contender, but never a winner, among team financial troubles and politics.

   Retiring from professional coaching, he refused to let hockey go. Initially, he attempted to organize a Senior A team for O.H.A. Eventually, he received an appointment to coach the Niagara Falls Brights in Dec 1938. In Feb 1939, he resigned this position and moved back to Nova Scotia.

   The Cape Breton league challenged for the Allan Cup, which was familiar ground for Roach. For the 1939/40 season, he sought to win with the North Sydney Victorias. At the time, Maritime Senior A hockey teams desired to claim the Allan Cup from the Halifax Wolverines. In 1941/42, he coached the Sydney Millionaires on a strong Cup challenge but fell short.

   As war crept back in Roach’s life, he switched to coaching the Navy teams in the Cape Breton League. At the time, Cliff was playing his top game. Meanwhile, Warren joined the US Navy. By September 1953, Mickey Roach retired from hockey and settled into his Customs job. Although a few of his teams made strong challenges, he never coached an Allan Cup winning team.

   With the exception of the 1918/19 Hamilton Tigers, Mickey Roach finished second more times than not. Whether as a player or coach, most teams were strong contenders with his participation. In recognition of his playing skills, the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame honored him in their initial inductions. In addition to the playing and coaching careers, he raised two sons in the hockey tradition. Cliff played briefly for the Providence Reds in the AHL. As for his daughters, Elsie Corinne died shortly after birth and Eleanor probably lived a quiet life. In 1977, Mickey Roach’s passage received more attention in the States than in Canada. It is assumed his wife, Elsie, passed away some time after. When compared to Herb Drury, Frenchy LaCroix and other USNAHL players, Mickey Roach was the most successful hockeyist.

NOTE: Misspellings of his last name, especially in the Boston Globe, are Roache, Roark, and Roche. Elsie’s middle name also changes greatly from Alida, Ileeda, and Illita in government records.

Additional reading:
https://blog.thebackcheck.com/2016/05/11/mickey-roach/

The NAHL: Dr. Edmund “Eddie” Burke Nagle

Saskatoon’s adopted, Dr. Edmund Burke Nagle, dedicated himself equally to dentistry and amateur sports, especially hockey. Born in Almonte, Canada, Eddie, as he’d become to be known, played football and hockey at St. Joseph High School in the early-1900s. However, it was in college where his athletic talents rose to fame.

Starting in November, 1910, Eddie enrolled in Ottawa College with newspapers declaring his right half-back position. However, he also continued to play the seven-man hockey. He starred at center and learned under Father Stanton. Additionally, he played alongside Dr. Francis Charles “Dink” Madden with whom he’d become fast friends.

Prior to Eddie’s graduation, he traveled to Battleford, Saskatechewan for part of the 1913/14 season. Battleford desired a Senior A hockey team. Eddie only played for the one season and returned to Ottawa. Although he’d travel to play in other locales, like Dunnville, those brief months in Battleford must have made an impression.

After graduating in 1915, he waited or took a break. He continued to play amateur sports with the Ottawa Club. In Fall 1915, he injured his foot playing football, which may have required an operation. The injury possibly caused him to change his mind on professional hockey. However, the discussions between the Aberdeens (Amateur) and Coach Alfred Smith of the professional Ottawa Senators. Or, may be, it was conversations with his long time friend, Dink Madden.

In 1915, the newspapers expected Eddie to attend McGill University like his friend Dink. Instead, Eddie spent the year wandering from 1915 until 1916. During this time, he managed the Aberdeen’s amateur hockey team. Also, he played amateur sports with Dink Madden. In November 1916, Eddie and Dink surprised Ottawa by moving to Pittsburgh.

Eddie and Dink attended University of Pittsburgh to study Dentistry. They played hockey with the city’s famous Pittsburgh All-Stars, or YellowJackets. During the 1917/18 season, they also played in the National Amateur Hockey League with the All-Stars. In May 1918, they received their draft notice from Canada. Unlike four of their colleagues who joined the U.S. Army, Eddie and Dink traveled back to Canada to enlist. They chose to take a commission in the Royal Navy as Surgeon Probationers.

Eddie reunited with Dink in Pittsburgh in 1919 in time for school and hockey season. They continued to play with the All-Stars. After hockey, war and other events, Eddie and Dink graduated as dentists in June 1920.

