Berlin Maroons

Brown Company always has been a most influential factor in the lives of Berlin’s citizens. And so, in Berlin’s hockey beginning, we find Brown Co. guiding the destiny of the city’s hockey players. Way back in the 1910-20 era, D. P. Brown of Dartmouth fame and also an owner of Brown Co., helped form a Mill League. Upper Plants, Burgess, Cascade, etc., had teams that vied for hockey honours while deriving from the sport, recreation through the long winter months. These battles of stick and blade were conducted on an outdoor rink directly in front of the old baseball grandstand behind home plate at the city ballpark. Names of players and managers reminiscent of those by-gone years are, among others; Dupont, Poissons and 0. J. Lambert.

Arriving on the Berlin hockey scene in 1920 was a young priest who matriculated at Angel Guardian Parish, then moved on to St. Anne’s and thence to St. Joseph. Father Lauziere (now Monsignor) had his own club in the new City League. Besides playing league games, his “Canadiens” played against Lewiston and Waterville, Maine teams. His zeal in perpetuating the game, led to Berlin’s rebirth as a hockey power. In 1923, the Berlin Athletic Association, known as the BAA, was formed. Helped along by Brown, the BAA practically demolished all opposition from 1923 through 1928. Players of this team who helped climax its high achievements were: Charles Dube, Omer Lang, Bill Sharp, J. McLaughlin, Paul Gauthier, Arthur Rivard, Tom Gillespie, Charlie, Gauthier, Normandin, Goalie Maltais and Manager Hank 0’Connell. Other names of high significance in the BAA of this epoch were Jack Howard, Jim Keoughan, Dick Keoughan, Red Me Mahon, Maloney, ‘Kirkpatrick, Armstrong, Gayer, Harvey Rockburn, Nick Greco, Al Therriault, Adelard Rivard, Corbeau, E. O’Donnell, Gus Normandin, Leo Morin and Garfield Hamel. The old St. Lawrence Rink off Pleasant Street, approximately where Barney’s Service Station is now located was the scene of action for the puck-chasers of that time.

From 1928 through the middle 30’s, we find part of the old BAA joining with their younger counterparts and forming the Berlin Hockey Club. In 1928, under the guidance of Tom Lessard and Tex Wiseman many games were played in the Boston Arena with other leading teams of the neophyte New England League.

The 1931-32 Berlin lineup read as follows: Garfield Hamel, Harvey Roberge, Arthur Rivard, F. Therrien, Fred Hayes, Al Therriault, Oscar Lefrancois, Leslie Theberge, C. Dube, Maurice Dancocs, Gene Garneau, Oscar Ross and E. Guay; with manager C. Trahan and E. Roberge, coach. In those years, the Lewiston Cyclones, the St. Dom’s and the Waterville Hockey Club gave stirring opposition.

The late 30’s through 1941 found a new name on this city’s hockey horizon, the Berlin Maroons. That name would eventually find its standard bearers carry it to numerous sectional triumphs plus three National Championships. Starting with the 1941 New England Championships title won at the Boston Garden, the Maroons bowed to a powerful band of icemen, the St. Nicks of New York City. On the squad then was the following complement of players: Barney Laroche, Leo Vaillancourt, Fat Pinette, Johnny Labrie, Coach Rollie Nolet, Laval Dumont, Harvey Blais, Val Albert, Elmo Therriault, Arthur and Wilfred Fournier, Lawrence Hamel, Rene Boucher, Bill Baillargeon and Business Mgr. Ralph (Navy) Labnon. The ensuing war years found the above contingent in far-flung parts of the globe, working for Uncle Sam.

Directly after the war, the Maroons played their last season (46-47) outside – at Coulombe’s open rink. Fr. Lauziere was again at the helm, guiding the Maroons’ against all opposition. With the advent of a covered Notre Dame Arena, the renaissance of Berlin Hockey was assured. The Maroons aggregation won New England titles in 1948, 1949, and in 1951. Some of the authors of these championship years were: Norm Pinette, Ray Dion, John Chambers, Walt Fournier, Clem Bouchard, Barney Laroche, Leo Vaillancourt, Roland Cloutier, Leo Lemieux, Maurice Grondin, Val Albert, Elmo Therriault, Fred Nolette, Marcel Vaillancourt, Romeo Laroche, Gene Laroche, Norm Poirier, Rollie Chalifoux, Wilfred Fournier, Emile Arsenault, Paul Boucher, George Renault, Rochon, Roland Dube, Omer Morin, Ben Arguin, and Hal Lambert.

