John Sumner was at the forefront of
the resurgence of Stoneham High hockey in the 60’s. As a member of the
varsity as a sophomore, Sumner became an immediate impact player
establishing himself as the team’s overall scoring leader.
In the 1962-63 season John keyed some
impressive SHS comeback victories and for his efforts was named to the
league all-star team. The 1963-64 Stoneham High hockey team with a 9-4-3
regular season record elevated the Spartans to the post season for the
first time since 1956. A large measure of the team’s success was a
direct result of Sumner.
It was a rarity to find John Sumner
off the ice at any time. After completing his shift at forward, Sumner
would drop back and play defense instead of heading to the bench. The
Spartans entered the State Tournament cautiously after finishing fourth
in the Middlesex League. In the opening round Stoneham surprised
Hingham, the undefeated champions of the South Shore League, in a 3-2
overtime thriller. Sumner factored in on all three SHS markers, scoring
two goals and an assist including the overtime game winner. In the next
round Stoneham faced Bay State League champion Norwood. A 4-3 decision
found Stoneham headed to round three. Against Newton in the third
round, Stoneham overcame a three goal lead with a dramatic come from
behind 4-3 win. John played virtually the entire game contributing a
goal and two assists. “After winning three big games we had become a
more confident team,” Sumner recalled. “I don’t think at the beginning
of the tournament we had any idea how good we were.” Through three games
John was the tournament’s scoring leader and most talked about player.
The semifinal match with Marblehead saw a 2-1 Spartan lead in the third
period erased as Marblehead ended the Spartans season 3-2. Sumner and
his teammates ended the season 12-5-3.
John had the unique personal
distinction of being named a first team all-tournament selection on
defense and a Middlesex League all-star at forward. Finishing the year
with 17 goals/14 assists/31 points, Sumner was named All-Scholastic
defensemen by The Globe, Herald Traveler, and Record American – a time
when only six players in the state were bestowed that honor.
Still a devoted fan of the game, John
resides in Reading with his wife Patty. They have three children and
eight grandchildren. John is the co-owner of Opto-line International in