JOE NIX's ICE HOCKEY TEAMS as a player

Edition as of APRIL 2015


1946-47 Belmont Junior High, Belmont, Massachusetts, Some informal hockey on outdoor ice.

1948-49 Belmont High, Belmont Massachusetts. Greater Boston Interscholastic Hockey League, i.e. 'GBI'. Skippy Vigliorolo was the Captain. Goalie was Paul Kelley younger brother of Jack Kelley of Colby, Boston University and New England Whalers.

1949-50 I declined to play in order to concentrate on extra studying to apply to Harvard University. For hockey I played pickup at the Boston Arena with mostly college groups. They needed extras to make up competitive scrimmage teams. A friend from Belmont, Jimmy Nestor was a member of the Boston Jr. Olympics, a professional team and he told me how to "hang around" the arena. I got a lot of fast ice time. One day we were just skating and shooting the puck, waiting to see who was coming on for the next session. Well Milt Schmidt of the Bruins came on the ice along with a Bruins back up goalie. I decided that might be "too fast" company for me so I watched for awhile and left.

1950-1952 Harvard University. In the fall I made the 150 lb crew but quit for pre-season hockey conditioning in the big gym. I went out for the freshman team and lasted to be the last guy cut. The coach told me to "stick around' and practice with the team, that their might well be a slot after midyears. I was very nearly ineligible myself by grades and considering my delivering mail in Brlmont that Christmas season, the practices being at Boston Garden, my being a commuting student, my transportation being my self maintained 1937 Chevrolet and the coaches admitted preference for boys who had played together at prep schools I opted to write up some games for the Harvard Crimson and help Bob Weiss, varsity manager, sort of as a 'stick boy'. Needless to say I grabbed 'informal' ice time with both the frosh and varsity and got into some intramural games. I did witness the first Bean Pot Tournament at the Boston Arena in December 1952-January 1953

I was exempt from the draft by passing some government tests but I felt very uncomfortable on campus due to the prevalence of an avoid the service mania while my close friends were coming home (if) from Korea, one of them a paraplegic, (James 'Doby' O'Connor, 4 star athlete including hockey at Brown and Nichols School, Cambridge). So in February 1953 I took a leave from Harvard and in April 1953 I enlisted in the U.S. Army for 3 years all of which was spent in 'hot' climates, two years in East Africa. When I returned in February 1956, Buddy Higginbotham, with whom I had grown up in Belmont playing hockey was captain and called to ask me to come out for the team. I couldn't fit it with working and studying and didn't play again until I was 35 years old.

POST 1967, after my 35th birthday,  ALL INDOOR IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Playing in full checking leagues in S. California I had to concentrate heavily on developing a 'feel for the puck' so I could not only 'keep my head up' but take the puck out from behind my goal and set up a rush. I had such an ingrained habit of making a pass at or after mid ice that I had my team mates bellow at me to 'take it in' and I would. I had size and speed but an ingrained habit of 'looking to make a play'. After watching 1000's of hockey games I realize I was not 'alone' in this. In fact one line of 'oldtimers' I played with in S. California was more intent on 'making pretty plays' than scoring so I would hang back a bit until they coughed up a loose puck and shoot almost immediately when I got possession, something they would delay, go behind the net, come out to a corner, look for their buddy, hold the puck, pass to a defenseman, take a return pass and try once again for a 'picture book' play.

On the other hand, there were far more players who once in the attacking zone ALWAYS shot from a bit too far out and often 'off the angle'. They were very easy to defend against.

I observed over the years coaching kids that some felt the puck 'belonged on their stick' as long as possible. These 'puck hogs' are so prevalent in 'huff and puff' senior hockey that in order to get enough ice time carrying the puck I learned to carry a puck around during warmups, rather than stand by the blueline to 'take shots'. Likewise in some games I would deliberately forsake passing in order to carry the puck up the ice. Now transpose this situation to kids hockey where the ratio of practice to game time is at best one to one. Many kids would be able to count in seconds, less than one minute, how long they carried the puck in a week.

I was about 38 years old before I could effectively skate backwards in a game, backing up on defense and pivoting to force an attacking foward towards the boards, 'off his best shooting angle'. I can still recall the image of Red Kelly demonstrating this maneuver to the Kings. Some obviously had made the NHL without fully developing that pivot.

Because I had contributed heavily to minor hockey the guys who were playing semi-pro in the late '60's accepted me as a 'practice cow'. For $3 on Thursday evenings I was an 'extra' to fill the 'opposing team' for their very light checking scrimmages. I was also playing some other nights at a 'lower level' so with these guys I focused on learning things. A memorable incident was playing defense with Buddy McKinnon who had played in the Canadian Air Force and then the Belgian National Team. He shouted at me that I was not playing my zone. I can still recall his very Canadian accent. On the bench I flat out told him I did not know the shifting defense zone and he was free to bellow as loud as he wanted until I caught on. It was funny. It got to the point where he only needed to grunt and I took a position complementary to his. It was a small rink and one of the incoming forwards was Ken Watson, who had been Junior Player of the Year for Western Canada and played pro for the L.A. Monarchs. Kenny could stick handle 'through your feet' was the expression. He 'dribbled' the puck always protecting it with his stick from your defensive attempts. Never saw anything like it before or later until Ernie Rucks and I tried to hold Vic Venasky to three goals a shift. However Vic's moves were ultra fast whereas Kenny's outstanding feature was trickiness.

