A Clarkson Mosaic - page 107

attempts, finally managed to snake a line to him. Fastening it around his waist, he awaited other
ropes until the rescuers deemed that it was safe for him to move. Slowly and cautiously he
moved to safety as the ropes were hauled in. Watchers on shore held their breath as Holcomb
gradually came close enough for the many hands outstretched to haul him to safety, thoroughly
chilled and shivering, but alive.
Hockey: Walker.
Tradition relates that the first Clarkson hockey game was played by a
Clarkson squad against the Hogansburg Indians in 1916, but not until 1921 did it become an
established sport under the guidance of Bill Johnson with the backing of the "Father of
Clarkson Tech Hockey," Murray Walker. By 1921, the team consisted of goalie Dick Conboy;
defensemen Frank Hart and Dizzy Dillon; wings Cy Fenn, Leland Stevens, Chauncey Sanford,
and Ted Pulling; and center captain Bill Johnson. The team won its opening encounter against
Alexandria Bay 6-4 and posted a 2-1 record for that first year.
Murray Walker described those early days of hockey when he and Prof. Gordon
Croskery, ME department, established the first real Clarkson hockey team in 1921.
December was the earliest we could hope for cold weather. When you made an open rink, you needed lots of water
and cold weather for the base. Then a light sprinkle for the surface. Sounds easy, but it wasn't. The weather was
freakish then, too. Three days work could be wiped out in a few hours.
We had a good ice maker named Ezra Rheame in 1921, but local firemen willingly supplied us with hose,
and when a cold night came, it was a 24-hour vigil. Sometimes it took two men to hold the hose when the pressure
was high. And when the hose froze up as it often did, it was taken back into the shack to thaw out by the pot-
bellied stove. Gordon Croskery coached the team as a hobby. Being a Canadian, he knew what the game was all
about. So when the snow came, he would tell his class that he thought it would be a good idea for them to go
shovel off the rink and that he would be around to see who might be goofing off and think about them when he was
grading papers. No one goofed off.
In 1922, Coach Croskery took over the squad to lead it through its six-game schedule. All the games were
played on the Raquette River, and four of them had to be cancelled due to 'no ice!' Equipment was scarce, pucks
continually jumped the boards and were lost in the deep snow, but we dug them out. A copy of the Saturday
Evening Post placed under the stockings was an excellent shin guard. No elbow or shoulder pads were available,
and heavy mittens served for gloves. Each player supplied his own stick and goalies were just ordinary people with
more clothes on.
However, there was very little body contact because rules banned all forward passes; then there were no
blue lines and every pass had to originate behind all others on the team. So it boiled down to stick handling, poke
checking, and fast skating. I recall Carol "Buzz" Williams had so perfected his poke check that when playing
Dartmouth on the Ives Park rink in 1930, he completely frustrated the "Brainy" Bowers squad, and Clarkson won
6-3. It was a bitterly cold night; a big crowd was on hand, well bundled up. They even perched in the trees. The
following morning good old Doc Baldwin came up the street from the hospital with the exciting information: 20
frozen noses, 15 fingers, 33 ears, and 14 toes.
We played mostly local teams: Ogdensburg, Hogansburg, Massena, and an occasional college game, but
few colleges were playing hockey in those days. Princeton, however, was an old-time hockey school. It took years
of correspondence to get on their schedule. When finally word arrived [in 1927], there was joy on the campus:
Clarkson vs. Princeton! We received a guarantee of $250.
In 1923, the Engineering Assembly assessed each student $3 from his deposit fee to
defray expenses of the hockey team because hockey was not supported by the Athletic
Association. At a special meeting on October 5, a proposition was approved to erect a hockey
rink on ground back of Public School No. 8 on Main Street.
That rink was
provided with lights, making night skating a reality. It was operated and maintained by the
Potsdam Rink Association, and besides hockey practice, times were set aside for afternoon and
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