(Dan Rosenburg) Howard S. Billings High School has produced more than its share of excellent sports athletes during its 50 years of existence. No less than seven future National Hockey League stars have passed through its hallowed halls.
Undoubtedly the most accomplished and best known of this group is Chicago Black Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who owns two Stanley Cup rings. Next on the list are Bobby Dollas, who has played for nine professional hockey teams; Glen Currie of the Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings; Bobby Simpson of the Atlanta Flames, and Alex Bolduc of the Vancouver Canucks. Goalie Gordie Laxton played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Ron Carter saw limited service with the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL and also shone in the World Hockey Association. Randy Burchell was a highly-respected puck-stopper with the Indianapolis Racers in the WHA.
A visit to the newly-renovated “hockey room” during the recent 50th Anniversary Open House at the school was worth the effort. The room was decorated and laid out by Scott Colosimo, coach of the juvenile and bantam Blazers, and members of the hockey alumni.There were action photos of players on the walls and Colosimo was there along with assistant coach Raul Castro to welcome guests browsing through. Castro’s son Trent played for the bantams this year and nephew Anthony was on the juvenile squad
“This room shows the kind of dedicated alumni we have at HSB,” Colosimo praised. “As for me, I like the pressure.” The alumni raised $12,000 for the hockey teams recently,” he pointed out. He referred to as past alumni president Ronnie Burton as “my mentor” and another past president, Blair Bertolini, whose son Brandon is a rushing defenceman for the Blazers, came in for his share of the credit as well.
Hockey alumnus Mike Davies, whose son Jeremy shone with Northeast University and was drafted by the New Jersey Devils, praised the local HSB committee that “did an incredible job of refreshing the school’s hockey room.”
Bertolini recalled that the Blazers took some time adjusting to life at the new Sports Centre near the Anna Laberge Hospital after they were in the habit of simply crossing Maple Blvd. for games and practices. “It was difficult to cope with,” Bertolini admitted. “The (former Guy Scott) arena was an extension of our high school. It was as if it was in our back yard. A little piece of us died when the arena closed.” Not to mention the cost of transportation to their new “home”.
Nevertheless, adjustments were made for travelling to the Sports Centre. The juveniles finished in first place this pas season and won the championship. The bantams were edged in the finals 2-0 by Loyola, which had averaged 10 goals per game during the regular schedule. The school’s new alumni presidents are Leigh Sawyer (hockey) and Anthony Glavac (basketball)
Other formidable athletes to go through HSB were Olympic boxer Rowan Donaldson, Olympic swimmer Robbie Braknis and Olympic kayak gold medallist Alwyn Morris; marathon runner Keiston Hertrel and basketball star Kasheem Thomas.
Athletics aside, an impressive list of HSB alumni is headed by Superior Court Judge Cynthia Petersen; Montreal TV news reporters Caroline VanVlaardingen and Tracy McKee; the late ABC-TV sports anchor John Saunders; CHOM disc jockey Bilal Butt; Robin Flynn of CJAD; highly succssful businessman Fred Green and TransAt airline executive Gordon Greene.