Our next inductee of the BCI Hall of Fame is legendary Boston College men’s hockey coach, John “Snooks” Kelley.
When he attended BC, Kelley served as a hockey manager for three years before playing his senior year, and played three years of baseball as well. In 1933, Kelley decided to return to BC as a volunteer coach and stayed in that role until 1972. As a coach, his impact on the program and the school was remarkable.
In March 1949, Kelley led the Eagles to their first ever National Championship title, where BC downed Dartmouth to become the first Eastern team to win the championship. In addition, he led his teams to berths in eight NCAA tournaments and nine ECAC playoffs; won eight New England Championships, one ECAC title, and eight Beanpot titles. His dominance in the Beanpot tournament cemented him as the face of BC hockey, winning five of the first 10 trophies since it was established in 1952, and eight total in 13 years.
Kelley was also the first coach in college hockey to record 500 wins — his 500th, fittingly, came against Boston University in 1972. He shortly finished his career after with a 501-243-15 record. His 501 wins were a school record until 2014.
He accumulated many accolades throughout his career; he won the Spencer Penrose Award for the college hockey coach of the year in 1959 and 1972, was inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Hall of Fame and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and in 1972 was awarded the NHL’s Lester Patrick Award, given to an individual who provides outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
He truly set the standard for BC men’s hockey, showing dedication to the sport and his players. Notably, Kelley coached Len Ceglarski and Jerry York, both of whom — as we know — went on to become distinguished head coaches for the Eagles.
Kelley passed away in 1986, but his impact on Boston College hockey will forever be remembered.