Eddie and Dink had at least one last adventure together. Dink traveled to Ottawa to be witness for Eddie’s marriage. On July 14, 1920, Eddie married Kathleen Shamon. While Dink returned to Pittsburgh, Eddie and Kathleen moved back to Saskatoon and Battleford.

After starting up his practice, Eddie remained active in amateur sports, especially hockey. He played into his final years of life for the School for the Deaf. Additionally, he became renowned in trapshooting. He and Kathleen loved travel. On a cruise ship near San Fransisco, Dr. Edmund Nagle passed away on June 24, 1966. Eddie Nagle left behind a legacy of sports, dedication and community.

Sources:
St. Joseph Church History
CEF Enlistment Paperwork, Library and Archives Canada
UK Naval List, July 1919
Marriage Certificate, Courtesy of Ancestry.com (paid account required)
School for the Deaf, University of Saskatchewan
Dr. Nagle’s Obituary, Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon) courtesy of newspaper.com
Montreal Gazette
Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa Journal
Saskatoon Daily Star
Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon)
Pittsburgh Press

The NAHL: Lawrence “Larry” James McCormick

Lawrence “Larry” James McCormick left behind minor fame following his younger brother Joe to Pittsburgh.  Larry drove the Buckingham Seniors of the Lower Ottawa Valley League to three Maclaren Cups, 1907/08, 1912/13 and 1914/15. He captained the team during the 1914/15 run. For Larry, the decision to leave probably was more about supporting family and friends than chasing a cup.

The McCormick’s baptized their newest son, Larry, at St-Gregoire-de-Naziance in Buckingham, Quebec. Locked into tradition, Larry carried it with him throughout life.

Larry remained in Buckingham until 1915. Several factors possibly pushed, pulled or dragged Larry from Buckingham. During the summer, he, Joe and Ed Gorman, a 1927 Stanley Cup winner with the Ottawa Senators, left for Cleveland to play for Mr. Shannon. They quickly found themselves in Pittsburgh. Shannon ran afoul of the Ontario Hockey Association and the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, who banned Cleveland’s team with claims of professionalism. As a result, the group found themselves trying out for the Pittsburgh teams in early January 1916. Roy Schooley picked them up for the Pittsburgh Athletic Association.

Buckingham and Pittsburgh recognized Larry’s shot and situational awareness. Newspapers from 1907 until the 20s commented on it. Roy declared Larry captain of the 1920 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team, which won silver.  Larry played one last season, 1921/22 before transitioning to coaching and refereeing.

Larry coached amateur Pittsburgh teams from the USAHA to the local club level. During his first season of coaching the YellowJackets, he got into an altercation with Canadian Soo player, Charley Boucher. Larry, as one of the two referees, penalized Boucher. Instead of heading to the bench, Boucher skated over to Larry. The Pittsburgh Press indicated Larry came out the better of the scrap. Whether fists flew or not, Larry personified hockey tradition.

Because Larry held-fast to amateurism, he worked as a car mechanic. His occupation in the war years was at Samson’s Motor Company. The employment ended with mobilization into the Army Motor Transport Corps along with teammates Joe McCormick, Herb Drury and Angus Baker. While he may have returned to work for Samson’s after the war, he found a new occupation, husband.

A scribbled note next to his baptism entry marks 19 July, 1921. Larry, much like his brother Joe, were practicing Catholics. Just after that date, Larry married Hazel Marie Chisholm. She probably did not like her first name. On drafts cards or military service compensation, Larry always wrote her name as “H. Marie”.

Around Roy’s death in November 1933, Larry and Marie started looking for a new place to settle. They were in New York for a bit in 1935. Larry came back to Pittsburgh for an old-timer’s game in February 1936. However, they found their home in Barnstable, Massachusetts. After a long illness, Larry passed away on 30 December, 1961 in Hyannis with services held at Our Lady of Victory. Marie’s journey continued until 7 November, 1980.

I think of the brothers as representing the two sides of the hockey coin. Joe represented the new era of hockey players. Whereas, Larry memorialized the hockey players of “then”.

