He stood only 5 feet-4 inches – just a wisp of a center; a teenager not yet old enough to get a driver’s license – when first he was handed a uniform by the fabled Berlin Maroons and given a regular spot on the celebrated roster.
That all happened to Wally Fournier back when the 1930s were becoming the 1940s. He then was at Berlin High School, blessed with uncommon hockey skills, able then to play for a Senior hockey organization while also playing for a high school team.
By 1943, when he graduated from Berlin HS, Wally had added three stellar varsity seasons to his fine freshman season, and had served as a senior BHS co-captain.
Throughout those four high-school years, Wally simultaneously skated with the Maroons, which was a bonus for everyone. It gave him double the ice time, while fans and teammates had double the pleasure watching him. He many times was cited for his quickness and superb stick handling. One admirer said he “had few equals.”
Within a month of his graduation, he was in a cadet in a US Army Air Corp program that eventually turned him into a skilled B-17 navigator. He then went off to Europe and flew seven bombing missions.
In 1946, when he again became a civilian, it was just in time to shake the dust out of his old Maroons jersey and lace up the skates. For the six seasons between 1946 and 1951, he was regularly on the ice, again doing double duty. This time, his other team was the University of New Hampshire. As a UNH freshman, he was captain. As a senior, he was varsity captain.
The vagaries of our northern New England winters, though, plus playing on an outdoor rink in Durham, sometimes made for a miserable UNH hockey life. In his freshman season (1947-48), he played but a thimbleful of games. And his three varsity seasons (1948-49 – 1949-50 – 1950-51) weren’t much better. He played just 16 total games. It was a major Ouch for someone who dearly loved the sport and excelled as a scorer and stick handler. A newspaper sports columnist, back in March of 1951 at the close of the shortened season, wrote that “Fournier never had a real chance to hit his stride,” adding that there is an opinion that “Wally Fournier is the greatest all-around ice star ever to graduate” from UNH.
While in Durham, Wally still got plenty of ice time, traveling back and forth to Berlin to suit up with the Maroons. “There was one time,” he recalled, “that I got off the ice after a game in Durham and didn’t even take off my uniform. I just rode straight to Berlin in time for a Maroons game.”
The Maroons at that time were a powerhouse. Three times the team won the New England Amateur Hockey Association title: 1948, 1949 and 1951. And Wally was right in the middle of it all.
Fortunately, Berlin’s Notre Dame Arena, which opened for the winter of 1947, had walls and a roof, which helped extend the life of naturally frozen ice. Artificial-ice-making equipment didn’t get installed at the Arena until 1966, which was 15 years after Wally retired as a skater.
After graduating from UNH in 1951 with a degree in civil engineering, Wally called a halt to playing hockey seriously and went off into the work world. He and his wife Phyllis had married during his sophomore year and family life had grown more important.
Married 60 years, the couple today still lives in Berlin. They have three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.