Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gerry Pinder: A Short But Productive Stay With The Maine Nordiques


gerry pinder 1972-73 cleveland crusaders hockey card
He spent little time in the North American Hockey League during the league’s final season, just like many filtered through the NAHL in its four years. Gerry Pinder played a total of 21 games in 1976-77 with the Maine Nordiques but certainly made an impact with the club.

Gerry Pinder – NAHL


After starting the 1976-77 season in the World Hockey Association with the San Diego Mariners, playing 44 games, Pinder joined the Nordiques and played in eleven regular season games. Gerry fit right in with six goals and three assists for nine points.

In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, Maine came as close to a championship as they would get, reaching the finals. Unfortunately, they were no match for Syracuse Blazers. Pinder played ten playoff games, scoring eight goals and assisting on two for ten points.

Gerry Pinder – Junior



Pinder played two years of junior hockey with the Saskatoon Blades, 1965-66 and 1966-67. In the first year, the Blades played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). In the second, Saskatoon played in the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (SMJHL), the direct predecessor to the current WHL.

In 1966-67, Gerry broke loose offensively. In 55 regular season games, he scored an amazing 78 goals and assisted on 62 for 140 points. He led the league in goals and points and placed fourth for assists while being named the league’s player of the year. As for the Blades, they didn’t fare so well. The team placed fifth in the seven team league over the 56 game schedule and were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Estevan Bruins.

Gerry Pinder – Team Canada


Before going pro, Pinder spent a few years with Canada’s national team. He competed in the 1968 Winter Olympic Games and the 1969 IIHF World Hockey Championships.

The 1968 Winter Olympics were held in Grenoble, France. Over seven games, Gerry scored one goal. The goal came in a 3-0 win over Sweden. Canada came out of the Olympics with a bronze medal. Joining Pinder on the Canadian team were future major league pros Fran Huck, Brian Glennie and Bill MacMillan.

The following year, Pinder was with Canada when they competed at the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden. In ten games, Gerry scored three and assisted on one. Canada placed fourth in the tournament.

Gerry Pinder – NHL


Pinder played 223 regular season games in the National Hockey League between 1969-70 and 1971-72. His first two years were spent with the Chicago Black Hawks and his final year in the NHL was with the California Golden Seals. Over that time, his numbers were quite respectable with 55 goals and 69 assists for 124 points. He also played 17 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs, all with Chicago.

With the California Golden Seals, Pinder was the offensive leader on the rag-tag team. His 23 goals and 54 points led the team while playing 74 of the team’s 78 games.

Gerry Pinder – WHA


Gerry jumped to the World Hockey Association for the league’s inaugural season in 1972-73. Between 1972-73 and 1977-78, Pinder played 353 regular season games, scoring 93 goals and assisting on 141 for 234 points. He played an additional 18 games in the Avco World Trophy playoffs, adding 15 points.

Over his WHA career, Gerry played for the Cleveland Crusaders, San Diego Mariners and Edmonton Oilers. His time with the Oilers was limited to just four games during the 1977-78 season. His best year was his first, scoring 30 goals for the Crusaders in 1972-73.

 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bob Leduc: Maine Nordiques


bob leduc rookie card 1972-73 o-pee-chee ottawa nationals
Bob Leduc closed out his professional hockey career in the North American Hockey League. When the Maine Nordiques and the NAHL ceased to exist after the 1976-77 season, so did Leduc’s career. Never did he play in the National Hockey League but Leduc played 158 regular season games in the WHA in the rebel league’s first three seasons.

Bob Leduc – NAHL


Leduc played for the Maine Nordiques in 1975-76 and 1976-77. In his first year, he took on the dual role of player / head coach. Over 67 regular season games, he put in decent numbers with 23 goals and 43 assists for 66 points. The Nordiques finished last overall but because the Cape Codders folded mid-season, Maine qualified for the post season. They were an early exit, losing 3-1 to the Beauce Jaros in the opening round.

In 1976-77, Jean-Charles Gravel took over the head coaching duties with the Nordiques and Bob played just 25 regular season games. He contributed four goals and totalled 14 points. Maine was much improved and placed second in the eight team league. In what would be his final year in professional hockey, Leduc added nine points over 12 playoff games. The Nordiques reached the Lockhart Cup finals before being swept in four games by the Syracuse Blazers.

