Stroll through the past with retired Westfield hockey coach Moose Matthews
Moose Matthews knew when it was time for him to retire as the head hockey coach at Westfield High School. He knew it, because his players had told him so.
“I was on the ice with them and they were flying beside me. I was like, ‘Hey, maybe it’s time for a young blood to train these young men.’
So, at 74, Clarence Matthews Jr. retired, replaced by Dave Pelletier, one of his former assistants.
By the way, Moose’s childhood buddies pinned the nickname on him, and it suits him perfectly, with his booming voice.
“A friend of mine said to me, ‘You’re not Clarence. No one will call you that. You are Moose.
“They don’t make them better than Moose,” said Bob Pouliot, who was Westfield assistant coach for 10 years.
Matthews’ decision to retire comes after an illustrious 30-year career coaching high school players in his hometown. Opponents knew what to expect when they faced a team from Moose Matthews. His players always jostled each other, never gave up and often won.
“We have won three state championships and lost two more times in the state finals. I’ve had a lot of good players over the years, and the young men who have played for me have always listened, always been careful, ”he said.
Retirement is timely for Matthews. Coach Pelletier’s team will play a limited time, possibly no more than 10 games, due to restrictions caused by the pandemic. Moose Matthews will be their biggest fan.
As a schoolboy he attended Westfield Vocational, which did not have hockey. So he played a lot of independent games, skating for the Enfield Dry Wall teams, based in Windsor, Connecticut.
He became addicted to coaching when he joined several Westfield Moose Club teams (unrelated to his nickname) in the Greater Springfield Junior Hockey League, a sprawling business operated by Springfield Indians owner Eddie Shore in the Eastern States Coliseum.
“We had teams in all three age groups. We trained outside, then spent Saturdays at the Colosseum. It was a great time, ”he recalls.
RENOWNED TIME: The Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame committee met Wednesday night to discuss plans to honor its class of 2021.
Due to the pandemic, it is not possible to hold a banquet, as has been Hall of Fame policy since its inception in 2014. Instead, a virtual presentation of the new inductees will take place on the 25th. March.
Fred Ciaglo, owner of the Valley Blue Sox franchise in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, will work with its general manager, Kate Avard, to put together the details of how the presentation will be handled.
The Hall of Fame committee will likely honor six people and two teams. The announcement of the selections of the 2021 promotion will be soon.
As for the Ciaglo’s Valley Blue Sox, the NECBL haven’t played in 2020 due to the COVID outbreak, but they are looking forward to a full season in 2021, which will likely begin at the end of June.
MEMORY OF LOU: As a talented Tech Tiger, Lou Massoia played on some really good high school baseball teams in 1948 and 1949.
Later in his life he turned to slow-ball softball, playing for Western Mass. Relics, a Ludlow-based organization for the elderly. He remained there until the age of 85.
Lou’s love for his old high school led him to become a member of the Springfield Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame committee when it was established in 2007. His extensive research in newspapers and yearbooks led to the election of countless tech athletes, many of whom could have been overlooked if not for his diligence.
He also served his country well as a Korean War Army infantry fighting veteran.
Lou’s love for the sport also led him to become an integral part of the Feeding Hills Sacred Heart Athletic Association as an umpire and concession stand manager with Viola, his wife for 59 years.
He also served on the Agawam School Committee, was a member of the American Legion Post 158 in Agawam, and volunteered at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam.
Louis E. Massoia Jr. passed away on January 5. He was 89 years old.
Memorial contributions can be made to Church of the Sacred Heart, 1061 Springfield Street, Feeding Hills, MA 01030.
HOCKEY BIRTHDAY: Brothers Steve and Lou Bordeaux, founders of the Springfield Hockey Heritage Society, often send “happy birthday” greetings to former players of the Springfield Indians, Kings and Falcons.
The latter appeared on Facebook as the Heritage Society greeted Bruce Boudreau on January 9, his 66th birthday.
“Not only is Bruce a coaching legend with 2,029 games behind the bench, but he was a hell of a hockey player, too,” the Bordeaux brothers wrote.
“While preparing for 130 games with our Springfield Indians during the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons, Bruce posted similar numbers to Gretzky’s with 180 points (70 goals, 110 assists) in 130 games. Always passionate about the finer things in life, while coaching Manchester in the AHL, Bruce brought the Monarchs team bus to the White Hut on Memorial Avenue so his players could enjoy the hot dogs and the burgers he fondly remembered from his Springfield days.
Boudreau holds Springfield’s scoring record – 116 points for the Indians 1987-88. After a 20-year playing career, he coached 742 minor league games, including AHL saves at Manchester, Lowell and Hershey. In the NHL, he coached in Washington, Anaheim and Minnesota, for a total of 1,287 games.
SUBSCRIBE: The Western Mass. Relics has opened registrations for the 2021 senior slow pitch season. The Silver Division (50-64) filled 36 of its 112 places, and the Gold Division (65 and over) filled 32 of the 96 places.
The Relics play during the summer and early fall on the grounds of the Ludlow Fish & Game Club. By paying close attention to COVID restrictions, they were able to play a 2020 season.
For more information or to register, visit www.westernmassrelics.org.
INFO OF THE DAY: The Cleveland Browns visit the defending champions Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in the NFL playoffs. When was the last time the Browns won an NFL Championship? Answer: It happened on December 27, 1964, when the Browns beat the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the NFL title game in front of a crowd of 79,544 at Cleveland Stadium. (It was two seasons before the Super Bowl started). The Browns featured quarterback Fran Ryan, running back Jim Brown, rookie receiver Paul Warfield and kicker Lou Groza. CBS-TV’s broadcast crew consisted of Ken Coleman, who would later become famous as a Red Sox broadcaster; Chuck Thompson, a Palmer native who pursued an illustrious career as a broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles; and Frank Gifford, a former New York Giants star who went on to excel in broadcasting Monday Night Football.
BEST BET for the weekend: Santa Cruiser, in the Lecomte auctions at the Parc des Expositions.
Garry Brown can be reached at email@example.com