By Ken Bell
Rhode Island hockey legend Harvey Bennett is getting called into the AHL Hall of Fame in Providence on Monday.
They are Rhode Island's #1 hockey family. Harvey, Bill and Jimmy are three of the five Bennett brothers who all played professional hockey. They are about to experience a dream come true...their legendary father, the late Harvey, Senior, will be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame on Monday. Harvey spent 13–years as a star goalie for the Providence Reds. Beyond that, his hockey school helped change the lives of hundreds of players.
"My father was really the epicenter of when hockey was incredibly great in Rhode Island. Going from the late '60's to the 80's, there were dozens of kids had the opportunity to go to Division 1 schools. And he was the one who helped these kids change their lives," Harvey Bennett said.
Harvey, Senior set an AHL record with 43 in 1949. He is still 4th all–time in games won with 260. With only 6–NHL teams in his era, the AHL got plenty of respect.
At the time, there were only 14 professional goalies in the whole world and he was one of them. The difference of playing here and in Boston wasn't what it is today," Jim Bennett said.
It's hard to imagine that Harvey played at a time when goalies didn't wear a mask His sons remember the consequences.
"My mother used to say your dad was a good looking guy at one time. His face, his cheekbones were broken. He didn't have any teeth. Both his hands were broken," Jim said.
"And not having a goalie mask, I think dad had 250 stitches in his face. The doctors did a very nice job. A tough job," Harvey said.
Hockey was the family business. Curt was the first American college player to make it the NHL. Harvey, Jr. played for five teams in 8 years.
Bill played for the Bruins and Whalers and for four teams in the minors.
I went on YouTube to see if I could find a goal from you guys. No, all fights, all fights.
"Well, you had to get there somehow and that happened to be our ticket at the time" Harvey said.
The Bennett brothers worked hard following their father's example. They remember once taking shots at their father to help him get ready for a Bruins old timers game..
"He was good, he was a good skater. He could move, you could tell he was a good goalie. But then we were little kids then too," Bill said. Said Harvey: "Then again we were smart enough not to score. We had to eat."
Their dad's passion for hockey lives on with another generation of Bennett's playing the sport. That includes Mac who stars at Michigan and has a bright future in the pros. On Monday, the AHL will join with the Bennett family in celebrating the life of a man whose passion for hockey helped inspire his family, his teammates, and generations of Rhode Islanders.