Bob Leduc – Pro Hockey



Between 1964-65 and 1976-77, Bob played in the AHL, EHL, WHA and NAHL. Most of his career was spent in the American Hockey League with the Providence Reds. With Providence, he played 496 regular season games, scoring 129 goals and assisting on 185 for 314 points.

Despite finishing with a below .500 record, in three years Leduc was with the Reds, the team did quite well in the post season. In 1967-68, Providence placed seventh in the eight team league. Yet, they reached the semi-finals before falling to the Quebec Aces, 3-1.

The following year, their regular season status improved to fifth out of eight and the Reds once again advanced to the Calder Cup semi-finals against Quebec. This time, Providence pushed the best of five series to the limit before succumbing to the Aces.

In 1970-71, the AHL was split into two four team divisions. Providence placed first in the Eastern Division, despite having just 69 points over 72 games. The Reds were fourth overall in the league. Once again, they did well in the playoffs, this time advancing all the way to the Calder Cup finals before being swept by the Springfield Kings in four games.

For the World Hockey Association’s inaugural season in 1972-73, Leduc was a member of the Ottawa Nationals. Playing all 78 games, he put in one of best years in pro hockey with 55 points. Bob moved with the Nationals to Toronto for the following season as the franchise became known as the Toros.  Leduc totalled 51 points in just 61 games and the Toros found some success in the playoffs. Toronto reached the semi-finals against the Chicago Cougars and pushed the series to the seven game limit before falling. At one point, Toronto led the series 3-2.

In 1974-75, Leduc took on the dual role of player/head coach with the Toros, although he played in just 19 games during the regular season and none in the playoffs. Toronto placed second in the five team Canadian Division and fifth overall in the 14 team league with 88 points in 78 games. However, the Toros fell in the opening round to the San Diego Mariners in six games.

Bob Leduc – Hockey Card


Bob got his mug on mainstream cardboard just once. The Bob Leduc rookie card appears as number 322 in the 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee set. The last series of that set featured players in their brand new WHA uniforms. Leduc was shown as a member of the Ottawa Nationals.

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jim Corsi of the Maine Nordiques


jim corsi quebec nordiques
Since 1998-99, he has been the goaltending coach for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League. Jim Corsi got his start in professional hockey with the Maine Nordiques of the NAHL in the league’s final season, 1976-77.

Jim Corsi – NAHL


In his first year pro, Corsi played in net for 54 of the Nordiques 74 regular season games. He posted a 3.57 goals against average and had one shutout. Backing him up and playing in 28 games was Mario Viens. Viens played pro for just the 1975-76 and 1976-77 season after four years in the QMJHL with the Cornwall Royals. In 1975-76, he split his season between the Toronto Toros in the WHA and the Buffalo Norsemen in the NAHL.

Corsi played in all 12 playoff games for Maine in 1976-77. After finishing second overall in the eight team league, the Nordiques then swept the Johnstown Jets in the opening round and downed the Binghamton Dusters in the semi-finals. In the Lockhart Cup finals, Maine came up against the Syracuse Blazers in the finals and were swept out of NAHL history.

Jim Corsi – Pro Hockey



Out of Concordia University in the CIAU, Corsi played professional hockey from 1976-77 to 1979-80 in North America and from 1980-81 to 1991-92 in Italy. In North America, Jim played in the NAHL, WHA, AHL, NHL and CHL. Over two years in the World Hockey Association, 1977-78 and 1978-79, he played in 63 games for the Quebec Nordiques. In the second year, he split duties with another former NAHL goalie, Richard Brodeur. Behind the bench of that Nordiques team was Jacques Demers.

In 1979-80, Corsi played 26 games with the Edmonton Oilers in their first year in the National Hockey League after the WHA merged. It ended up being Jim’s only NHL action and he shared duties with five other goalies that year. Eddie Mio played the most games with 34. Other notable goaltenders playing for Edmonton that year included Ron Low and Dave Dryden.

During his days in Italy, Jim played for club teams while also appearing with the country’s national team. Corsi appeared at eight IIHF World Championship tournaments for Italy. He was on the roster for the Italian squad at the 1984 Winter Olympic games.

Jim Corsi – Coach


Corsi has been goaltending coach with the Buffalo Sabres since 1998-99. Since, the team has not had a problem keeping pucks out of the net, rather putting them in. His star pupils have been Ryan Miller and Marty Biron.

