BORN CLAYTON GROVE BENNETT on May 12th 1952 in Waterford Ontario, the son of Clayton and Louis Bennett (Sutton), he arrived in Melbourne with a young wife and daughter in 1971. A "pint-size" Canuck from Oshawa in Ontario — just 5' 5" tall (165cm) — but weighing in at a solid 11 stone 8 pounds (73.5kg), he was recruited by John McCrae-Williamson for the Monarchs early in 1972.
Described as the complete hockey player, he possessed skating power, stick-handling skills, good balance and a booming shot. He won the 1972, 1973 and 1978 Goodall Cups representing Victoria, and probably also the 1979 Cup. He was a big contributor to the Monarchs 1972 and 1973 premierships before they very reluctantly cleared him to play for Hakoah at Oakleigh.
He joined his friend and new coach of Hakoah, Robbie Stevenson, the Victorian league's top scorer in 1971 and 1972 with the Tigers, and a former top scorer for Britain. The pair were described in those years as "an unstoppable scoring machine" and "the most consistent scorers in local hockey". He became captain of Hakoah, and the pair led their club to victory in the 1974 Victorian and Australian Championships.
He broke the Australian point scoring record in 1973 with 136 points and again in 1974 with 168 points. At the same time, he set a new Australian goal scoring record with 51 goals from 18 games, an average of 2.8 goals each game. In 1975, he netted 3.3 goals per game, scoring 43 goals and 21 assists, an incredible average of 10 points a game (128 points from 13 games).
He was the league's top scorer in 1974 and '75 with Hakoah and '77, '80 and '81 with the Footscray Pirates. Overall, he was the League's top points scorer 7 times between 1973 and 1981, every year except 1978. He played a career total of 202 games — 41 games for the Monarchs, 1972-3; 38 for Hakoah, 1974-5; 116 for the Pirates, 1976-1981; and the last 7 for the Lions-Hakoah, 1982-3. He won 5 premierships, 2 with the Monarchs in 1972, 1973, Hakoah in 1974, and 2 with the Pirates in 1976 and 1978.
He also played in the National Ice Hockey League with the Pirates; represented Australia (Victoria) in the international series against West Germany (U21) at Ringwood Iceland in 1977; and was a Victorian All-Star in the team that met NSW in the 1981 Interstate Ice Hockey Challenge. Renowned for his toughness, he was once knocked unconscious but revived and continued on.
Since the early-70s, he and his wife ran the Aylseford House retirement home in Malvern and he was owner-operator of La Dolce Vita pizza shop on High Street in Malvern which is still there today. The family returned to Canada in the early-1980s after ten years in Australia. He died from stomach cancer at a young age in 1986 survived by his wife, Heather, and 5 children — Sherri, 17; Grove, 13; Scott, 11; Heath, 3; and Skye, 1. Heather returned to Melbourne where she lives to this day.
His Melbourne-born son, Grove Jr, played 176 games in the Victorian League between 1991 and 2003, mostly with the Melbourne Demons. Grove Jr was one of only three to play in the 6 Demons premierships from 1997 to 2001 and 2003. He married here to Di and moved to Oshawa in 2004 with their two children, Alexander and Reagan. They co-own Aroga Technologies (an assistive technology company) and Aroga Worldwide.
Paul Rice in Melbourne once asked if I had ever heard of the Demons "Embassy". "This abode housed 5 or 6 of the Demons import players in the 1977 and '78 seasons," he began. "Names like Danny McIvor, Ken Gyuzk, Fred Denichuk, Mike Boland and several others who quickly came and went in the few years we had those good players". Located on Centre Road, just down from the rink in Oakleigh, a sheep was purchased to keep the backyard grass in check and save having to mow it. For whatever reason, maybe because he was a small individual, they named the sheep "Boomer".
"We often had an after game club barbeque on a Sunday afternoon or night there," continued Paul. "We played Sunday lunchtime at Oakleigh then. Lots of food and drinks were on offer as it was the major revenue raiser for the club in those days. From memory, cans cost 70 cents each, 3 for $2.00. We regularly bought in 100 dozen lots and would sell upwards of 60 dozen a week after practice, a home game and at after-game functions. The record was 70+ dozen cans on a Sunday at Bill & Laurel Jones house in Huntingdale". This was the seventies.
"After a late-season game against the Pirates," confides Paul "which carried its usual antagonistic rhetoric with the opposition and in particular Robbie Stevenson, Danny Saunders and, of course, Boomer Bennett, who seemed to take it all in his stride". But on this particular evening, I discover, The Embassy decided to put on a spit roast for the night with an open fire, lots of beers and the usual shenanigans of an after-game party. At some point in the proceedings one of the ladies noticed Boomer the mascot was not around.
Well, it was a major upset for all and sundry. The Embassy matter-of-factly telling each enquirer they had dined on Boomer earlier that night. Women cried and some men were noticeably saddened to see the mascot disappear in such a fashion. "There were also a few who thought it was hilarious for some reason", recalls Rice "because it was just another chance to have a dig at Boomer Bennett!" But it all turned out to be lies. Boomer was quietly out of the way next door so that The Embassy could pull-off their ruse. They were not forgiven by some for quite a while, and the real Boomer Bennett was in on the joke all along!
Ross Carpenter, 'Bennett, Grove "Boomer" (1952 - )', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia, http://icelegendsaustralia.com/bio_bennett.html, accessed online .
 VIHA game statistics and "The Embassy" story by Paul Rice, IHV historian.
 Some biographical notes by Di Bennett, wife of Grove Bennett Jr.