Sat, Jan 12, 1929 – Page 16 · Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/lower-ottawa-valleys-holy-hockey-grail-uncovered
2. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=33599 (Note: Requires paid account)
3. World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Massachusetts. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication M2090, 166 rolls. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A.
4. Institut Généalogique Drouin; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Drouin Collection; Author: Gabriel Drouin, comp
#. Pittsburgh Press, Ottawa Journal and others courtesy of Newspapers.com

The NAHL: John “Jack” Gouverneur Hutchinson

In December 1917, the First Naval District acquired John G. Hutchinson from a private life as a farm manager. By the end of the month, Jack joined the First Naval District hockey team and assisted them to their first exhibition win over the Boston-based Arena Hockey Club. As with many other John’s of the era, newsprint often referred to him as “Jack”. Knowing this helped tracked him to the start of his hockey playing in Arlington High School in 1908 and all the way through his Amherst (Massachusetts Agriculture). He played amateur hockey for Boston Athletic Association until at least 1926. When he transitioned to coaching, he earned a new nickname, the “old fox”, which carried him through the 1930s. However, Jack’s era was the era of amateur hockey. As amateur hockey diminished, Jack blended into the background as well.

The “old fox” was born in Arlington, Massachusetts on July 20, 1891. He played high school hockey during his last two years at Arlington High School. When he attended Massachusetts Agricultural College (UMass Amherst), he played from 1911 until 1914. During this period, John also spent time in the military achieving the rank of sergeant prior to enlisting in the Navy. John’s high school and college years prepared him well for the future.

John became a Naval Aviator too late in the war to see action. In a bit of unintentional foreshadowing, his Naval Air Station Bay Shore flight school record states:

A little slow to learn – quiet – Industrious – Has confidence – good attitude – handles men well.

The instructor who noted that John “handles men well” probably did not expect him to become a successful hockey coach.

John did not immediately transition into coaching. He played in the US Amateur Hockey Association with the Boston Athletic Association Unicorns until 1926. After a two year hiatus, he started managing BAA hockey. In 1931, he managed the “university club” team. With nearly ten years of coaching and management experience, the Amateur Athletic Union selected him to lead the 1939 United States’ hockey team. On the cusp of WWII, John took ten players to Switzerland. They walked away with Silver.

Even as a coach, John maintained an Amateur status. He found work primarily as an automotive mechanic. Whether it was an automotive job or an airplane job, John worked at Roosevelt Field Inn in the early 40s. Roosevelt Field was one of the busiest airports in the United States in the 20s and 30s. Roosevelt Field Inn opened in 1930, which was nearly four years after Charles Lindbergh made his famous transatlantic trip. Shortly his WWII draft card listing, he moved on to Cote Motor Company.

After 13 years at Cote and two months of retirement, John Hutchinson passed away at his son’s house on October 4, 1956. In a twist of bureaucratic fate, John lived on in Veteran’s Affairs records. In 1963, a John G. Hutchinson claimed VA benefits from the West Roxbury VA hospital. While it probably was a mix up between him and his son, a probable WWII veteran, these little mysteries of every day heroes can be misleading trails or tantalizing puzzle boxes. Those that survived John include Edith, a son, and two grandchildren. Much like John, they blended into the historical background of every day life.

Sources:
1. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=48798 (Note: Requires paid account)
2. http://scua.library.umass.edu/youmass/doku.php?id=m:morrill_act
3. National Archives, john Hutchinson [Service # 001723610], https://catalog.archives.gov/id/3488255
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1939_Ice_Hockey_World_Championships
5. https://teamusa.usahockey.com/page/show/2669052-1939-iihf-men-s-world-championship
6. https://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/roosevelt-field-through-the-years-1.10862824
7. Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.  (Note: Requires Paid Account)
8. Boston Globe courtesy of newspapers.com

Additional sources:
Morrill Land Grant background: https://www.aplu.org/library/the-land-grant-tradition/file
Amherst under President Meiklejohn (1912-1923) https://www.jstor.org/stable/368850?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
https://bayshore.greaterlongisland.com/2018/01/02/31061-from-history-remembering-bay-shores-wwi-air-base-local-hospitality/

The NAHL: Alfred “Ralph” Winsor

With a multitude of accomplishments, The Boston Globe and others bequeathed the mantle of “Father of Modern Hockey” to “Ralph” Winsor Jr.  To summarize, many credit Ralph with the modern hockey stick, skate curve, and effective use of substitution (prior to the on-the-fly line changes of today). In his role as the first American-born college hockey coach, Ralph devised a new tactic specifically to counter Hobey Baker. Ralph shifted the point and cover point to force the forwards to the boards. The tactic was moderately successful in stopping Hobey. To help visualize this shift:

winsorHockey

 

Not only did Ralph modernize hockey, he supported his country in war and hockey.