 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Maine Nordiques


maine nordiques lewiston nahl franchise
The Maine Nordiques existed for the entire duration of the North American Hockey League, 1973-74 to 1976-77. The team was affiliated with the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association. Home games were played at the Central Maine Youth Center, now the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, in Lewiston, Maine. The venue seats 3,677 for hockey and was opened in 1958.

1973-74


The best regular season performance by the Maine Nordiques was countered by a terrible post season. Maine placed second out of seven teams in the NAHL, 19 points behind the first place Syracuse Blazers and 20 points ahead of the Long Island Cougars. However, in the Lockhart Cup playoffs, the Nordiques won just one of eight games in the opening round, round robin style format.


During the regular season, four players totalled 100 or more points: Rejean Giroux, Paul Larose, Michel Rouleau and Michel Archambault. All four were in the top six for points in the league. Giroux placed second in the NAHL with 64 goals while Larose was third with 53. The two were also 2-3 in the points department with Giroux finishing with 122 and Larose ending up with 119. Michel Rouleau finished sixth in the league for penalty minutes with 173.

Future NHL goalie Richard Brodeur played his only 15 games in the NAHL during the regular season. Brodeur was back with the Quebec Nordiques by playoff time. Michel Harvey took on the dual role of player / head coach.

1974-75


The Nordiques started 1974-75 with ten consecutive losses and Michel Harvey was relieved of his coaching duties. Jean-Charles Gravel took over as head coach and the team improved somewhat but did not qualify for the post season. Maine finished eighth in the eight team league with just 55 points over 74 games.

Paul Larose led the team with 54 goals and 49 assists for 103 points. He placed second in the league for goals and third for points. The team used six different goaltenders but their number one was Bernie Wolfe. Wolfe would later play four years in the National Hockey League with the Washington Capitals.

1975-76


Bob Leduc took over the role of player / head coach and the Nordiques were downright dreadful. Leduc had spent the past three years in the WHA in the Ottawa Nationals / Toronto Toros organization. Maine finished the year with just 18 wins and a tie, along with 55 losses. The Cape Codders played just 52 games before folding and still finished 14 points ahead of the Nordiques. Maine was fifth in the five team East Division and last overall in the ten team league.

Because the Codders folded, Maine actually made it into the playoffs. The Beauce Jaros took out the Nordiques in the opening round but Maine did manage to win one game.

Once again, Paul Larose was the team leader offensively, putting up great numbers on a terrible team. Larose scored 41 and assisted on 73 for 114 points over 71 games. He placed tenth in the NAHL for goals, fifth for assists and eighth for points.

1976-77


The Nordiques turned it around for their final year in the doomed league with Jean-Charles Gravel returning as head coach. Maine finished second in the eight team league and won their first ever playoff series in the league by sweeping the Johnstown Jets in the opening round. In round 2, the Nordiques took out the Binghamton Dusters in five games. In the Lockhart Cup finals, Maine was swept by the Syracuse Blazers.

Paul Larose Gary Coulter led the team with 31 goals each. John Cunniff was the team leader with 65 assists and 94 points. Jim Corsi was the number one goalie for the Nordiques. Corsi played 26 games in the NHL for the Edmonton Oilers during the 1979-80 season. John has been goaltending coach for the Buffalo Sabres since 2001-02.

 

 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bryan McSheffrey


bryan mcsheffrey vancouver canucks rookie hockey card
Bryan McSheffrey was a player that had a promising junior hockey career in the OHA with the Ottawa 67’s in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. McSheffrey looked to be off and running in the National Hockey League with the Vancouver Canucks, the team that made him a second round pick in 1972. However, by 1975, he was in the North American Hockey League, never to play in the NHL again.

Bryan McSheffrey – NAHL


McSheffrey played two years in the NAHL, 1975-76 and 1976-77. In his first year, he started out with the Guy Trottier coached Buffalo Norsemen. Over 46 games, he scored 27 goals and assisted on 31 for well more than a point per game at 58. Even with only playing 46 of 74 games, Bryan placed fourth on the Norsemen for assists.

Bryan was shipped to the fragile Cape Codders midseason. The Codders had folded before Christmas but were resurrected for a short period of time in the new year. McSheffrey played three games with the club, scoring just a goal. The Cape Codders folded for good on February 18, 1975.

