SPRINGFIELD, MA- Willie O’Ree will be honored at “Hockey Is For Everyone” Night presented by MGM Springfield on Friday, November 3 when the Springfield Thunderbirds take on the Hartford Wolf Pack. O’Ree was the first black player that played in the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League. He played hockey for 21 seasons.
A week from next Thursday, October 12, it will be the 60th anniversary that O’Ree made his professional hockey debut with the Springfield Indians and three months later he suited up and played for the Boston Bruins on January 18, 1958. O’Ree appeared in six games for the Indians during the 1957-58 and did not register any points. He skated in 45 games for the Boston Bruins and scored four goals along with collecting 10 assists for 14 points.
“Willie O’Ree made history in our city 60 years ago and has been a trailblazer for the sport of hockey,” said Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa in a news release
“We are proud to host him and rightfully induct him into the Springfield Hockey Hall of Fame for what he has done in service to hockey, both on and off the ice.”
“At MGM Springfield, we are proud to be a part of this historic occasion,” said Alex Dixon, General Manager, MGM Springfield in a news release
“This night marks a hat-trick for us linking our core commitment to diversity, dedication to the City of Springfield, and enthusiasm for Thunderbirds hockey at the MassMutual Center.
He will be inducted into the Springfield Hockey Hall of Fame prior to the puck drop. O’Ree has been the NHL Diversity Ambassador for close to 20 years.
The Thunderbirds will kick off their 2017-18 season this Saturday night against the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center and the home opener will be next Saturday against the Hartford Wolf Pack at the MassMutual Center.