If ever a town deserved a day to celebrate the sport of ice hockey, it’s Winthrop.
Decades of winning hockey in the high school program now led by a former Viking in Dale Dunbar. Winthrop Youth Hockey exploding with a booming girls program. A championship girls high school team coached by a Winthrop guy, Anthony Martucci.
Winthrop kids like All-Scholastic Chris LeBlanc, prep star Mark Hamilton (UMass/Amherst-bound), Jillian Dempsey (Harvard/Team U.S.A.), and Nicole Ferrara (Syracuse) playing the game at the highest level of excellence. Former Viking standouts like Paul Pearl (Holy Cross) and Jonathan Lounsbury (Bridgton Academy) coaching the game.
And of course, Winthrop is home to Mike Eruzione, the greatest hockey captain of them all – the man who led the United States team to a gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Sports Illustrated selected Eruzione and the team for the greatest sports moment of the 20st century. On Saturday night during a hockey-themed reception at the conclusion of “Celebrate Hockey” Day, Dunbar announced to a large crowd at St. John the Evangelist Hall that the Larsen Rink would be known as the Larsen Rink at the Mike Eruzione Center.
The crowd rose as one to applaud for Eruzione. His wife, Donna, and their three children, LeighAnn, Michael Jr., and Paul, and other members of the proud Eruzione family were in the hall for the historic announcement.
Larry “Huck” Larsen, son of the late Lawrence N. Larsen, accompanied to the microphone by his sister, Judy, had said earlier how proud his father would have been to share this awesome honor with Eruzione.
“I know my dad would be very, very pleased sharing the namesake with Michael,” said Larsen. “My dad was very fond of Michael. He followed his career to BU and his time at the Olympics. My dad was just very proud of Michael and I think he would be thrilled to see what we’re doing here.”
Eruzione, whose family’s organization, Winthrop Charities, helped sponsor Saturday’s event, accepted the award in typically humble fashion. Thought it was an overwhelming and emotional moment even for someone who has shone on the world stage, the Captain handled it with aplomb and class.
“I thank the Larsen family,” said Eruzione. “I want you to know how much I loved your dad and how important he was to me. I’m speechless. It is a special honor. It’s amazing to have something like this happen in your life. I’ve had a lot of amazing things happen in my life. Who thought something like this would take place. Thank you. It’s humbling and a great honor.”