Oakland Seals. Doesn't seem worthy of an article, huh? But, this guy did have some noteworthy success in the American Hockey League and I believe Szura's is an interesting story.
Joe Szura – NAHL
Joe played ten regular season games for the Cape Codders during the 1974-75 NAHL season. It was his last year in pro hockey and he contributed with three goals and two assists. The Codders finished fifth in the eight team league, 12 points behind the fourth place Johnstown Jets.
In the playoffs, the Codders lost in the opening round to the Jets, three games to one. Szura played in all four games, adding an assist. Done. That is the extent of Joe Szura's career in the North American Hockey League.
Here's a tidbit for those not familiar with the Codders. They played out of the Cape Cod Coliseum in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The venue opened in 1972 and seated 7,200 for hockey. Just 12 years later, in 1984, the arena was closed and converted to warehouse space.
Joe Szura – Junior and Minor Pro
Szura played his junior hockey with the Fort Williams Canadiens from 1956-57 to 1958-59. He followed that up with nearly nine full seasons in the minors before playing his first game in the National Hockey League, playing for teams in the EPHL and AHL.
He was a Calder Cup champion in 1963-64 with the Cleveland Barons. The Fred Glover coached team was lacklustre during the regular season, finishing third in the four team Western Division. Joe had a great year offensively with 23 goals and 44 assists for 67 points over 72 games.
It was in the Calder Cup playoffs in 1963-64 where Szura exploded to lead the Barons to one of the greatest playoff runs in hockey history. Over nine games, he scored 13 goals and assisted on six more for 19 points – numbers not normally seen in the defensive minded AHL. The Barons did the impossible and went undefeated through their three rounds. In the first, they knocked off the Rochester Americans in two games. In the semi-finals, they swept the Hershey Bears in three. In the finals, the swept the Quebec Aces in four for the championship.
Two years later with the Barons, 1965-66, Joe had the best offensive season of his pro career. He scored 46 goals and assisted on 30 for 76 points. He finished third in the league in goal scoring, one behind co-leaders Alain Caron of the Buffalo Bisons and Dick Gamble of the Rochester Americans. He was named a First Team All-Star but couldn't produce in the playoffs. Over 12 games, he scored just one goal and totalled just five points. Cleveland reached the Calder Cup finals but fell to Rochester.
Szura returned to the AHL after his very short career in the NHL to play three more years from 1969-70 to 1971-72. In the first year, played with the Providence Reds, his 46 assists tied for seventh in the AHL.
In 1970-71, Joe led the Reds offensively in the regular season and playoffs. His 53 assists were good for second in the AHL and his 74 points tied him for fifth. Providence finished first in the Eastern Division and reached the Calder Cup finals before losing to the Springfield Kings.
In his final year in the American Hockey League, 1971-72, Joe played for the Baltimore Clippers. He finished fifth in goal scoring with 38 and ninth in the race for the John B. Sollenberger Trophy with 76 points. Joe helped the Clippers to the Calder Cup finals before losing out to the Nova Scotia Voyageurs.
Joe Szura – Major League Hockey
In 1968-69, Szura played 70 regular season games for the Seals. Once again, he had Fred Glover guiding him as head coach. Oakland qualified for the post season for the first time and faced off against the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round. Szura played all seven games for the Seals with the team coming up short. Oakland held a 3-2 lead in the series at one point and outscored the Kings 25-23 over the seven games.
When the World Hockey Association came along, Joe jumped at the chance to play in the big leagues again. In 1972-73, the WHA's inaugural season, he played for the Los Angeles Sharks. In 1973-74, he played alongside the Howe family with the Houston Aeros. In all, he appeared in 115 regular season WHA games, scoring 21 and assisting on 39. He played 12 playoff games for the Aeros but didn't register a point.