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Greenfield’s Pond Hockey Team, Part 5: Cruising through the ’30s

  • The 1935 Greenfield hockey team, led by head coach Ken Stinson and captain Robert Viens. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/27/2020 4:45:47 PM
Modified: 3/27/2020 4:45:38 PM

(NOTE: This is Part 5 in a series about the history of the Greenfield outdoor hockey team, which ran from 1926-1942)

Part 5: Cruising through the ’30s

The James Hayes era ended at Greenfield High School following the 1929-30 season. After four years at the helm, the energetic young coach posted a 16-9-2 record. The bar was set high, and new coach Art Watt stepped in for the 1930-31 season hoping to carry on that momentum.

He’d have to do it without star forward Kiernan Moylan. The team’s top scorer from a year ago was ineligible as the school had a three-year varsity limit, which he had used up before his senior season on the ice.

Watt was popular with his players. A graduate of Northeastern, he played baseball, basketball and semi-pro hockey there before heading to Greenfield. His coaching stops included stints at Collinsville (Conn.) and Brigham Academy (Vt.).

His one season in charge was up and down, though the team ultimately “claimed” the Valley title thanks to wins over Holyoke and West Springfield. With no official championship games back then, teams claimed titles based on results against their local foes. Greenfield’s final record of 4-4 got the 1930s off on the right foot, though the season that followed was short-lived, to say the least.

The 1931-32 campaign featured just one game, a 1-1 tie against Brattleboro at the Retreat Meadows Rink north of the border. Tal Griswald netted what wound up being the lone goal of the season for the Greenies, as weather halted the rest of the schedule and poor ice conditions left players sitting around waiting.

Many chose to jump ship and play basketball. Earl Richardson and Ed Lawler moved over to the hardwood, and Coach Watt decided to take over JV basketball assistant coaching duties full-time. That left Ken Stinson as the new head coach of the hockey program, and his one game, a tie, would stand until the next season.

Things stayed stagnant for the next four seasons under Stinson. The program posts an 11-12-4 record during that time, with two winning seasons. The same cost issues remain, and the 1932-33 team practices for most of the season in the parking lot of the school with ice conditions and ice time less than ideal.

Through it all, they post a 3-1 record in another short season with the lone loss coming to Williston Academy. Greenfield beat Bellows Falls (4-3), Brattleboro (2-1) and the Deerfield Academy JV team (2-1) in a trio of nail-biters, with goaltender George Giovannazi the team MVP.

Stinson’s bunch rolls through a forgettable 1-5-1 season in 1933-34, but bounces back with a 2-1-3 mark the next year, capped by a 2-1 win over Bay Path of Springfield in the finale on Feb. 15, 1935. Former GHS stars Kiernan Moylan and George Hebert suit up for Bay Path in that one, but John Kells and James Burns find the back of the net to lead the way in victory.

Captain Kells and Coach Stinson, back for his fifth and final season, guide the Greenies to five wins in 1935-36, as the team goes 5-5 in a busy up and down season that features games against area foes like Agawam, West Springfield, Ludlow and Holyoke. Jack White scores four times in a 7-0 win over Agawam, the high mark for the season, and he equals the feat in a 9-1 thumping of Ludlow.

Just like that, however, hockey comes to another brief end in the town of Greenfield. With financial difficulties and travel issues, the school decides not to have a hockey season during the 1936-37 school year. All “minor” sports at the school were eliminated in fact, and it’s going to take some donations in order for the program to get back up and running come next winter.

Check back for Part 6: “One last shot” in Monday’s Recorder.


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