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A new "Hockeytown"

Local businessman shows his pride for Back Bay Hockey

THE JERSEYS of Jay Anctil (left) from the University of Vermont and Tony Hutchins (right) from Boston College hang in the front window of Prudential Spencer-Hughes Real Estate in Wolfeboro surrounded by photos and clippings from Back Bay Hockey players past and present. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 21, 2011
WOLFEBORO — Detroit has already laid claim to the term Hockeytown, but Wolfeboro could easily make a claim in this neck of the woods.

Six players from the Back Bay Hockey program have gone on to play Division I college hockey, something that led one downtown businessman to show off his Wolfeboro hockey pride.

Bob Hughes of Prudential Spencer-Hughes Real Estate in the middle of downtown Wolfeboro, used his highly-visible front window displays to show off a little more than just listed properties the last few months.

Hughes, who coached for many years with Back Bay and has enjoyed watching games for years as his kids made their way through the ranks, spoke with a few of the former Back Bay players who made it to Division I college hockey and got them to donate a couple of jerseys and with those, he created a display honoring Back Bay and the talented players that have come out of the small league.

"You think about how little our program is, but I don't know how many programs have many more than we do," Hughes said. "It takes a lot of commitment."

Jerseys hang in the window of Hughes' office representing Jay Anctil, Michael Hutchins, Tony Hutchins and Allie Skelley.

Anctil played for Kingswood and Proctor Academy before moving on to the University of Vermont. He closed out his college career last year in exciting fashion, scoring the winning goal against UNH in the Hockey East playoffs at the Whittemore Center. He currently is an assistant coach with the Brewster Academy hockey team.

Michael Hutchins, who Hughes opined was probably the best player of all the Division I players that came through Back Bay, went to UNH after attending St. Paul's School and playing in the USHL. The jersey hanging in the Prudential Spencer-Hughes window is his USHL All-Star jersey.

Tony Hutchins, Michael's older brother, went to Lawrence Academy before moving on to Boston College and was at Chestnut Hill for the start of the Eagles' run of national championship contenders, including a couple of trips to the Final Four.

Skelley played for the Kingswood hockey team for four years before moving on to Philips Exeter for a post-graduate year. He then went on to St. Lawrence University, where he suffered a horrific neck injury during a game his senior year. He recovered from his injuries and is now the hockey coach at Holderness School.

The other two players who made Division I hockey programs after getting their start with Back Bay Hockey are Chris MacLeod, who played for Army after playing for St. Paul's School, and Kate Buesser, who was the captain of the Harvard women's hockey team after a fine career at Brewster Academy.

"Most of the kids went on to the Spartans," said Hughes, referring to the Seacoast squad. "But they started out here."

He noted that kids don't have to be their best when they start playing, but they just need to have the desire to work.

"All you need is a shot," he said. "You don't need to be the best at 10 years old."

While Hughes noted he has enjoyed Back Bay Hockey for years, he was quick to point out that it wouldn't be anything without Bill Antonucci and the Pollini Brothers, who were instrumental in building the Pop Whalen Arena, where the Back Bay teams call home.

"I think they donated almost their whole summer," Hughes recalls of the Pollini Brothers. "And lots of others gave up their time too."

Looking back on the players that have come through the system, Hughes still lists Michael Hutchins as the best he's seen.

The younger Hutchins attended St. Paul's School in Concord, where he was a three-sport star, pitching for the baseball team, playing quarterback on the football team and captaining the hockey team during his junior season.

His junior year he was voted the school's top all-around athlete and was considered a virtual lock to win it again his senior year. However, he decided to join the USHL and didn't play his senior year at St. Paul's.

The lone player to ever win the award for best overall athlete at St. Paul's twice was the immortal Hobey Baker, who is forever known as the namesake of the award given to college hockey's top player every season.

"He gave that up to be a better hockey player," Hughes said.

While Michael Hutchins never found a footing at UNH, he was drafted by the San Jose Sharks, following in the footsteps of his brother, who was drafted by the St. Louis Blues. His career at Boston College found his skating next to countless players who made it to the NHL, including Stanley Cup winners Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik among others.

The idea of honoring the local hockey talent came from an idea presented by Green Mountain Furniture in the fall.

With the opening of the new Kingswood football field, Green Mountain Furniture asked to do a display in Hughes' downtown window encouraging people to come out to the games on Fridays. Hughes liked the idea and when football season ended, his thoughts immediately went to hockey and the jerseys hung in the windows throughout the winter.

"For the size of our town, to have a program like that, it's incredible," Hughes said.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
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