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The NAHL: Roy D. Schooley

Roy Dunlap Schooley, along with George Brown and Cornelius Fellowes Jr, completed the leadership triumvirate of the newly formed National Amateur Hockey League (NAHL). Like George, Roy came from more humble beginnings as a reporter in Welland, Ontario, Canada. In the early years of hockey, many reporters referreed games in order to get the story. As an independent reporter, Roy took advantage of this common practice. Roy, who apparently had a nose for a story, moved to Pittsburgh in 1901 and took this practice with him.

Outside of New York City and St. Paul, Pittsburgh attracted many Canadian hockey players. Tom Howard even played a few games there. In Pittsburgh, Roy gained renown as a referee. However, his primary means remained reporting. Working for the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph, he focused on local politics. By 1917, Roy transitioned from a beat reporter to team owner/manager and embedded in the Pittsburgh political circles.

Between 1910 and 1930, Roy held many key city offices while maintaining the premier Pittsburgh hockey team. For example, Roy was the Chief Clerk of the Department of Public Works. These positions provided Roy the freedom to promote amateur hockey in Pittsburgh. In 1926, Roy transitioned the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets from amateur to professional hockey. With this move, Roy destroyed the NAHL and signaled the end of prominence of amateur hockey.

Roy moved through Pittsburgh Republican circles. He leveraged his knowledge of sports promotion to get several mayors elected. They rewarded Roy with the position of City Treasurer. In 1930, scandal wormed through the Republican stronghold. The city treasury came up short and several transactions appeared to be suspicious. Additional investigation identified that city funds lacked critical backing as mandated by law. The federal probe targeted Roy and other key leaders. When prosecutors were ready in 1933, Roy died from a protracted illness, and the embezzlement case against him dropped.

Roy Schooley sought local, national, and international recognition. He found it in Pittsburgh. He brought in one of the strongest teams into a fledgling amateur league. He attracted talent possibly equal to Hobey Baker with Herb Drury. Without Roy Schooley, the NAHL might have been just another New England curioso instead of near national level spectacle.

Tue, Nov 14, 1933 – Page 9 · The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

The NAHL: CAPT William Rees Rush

At the start of 1917, Captain William Rees Rush commanded the Navy Yard in Boston and commandant of the First Naval District. He held the position since November, 1914. Although he officially retired on October 16, 1916, the Navy recalled him on October 17, 1916 to continue at Commander, Navy Yard, Boston. The Navy detached him from duty as Commander, First Naval District on February 7, 1918, but retained him as Commandant, Navy Yard. Finally, they retired Captain Rush on March 1919 upon being relieved of duty.  As Commandant, he oversaw many aspects of the Navy Yard and the transition to war. Besides reports of suspicious personnel or fires, he hired George Brown to be the athletic director for the First Naval District and promoted sports. For example, the Y.M.C.A built the first recreational facilities at the Navy Yard under his command. However, this is a small section of Captain Rush’s 43 year career in the United States Navy. And, it is not even the most significant time of his career.

Born in Philadelphia on September 19, 1857, William entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in June, 1872. This was not a Naval Academy midshipman appointment. William experienced a more “traditional” navy officer’s education. It lasted nearly ten years until his promotion to ensign in October, 1881.

Officer promotion worked completely different during Captain Rush’s service than now. Currently, promotions from ensign to lieutenant (junior grade) (LTJG) and LTJG to lieutenant (LT) are each two years with a minor review of the officer’s service record. William was promoted to LTJG in February, 1889 and promoted to LT in December, 1893. Ensign to LTJG was eight years and LTJG to LT was only four years. Plus, there were examinations. However, it is difficult to find much information without digging through the Bureau of Navigation or Personnel archives.

After several years at LT, William attended the Navy’s War College in 1900. This duty assignment prepared William for promotion to lieutenant commander (LCDR) in 1901. He also married Jane Pomroy Hare while attending the War College. There’s nearly a month of leave probably because Jane and William married in Hawaii.

In 1909, William was promoted to captain (CAPT). In December 1913, he attached to the Florida (BB-30). In April 1914, BB-30 and CAPT Rush were order to Vera Cruz as part of a expedition to evict General Victoriano Huerta from the Mexican presidency after a coup d’état. Between 21 and 22 April, CAPT Rush led a naval brigade (about 1,600 men) to take Vera Cruz. In about 24 hours, the city was captured with 17 dead and 65 wounded. In December, 1915, CAPT Rush was awarded the Medal of Honor.

