Townie's Ron Wilson in U.S. Hockey HOF
East Providence High School was a dominate force in the state's top hockey division in the seventies. One reason was the existence of the Dudley Richard's rink in the city and the other was Ron Wilson. A 1973 graduate of EPHS, Wilson was among, if not the best, hockey player Rhode Island has seen. He played a Bobby Orr style of hockey, playing defense and being a top goal scorer for the champion Townie hockey team. He would be on the ice for almost an entire game at times. He was joined by brothers Brad and Randy in a family of hockey players. Their Dad, Larry Wilson was a coach of the old Rhode Island Reds AHL team.
The Townies won the Met A State and New England hockey championships in 1975. The Wilsons were joined by the Army family of EP. Tom, Bill and Tim Army were also dominate hockey players in EP and Rhode Island and later in college. Tim Army went on to be a head coach at Providence College. The Army's grandfather, Tom, was the head athletic trainer for the R.I. Reds.
In the sixties and seventies most talented hockey players in the state went to Mount St. Charles and LaSalle. But public schools like East Providence and Cranston East held their own. The Wilsons were a big reason for the Townies success. Ron Wilson would thrill R.I. crowds with his defensive steals and rink-length rushes generally resulting in a goal. Hockey games were standing room only at Richard's Rink and many times EP - LaSalle or EP- Mt. St. Charles games were moved to the old R.I. Auditorium on North Main Street.
Wilson went on to become one of the greatest players ever at Providence College where he was twice named an All-American. At Providence College he led the nation one year with 87 points on 26 goals and 61 assists in just 26 games. He was ECAC player of the year. With 250 career points, he holds the NCAA scoring record for defensemen, as well as the PC record for points.
After graduating from PC Wilson began an 11 year pro career playing in the NHL and Europe. Upon retiring as a player, Wilson spent the next 15 seasons as an NHL head coach with Vancouver, Anaheim, Washington, San Jose and Toronto. He has also coached a number of USA Hockey National teams highlighted by the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team that he lead to victory over Team Canada. Wilson and the World Cup team he coached was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016.
Wilson's 648 regular-season wins are the most among American coaches. His teams recorded more than 100 regular-season points four times. He currently ranks 10th among all NHL coaches in career victories.
Through the years Ron Wilson often credited former EPHS hockey coach and later principal, Joe Sprague, with much of his success. "We got into the playoffs in my sophomore year and the only way that we were going to survive was if I converted from center to defense. So Joe made me a defenseman. In fact, I never got off the ice. It was the best decision that anybody ever made in my hockey career,″ Wilson told area press before his induction.
At one point Ron, Brad and Randy played together at Providence College. On occasion a PC fan could hear the announcer say, "PC goal by Wilson, assisted by Wilson and Wilson!" Many at Providence College credit the Wilson's and Army's with getting the new hockey rink built on campus. After high school Wilson was offered the chance to play at any college in America and chose PC.
Ron Wilson, 62, resides in South Carolina and suffered a stroke last year. He has been recuperating and was able to attend his Hall of Fame Induction and deliver a speech. Wilson married his "high school sweetheart" Maureen Glynn Wilson. While in high school, Glynn, a 1972 graduate, was a popular cheerleading captain.
Wilson was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday December 13th in Boston, MA. He has been inducted into the East Providence High School Hall of Fame.