Bruins face off against MV Mariners

B’s legend Rick Middleton shows he’s just as ‘nifty’ as ever.


Updated April 30

Last Saturday, April 27, the Dropkick Murphy’s “I’m Shipping up to Boston” blasted out through the PA system at the Martha’s Vineyard Arena as the Boston Bruins Alumni team took to the ice against the Martha’s Vineyard Mariners.

The Bruins alumni team plays around 50 games a year, 30 games in New England and 20 games in Canada to raise money for local organizations. Last year they helped over 30 groups raise more than three quarters of a million dollars for local charities. The event was sponsored by the Ice Savours and brought in around $53,000 for the M.V Arena.

Over the past 18 years, Ice Savours has raised well over half a million dollars for the Arena. “We hope to continue this tradition with the annual Ice Savours Hockey Game,” said Sarah Murphy, committee member of the Ice Savours.

Rick “Nifty” Middleton, president of the Boston Bruins Alumni, said, “We keep pretty busy; last night we played in Dennis, and tomorrow we’re playing in Kingston.”

I admit the fanboy came out in this reporter, and I told him that in the 1983 Stanley Cup semifinals against the Sabres, a friend of mine from Buffalo called me and said, “We would have been all right if it weren’t for #$#@* Middleton.”

Middleton said that was a particularly good series for him — he got the record for the most points in a seven-game playoff series.

The game on Saturday was a wide-open affair. In the first period the Mariners gave as good as they got, and at the buzzer the score was all tied up.

“We usually beat the teams we play,” Middleton said, “but sometimes they’ll have a few good young guys, so a couple of times a year we’ll lose.” After one period, hats off to the Mariners.

At the end of the first period, the MV House Mites matched up with the Bruins for five minutes, all 20 Mites on the ice at one time, swarming the Bruins and managing to put four unanswered goals past a flip-flopping Bruins goaltender, Shawn Miller. It was interesting to see that Reggie Lemelin, the All-Star goalie of the ’88 B’s, was on the ice, but as a defenseman.

Brock Callen, who played for the M.V. Mariners, said playing against the Bruins was a lot of fun and a real thrill, and it was even more exciting for him because he got to watch his son Hugo, who played on the Mites team.

In the second period, things got a little spicy as Jay Miller, who was brought on to the ’85 Bruins team as an enforcer, got into a make-believe tussle with Michelle Cacchiotti — the only woman on the Mariners team. Well played, Jay! Since no penalties were called in the game, Don Garcia, the referee who travels with the team, called a penalty shot and selected Mariners winger Alec Gale to take it. When I asked the game announcer, John Horrigan, why Gale was taking the shot instead of Cacchiotti, he said to me, “I can’t explain it.” And over the PA system he called Garcia “Mr. McGoo,” alluding to the fact that he’s totally blind.

As the game progressed, the Bruins showed their pedigree, and managed to impose their will on the Mariners; the final score was Bruins 13, Mariners 6.

The First Star award went to the Bruins Tom Songin, who scored four goals and had two assists. Second Star went to Paul Mara, and the Third Star went to goaltender Shawn Miller, in spite of being shelled by the Mites. And a tip of the hat trick went to Trey Rasmussen, who scored three goals for the Mariners.

I had a chance to talk to Tom Songin after the game; we both grew up in the same hometown, Walpole. He played with the Bruins from ’79 to ’81, and the Songins were considered sports royalty in Walpole — his cousin Butch was quarterback for the Patriots in the ’60s.

I told him, This is going to make me feel very old, but I used to play amateur hockey with his father, the legendary Wally Songin, who played on the U.S. National team against Russia.

Tom looked at me and tactfully said, “Geez, you don’t look THAT old.”

John Horrigan is the announcer who travels with the team, and he’s been doing it for 26 seasons now. “The team has three jobs,” Horrigan said, “play hockey, sign autographs — and drink beer.”

They more than held up their end of the deal with the first two jobs at the arena. For the third, they retired to the Wharf Pub in Edgartown.