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Sunday, February 7, 2016
Former Buffalo Sabres player and broadcaster Jim Lorentz speaks Saturday night as Howell Motors Ford Hockey Hall of Fame chairman Mike Landers watches on. (PHOTOS BY SCOTT LEFFLER / ENP STAFF)

By +Scott Leffler 
scott.leffler@eastniagarapost.com


The evening's master of ceremonies Tim Wendel prepares to introduce another
inductee. To the left, inductee Rick Eberhart prepares to shake hands with
Landers and Lorentz.
With the upper lobby at Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union Arena packed with friends, family and fan of hockey, 15 people were inducted Saturday night into the Howell Motors Ford Hockey Hall of Fame.

The first batch of inductees, hand selected by a committee of local hockey experts, included six men inducted for their play, three inducted for coaching, three inducted for contributing to the local hockey scene, and three as "founders."

Many of the inductees were in attendance to accept the honor for themselves. Others had family accept the award on their behalf. People were in attendance from across the country to watch the ceremony and soak in the red-carpet feel that it had. The night was filled with stories of Lockport's hockey past and dreams of its future.

Several old newspaper clippings and photos of the inductees were available
to look at and read during the reception preceding the ceremony.
Inducted were founders Dr. W. James Westhafer, Dr. Ralph W. Lewis DVM, and John Gerald York Jr.; contributors Donald G. Kaufman, Dr. Albert G. Connette, and Peter K. Wendel; coaches Robert L. Stratton, Vic Cooke, and Bill Watson; and players Jim Musto, Richard G. Connette, Tom Snedeker, Jeffrey Thompson, Terry P. Dixon, and Rick Eberhart.

Tim Wendel, at one point mistaken for his brother Pete, served as master of ceremonies, while former Sabres player and broadcaster Jim Lorentz was the guest speaker. During the hour-long meet and greet preceding the 8 p.m. ceremony, the name on everyone's lips was "Marcel Dionne." The former NHL great -- inducted into the the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 -- was at the ceremony as a guest, taking time to talk to fans and pose for photos. Dionne, currently fifth on the list of NHL goals scored all-time behind only Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Brett Hull, and Jaromir Jagr, praised the new Lockport arena to anyone he spoke with. Others in attendance included state Sen. Rob Ortt and Mayor Anne McCaffrey.

Inductee Jim Musto thanked his brother during his acceptance speech. He also
gave Landers a new nickname: "Mr. Hockey."
Howell Motors Ford owner Mike Landers pushed for the hall of fame when the arena was opened. The 12 plaques on the wall -- on for each year from 2016 - 2027 -- indicate the future plans for the hall of fame.

"The rich history of organized hockey in this area had to be honored," Landers told the crowd. "If you're not on this list, don't worry. We'll be doing this for a very long time."

While Landers was looking to honor others, the evening's final inductee, Jim Musto, bestowed honors on Landers, calling him "the new Mr. Hockey."

"When I played for the Washburn Street Market, Bob Stratton was known as Mr. Hockey. Guess who the new Mr Hockey is," Musto asked the crowd, before answering himself. "Mike Lander. Thank you Mike."

Lockport City Court Judge and inductee Bill Watson summed it up as this: "Hockey isn't just a sport. Hockey is family. And family is community."

Lockport Mayor Anne McCaffrey talk with former NHL great Marcel Dionne during the meet-and-greet session preceding the induction ceremony.

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