McSheffrey finished off the 1975-76 season with the Mohawk Valley Comets, playing 12 games and adding seven points. The Comets lost in the opening round to the Syracuse Blazers.

In 1976-77, Bryan spent the whole season with the Comets, playing in 63 games and totalling 72 points on 29 goals and 43 assists. He placed third on the team for points. Mohawk Valley lost in the opening round to the Binghamton Dusters, three games to two.

Bryan McSheffrey – Ottawa 67’s


Bryan played four years with the Ottawa 67’s from 1968-69 to 1971-72. He appeared in one game with the Oshawa Generals in 1967-68. He was well over a point per game during his OHA career with 260 in 226 regular season games. He led the 67’s in goals in 1969-70 with 35 and placed second behind Blake Dunlop the following year for goals and points.

In his final year in the league, McSheffrey led Ottawa with 52 goals and 96 points. He placed fifth in the league for goals behind a group of four that went on to play in the NHL, including league leader and Hockey Hall of Fame member Steve Shutt.

Bryan McSheffrey – Pro Hockey


Bryan was a second round pick of the Vancouver Canucks at the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft. He had size and scoring ability and in the beginning the Canucks had big plans for him. McSheffrey played just 90 games in the NHL over his career, all between 1972-73 and 1974-75 with the Canucks and Buffalo Sabres. His time in Buffalo was limited to just three games. Bryan appears on just one hockey card. The Bryan McSheffrey rookie card is part of the 1973-74 O-Pee-Chee set.

McSheffrey finished his pro hockey career in the Netherlands Eredivisie with HYS Den Haag (The Hague). He was the league’s scoring leader, playing in 1978-79 and 1979-80. Over his time in the Netherlands, Bryan produced at over three points per game.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Philadelphia Civic Center: Home of the Firebirds


philadelphia civic center
When the Philadelphia Firebirds played in the North American Hockey League for three years from 1974-75 to 1976-77, the team played their home games at the Philadelphia Civic Center. The full name was Philadelphia Convention Hall and Civic Center.

The Firebirds won a Lockhart Cup championship at the Civic Center in 1975-76. When the NAHL disbanded after the 1976-77 season, the Firebirds joined the American Hockey League and played out of the Civic Center for the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons before leaving town.

The Philadelphia Civic Center was opened in 1931. The arena held a capacity of around 9,000 for hockey. The venue was closed in 1996 and demolished in 2005.

The Civic Center was also home to a handful of other professional sports teams. In pro hockey, the Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association played at the arena for the 1972-73 season. It was the first year of WHA hockey and the only year that Philadelphia had a franchise. The team was meant to start as the Miami Screaming Eagles but had to move to Philly because of arena issues.

The Blazers were hyped by the signings of goaltender Bernie Parent and NHL budding superstar Derek Sanderson. Both soon after returned to the National Hockey League. The Blazers were relocated to Vancouver for the 1973-74 season.

Professional basketball in Philadelphia was rooted in the Civic Center. The Philadelphia Warriors of the NBA played their home games at the venue from 1952-53 to 1961-62. The team won a NBA title in 1955-56 with a victory over the Fort Wayne Pistons. For the 1962-63 season, the Warriors moved to San Francisco and are the present day Golden State Warriors.

The Philadelphia 76ers also called the Civic Center home from 1963-64 to 1966-67. The 76ers were relocated from Syracuse, New York after 1962-63. They were originally known as the Syracuse Nationals. The 76ers moved into the Spectrum for 1967-68, the same year the NHL’s Flyers moved in.

As for the Spectrum, it seated 17,380 for hockey. It closed in 2009 and was demolished in 2011.

 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Michel Plante of the Philadelphia Firebirds


michel plante philadelphia firebirds nahl
Michel Plante along with Bob Collyard and Gord Brooks led the Philadelphia Firebirds to the 1975-76 Lockhart Cup championship in the North American Hockey League. Plante played the final three years of the NAHL’s existence followed by one more year in pro hockey before retiring.

Michel Plante – NAHL


Plante played with the Philadelphia Firebirds for three years from 1974-75 to 1976-77. He appeared in 213 regular season games, scoring 102 goals and assisted on 140 for 242 points. Like the rest of the Firebirds, Michel really shone in 1975-76.