In California I had to learn tight cuts in the small rinks against very good players. Fred Hildebrand showed me his warmup routines for 'finding one's edges'. I had forechecked him deep in his zone and more than once he had twirled and ducked out while I was caught 'left footed'. He would do this twirl with the puck in his end, throwing off everyone coming in on him until he saw an opening and dash up the ice, setting up a good play. He showed me how I could circle with him and we practised it until I could get the puck. As he said he was teaching me to use my height and my reach (which Kenny Watson said should have been declared 'illegal'). Since I was on the ice a lot with small kids I had learned to take very sharp cut-turns, particularly along the boards. Our 'home rink' was one of the smallest in the league so laying over and changing directions, something I had been able to do as a kid became one of my skating features. I can recall showing fellow adult players how to do it. In a way I suppose it resembles 'laying into a turn' as in skiing. I know my son Ben would suddenly be going the opposite way and you had hardly noticed him turn.

Cutting tighter circles at speed in practices was the 'drill' for this maneuver.

GLACIER FALLS Anaheim with A FOAM RUBBER PUCK

A few years ago there was a 'knee bashing incident' prior to an Olympics. I paid no attention until I caught a bit of that Olympics or World something or other on TV at someone's house and blurted out, 'that's Evy Scotvold', the coach of the girl from Stoneham. He was teaching figures at a rink in Anaheim in the late '60's, early '70's, had been Men's Pacific Champion. He had full hockey gear and would scrimmage with us in our close to midnight no checking games. He was a good hockey player but did not get all 'hyped up over it' and provided us a lot of laughs. The rink was not equipped for 'regular hockey', not well lighted, weak dashers and exposed lights along the far wall. We played with a soft foam rubber puck made from the floor mats standard in most ice rinks. Willy Kall was the rink manager and he and his son Bill played with us. It was a private session, late on Sunday evening and once in awhile a 'stranger' joined us.

TEAMS for whom I PLAYED IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, memory are sketchy on this.

Full checking except along the boards as I remember it.

  • 1968-69, Norwalk, a 'league' roster includes Jack Fisher, Gary Korpa, George McCarthy (G), Tony Riley (18, from Detroit) and reveals 6 of us were in our 30's with 20 under that. I can recall some games but not how many teams there were or their names. Alex Patterson played then and up into the '80's.
  • Santa Monica in an 'Adult Amateur 'B' League.  Probably '70. I found a noted copy of it's 10 week schedule. The teams were Bay Harbor, Norwalk, Santa Monica, Topanga and Burbank. I noted that the following results; Monday Dec 8, 10:45 pm Santa Monica 5 @ Topanga 10, Wed Dec 17, 10:45 pm Santa Monica 8 @ Bay Harbor 4, Wed Jan 7 10:45 pm Burbank 5 @ Santa Monica 1, Sunday Jan 11 9:30 pm Santa Monica 3 @ Norwalk 11, Wed Jan 28 10:45 pm Norwalk 8 @ Santa Monica 7, Wed Feb 4 10:45 pm Topanga 3 @ Santa Monica 6, no score entered for Wed Feb 11 Bay Harbor @ Santa Monica nor Thursday Feb 19th, Santa Monica @ Burbank. Santa Monica roster I wrote on the back; Derek Dunlap, Ron Reay, Bob Pretkin, Jim, Leo Lavoie, Cy Allen, Russ Wyluda, Ray Gimbernat, Ray Walsh and Joe Nix.
  • 1970-1974 while I worked in West Los Angeles I played in leagues and pick up games at Burbank, Van Nuys,Culver City, Santa Monica, Norwalk and in '72-'73 era a 'wildcat' non-league team out of North Hollywood with Fred Hildebrand and Willy Kall.
  • 1977-78 Outlaws, Costa Mesa.
  • 1978-79 Maulers (Steve Levesque (Maine), Gord Grant, Mark DeCicilia) in a league which played at Glacier Falls, Anaheim and the Costa Mesa rinks. Other teams were The Presidents, Red Wings (Bob Sharkey), Rangers and Outlaws.
  • 1979-80 switched back to the Outlaws. We played at Ice Capades Chalet and Klondike rinks in Costa Mesa and Norwalk.
First guess is this is Outlaws jersey, rink being Costa Mesa. Practice jersey at Costa Mesa, Alex in background, same era as the Outlaws pic, definitely prior to '83 when I got ex LA Kings gloves.

No check along boards, GAMES: 36 winter, 24 summer. I sometimes played in two leagues at the same time so there is overlap here. I also played 'pickup' all over L.A. in the '70's, primarily at Norwalk and in the '80's at the Costa Mesa Ice Capades Chalet and the old West Covina rink.

  • 1982-1983, Brea Adult Hockey Association, White(John McBryan)
  • 1983-1984, Brea Adult Hockey Association, White(John McBryan)
  • White's players: Danny Mendez, Ralph Argonez, Don Ralston, Jeff & Pat McKinney, Ted Acker, Jerry Stein, Marty Kim, Rich Evanoff. Sharks: Reid Jones.
  • 1984-1985, West Covina Over 35 League, Ice Pack
  • 1985-86, Brea Adult Hockey Association, Bruins (Mike Dougherty-Dan Ayers).
  • Some other players in BAHA were, Tony Bill & Sam Corey (Black Hawks), Mike Walo (Flyers), Joe Barth, Allen Cobalt, Bob Bergeron (Sabres), Mike Thomas (Northstars), Paul Hermann, Dennis Greyshock who formed and managed BAHA,
  • 1986-1987, West Covina Over 35 League, Vikings
  • 1987, West Covina Over 35 League, Ice Pack
  • Some players at West Covina: Bert Franklin, Danny LaBere, Chuck Myers, Ted Schell, Terry King.
  • 1987 Summer, B.A.H.A Kings (Kirk Slater) 2 games at Paramount then knee caused me to stop.

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