Harvey A. Bennett--a man whose name is synonymous with hockey in Rhode Island--was born on July 23, 1925 in Regina, Saskatchewan and began playing hockey as soon as he was old enough to tie his skates. After completing the eighth grade, Bennett left home to be a goaltender for the Oshawa Generals. By age nineteen, Harvey became one of a handful of National Hockey League players to start more than 15 games in a row while still in their teenage years, when he played 22 consecutive games for the Boston Bruins from 1944 to 1945.
In 1946, the left-handed goaltender moved to Providence to play for the Providence Reds of the American Hockey League, guarding the net for 13 seasons. During this time the team won Calder Cups in 1948 and 1949.
Bennett became one of the most recognizable Reds players. At 6-foot-1 he was a stand-up goalie who wore no mask or helmet to hide his identity. By the end of his career Bennett had scars and multiple injuries that testified to his love for the game.
Bennett and his wife Diana, also from Saskatchewan, settled in Cranston with their sons. He opened a hockey equipment store and ran Bennett Sports at the Cranston Memorial Ice Arena for decades. He was a passionate promoter of youth hockey in Rhode Island and ran a Sunday morning hockey school at the Rhode Island Auditorium to teach kids from peewee through high school the fine points of the game. Harvey later helped to found the Edgewood Hockey Association.
While Bennett encouraged his sons to enjoy the game of hockey, he and Diana made sure they understood that the game was only a tool to gain an education. Three of his five sons attended Brown University, and one was a student of Boston College. Remarkably all five of Bennett’s sons eventually played professional hockey--three in the National Hockey League.
Hockey was good to Harvey Bennett Sr. His legacy lives on today in the organization he helped to found and in the passion for the sport he imparted to his sons and to players statewide.
Harvey passed away at the age of 79 on November 21, 2004. He is survived by five sons, Curt Bennett of Maui, Hawaii; Dr. John Bennett of Miami Beach, Harvey Bennett Jr. and Jim Bennett of Warwick; and Bill Bennett of Cranston.
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