After WWI, CAPT Rush and Jane Hare traveled Europe. Eventually, they landed up in Pallanza, Italy. CAPT Rush died on August 2, 1940, just after the fall of France. Jane Hare passes away in Switzerland on August 27, 1947.

As Commandant of the First Naval District, CAPT William Rush promoted sports and competition. It wasn’t limited to hockey, but football and other sports as well. He hired one of the best sports promoters of the era, and likely had a hand in acquiring talent, too. Whether for public relations or a competition against the Second Naval District or concern for the health of sailors, I doubt we’ll ever know. May be it was all three. Without Rush’s appointment of George Brown, we might not have had the first united states hockey league of national preeminence, the United States Amateur Hockey Association.

Sources:
1. https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/l/living-conditions-in-the-19th-century-us-navy.html
2. Naval Officer’s Service Record Abstract, National Archives, courtesy of Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/image/581042150)
3. Confidential War Diaries (of the First Naval District) (1917-1918), National Archives, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/1137572
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Rush
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_William_R._Rush_(DD-714)
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Florida_(BB-30)
7. https://www.usni.org/magazines/naval-history-magazine/2014/march/take-veracruz-once
8. https://history.army.mil/html/moh/mohmex.html#RUSH

The NAHL: George V. Brown

In late 1917, George V. Brown added a new role to his accomplished list, Athletic Director of the First Naval District. Prior to this, he held the same position of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). With the BAA, he started every Boston Marathon except for the first two. During his era, BAA teams won championships. He promoted sports whenever he got the chance. George was such a fixture in the BAA and Boston sports that the BAA suspended or refocused operations during 1918.

It is hard to tell who used whom. The U.S. Navy leveraged George’s sports promotions to increase its popularity. Quite possibly, the First Naval District hoped to gain an advantage in the regular sports competitions against Second Naval District (Newport, Rhode Island) and others. For George, he became responsible for Navy sports across most of New England.

Following the war, George returned the BAA back to its normal sports operations. A long time member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, George built the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team for the first Winter Olympics in 1924. (NOTE: Cornelius Fellowes created the first Olympic men’s hockey team in 1920.) It was a silver medal team consisting of Herb Drury and Alphonse La Croix.

George also experienced change in hockey from the amateur to the professional. While George supported professional hockey, George believed in the amateur spirit. He tried several times to establish a new amateur league in the Boston after the break up of the US Amateur Hockey Association. In 1932, the Boston Globe commented about George’s efforts to “breathe new life into the amateur hockey corpse.” Despite a potentially 150 registered clubs with the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU), amateur hockey would never regain a prominent role.

Fri, Dec 23, 1932 – 16 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. https://www.baa.org/
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_V._Brown
3. Boston Globe, December 23, 1932, courtesy of newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31905965/
4. Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1931, courtesy of newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/29383315/

The NAHL: 1917, Hockey’s Year of Reckoning

On the eve of WWI, a medal of honor awardee, prominent sports personalities and the best hockeyists in the United States gathered on a world stage.  A legend had been building since the early 1900s starting in the New York City area. That legend, the legend of amateur hockey, came to fruition in 1917. The foundation for the next decade of hockey, both professional and amateur, were laid in that fateful year.

This blog over the next few months will provide brief biographies on key characters. Knowledge known and forgotten will be here in an attempt to provide a more complete picture of the hockeyists and their managers.

To note, amateur hockeyists can’t be paid for playing hockey. So, what were their jobs? Some times, they worked for a sporting goods store, like A. G. Spalding. Other times, they worked as car mechanics. And, as Brian McFarlane discovered, their work really was hockey and not lacing footballs at Spalding [1].

Getting back to the main topic, many will hopefully recognize the key players. From Boston, George V. Brown, Raymie Skilton and Frank Synott will be documented. From the US Navy, CAPT. William R. Rush, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions at Veracruz [2], plays a role. From Pittsburgh, Roy Schooley, Herbert Drury and the McCormick brothers drive action. Finally, New York’s Mickey Roach and “Duke” Wellington will be outlined. And, yes, Mickey Roach used be a Bostonian.

1917-18 season was a disruptive season for hockey. The creation of the National Hockey League, the infamous Montreal Arena fire [3], and the politics of amateur vs professional hockey that built to a crescendo in that season. The larger than life personalities, the hockeyists and the organizations all vying for control of the final outcome. But, first, we need to know who the entities are, and I hope you enjoy the journey.

