GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. — Cec Thomas, former hockey player and coach, is honoured to be included among the new inductees into the Hockey NL Hall of Fame.
“It’s a fantastic honour, I’m thrilled,” Thomas said. “It put me back in childhood days, my younger days when I was playing hockey.”
Thomas is one of seven hockey players, coaches and builders to be inducted on Saturday, June 9 at Hockey NL’s annual general meeting and awards banquet in Gander.
Hockey NL executive director Craig Tulk says Thomas is a very worthy selection for the Hall of Fame.
“He was with the Andcos when they won five Herders in a row,” Tulk said. “After his playing days he was a key volunteer and committed many, many years at the high school and senior levels.”
Tulk also has a personal connection to Thomas.
“He coached me in minor hockey from ages eight-12,” Tulk said. “It’s an honour to recognize his contribution to the game.”
Thomas started playing hockey when he was 11, using a pair of skates he purchased from a friend for $2. He quickly discovered he had a natural aptitude for skating, and for hockey, and he found that his small size gave him the advantage of speed.
“No matter how big you are speed is important,” Thomas said. “They gotta catch you to do some damage.”
Being inducted into the Hall of Fame has brought back great memories for Thomas, who recalls the coaches he worked with over the years, including Gordie Drillion, Joe Burns and Wes ‘Bucko’ Trainor, who he describes as a drill sergeant-type coach who could get the best hockey out of players.
Over the course of his hockey career, Thomas played for the Grand Falls Academy high school team, and for the Grand Falls junior and senior all-stars. During his time in senior hockey, he won best defenceman three years in a row and was part of the Grand Falls Andcos team that won five straight Herder Memorial Trophy championships (1955-59).
Following his time on the ice, Thomas coached the Grand Falls Academy high school team, the Grand Falls juniors in provincial competition. He helped out behind the bench with the senior Cataracts. He also held executive positions on the provincial junior hockey committee and the Grand Falls Minor Hockey Association.
Thomas is grateful to sports writers, including Roger Howse, for their support of his career.
“They were interested in me as a player and it inspired me throughout my career,” Thomas said. “They were a big help, a big boost for me, I look back at that as a bonus.”
He thanks Al Dwyer for nominating him for the Hall of Fame, and those who wrote letters of support for his nomination.
Thomas, who will be 84 this year, was to be surrounded by his family at the induction ceremony on June 9. His wife, Gwen, who he describes as a ‘tower of strength’ would join him and his daughters and son who were flying in from Toronto and Nova Scotia for the event.
“I’m very lucky to have my family coming,” Thomas said. “This is a precious moment for us as a family.
Thomas is truly honoured by his induction, and he is treasuring the experience.
“This past year they retired my sweater, that was quite an honour,” he noted. “And, now, to get this, the Hall of Fame, all the memories it has brought back, it’s been a blessing.”
Also inducted into the Hockey NL Hall of Fame were players Ryane Clowe, Dan Cormier, Jim Heale, Kevin Morrison, athlete-builder Bob Jackman and builder Bonnie Evans.