A Chat with One of American Hockey’s All-Time Greats

Bill Cleary and Tom Burke at Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Awards Dinner, December 18,2014

Bill Cleary and Tom Burke at Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Awards Dinner, December 18,2014

Harvard hockey legend Bill Cleary attended the Gridiron Club Dinner on December 18. That evening, Crimson coach Tim Murphy received the Division One Coach of the Year Award, and defensive lineman Zach Hodges won the Bulger Lowe Award.

Bill was one of the stars of the 1960 United States Olympic hockey team. He and Bob Cleary, along with Billy and Roger Christian of Minnesota, were the two sets of brothers who led Coach Jack Riley’s crew to the Gold Medal.

All due respect, boys of 1980, but that 1960 team pulled off the true “Miracle on Ice.” They had a perfect 7-0-0 record at the games in Squaw Valley. They defeated the Czechs twice and knocked off Russia and Canada too. Cleary had a goal in the 2-1, come-from-behind win over the Canadians. Len Ceglarski, another of college hockey’s greatest coaches, once told me that Bill Cleary was the greatest American-born player he’d ever seen.

Bill told me of another BC hockey player who should have been mentioned in “Tales from the Boston College Hockey Locker Room.” His cousin George Malone played for BC teams from 1940 through 1942. George had a goal and an assist in the Eagles’ 6-4 win over Saint Nick’s in the championship game of the National AAU Tournament at Boston Arena.

That game, on March 8, 1942, gave Boston College its first national championship. The NCAA Tournament would not become a reality until six years later, after World War II.

It was also the final hockey game of George Malone’s life. He joined the Army Air Corps and died in a mission over Germany. His name may be seen on the Roll of Honour at the American Memorial Chapel in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Thank you, Bill Cleary, for all you’ve done for hockey. And thank you, George Malone, for your service to the game of hockey, and to God and country.

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