Hockey legend Willie Marshall returns to RI

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To say that the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society gets better with age would be an understatement of huge proportions.

Some 18 years ago, the Reds Heritage Society set down yet another plan to further foster interest as well as preserve and restore the fabled 51-year history of Rhode Island’s first professional hockey team that ruled the AHL roost from its beginning in 1926-77 until its farewell campaign in 19767-77.

Thus, guys like one-time Reds’ GM and former marketing, public relations specialist Sylvester “Buster” Clegg, the team’s former stick boy Tom McDonough and journalists like Arnie Bailey – just to name a few hockey aficionados – decided to hold a reunion that would include former players, coaches and fans as another way to enhance the unique non-profits mission.

With each passing year, the reunion grew and grew and grew.

So much so, in fact, the 18th Annual Reunion – which will be held Aug. 3-5 will, as Clegg, the group’s tireless president said the other day, “Reach the peak of hockey’s iceberg” when Willie Marshall, the American Hockey League’s all-time leading scorer, appears as a special guest for the unique and history filled three-day weekend.

Clegg announced that Marshall, who played three of his 20 AHL seasons with the Reds at the former and legendary RI Auditorium, “is coming home to receive the fist ever Ray Ross Perseverance Award, named in honor and memory of the late Reds standout who played pro hockey for 14 seasons, 10 of which came as a speedy right winger for the Reds.

Marshall will accept the prestigious honor on Sunday, Aug. 5 from Ross’ sons – Gary, Glen and Gregg - during the awards ceremony that will be held at the famed carousel building inside Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick beginning at noon.

However, Marshall won’t be the only Reds legend on hand, as Clegg announced “will have 20 or more ex-Reds and former pro players at this year’s reunion.”

“Willie’s talents as a skilled center were inexplicably ignored by the NHL as he dressed for only 19 games with Toronto,” Clegg wanted it known. “Nevertheless, he and his career persevered dominantly in the AHL where he played 1,205 games, scored 523 goals, made 852 assists and totaled 1,375 points – all records never to be duplicated.”

Marshall is an honored member of the AHL Hall of Fame and was induced its inaugural year of 2006. He played for Pittsburgh (4 seasons), Hershey (7), Providence (3), Baltimore (5) and Rochester (1).

The Reds Heritage Society Reunion is a three-fold event that’s filled with hockey history unlimited and information as well as tickets can be purchased by calling Mal Goldenberg at (401)-782-6623 or mal@rmcri.com.

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