Mention state high school hockey tournaments to any New Hampshire aficionado who bathes his mind with facts and memories, and you’ll hear: “Eric Royal, 1990, Spaulding High.”
Eric was a senior that spring as the state tournament loomed and the team he captained was coming off a ho-hum 10-8 regular season. By a nose, the 8th, and final seed went Spaulding.
Then came Saturday, February 24. And when the Snively Arena Zamboni finally fell silent in Durham, Spaulding was The State Champ-winning it all after four long games.
It didn’t just happen, though, without a story-book lead-in to that final story-book game. Spaulding first eliminated Winnacunnet HS, then #1 seed Concord HS, then Nashua HS, setting up the final against #3 seed Trinity HS. It took double overtime but Spaulding pulled off a 4-3 upset, marking the only time Spaulding High School ever won a state hockey crown while there was but a single Division that included at that time all hockey-playing high schools.
During those four games, Eric, a gifted center, worked some heavy scoring magic: 7 goals in one game; 9 points in one game; 13 goals in the tourney; 21 points in the tourney-all acclaimed then as records The honors followed: – The Manchester Union Leader named him to its All Tournament First Team and hung MVP next to his name – Hockey Night In Boston named him New Hampshire Player of the Year, as well as center on the Northern New England All Star Team (ME-NH-VT), and cited him an All-State Coaches’ Pick – The Boston Globe named him to its New Hampshire All Scholastic First Team – Foster’s Daily Democrat had him a first-pick Dream Team selection. Other accolades and honors went his way, too.
As of today, Eric remains Spaulding High’s all-time career scorer: 90 goals-106 assists-196 points; plus he still owns two season records: most goals-41; most points-78.
John Clausen, his high school coach, hails him as a superlative team player who never wanted the spotlight and made everyone better- “An extremely talented and special guy.”
For Eric, that one magical tournament had several years of youth hockey behind it. While living in Hampton, he played at the Mite and Squirt levels in Rochester; then as a PeeWee for the NH Nighthawks travel team. In 1986, he moved to Rochester and made the natural transition from PeeWee to Bantam and then on to the Spaulding HS varsity, graduating in 1990.
In 1991, he enrolled at Berwick Academy where he played for coach Charlie Holt. That season the team was 17-3. Eric had 41 goals and 40 assists. He also competed that year in the Chicago Showcase as a New Hampshire High School All Star, playing on a championship team that defeated the Massachusetts entry, 4-3. Three of those goals were Royal goals!
At the University of New Hampshire, he played 101 games over four seasons with career totals of 35 goals-61 assists-96 points. He graduated in 1995 and attended the Edmonton Oilers rookie training camp. Ultimately, he played four years in the East Coast Hockey League, first with the Wheeling WV Thunderbirds (later named The Nailers) and then in Florence, SC with the PeeDee Pride. Among his achievements were MVP and All Star selections. He later played one season in Newcastle, England.
Since the 2004-05 season, he has been head coach of Marshwood HS/Traip Academy, a co-op high school in South Berwick, ME. He resides in Berwick, ME with his wife Robin and their two daughters Sophia and Grace. He is employed by Formax office equipment in Dover.