Emma McDonough has never played ice hockey. Yet, the 13-year-old Warwick native had a huge role in last Sunday’s 14th annual Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society Reunion at Goddard Memorial State Park.
The Immaculate Conception Regional Catholic School student, who’ll enter the eighth grade in September, accompanied her grandfather – Reds Heritage Society Director of International Marketing Thomas McDonough – and helped “gramps” and her brother Thomas do everything from arrange silent raffle items to organize memorabilia last Sunday.
Emma performed an even greater role after listening to her grandfather introduce 37 former Reds players who skated at one time or another during the storied 51-year history of the former American Hockey League (AHL) franchise.
She also joined her grandfather, who is known for his singing of the national anthem, in singing the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Emma also sang the Canadian national anthem right alongside of her proud grandfather.
“She carried me!” Tom McDonough said. “We’ve been practicing for two months; this was without question a big, big thrill for me to have her singing with me at the Society Reunion.”
The event was as much of a thrill for McDonough and his grandchildren as it was for the event’s major award winners, as a sellout crowd of more than 300 people packed Goddard Park’s carousel building. The Society honored a total of seven people – two posthumously – with its annual awards.
The day’s highlight was two-fold, as the Reds Heritage Society also announced the retirement of the late Chuck Scherza’s uniform Number 14 that member Jim Clegg draped over the railing high above the stage when McDonough made the announcement.
The Society’s most prestigious honors went to former Reds great Jimmy Bartlett and the late Paul Larivee and Terry Reardon who received the Tops Award named in honor and memory of the late and legendary former Reds standout Zelio Toppazzini.
Cranston’s Dick Ernest received the Society’s R.I. Native-Born Hockey Achievement Awards while Joe Gagliardi took home the Frank E. McCaffrey Fan of the Year Award. Special Service Awards went to Roger Gladu and Monty Seli.
Among those former Reds greats who attended the three-day reunion was Alton White, the first African American hockey player in the AHL. He was also the first African American player to score 20 goals in a season and a hat trick. He was accompanied by his wife Linda.
The Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation whose primary mission is to restore and preserve the fabled 51-year history of the Reds professional hockey team that played its AHL home games in Providence from 1926 to 1977.