With the eighth overall pick in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins selected a 19-year-old Canadian defenseman named Raymond Jean Bourque. After accumulating over 1,100 assists over his 22-year NHL career, the Hall of Fame defenseman tallied his most important assist on Tuesday at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.
Growing up on the North Shore with a passion for playing the game of hockey certainly had its downfalls. The cost of equipment and league fees coupled with treacherous hikes to rinks located 30-60 minutes away in the early morning hours for practice during the winter were factors families had to consider before committing their child (and themselves) to the game of hockey.
For me, I grew up playing in the Danvers Youth Hockey program with the Bourque family for nearly a decade. A few months ago, I was informed that Ray was heading fundraising efforts, along with Cleon Daskalakis, President of Celebrity Marketing, Inc. to construct a state-of-the-art sports complex on the North Shore.
For North Shore residents, the news was taken with a grain of salt, as rumors of a new rink seemingly surfaced every year, but this instance was different. This time around, the rumors involved one of the areas biggest philanthropists who also experienced first hand the short supply of rinks around the North Shore.
“There’s been a couple of situations where it was talked about,” stated Bourque, “but nothing ever happened.”
On Tuesday morning, two decades worth of rumors became a reality as Endicott College broke ground on the college’s new hockey rink and sports complex named the “Raymond J. Bourque Ice Arena.”
“This opportunity came up where Endicott was going strong in the direction to get a rink built, while exploring different beneficial community programs, which was the appeal that interested me,”
Currently, Endicott’s men’s and women’s hockey programs participate at the club level, but that will change prior to the 2015-2016 season, the anticipated opening of the rink, where both programs will compete at the NCAA Division 3 level.
However, the biggest impact of the new facility will occur on the youth level where the Beverly Youth and High School hockey programs will transition away from playing the majority of their games at the Pingree School (Hamilton, MA) and Salem State University (Salem, MA).
“As you know, I grew up playing in the Danvers Youth Hockey program and we really didn’t have a rink nearby. Having a rink nearby, not only for Beverly, but for all the surrounding Youth Hockey programs on the North Shore just makes it a lot easier and accessible for teams,” stated Ray’s oldest son Chris, a former Bruins player during the 2012-2013 season. “I think it’s going to excel all surrounding programs and I think you’re going to see the level of the program excel, as well as the participation numbers in hockey,” Ray’s youngest son and New York Rangers prospect Ryan Bourque added.
The cement has yet to be poured, but that’s not stopping the former Bruins captain from planning his next goal. “I have intentions of starting something with my two boys, a clinic or hockey school, and I see this place as a great opportunity for us to run our programs in the future.”