Berlin's Fournier and Pinette made Hall of Famers
|Walter Fournier takes the podium after being in inducted into the New Hampshire Hockey Hall of Fame Saturday. Photo by Jonathan Benton. (click for larger version)|
December 08, 2010MANCHESTER — It's been a long time since two Berlin men in their late 80's have put on their hockey skates, but their years of playing a sport they loved were recognized Saturday at the ninth N.H. Legends of Hockey Induction Ceremony.
"It's a pretty nice feeling," said Walter Fournier, "you never think about these things 60 years ago."
Berlin alumni, former Berlin Maroons and World War II Veterans, Walter Fournier and Norman "Fat" Pinette had their day in the sun and names added to the N.H. Hockey Hall of Fame to join the names of many of their friends and teammates.
"Well it's quite an honor really and of the starting team there are four or five of us that have been inducted," said Pinette. "I'm pleased and happy to be here and to have lived long enough to make it "
Fournier was a modest 5-foot, 5-inches and didn't even have a drivers license when he was offered a position as a center for the Berlin Maroons. "I don't remember a game where I wasn't the smallest guy on the ice," said Fournier. This all happened in the 1939-1940 season when Fournier was still attending BHS and he played simultaneously for the school and the Maroons.
Pinette was on the opposite end of the rink helping his team win by being master of the goal with above-average puck-stopping abilities and he hated to loose. The nickname "Fat" stuck with Pinette during a his middle high school years when it was first used by a revered sportswriter, the late Leo Cloutier.
"Thank God for Berlin, Hockey Town USA," said Pinette who still holds a place for his hometown in his heart, remembering the days of playing on frozen rivers and ponds, but now splits his time between Florida and Quebec, Canada.
The modest Pinette took a moment during his acceptance speech to say that he was a good goaltender back in the day, but told hockey legend Rod Blackburn to stand up and be acknowledged as the true "King of Berlin's goalies."
"Welcome to the induction ceremony or as some people call it, the Berlin alumni ceremony," said N.H. Hockey Legends Executive Director Jim Hayes.
There was good showing of representatives from Berlin present who like to come to the event every year. "We have to support it and it's fun to get together," said former Berlin Maroon Roland Lavigne who was inducted in 2006.
"Walter was an easy going guy, but a good hockey player a heck of a good hockey player," said Omer Morin former Maroon and 2003 inductee, who played with Fournier and Pinette. "I was a defenseman and if you made a mistake Fat would give you hell. He was a mentor to me and instilled fair-play and hard work ethic that I still carry with me."
The night before the ceremony the inductees were treated to a Monarchs versus the Black Hawks hockey game in which the Manchester men wore replicas of the team's original jerseys.
There were 320 people in attendance at the induction and, according to N.H. Hockey Legends Director Tom Champagne, it was their largest yet.
"Each year it gets larger," he said, "it celebrates those individuals that made major contributions to hockey in N.H."