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R. I. Native-Born Hockey Achievement Award 2014 Goes To Father and Son
Providence, RI (7/11/2013): In what may be the very first of its kind ever in sports history, a father and son will be presented with the same award, on the same day, same time, at the same location, when the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society celebrates its 13th annual reunion at Goddard State Park on Sunday, August 4.
At the event, the non-profit historical society will honor Don Mellor and his son Tom as co-recipients of its 2014 “Rhode Island Native-Born Hockey Achievement Award.”
The award, inaugurated by the Society in 2011, is given to Rhode Island native-born individuals who have made significant contributions towards the advancement and public image of hockey and in doing so have brought statewide, national and worldwide attention to the quality and proud history of ice hockey excellence produced here in Rhode Island.
Three previous winners have been Sara DeCosta Hayes (2011), U. S. Olympic star goaltender, Lou Lamoriello (2012), president and general manager of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and Bill Belisle (2013), hockey coach of Mt. St. Charles and winningest high school hockey coach in America.
“Don and Tom Mellor perfectly fit the criteria we have established for this prestigious award,” said Buster Clegg, president of the society. “They truly have contributed greatly towards building the positive public image of Rhode Island hockey, just as have our previous recipients.”
Don, now a hearty 92-year-old who still works part time, was born and raised in Cranston where he played high school hockey before being recruited by the Boston Olympics, an Eastern Hockey League team sponsored by the Boston Bruins. There, he played parts of two seasons (1941-42 and ’42-43) before enlisting in the U. S. Navy during World War II.
Don is very proud to have served his country as a Fire Controlman 2nd class on the USS Hopewell DD 681, a destroyer that assisted troops in the South Pacific. The Hopewell often participated in shore bombardments as it helped support troops for landing and was hit several times by Japanese kamikazes off of Manila during the ship’s last operation.
After the war, Don married a former Coast Guard SPAR, Helen Phillips, his wife today of 67 years, and spent his working career as a foreman with the New England Telephone Company in Providence. With a couple of children and no organized youth sports in Cranston, he was one of the founding fathers of the CLCF, Cranston’s League for Cranston’s Future, which provided opportunities for kids to play not only hockey but pee wee football and Little League baseball. He also managed to play defense for the R. I. Scarlets, a local amateur powerhouse team.
Volunteering years as a youth hockey coach, he helped CLCF develop the skills of hundreds of kids, including his own son, Tom, who made it furthest in hockey than any other of Don’s protégés.
Young Tom took to his father’s innate natural skills and teachings very quickly. As a squirt player of age just eight, he showed great promise with his abilities, including backward skating and puck handling, both essential tools for aspiring young defensemen.
Tom, now age 63, went to Northwood School in Lake Placid, NY for four years prior to attending Boston College. As a freshman at BC in 1968-69, he scored nine goals and 19 points in his 17-game rookie season. He had a great sophomore season, scoring 21 goals and 44 points in 26 games. In his junior year in the NCAA he had 40 points in 25 games for the Eagles. Mellor also played 18 games for the U.S. National Team that season, scoring a goal and five points in international competition.
One of the highlights of Mellor's hockey career occurred in 1972 when he played for the U.S. Olympic Team which brought home a silver medal from Sapporo, Japan. He also represented his country at the 1971 and 1973 World Championships.
Mellor returned to Boston College for his senior year in 1972-73, taking a year off from school during his international appearances with the U.S. National Team. In 30 games he scored six goals and led the nation with 45 assists. He was also selected to the NCAA East First All-American Team.
In 1973-74 Mellor joined the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, the club that drafted him in the fifth round, 68th overall in the 1970 Amateur Draft. He suited up for 25 games with the Red Wings, scoring two goals and six points. He also played in 23 games with the AHL's Virginia Wings as well as a six-game stint in the British League with the London Lions where he had seven points in six games. In 1974-75 he played in one final NHL game with the Red Wings. His career totals were 26 games played, two goals and six assists. The remainder of the year was spent in Virginia where he had 17 goals and 52 points with the AHL's Wings.
In 1975-76 Mellor played 34 games with Vastra Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League, scoring eight goals and 16 points. He also suited up for 13 games with the Toledo Goaldiggers of the IHL, scoring 15 points. He returned for one final year of pro hockey with the Goaldiggers in 1976-77 where he averaged a point per game over 75 games. He went out in style, winning the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy, given to the most valuable player in the IHL.
Today Tom is president of Windham Capital Group, a Massachusetts-based firm that specializes in matching institutional investors with a select group of hedge fund managers.
With the Mellor announcement the R. I. Reds Heritage Society announced that the deadline for reservations for its August 4 reunion has been extended to Monday, July 22. The reunion is open to the public at $35 per person and will include an all-you-can eat cookout and introduction of all returning players and special awards. Only 50 tickets remain available and no tickets will be sold at the gate. For further information, please call 401-247-2666 or e-mail UNH1959@aol.com.
Saturday evening (August 3) the players and their families will be treated to a dinner-dance at the 12 Acres banquet facility in Smithfield, featuring as guest speaker Tom McVie, one of hockey’s leading raconteur humorists. Just 60 tickets are available to the public at $35 per person. Reservation deadline also is July 22. Again, no tickets will be sold at the gate.
For further information call 401-270-0035 or e-mail UNH1959@aol.com.