The Town of Oyster Bay on Wednesday night will host National Hockey League pioneer Willie O’Ree at the TOB Ice Skating Center in Bethpage.
O’Ree, known for his speed and checking abilities, made history as the first black player to compete in a National Hockey League game.
In honor of his visit, the town is proclaiming today “Willie O’Ree Day.” It also marks the anniversary of his debut with the Boston Bruins. Town officials will present O’Ree with a proclamation at a ceremony open to the public at 8:15 p.m.
O’Ree will then drop the ceremonial first puck at a game between Bethpage and Cold Spring Harbor high schools. He will remain to autograph pucks and photos.
“Willie O’Ree is often referred to as the ‘Jackie Robinson of ice hockey’ due to the similarities of both as trail blazers in their respective sports,” Supervisor John Venditto said. “His historical significance in the sports world can’t be understated.”
Former Boston Bruins hockey player Willie O'Ree waves to the crowd in Boston after being honored on the 50th anniversary of breaking the color barrier in the NHL. Looking on is Bruins legend John Bucyk. (Jan. 19, 2008)