BOSTON – Anyone who thinks Ron DeGregorio walked away from hockey when he stepped down as the president of USA Hockey doesn’t know the man they call “Digger.”
As he settles into his new role as the organization’s co-chairman of the board, DeGregorio shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to supporting the sport to which he has devoted much of his life.
Even though he concluded his fourth term as USA Hockey’s president in June, DeGregorio is still active in the game. In addition to seeking a spot on the board of the International Ice Hockey Federation, he is involved in two projects near and dear to his heart.
One is aimed at improving goaltending throughout the USA Hockey ranks. A one-time goaltender with the U.S. National Team, DeGregorio is lending his support to an initiative created by USA Hockey’s ADM Manager of Youth Goaltending Programs Phil Osaer to improve the quality of coaching provided to goaltenders at all levels.
Osaer has teamed up with National Team Development Program goalie coach Kevin Reiter and Hall of Fame goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, who is the USA Hockey vice president of Junior hockey, to create a thorough approach to teaching vital skills needed to expand and improve the goaltending ranks at all levels. For DeGregorio, who has worked with young goaltenders in the New England area, the program is something he wants to support in any way possible.
The other program, called Flex Hockey, is a pilot project created by USA Hockey’s Youth Council, which looks to get keep more players in the game by creating non-checking leagues that require less time commitment than most youth programs.
“Basically the concept is adult hockey for youth,” said DeGregorio, who continued to play adult hockey until the last several years.
“What I mean by that is in adult hockey, we get together once a week and play. We don’t practice, we just have some fun. We want to work with a league and see how the concept works in reality.”
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The Class of 2007 - Aaron Broten, Bobby Carpenter, John MacInnesand John Vanbiesbrouck - was formally enshrined in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame here tonight at an induction ceremony and dinner, held at the University of North Dakota's Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. A full house of 500+ people were on hand for the night of celebration.
"This was a tremendous night to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of four individuals who have each played a significant role in the advancement of hockey in our country," said Walter Bush, chairman of the board for USA Hockey. "I'd particularly like to thank the wonderful community of Grand Forks for the fantastic job they did in hosting this very special event."
“It is a tremendous honor to be included in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Broten. “The other inductees are extremely deserving and I am honored to go in with them. I’m very proud that both my brother [Neal] and I are in the Hall – it’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of hockey through the years.”
“This whole experience has been much more than I expected,” said Carpenter. “I think USA Hockey did a great job and it was an unbelievable evening. Nights like this, everything comes back and you remember a lot of the things you’ve accomplished. It’s almost like the finishing touch on my career.”
“We are especially grateful for this recognition of John’s achievements,” said Jerry MacInnes, wife of the late John MacInnes. “John would have been extremely proud to be among this class and this honor belongs to all the people who played a part in his life.”
“Overall it’s a great day to be American,” said Vanbiesbrouck. “It was an honor not only for myself, my family and my parents, but also the coaches, trainers and everybody that has helped me to play this game for such a long time.”
NOTES: The addition of the Class of 2007 brings the total number of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame enshrinees to 134 ... The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame weekend will conclude with the University of North Dakota taking on Michigan State University in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Ralph Engelstad Arena at 7 p.m. CDT. Both teams were in attendance at the induction event ... The Hobey Baker Memorial Award was on display at the induction ceremony.Ryan Duncan, the most recent recipient of the honor, and Neal Broten, the first-ever winner, were both be in attendance ... Jim Rich, sports director at FOX 9 in Minneapolis/St. Paul and long-time promoter of hockey in America, served as the master of ceremonies for the induction dinner ... Lou Vairo, head coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team and one of the most prominent hockey figures in the United States, was the featured speaker at the induction ceremony ... USA Hockey assumed responsibility for the selection process and induction event associated with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame this past spring.