Lo­cal leg­end hon­oured

Thomas played de­fence for And­cos 5-time Herder Tro­phy win­ning streak

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - BY CHRIS­TINE HENNEBURY

Cec Thomas in­ducted into Hockey NL Hall of Fame

Cec Thomas, for­mer hockey player and coach, is hon­oured to be in­cluded among the new in­ductees into the Hockey NL Hall of Fame.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic hon­our, I’m thrilled,” Thomas said. “It put me back in child­hood days, my younger days when I was play­ing hockey.”

Thomas is one of seven hockey play­ers, coaches and builders to be in­ducted on Satur­day, June 9 at Hockey NL’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing and awards ban­quet in Gan­der.

Hockey NL ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Craig Tulk says Thomas is a very wor­thy selec­tion for the Hall of Fame.

“He was with the And­cos when they won five Herders in a row,” Tulk said. “Af­ter his play­ing days he was a key vol­un­teer and com­mit­ted many, many years at the high school and se­nior lev­els.”

Tulk also has a per­sonal con­nec­tion to Thomas.

“He coached me in mi­nor hockey from ages eight-12,” Tulk said. “It’s an hon­our to rec­og­nize his con­tri­bu­tion to the game.”

Thomas started play­ing hockey when he was 11, us­ing a pair of skates he pur­chased from a friend for $2. He quickly dis­cov­ered he had a nat­u­ral ap­ti­tude for skat­ing, and for hockey, and he found that his small size gave him the ad­van­tage of speed.

“No mat­ter how big you are speed is im­por­tant,” Thomas said. “They gotta catch you to do some dam­age.”

Be­ing in­ducted into the Hall of Fame has brought back great me­mories for Thomas, who re­calls the coaches he worked with over the years, in­clud­ing Gordie Dril­lion, Joe Burns and Wes ‘Bucko’ Trainor, who he de­scribes as a drill sergeant-type coach who could get the best hockey out of play­ers.

Over the course of his hockey career, Thomas played for the Grand Falls Academy high school team, and for the Grand Falls ju­nior and se­nior all-stars. Dur­ing his time in se­nior hockey, he won best de­fence­man three years in a row and was part of the Grand Falls And­cos team that won five straight Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy cham­pi­onships (1955-59).

Fol­low­ing his time on the ice, Thomas coached the Grand Falls Academy high school team, the Grand Falls ju­niors in pro­vin­cial com­pe­ti­tion. He helped out be­hind the bench with the se­nior Cataracts. He also held ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions on the pro­vin­cial ju­nior hockey com­mit­tee and the Grand Falls Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion.

Thomas is grate­ful to sports writ­ers, in­clud­ing Roger Howse, for their sup­port of his career.

“They were in­ter­ested in me as a player and it in­spired me through­out my career,” Thomas said. “They were a big help, a big boost for me, I look back at that as a bonus.”

He thanks Al Dwyer for nom­i­nat­ing him for the Hall of Fame, and those who wrote let­ters of sup­port for his nom­i­na­tion.

Thomas, who will be 84 this year, was to be sur­rounded by his fam­ily at the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony on June 9. His wife, Gwen, who he de­scribes as a ‘tower of strength’ would join him and his daugh­ters and son who were fly­ing in from Toronto and Nova Scotia for the event.

“I’m very lucky to have my fam­ily com­ing,” Thomas said. “This is a pre­cious mo­ment for us as a fam­ily.

Thomas is truly hon­oured by his in­duc­tion, and he is trea­sur­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“This past year they re­tired my sweater, that was quite an hon­our,” he noted. “And, now, to get this, the Hall of Fame, all the me­mories it has brought back, it’s been a bless­ing.”

Also in­ducted into the Hockey NL Hall of Fame were play­ers Ryane Clowe, Dan Cormier, Jim Heale, Kevin Mor­ri­son, ath­lete-builder Bob Jack­man and builder Bon­nie Evans.

SUB­MIT­TED

Cec Thomas in his Grand Falls Old Timers uni­form.

SUB­MIT­TED

Cec Thomas re­ceived the 1953-54 Best De­fence­man Award for the Grand Falls Se­nior Hockey League.

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