Three years elapsed before the Maroons again captured New England and National titles. A historic year was 1954 for Berlin. During that season the Flying Frenchmen won 13 straight victories. Not only did they win acclaim in the Northeast, but they brought back to Berlin its first National Championship in any sport. The star-studded roster that battled all odds for U. S. hockey supremacy deserves naming. There was Marcel Morency, George Renault, Omer Morin, Al Adams, Barney Laroche, Johnny Chambers, Andre Cloutier, Norm Richard, Archie Primeau, Ray Poirier, J. P. Sequin, Rollie Chalifoux, Dick Boucher, Bob Boucher, Dick Roy, Ben Arguin, Guy Proteau, Marcel Benoit, Sylvio Croteau Don Roy and Bob Lavigne.

The ensuing years found the Maroons battling all opposition and winning more than their share of the spoils. In 1967 and 1968, the Maroons again copped the National AHAUS titles. Doing the lion’s share of the work in bringing back these championships to Berlin were: Dodo Lacroix, Dede Villeneuve, Dick Valliere, Albie Brodeur, Bob Nolet, Ron Laroche, Rollie Lavigne, Cuba Albert, Rene Albert, Dick Fuller, Carl Langlais, Curly Morin, Bruce Parker, Leo Routhier, Paul Hurly, Roger Letourneau, Pete Tremblay, John Ramsay, Ron Croteau and Dick Roy.

The Maroons have always tried and been successful in remaining competitive by the almost exclusive use of local and home-grown talent. This continues to be so, and the challenge goes out to any locale that can support and substantiate such a high and lofty claim, so be it.

That hockey-crazed city of the North Country, Berlin got nicknamed “Hockey Town, U. S. A.” last year, and with good reason, for in that year, those fabulous Flying Frenchmen of puck chasing – the Berlin Maroons – captured the National AHAUS title for the second straight year.

And well it deserves that title, for Berlin, more than anywhere in the country, is the cradle and breeding grounds for the world’s fastest sport. Of course there are many factors that contribute to a city of this size being so prolific at producing top icemen and creaming off championship upon championship, and indeed it seems as if history has pointed to some of the real men behind the phenomenon. Probably the biggest helper to propagating the game in Berlin, and certainly the most astute at organizing a viable team was Rev. Alpheri Lauziere. The good father – who was later to be called the “Grandfather” of hockey in Berlin, began guiding the fate of the Berlin Maroons as early as 1925. A cool business head, Father Lauziere financed the club year after year, ingeniously raising the money to keep the club afloat. It is impossible in so short an article to recount all the ways Fr. Lauziere came to the assistance of the sport. Suffice to say lie has been dubbed–the Patron Saint of Hockey in the North Country.

One other great promoter of hockey in the area, especially in the 40’s was Ralph (Navy) Labnon, present owner and operator of the Town and Country in Shelburne. “Had it not-been for his hustle, foresight and determination, the game would never have attained the heights in interest and enthusiasm which it holds today”, said of him Leo E. Cloutier, Manchester Union sports writer. It was back in 1941, when Navy was managing them that the Maroons first attained prominence by capturing the NEAHA crown in a tournament staged at the historic Boston Garden.

Another Roman Catholic Priest who proved to be a godsend to hockey in the paper-producing community was Fr. Omer Bousquet who spearheaded a drive to build what is today Notre Dame Arena. He managed to enlist the help of the whole community, to erect what was the only indoor rink in New England when it was built in the late 40’s. As a matter of fact both he and padre Lauziere were cited by the AHA in 1949 for their outstanding contributions to the sport.

One of the great collective aids to the Maroons and indeed to the cause of sports in the city within the last decade has come from the men and women who shake up the Athletic Booster- Club. The A B C, sparked by oft time President Louis Delorge, has come to the rescue of the Berlin icemen many times.

The driving force behind the Flying Frenchmen in recent years has been an astute gentlemen by the name of Al Adams. Al, a former UNH graduate and U. S. Marine played on the Maroons roster many years before taking over as top banana in the 1957-58 season. He is the author of the article, Notes on Hockey in Berlin appearing in this issue.

Some outstanding coaches through the years have been Rollie Nolet who guided the team to the N. E. title in 1941; Leo Vaillancourt who captained them to the 1953-54 National championships; Barney Laroche, commander of the 1966-67 victory and present player-coach Carl Langlais who led the squad (1967-68) to triumph.

Dick Boucher, Dick Vallieres, Husky Poirier, Pete Maggio, Ray Viens, Albert Brodeur, and Bob Nolet. Standing, Dick McKee, General Manager; Al Adams, Coach; Paul Whalen, John Murphy, Omer Morin, Dede Lessard, Dick Roy, Carl Langlais, Dede Villeneuve, Norm Richards, Ben Arguin, Pete Marquis, mascot, Russ Marquis, trainer and C. Lessard.