Sources:
1. https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Oldies-Stories-Hockeys-Heroes/dp/1770412506
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Rush
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Arena

Interlude: Winnipeg’s Forgotten Hockey Royalty, heir apparent Thomas Henry Howard

Despite being a first son of hockey, Thomas Henry Howard left surprisingly few markers resulting in a confusing trail across the ledgers of history. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he really grew up in Brooklyn. As a result, Tom Jr. was actually more of Brooklynite than a Winnipegger. When Canadian and American WW1 demands threatened to ensnarl the Howards, Tom chose his fate by joining the United States Navy Reserve Force. While in the USNRF, Tom played hockey for Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. In all the numerous teams, leagues, and travel, Tom wins his own hockey championship in the California Cal-Pro league in 1930 with the Shell Oil Tigers. Unfortunately, few trail markers remain after 1930 until his death in 1971. Regardless of how his trail meandered, he exemplified, “Family above all.”

Tom Jr. was raised at the table of winter sports. Tom Sr. won the Stanley Cup and reinvented himself in New York and Pittsburgh. Kathleen taught skating in Winnipeg and New York. She possibly taught young Jack how to speed skate. Not to mention, Winnipeg newspaper noted her gracefulness at various winter galas of her youth. But, Tom Jr. seemed to desire a more subdued life.

In many respects, Tom’s father hints at managing his sons like hockey players. Tom Jr. appears to start referring during the 1912-1913 season. Then, Tom moves to playing in the 1913-1914 season. However, news coverage seems to increase when Jack matures into amateur hockey by 1916. At this time, everyone is reading about WWI, and the Howards are still Canadian and subjects of the King of England.

Looking at the available facts, Tom joined the USNRF in Newport, Rhode Island in part due to patriotic pride for the United States. Additionally, other reasons may have influenced Tom Jr’s and Jack’s decisions to join the USNRF. Regardless of the motivation, Tom played in the USN hockey league for the Newport (R.I.) and Charlestown (Boston) Navy Yards. The US Navy trained Tom to play with mines. Tom and his brother, Jack, was assigned to the U.S.S. Canandaigua. They possibly particpated in the North Sea mine barrage. Whether they went with the fleet, Tom referred a Brookleny high school hockey game on 11 Jan, 1919.

After the death of his brother Jack in Dec 1919, Tom moved to California and married Natalie Matthews. Listing a California home address, Tom Jr. continued to play for his father’s teams on the East Coast from 1920 until 1924. During the late-twenties, he played for a variety of teams until landing on the 1930 Shell Oil Tigers team. Under Ernie Miller, the Shell Oil Tigers team beat the Vancouver Ballards to secure the CalPro championship. In 1949, Los Angeles Monarchs honored Tom Howard Jr and four others for bringing hockey to California. All the while, Tom and Natalie ensured the care of their parents.

From census records, Natalie’s father and then Tom’s parents lived with them in California. Natalie’s father moved from New York to be recorded in a 1920 California Census. When the next census happened in 1930, Tom’s parents, Tom Sr. and Kathleen, had moved in. From all the travels between New York and California, Tom Jr. appears to have supported his family’s decisions and supported the decisions of the family he married. As a result, it appears that he believed in family above all else.

the 1949’s tribute is really the last easy marker that Tom and Natalie Howard leave. A phone book entry here or may be a property records there. Tom died in Denver, Co. in 1971 and Natalie died in June of 1986. They died childless. Thus, with their deaths, ended the line of hockey greats.

Sources:
1. Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency, Birth Record: 1894-002467, http://vitalstats.gov.mb.ca/Query.php, last accessed 12 Aug 2018
2. The New York Times, Sunday, January 26, 1913 pg 69, courtesy of newspapers.com
3. Hartford Courant Thursday, March 5, 1914 pg 16, courtesy of newspapers.com
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Canandaigua_(ID-1694)
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sea_Mine_Barrage
6. Brooklyn Eagle, Saturday, January 11, 1919, pg 8, courtesy of newspapers.com
7. “California, County Marriages, 1850-1952,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8FB-YBP : 8 December 2017), Thomas Henry Howard and Natalie Matthews, 19 May 1921; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 2,074,267.
8. San Bernardino County Sun (California), Wednesday, January 16, 1924, pg 9, courtesy of newspapers.com
9. Los Angeles Times, February 26, 1949, courtesy of ProQuest.
10. “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JTHC-HM7 : 19 May 2014), Thomas Howard, Nov 1977; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
11. “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J1B8-5YD : 20 May 2014), Natalie Howard, Mar 1987; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).

Other Sources:

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