The Beginning of Enfield Hockey Association
an excerpt from the 1983-84 Yearbook
In 1970, Ben Perreault and John Nasto organized a group of parents and hockey enthusiasts to field a team of 20 kids. In order to buy goalie equipment, they bought soap powder in bulk and sold 1 pound bags throughout Enfield. they made enough money to outfit 2 goalies and purchase jerseys as well.
The Enfield Hockey Associations's first game was played against the Suffield PeeWees, at an outdoor rink in Suffield. Suffield defeated Enfield 20-0. After that defeat, E.H.A. attempted to use the town rinks at Brainard Park and J.F.K. to practice. To get ultimate usage, they donated lights to the town and men in the association installed and wired the lights.
At the beginning, the coaches in the 3 divisions (Squirts, Peewees and Bantams) also acted as coordinators and were responsible for scheduling, collecting money, etc.
The Original E.H.A. Coaches
Jim Coffin and Dave Jordan - Squirts
Paul Zymba and Bob Patefield - Peewees
Al Gatto - Bantams
Bill Synder was the first Treasurer and Secretary
After that first year, E.H.A. was able to get ice time at the Hartford Arena (now called South Windsor Arena) and in West Hartford. By 1974 Avon Old Farms, West Springfield Coliseum (Big E Coliseum) and The Springfield Olympia were added as ice sites. Scheduling became a problem as the association grew to 300 players. It wasn't unusual for a player to have a game at Avon at 7:30 a.m. and then a second game in Springfield at 2:00 p.m. later that day.
In 1975, a group of men presented plans to build a double rink to the Enfield Planning and Zoning Commission. About 20 members of the association spoke out in favor of the proposal and the Enfield Twin Rinks was built a year later in 1976.
Today, E.H.A. is one of the largest youth hockey organizations in Connecticut with enrollment well over 600 skaters from Instructional (Learn to Skate) through Midgets. Throughout its 30 year history, E.H.A. has won numerous State Championships. It's alumni have gone on to win High School State Championships and Craig Janney, one of E.H.A's most successful alum, was a member of the US Olympic Hockey Team and had a fulfilling career in the National Hockey League.
The associations most important resource is it's volunteers. Many people give up their time to help as a board member, referee, coach, or committee member. Many people think the season runs from September to March but what many don't know is the extensive preparation that goes into every season from scheduling to equipment to tournaments and sponsorships. If it wasn't for the dedication of those early years and the continued work of the volunteers, we wouldn't be here today.
The following is an account of the early days of EHA by George and Donna Ellis in response to the above letter from Jim Nastro in 1983.
"We had out meeting with Ben, his wife Doris, son Mark, and Secretary-Treasurer Bill Snyder. They spent the evening reminiscing and we listened with admiration for all the dedication and hard work put forth by that group of people who founded our organization. Doris remembered the fund raising efforts and the early ice times at far flung rinks. Ben told of the original meeting with 23 people in his living room to discuss the formation of a youth hockey association, keeping equipment in his cellar, and long cold days behind J.F.K. putting up lights for the town built rink. Mark, who was one of the original players, remembers wearing dickies for games until they could buy team jerseys. We talked about writing a letter to the town manager asking for his help. He also remembered the 20-0 loss to Suffield in that first game.
Bill told of counting nickels and dimes to make ice payments and of paying $25 - $35 an hour for ice time. Some of the early sponsors remembered were Southwood Pharmacy and Troiano's Interstate Tire. We also learned about Bob Patefield, one of the original coaches. He was a young man who loved the boys and was respected by the parents. His sudden illness and death shocked and saddened the whole organization. Our trophy and clinic are named in his memory. From a 20-0 loss to a New England Peewee Championship and state high school championships, we've come a long way."
George and Donna Ellis