The Hockey Academy was organized as a partnership in 1992 and incorporated in the Spring of 1993 by Jon Fontas, Fred Gendron and Bob Talbot, Jr.
The Early Years
Our first programs were an adult clinic at Skate 3 in Tyngsboro, MA and an adult league at New England College in Henniker, NH in the fall of 1992. In January of 1993, we introduced early morning hockey, or The Early Bird League. Adult early morning hockey was a novelty back then. Little did we know that decades later, early morning leagues would pop up all over New England. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
From morning leagues, we progressed into offering lunch time and evening leagues throughout Eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We even started some leagues in RI, CT and ME. Our goal was always to cater to all levels. That is still evident today with our successful novice leagues. We've always wanted to ensure that everyone of every ability has the chance to enjoy the game we love.
We also expanded our clinics and camps during those early years. From learn to skate and beginning hockey programs to high intensity camps, thousands of skaters participated.
Thanks go out to some of our great employees during the early years including Bob Talbot III, Joe Raza, Bill Marshall and Stan Janiak who helped us start something big.
The mid to late 90'sThis period was a time of big growth and big changes. In 1995, Bob Talbot, Jr. decided to sell his interest in the company and move on to other things, leaving Jon Fontas and Fred Gendron as 50/50 partners - the same ownership that exists today.
While our clinics and adult leagues continued to grow during this time, our entry into the tournament world gave us an exciting new brand. We had a vision of bringing hockey tournaments to a little known rink in a little known hockey town, Waterville Valley, NH. Our vision was spot on. Waterville Valley tournaments have become popular beyond our wildest dreams. Looking back at it now, it's easy to figure out why. There aren't many places nestled in the mountains where an ice rink, restaurants and lodges are within walking distance in a quaint town square.
Again, we wouldn't be where we are today without the help of great staff members like Deb Ziolkowski, Brian Fontas, Kelly Bindert, Brian Meckel, Ed Mangini, Paul Pacific, Lori Seppala and Peter Issenberg.
Well, the earth didn't stop turning in the new millennium. It's a good thing, because we still had a lot of hockey to get to. In 2000, The Hockey Academy introduced its first youth hockey organization, the New England Stars. In 2007, we supplemented our youth program by establishing our first Junior Hockey Club. The NE Stars became a true top to bottom USA Hockey sanctioned program with teams from Mites to Juniors.
Adding a youth hockey division to our already booming adult leagues, tournaments and clinic programming was a big step. Among the great employees who helped us through those growing pains were Rick Urnek, Heidi Leva, Mike Frost and Jay Cole.
Now in our third decade, we continue to expand our footprint while maintaining a commitment to providing superior products with outstanding customer service. In 2013, we established our second Junior Hockey Club, the Maine Wild. The Wild call Biddeford, ME home. In 2014, we also began to offer youth Wild teams. Over the past few years, we have been fortunate to work with some great staff members including Leslie McGuerty, Krista Patronick, Mike Tenney and Dan Fontas. Dan, who has been with the company since 2002, has played a major role in the development of the Stars and the Wild programs among other things, and was recently named The Hockey Academy's General Manager.
Oh Yeah - One More Thing
We couldn't figure out where to mention our buddy Paul Labarre. What paragraph do you put him in? Paul has been working with us at The Hockey Academy in various roles since the summer of 1993. Currently, Paul oversees several of our adult leagues and is our site director at our Waterville Valley hockey tournaments. Yes, when you've been with us for over 20 years, you get your own paragraph!