Martin, Prior, Wise enter hockey Hall
Ken Martin, Jim Prior, and Dale Wise share a passion for ice hockey and a selfless pride for what they have given to the sport.
Martin, the winningest coach in Massachusetts high school history, coached the Belmont Hill School varsity from 1972 to 2011. Prior is in his 29th year as public address announcer at Boston University. Wise is a sled hockey official and advocate for the disabled. All three were honored with induction to the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 13.
Martin, who grew up in Framingham and played at Belmont Hill, was a star at Bowdoin College where he became intrigued by the system of intricate drills and strategies used by head coach Sid Watson.
“I also thought of how I might add my own touch and do it differently,’’ said Martin, who as team captain his senior year (1969) was named the ECAC’s Most Valuable Player, and received the New England Hockey Writers’ Unsung Hero award.
“Skating was always the favorite part of the game for me, feeling that cold, fresh air on my face in the era before helmets,’’ added the Hudson resident, whose Belmont Hill teams won 15 Independent School League titles and two New England championships. “When we played St. Sebastian’s at Frozen Fenway in 2010,’’ when his team rallied for a 6-5 win, “it reminded me of those early days.’’
Martin, who teaches Latin and now coaches the eighth-grade team at Belmont Hill, said his induction is “a nice recognition for the private school coaches and very special personally. I always told my players to respect the sport, their opponents and the officials and I found that every season presented a new challenge.’’
He is also a member of the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame, and is in the Hall of Honor at Bowdoin, where he was the college’s first 100-point scorer.
“The teams are ready, so let’s play hockey!’’ — Prior’s familiar line before the opening face-off — has been heard by countless fans, players and coaches at BU, Hockey East, NCAA, the Beanpot and MIAA tournaments and numerous other venues.
“For me, it’s about the players. Even at BU, if an opposing player gets his 100th career point or first college goal, I’ll make that part of the announcement because their parents or friends might be in the stands,’’ said Prior, who was presented a 2009 NCAA championship ring by Boston University’s head coach at the time, Jack Parker.
“I can remember a game at Maine when Jim brought his own spare microphone — just in case,’’ recalled Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna. “I always admired his passion and professionalism.’’
Prior, who has battled back from a serious circulatory illness that hospitalized him earlier this year, said the honor was “a total surprise and so gratifying. What never changes is when I go to a restaurant and order, someone occasionally recognizes my voice and asks, ‘Are you the hockey announcer?’ ’’
Recognized by the MIAA and Hockey East for his longtime commitment to those organizations, Prior said that he often worked high school and college contests in the same day.
“One time, I had just come from a high school game where there were a lot of penalties,’’ he recalled, “and when I announced the first penalty that night at the college game I said it was for a minute and 30 seconds. Of course, it was for two minutes, but I was still in high school mode.’’
Wise, a Needham resident since the days of his youth when he skated on Rosemary Pond, played goalie for the high school team coached by the venerable Johnny Chambers.
“We’d go to the pond with a hockey bag over one shoulder and a shovel over the other,’’ said Wise, “and if we got thirsty we’d chop up the ice for water. Then we’d build a fire and eat oranges.’’
Wise stopped playing hockey after being diagnosed with a rare cancer in 1978. In 1993, his left leg was amputated above the knee.
When his son, Andy, a Paralympic athlete who has spina bifida, expressed an interest in sled hockey, Wise found he, too, could adapt to the sport.
“It was like being a kid all over again, being able to play hockey on the sled,’’ said Wise.
A former police officer in Dover, Wise organized the Boston Blades sled hockey team and initiated the Amelia Park Sled Hockey Tournament in Westfield, the longest running tourney of its kind in the country. He and his wife, Sally, have cared for 45 foster children over 21 years.
“Being in the Hall of Fame is humbling,’’ said Wise, president of the New England Wheelchair Athletic Association.
“I happen to be the person whose name is associated with sled hockey, but the honor is shared by so many colleagues behind the scenes.’’
Here and there
Bentley University freshman Kaitlin McGahie of Boylston (Tahanto Regional) won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events and was a member of the winning 200 medley relay squad last weekend when the host Falcons won their fourth consecutive women’s swimming meet, 148-79, over Brandeis. Bentley (4-1) is preparing for the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Invitational, Saturday and next Sunday . . . The New England Women’s Basketball Association named Williams College freshman guard Lauren McCall as its Rookie of the Week. McCall (Natick High), a 6-foot-1 guard/forward, was averaging 10 points and six rebounds per game for the Ephs, who won their first four games. . . Lefthander Kevin Martinis, who went 7-0 last season for Bellingham High’s baseball squad and was tournament MVP for state champion Milford American Legion Post 59, has committed to attend Northeastern University in the fall.