Cranston native Ralph Warburton, 94, has been selected to receive the Rhode Island Hockey Hall of Fame’s first Malcolm Greene Chace Memorial Trophy at the non-profit’s inaugural Hall of Fame Enshrinement Celebration/Dinner on Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln.
The award, which is named after the famed Hall of Fame tennis player, financier and textile industrialist who was director of the company that later became Berkshire Hathaway, will recognize “Achievement and Outstanding Service by a Rhode Islander to the Game of Ice Hockey.”
“Malcolm was born and raised in Central Falls,” Vin Cimini, chairman of the RI Hockey Hall of Fame, offered. “He was instrumental in bringing electric power to New England but before that, in the winter of 1894-95, he brought us ice hockey and is widely considered the father of the game in the United States.”
Cimini said the award has been generously donated by the Chace family.
Warbuton, who was born in Cranston back in 1924, was an All-Stater in hockey at La Salle Academy in the early 1940s and went on to become a multiple sport star at Dartmouth College, then one of he country’s most powerful hockey programs.
At Dartmouth, Warburton become a key figure along with fellow Rhode Island legends Dick Rondeau, George Pulliam and Jack Kilmartin, in an historic 46-game unbeaten string. A natural-born leader and a prolific scorer, he co-captained the Big Green during their 1947 national championship season.
Later that year, under the team name of Hanover Indians, Warburton’s Dartmouth squad captured the National AAU title in Providence.
Warburton was recognized as a powerful skater and deft puck handler and became RI’s fist Olympic hockey player when he was selected as a member of the American Hockey Association team chosen to play in the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz.
He starred on that team, scoring a remarkable 16 goals and five assists in the USA’s eight Olympic contests.
He returned to the USA and helped Lou Pieri’s RI Scarlets win the Atlantic Hockey Association then the National Amateur Hockey League championship then to the National American Hockey Association title in Ohio.
Warburton played professionally with several teams at the minor league level, including a 33-goal season with the Boston Olympics of the Eastern Hockey League in 1951.
Perhaps his greatest contribution in Rhode Island came after his playing days when Warburton became a dedicated youth hockey coach and pioneer among on-ice officials, a mentor to dozens of hockey referees and builder of the RI Ice Hockey Officials Association, one of the six founding chapters of the National Ice Hockey Officials Association.
He is also the only Rode Islander to ever be elected National President of the NIHOA and served in that capacity in 1966.
Warburton was a successful stockbroker and now resides in Wakefield. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1968.