Belisle, ex-MSC players headline R.I. Hockey Hall of Fame’s first class

Belisle, ex-MSC players headline R.I. Hockey Hall of Fame’s first class

Bill Belisle
Enshrinment celebration is Sept. 20 at Twin River

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame has announced the names of 16 of the state’s hockey greats, six of them hailing from Mount Saint Charles Academy, who will be enshrined in its charter class on Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Twin River Event Center.

The names and official portraits of the inductees were unveiled on Sunday between periods of the AHL game between the Providence Bruins and Springfield Thunderbirds at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Typically, Hall of Fame classes are highlighted by a select few who stand out, but as R.I. Hockey Hall of Fame chairman Vincent Cimini recently pointed out, “Each deserves the spotlight. This is the ‘Mount Rushmore’ of Rhode Island hockey.

“Our charter class is comprised of 11 who have represented the U.S. in World Championships, including eight in the Olympics,” he proudly noted. “Ten have previously been enshrined in the International, USA, and AHL Hockey Halls of Fame. Three have their names engraved on the NHL’s Stanley Cup, and many have set records that still stand in the sport. Most of all, as players and pillars of the game, they each represent the very best of our state’s illustrious hockey heritage – six of whom are connnected to the rich hockey history of Mount Saint Charles Academy.”

Leading the six MSC inductees is Bill Belisle, Mount’s legendary boys’ hockey coach, who was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017. Over his career, his teams recorded more than 1,000 victories, won a national record 26 consecutive state titles (32 overall) and 10 consecutive national titles, and saw more than 20 former players drafted into the NHL.

Bryan Berard was one of Mount’s greatest talents, a two-time All-Stater and the first overall pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He represented the U.S. in four World Championships, including the 1998 Winter Olympics. Berard was also awarded the NHL’s Rookie of the Year award in 1997 and the league’s Bill Masterton Trophy in 2004 for perseverance after returning to the NHL after sustaining a serious eye injury several years earlier.

Keith Carney captured four All-State berths and four state titles at Mount before becoming a two-time All-American at Maine. He played for Team USA at the 1998 Winter Olympics, and not only are his 1,018 NHL games the most by a native-born Rhode Islander, but his +164 is also the eighth-best +/- of any American-born defenseman.

Brian Lawton, who was the first American-born player ever selected first in the NHL Draft (in 1983), was a two-time state scoring champion and three-time All-Stater at Mount. He represented the country in four World Championships, including the 1984 Canada Cup, and he scored 266 points over a 10-year NHL career. Lawton is also a former general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and currently an NHL Network analyst.

Dick Rondeau was also a former Mount All-Stater who set eight collegiate scoring records, including the most goals (12) and most assists (11) in a single game, while starring at Dartmouth College in the mid-1940s. He became the Providence College head coach in 1952 when the Friars revived its hockey program after a 26-year absence, and in 1985, he became the first Rhode Islander to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Mathieu Schneider helped Mount capture three state and two national titles before embarking on a 21-year NHL career. A two-time NHL All-Star defenseman, he played on the Montreal Canadiens’ 1993 Stanley Cup-winning team and helped Team USA capture the inaugural World Cup of Hockey three years later. He is the R.I. leader in almost all NHL statistical categories, and he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

The other charter class inductees, in alphabetical order, are Curt Bennett, Harvey Bennett Sr., Joe Cavanagh, Sara DeCosta-Hayes, Cammi Granato, Lou Lamoriello, Louis A.R. Pieri, Chris Terreri, Zellio Toppazzini, and Ron Wilson.

R.I. Hockey Inc., which is the local chapter of USA Hockey and represents all the youth leagues in the state, and the R.I. Reds Heritage Society, which has preserved the 51-year history of the R.I. Reds hockey team, joined forces earlier in the year to create the Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame to celebrate and preserve the state’s illustrious 120-year history in the sport.

In addition to Cimini, the board of directors includes vice chairman Sylvester “Buster” Clegg, treasurer Robert Larence, secretary William O’Connor, and directors Arnold Bailey, Mal Goldenberg, Jeffrey Hebert, Ray Morgan, and Richard Oliver.

Visit www.RIHHOF.com for tickets for the enshrinement celebration and dinner at Twin River or for the complete biographies on all the inductees.