Greenfield’s Pond Hockey Team, Part 4: Perennial powers

  • Greenfield’s Lawrence Baker during the 1928-29 hockey season. The team went 5-3-1 for the first winning season in program history. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/26/2020 5:20:00 PM
Modified: 3/26/2020 5:33:29 PM

(NOTE: This is Part 4 in a series about the history of the Greenfield outdoor hockey team, which ran from 1926-1942)

Part 4: Perennial powers

It took two seasons, but the Greenfield hockey team started to find its footing in 1928.

The first two seasons of sponsoring an outdoor hockey team on the pond at Highland Park were anything but smooth. The first season came to an untimely end due to suspensions, and while season two almost didn’t happen due to budget issues, there were signs of marked improvement. The Greenies went 3-3-1 in a seven-game season, and saw several players break through with fine seasons under head coach James Hayes — the man who started the program.

With those two seasons serving as a backdrop, Greenfield finally started to hit its stride as one of the hockey elites in New England over the next decade. Over the next 10 seasons, the program compiled a 34-23-7 record, adding an unofficial Western Mass. championship to its name in 1930-31.

If the 1927-28 season was the school’s first real success enjoyed in the sport of hockey, the 1928-29 campaign was a step forward in how to handle that success.

1928-29

Hayes’ team makes a statement early. With Paul Looney elected captain and some young firepower, Greenfield thrashes its Alumni Team, 4-0, in the opener on Dec. 30 at Highland Park.

That sets the tone for some interesting gossip, as the next game against Mass. Aggie is postponed when the collegiate freshmen cite “fear” of the local high school sextet after hearing of their romp over the alums. Instead, Greenfield handles its business with a win over a pick-up team of replacements, moving to 2-0 on the season for the first time in program history.

With team expenses rising, the squad decides to sell season tickets to cover the fees. The newspaper reports that sales are good.

The momentum continues with a 4-3 win over Brattleboro on Jan. 12, 1929. Trailing 3-1, Greenfield rallies when Larry Baker, Looney and John Trela all tally to help the club improve to 3-0.

If anything, the 1928-29 season is a coming out party for Kiernan Moylan. He’s been a member of the team since its inception two years ago, and has quickly turned himself into one of the best players in Western Mass. Moylan scores twice as Greenfield beats the Mass. Aggie Sophomores, 3-2, for a fourth straight win to start the season.

With the newfound success, money from season tickets has now covered the bulk of the program’s expenses. And the success continues on the ice, when Moylan “skates at will around rink and opponents” and notches a hat trick to lift Greenfield to a 5-1 win over the Mass. Aggie JV team. Baker and Looney also score as Greenfield improves to 5-0, unchartered territory for the young program.

A huge game against Brattleboro on tap has Greenfield eyeing a possible Valley title and possible New England Interstate Tournament berth. The teams play to a 2-2 tie, as Moylan scores both goals for the Greenies.

That sets up the toughest test of the season against powerhouse Keene. Despite a broken finger, Moylan plans to play in the game, and the team even adds football star Ed Lawler to the roster to add some punch on defense. It’s not quite enough however, as Keene wins a wild 4-3 affair in overtime to hand the Greenies their first loss.

That defeat proves to be the beginning of the end, as two more losses to end the season (against Stockbridge and Keene) caps a successful campaign at 5-3-1 – the first winning season in program history.

1929-30

Captain Kiernan Moylan will guide a loaded roster that Coach Hayes cuts from 25 to 13 players. After a winning season, Greenfield is looking to take yet another step forward in what will eventually be the final season for their head coach.

Mother Nature’s wrath has the season moved back significantly however, and the team is relegated to indoor workouts for the month of December and well into January. It’s not until Jan. 23, 1930 that the team plays its first game. It’s worth the wait however, as Greenfield waxes Holyoke, 10-1, as Moylan and Esmonde Bushey score four goals apiece in the rout.

Wins over Brattleboro (2-1), Stockbridge (5-1), Stockbridge (6-1), Worcester North (3-1) and Brattleboro (6-3) has Greenfield an impressive 6-0 on the season. The lone loss of their season comes at the hands of Enfield, Conn. — a 1-0 defeat highlighted by an ugly incident where Greenfield’s Bill Luey takes a skate to the face and needs 10 stitches.

They close with a 3-1 victory over Keene, with Moylan capping his monster season with another hat trick to help Greenfield finish with a program-best seven victories (7-1). Moylan finishes the season with 19 goals in just eight games, though it would be his last year as a high school hockey player. He won’t be able to suit up next year as the school implements a three-year varsity rule.

Check back for Part 5: “Cruising through the ’30s” in Saturday’s Recorder.


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