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US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 1992

Amo Bessone
Len Ceglarski
James Fullerton

1992 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Over 28 years, Bessone was known as much as a father figure as he was a hockey coach at Michigan State University.  Bessone, who coached 3 seasons at Michigan Tech before moving to East Lansing in 1951, was one of the most prominent leaders in the days when college hockey was organized, operated and regulated by the coaches.

As fiercely competitive as Amo was behind the bench, he was a warm and friendly person away from the game.  His weekly routine for any home hockey series at Michigan State was to compete heatedly-and often successfully-throughout the games, after which he and his wife, Mary, would entertain the opposing coaching staff at his home for a post-game party.  The good-natured arguing and second guessing proved he could keep the game in proper perspective.

Building Michigan State hockey was an arduous task.  The Spartans endured eighteen seasons in league play before rising above the .500 mark, but he tried to recruit the top regional U.S. players in those years against dominant foes. Bessone’s lifetime 367-427-20 record didn’t accurately reflect his teams’ competitiveness.  His perseverance was rewarded in the 1965-66 season when the Spartans rose from sixth place, 9-11 season in the eight team Western Collegiate Hockey Association and went all the way through a Cinderella play-off run.  MSU won the NCAA Championship, and needed the two victories in the final four to finish above .500, with a final 16-13 record.  A year later, after placing fifth with an 8-11-1 WCHA record, Amo’s Spartans nearly did it again, reaching the NCAA final four before losing in the semifinals.

Bessone’s colorful, cigar-chomping coaching career obscures what was also an impressive playing career.  Growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the 1920s, Bessone was known as “Betts” when he played on the Old Bed pond at the Exposition Grounds with his older brother Pete - also a Hall of Fame Enshrinee.  Amo went on to play defense at West Springfield High School, Kents Hill and Hebron Academies in Maine and the University of Illinois.  He went on to play pro hockey, briefly for the Detroit Wings in 1936 and later with Springfield in the American League, taking time out to be skipper of a PT boat in World War II.  After the war, Bessone coached hockey and assisted with football and baseball at Westfield High School in Massachusetts before starting Michigan Tech’s hockey program in 1948.

1992 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Becoming a legend is no easy task, but Ceglarski’s status was legendary long before he resigned as Boston College Coach at the end of the 1992 season.  He set the record for most coaching victories in college hockey, with 673 triumphs over his 34-year career, and he was the only coach to ever have more than 250 victories at two different colleges when he was coaching. 

At Clarkson, where Ceglarski began coaching in 1958, the Knights rolled up a 254-97-10 record in 14 seasons, with one ECAC championship, 11 consecutive trips to the ECAC tournament, and four to the NCAA tournament. His Clarkson teams won over 20 games six times, and three of his teams lost in NCAA title games—the 1962 team, which was 22-3-1; the 1966 team, which was 24-3; and the 1970 team, which was 24-8.

Then, in 1972, Ceglarski moved to Boston College, his alma mater where he replaced his old coach, Hall of Famer John “Snooks” Kelley, who was the first college coach to ever win 500 games.  Ceglarski maintained that tradition and became the first college coach to win 600 games.  Ceglarski won his first of three Spencer Penrose Awards as the nation’s top college coach when his first Boston College team won the ECAC tournament and went to the NCAA Final Four.  In 20 seasons, Ceglarski’s Eagles posted a 419-242-27 record, first winning the ECAC title in 1978, then, when Hockey East began in the 1985 season, winning six of the first seven league championships.  His Eagles team won over 20 games 11 times, including a Boston College record 31-8 season in 1987, and made nine more trips to the CCAA tournament.

The NCAA title Ceglarski strived for as coach, he attained as a player.  As a sophomore, Ceglarski scored the tying goal in the 4-3 NCAA Championship game won by Boston College over Dartmouth in 1949.  Ceglarski was All-American as a junior, team captain as a senior, and ranked fourth on Boston College’s all-time scoring list with 49-59-108 in only 52 games.  He also lettered three times in baseball as well.  Ceglarski later played on the silver medal 1952 US Olympic team, served in the Marine Corps, then returned to Boston area to begin coaching at Norwood and Walpole high schools, winning the New England Championship with Walpole in 1958. 

1992 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

One of the true gentlemen in the sport, Fullerton became the first full-time coach at Boston University in 1955.  In his early years, he sometimes had trouble filling out a roster at the Ivy League school known more for its academics than its athletics.  But in the span of a decade, he had generated the evolution of a strong, substantial hockey program.  In the 1964-65 season, his team won the Ivy League Championship and went to the NCAA final four.  It was the most successful hockey season in Boston University history, and Fullerton was awarded the Spencer Rose Award as the nation’s coach of the year.

In 15 seasons, his Brown teams gave him a lifetime coaching record of 176-168-9.  Fullerton ran a classy, first-rate operation at Brown, and his fellow coaches recognized his outstanding coaching ability.  He was voted New England coach of the year-the Clark Hodder Award-four times, was named to the U.S. Collegiate Hall of Fame in 1971 and to Boston University’s Hall of Fame in 1974.

Fullerton coached the US Team for the World Games against the Soviet Union and Canada in 1972.  He also was a member of the US Olympic Committee from 1969-72 and later scouted for the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Islanders.

As a player, Jim Fullerton starred at Norwich University but turned down the opportunity to play pro in order to accept a coaching job at Norwood, a prep school in Lake Placid, NY.  He remained at Norwood for 24 years bringing that school solid recognition as a formidable hockey power and sending numerous players off to collegiate careers.  Beyond that, Fullerton also worked as a top hockey official.  From 1933-35, Fullerton refereed professional college and high school games in the Lake Placid area.  He became vice-president of the New England Chapter national amateur championships in Lake Placid.

When he accepted the challenge to move to Brown, Fullerton continued to show his organizational skills as a prominent force in the formation and development of the American Hockey Coaches Association, which he also served as President.