Based in Concord, MA Patriot Hockey has teams competing in the Mite, Squirt, Pee Wee, Bantam, and Midget age divisions.
The Patriots Hockey compete in the E9 / Boston Hockey League. Patriots Hockey alumni that have gone on to play in the NHL include Tom Barrasso, Phil Bourque, Bobby Brooke, John Carter, Jim Campbell, Ted Crowley, Jeff Lazaro, Shawn McEachern, Bob Sweeney, Scott Young, Jeff Norton, Mike Grier, and Hal Gill.
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Patriot Hockey LLC
PO Box 1534
Concord, MA 01742
Valley Sports Rink
By Jim Dwyer Sept. 18, 2006
Special to usahockey.com
From high atop the hill above Route 62, the prestigious Thoreau Club offers visitors “an oasis of peace, relaxation and recreation in the hectic and stressful world of today.”
Across the highway, seemingly a world away, a light blue sign beckons skaters of all sizes to their modest frozen sanctuary. Valley Sports Arena, an unassuming tan edifice topped with a corrugated metal roof, has been a fixture in Concord, Mass., since 1971, when Bobby Orr was the King of New England, inspiring the birth of new rinks throughout his realm.
The rink that former Boston Bruins forward Bob Sweeney’s dad built offers hockey players, from mites to midgets to middle-aged amateurs, an opportunity to enjoy an enlightening and rewarding activity.
NHL goaltender Tom Barrasso played here as a youngster, and his father, Tom Sr., had front-row seats. When he wasn’t watching his son play, the elder Barrasso worked at the rink, calling it his second home.
The Barrassos and countless other families have entered their icy abode through two sets of double doors leading to Rink One’s glistening surface. Looking left, above a row of locker rooms, eight rows of painted wood bleachers angle upward to the white ceiling. Beyond the long rows running parallel to the rink’s width and tucked in the corner, sits what looks like a square log cabin, where rink operators nap in comfort between snow plowing shifts during wicked Nor’easters.
Through the short sloping hallway adjoining Rink One, with its sister rink, framed NHL action photos of local legends hang on the Wall of Fame. Tom Barrasso, Phil Bourque, Scott Young, Shawn McEachern, and Bob Sweeney say thank you to those who helped them reach The Big Time.
Sweeney recalls, “We used to play against the North Shore Raiders, Middlesex Islanders … the Worcester Crusaders; we had great rivalries with all these teams, and it was great hockey.”
Not every local boy-turned-professional has his image framed on the wall yet. Boston Bruins’ defenseman Hal Gill played for Providence College, but he grew up here, playing in the Metro Boston Hockey League during the late 1970s and early 80s.
Gill recalls his favorite music of those hockey halcyon days, listening to “Lay Down Sally,” and later, “Footloose.” But he adds, “my favorite memories are just the little things: driving with my mother, Papa Ginos [Pizza] next door, Super Mario Brothers arcade game, all my friends, Patriots' Day tournaments … all good memories of good times.”
Former and current NHL players cut their teeth at Valley Sports Arena -- but others who won’t come close to signing a professional contract are enshrined here, too. Behind a glass case, Andrew First is featured in two framed photos: one in his maroon Concord-Carlisle High School Patriots’ hockey uniform, the other in his military attire. A plaque honors Andrew, who, if he had made it to the NHL, could have won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. A sportsman and a trooper, Andy died, in 1998, because mechanical problems forced his helicopter to crash.
The Firsts, the Barrassos, the Sweeneys and the Gills applauded, laughed, and maybe cried as their kids won and lost. Through a long window fronting Rink Two, parents have watched their children mature, hoping the next generation learns to appreciate all hockey has to offer. This great game, no matter where it’s played -- at the Pond in Anaheim, on a frozen lake, or here at the rink -- unites communities and fosters friendships.
The Canadian and American flags hang above the area between Rink Two’s player benches. Facing the flags are the penalty boxes, on top of which sits the press box bearing the red-lettered phrase “Badger” Bob Johnson made famous across North America: “It’s a great day for Hockey!”
For all its history and charm, Valley Sports Arena is special. It’s not as glamorous as more prominent venues, but the spirits of those who’ve played and coached here make this rink a treasure.