The way Leo Dupere sees it, he deserved to have his Amesbury High hockey number retired a long time ago.
“I had a lot of support for this, and I had some people for a lot of years that thought it should have happened way back,” Dupere said.
The 1959 Amesbury High graduate and longtime coach finally received his due last Wednesday when his number was retired during a ceremony at Sylvan Street Grille in Salisbury. More than 80 people bought tickets for a three-hour banquet dinner, and 18 of Dupere’s family members, friends and former players spoke about his illustrious career.
“I was really touched by the whole thing,” Dupere said. “It was a long time coming, but I think I earned it. I’m from the old-time hockey era when there was only six NHL teams. I could have had a tryout with the Providence Reds or Springfield Indians, but there was no money in that. The NHL expanded after my time, but I played on a line (on the Eastern Olympic team) with guys who ended up making it.”
Dupere joins Tino Bertolini, Jerry Mondalto and Kristy Gleason as the only Amesbury athletes to have their respective numbers retired. The Amesbury School Committee also recently voted to retire the number of Ashley Waters, a prolific softball player in the early 2000s.
At Amesbury, Dupere was the North Shore League high-scorer and MVP in 1958. That Amesbury team made it to the North Shore final, only to lose to Woburn 2-1.
Dupere went on to play at Northeastern, where he set several scoring records between 1961 and 1964. He was named team MVP three times (1962, 1963, 1964), and broke the school’s single-season scoring record in 1963. The two-time All East selection was a Northeastern Hall of Fame inductee in 1984.
Amesbury High honored Dupere in the same manner this year as a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame induction class.