May 212016

Joe SeymourBig things come in small packages. The Amity Boys Hockey Team got a special gift when Joey Seymour decided to come home to play out the rest of his high school career 43 years ago.

Seymour, a 1975 graduate who is in the next class of Amity Hall of Fame inductees, played at Avon Old Farms as a freshman before changing his mind and becoming a Spartan for the rest of his career. The 5- foot-7, 157-pound skater led the state in scoring for two seasons, made the all-county team three times, was on the 1974 and 1975 New Haven Register All-State teams and earned All-Housatonic League accolades all three winters.

“Size never bothered me. We were all warriors on the ice,” said Seymour. “We shoveled the ice so much at Wright’s Pond (in Orange) our legs got very strong. It really helped me get faster.”

While he got stronger, area sports fans and media certainly took notice, and so did the competition.

“Joey was one of Connecticut’s greatest high school hockey players. He dominated the games and was both feared and respected by the top teams in the state,” said Tom Earley ’75, a teammate on three Amity squads. He had a ferocious slap shot and unbelievable acceleration.”

New HOF Inductee Featured at June 10 Golf Outing

These were the days when Amity played in Division I among the powers of Connecticut hockey. That’s why Seymour, who will be honored at the Spartans’ June 10 Golf Outing Fundraiser at Orange Hills Country Club, got the nod for the school’s hall of fame.

“I had great teammates like Tom Earley, my left wing. He pushed for me to get into the hall of fame, so he deserves all the credit,” said Seymour, whose brothers, Billy ’73, and Danny ’77, were sandwiched around him playing for Amity head coach Hal Smullen. “This is a great honor. I’m happy to represent all my teammates and the great players I skated with. The friendships with my teammates is what I cherish the most. There was a special bond.”

Seymour became a legit Canadian Juniors prospect, receiving a letter of interest from the Chicago Junior Blackhawks, after his junior year at Amity. But most of what he learned about the game at a young age came through playing on a legendary bantams squad called the Gerry Stevens Wheelers. That squad, coached by Ralph O’Connor, went 42-2- 1 and came within a goal of the New England Championship (lost in 2 OT to Wakefield, Mass.) playing out of the old New Haven Arena. Seymour was one of 11 standout Wheelers who went on to prep school hockey from that team.

Fortunately for Amity, going to prep school and living away from his family in Orange did not sit well with Seymour.

Can any family boast five members of the Amity hockey team? Certainly none came match that over just two generations. Matt ’12 and Keating ’14, Joe’s two sons (his daughter Mackenzie ’16 played lacrosse), played for Gary Lindgren, the current head coach of the Spartans who is trying to raise money to send his 2016-17 squad to Munich, Germany, for a hockey and educational tour this December. That’s where most of the golf tournament proceeds will go.

After notching a school-record 169 points over three winters playing out of Bennett Rink and surpassing his brother Billy’s career total of 132, Seymour spurned college hockey offers to join Billy and Danny in their Milford sporting goods store called “3 Brothers.” That partnership lasted 26 years, during which Joey was involved in numerous aspects of the sport, including coaching youth, officiating high school games and tearing up adult leagues as a member of Catapano’s Auto Body.

Seymour, who scored 31 goals both his junior and senior years playing for Spartan teams went deep into the state tournament every year before falling each time to loaded Hamden High School squads, gave credit to his high school coach for helping him progress in the sport and mature into adulthood.

“Coach Smullen was a character building leader as a strict disciplinarian. He was a small guy but was a very feisty competitor,” said Seymour, who learned about the sporting goods business working at Ferguson’s Center Ice Sports and currently owns Nantucket Embroidery Company in Milford.

Good things really do come in small packages.

Story By Steve Conn, Amity ’81

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