Boston Blades to Honor CT Hockey Legends on November 2

BOSTON, Mass. - On Saturday, November 2, the Boston Blades will host Maurice FitzMaurice, Chuck "Bruno" Vernon, John and Christy Cooper, Jaclyn Hawkins, Gretchen Ulion, and Patsy Odden for a ceremonial puck drop on opening night.

"The Boston Blades is proud to honor these 'Legends' to acknowledge everything they have done for decades to further the growth and development of women's hockey as role models of the overall mission of the CWHL," Aronda Kirby, general manager of the Boston Blades, said.

FitzMaurice, Vernon, Cooper, Hawkins, Ulion, and Odden will be honored for their services to the greater hockey community, as well as their legendary reputations in Connecticut hockey. As the first game of the Blades 2013-2014 regular season, opening night will be held at the International Skating Center of Connecticut (ISCC) in Simsbury.

"As a coach in NCAA hockey I have been affiliated with every one of these Legends," Digit Murphy, head coach of the Blades said. "All have made significant impacts on the game while humbly doing the job of progressing women's hockey."

Maurice FitzMaurice, John Cooper, and Chuck "Bruno" Vernon will be in attendance for this special puck drop. The Blades organization is excited to have the privilege of honoring these Connecticut hockey legends.

Maurice FitzMaurice was a Wethersfield hockey dad who helped form The Connecticut Polar Bears, the first all-girls hockey squad, in 1985. At that time with no girls hockey squads around, his daughter was left to play on pee-wee teams with the boys. The Bears have grown into an elite hockey program, winning 10 national championships, producing four Olympic gold medalists, and now hosting the largest holiday hockey tournament in the nation. This tournament allows elite female hockey players the opportunity to showcase their skills and have a chance to take their game to the next level, something FitzMaurice has always been passionate about. FitzMaurice never played hockey himself, but has spent over 25 years coaching and promoting women's hockey.

John Cooper is the head coach of the varsity girls ice hockey team at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT. His wife, Christy, an English teacher at Hotchkiss, also coached the girls varsity team for eight successful season in the 1980s.

John Cooper began coaching with the girls varsity team in 1988, having previously taught and coached at both The Rectory School and TASIS-England. He took over as head coach of the team during the 2000-2001 season. He began his girls hockey coaching career at St. Lawrence University where, as a senior, he joined the St. Lawrence Women's Hockey coaching staff as an assistant coach to long time SLU player and coach, Bernie McKinnon. The team has had tremendous success in recent years with New England Division I Championship game appearances in both 2000 and 2001, as well as Founders League Championships in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2003. Cooper also serves as an assistant coach with the boys varsity lacrosse team and is a member of the mathematics department.

Chuck "Bruno" Vernon is an assistant coach for the girls varsity ice hockey team at The Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, CT. Vernon began coaching boys at Loomis in 1967, and then started coaching girls hockey in 1981. Vernon is a longtime faculty member and coach at the school.

"It's nice to be named to something like this," Vernon said. "Girls hockley has a real deep history in Connecticut, since it started in schools there in the late 70's. We were ahead of the colleges, in this regard."

Gretchen Ulion is a 1998 Olympic gold medalist in women's ice hockey. A former Dartmouth women's ice hockey captain, Ulion is the program's all-time leading scorer, with 189 goals and 312 points. During the 1998 Olympic games, Ulion scored the first goal of the game, becoming the first goal ever scored in an Olympic women's ice hockey gold medal game.

Patsy Odden is the former head coach of the girls ice hockey team at The Taft School in Watertown, CT. Odden began the girls hockey program herself in 1973. She would lead the team to an unprecedented three consecutive New England Championships, beginning in 1991. in 1999, the New England Girls' Prep School Ice Hockey Association voted to unanimously to name the New England Championship trophy after Odden, in honor of her 25 year coaching career. Patsy Odden, along with her husband Lance who also worked at the school, announced their retirement from Taft in 2000. In 2001, Odden Arena was dedicated in their honor.

Jaclyn Hawkins, a former Boston Blade, is an assistant coach for the University of Connecticut women's ice hockey team, a position she also held during the 2008-2009 season. A former UConn student-athlete herself, Hawkins returns to the program after working as the Director of Player & Organization Development for the Connecticut Northern Lights for the past two years, where she provided hockey services such as training, coaching and playing an integral role in the prep/college process for the athletes. In 2010, Hawkins was drafted by the Boston Blades and helped lead the team to their 2013 Clarkson Cup title. Also in 2010, she created the website which provides various services to female hockey players, parents and coaches. Hawkins also played professionally in Switzerland for the ZSC Lions during the 2009-10 season.

"Without the efforts many of these pioneers, women's hockey would not be where it is today," Murphy said. "We thank these Legends for all they have done for this game we love!"

As the first game of the Blades 2013-2014 regular season, opening night will be held at the International Skating Center of Connecticut (ISCC). The Boston Blades will face off against the Brampton Thunder, a team who always proves to be a tough matchup as the Blades have an overall regular season record of 8-9 against the Thunder. Puck drop will take place at 5:10 p.m.

"Connecticut has always been a great venue for the Blades, and we look forward to a packed house of excited fans," Kirby said.


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