Over 73 regular season games in 1975-76, Plante scored 52 and assisted on 66 for 118 points. He placed fifth in the NAHL for goals, ninth for assists and seventh for points. In the playoffs, he added another 27 points over 16 games as the Firebirds captured the Lockhart Cup championship with a victory of the Beauce Jaros in six in the finals.

Michel Plante – QMJHL


Michel played for the Drummondville Rangers in the first three years of existence for the QMJHL, 1969-70 to 1971-72. Plante’s hometown Rangers ceased operations after the 1973-74 QMJHL season. In his final two years with Drummondville, Plante wore the ‘A’ on his jersey. In 1970-71, he led the team offensively with 39 goals and 54 assists for 93 points over 61 games.

Michel Plante – Pro Hockey


Plante was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, 75th overall. He played pro from 1972-73 to 1977-78 in the WHA, SHL, NAHL and IHL. Michel appeared in 92 regular season and four playoff games in the World Hockey Association with the Philadelphia Blazers in 1972-73 and 1973-74.

In his final year of pro, Michel almost had his second championship. He played for the Port Huron Flags in the International Hockey League. The Flags did not excel during the regular season, finishing fourth out of five teams in the IHL North Division with just the sixth best record in the nine team IHL.

However, the Flags knocked off the division leading Saginaw Gears in the opening round, four games to one. It then took just another five games to take out the second seed Kalamazoo Wings to earn a berth in the finals. Port Huron came up against the Toledo Goaldiggers and stretched the series to the full seven games before bowing out. Plante contributed 15 points over 17 playoff games to push the Flags to the finals.

 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paul Larose of the Maine Nordiques


paul larose quebec nordiques wha
Paul Larose played in all four North American Hockey League seasons and was one of the league’s most consistent offensive producers. Larose played all four years, his final four as a pro hockey player, with the Maine Nordiques, helping the club to a Lockhart Cup finals appearance in 1976-77.

Paul Larose – NAHL


Over 287 regular season NAHL games, Paul scored 179 goals and assisted on 248 for 427 points. Twice he topped the 50 goal plateau and surpassed 100 points in three of his four years.

In his first year with the Nordiques, Larose scored 53 and assisted on 66 for 119 points over 70 games. He placed third in the NAHL for goals, second for assists and third for points.

1974-75 saw Paul score 54 but add just 49 assists for 103 points in 73 games. He was the team leader with Maine for goals, assists and points. Larose’s 54 goals placed him second in the league, one goal behind Rod Bloomfield of the Binghamton Dusters. Paul placed tenth for assists and tied for third for points.

Larose once again led the Nordiques in goals, assists and points in 1975-76 with 41 goals and 73 assists for 114 points over 71 games. His assist total placed him fifth in the league. 114 points would have tied Paul for the league lead in 1974-75. In 1975-76, the total placed him down in eighth spot in a NAHL led by Joe Hardy of the Beauce Jaros who amassed an amazing 208 points.

In his final season of pro hockey, Paul’s numbers dropped but the Nordiques excelled with their most successful season in their stay in the NAHL. Over 73 regular season games, he scored 31 and assisted on 60 for 91 points. He placed eighth in the league for assists. Maine reached the Lockhart Cup finals before being swept in four by the Syracuse Blazers.

Paul Larose – QMJHL


Paul played just one year of junior in the QMJHL, Quebec’s contribution to the Canadian Hockey League. Larose started out the season with the Trois Rivieres Ducs, scoring 31 and totalling 66 points over 33 games before being traded to the Quebec Remparts. With Quebec, he also totalled 66 points but in just 24 games.

Combined, Larose played 57 games, scoring 52 and assisting on 80 for 132 points. In the high scoring QMJHL, Paul finished ninth for goals, fifth for assists and sixth for points. The Remparts were led by Guy Lafleur who scored 103 goals and totalled 170 points in 56 games.

Quebec was crowned President’s Cup champions as QMJHL playoff champs after sweeping the St. Jerome Alouettes in the finals. Larose finished second to Lafleur on the team for playoff points with 30 in 15 games. Guy amassed 43 in the same 15 games.

Paul Larose – Pro Hockey


Larose was taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the seventh round of the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft, 91st overall. He played pro hockey from 1970-71 to 1976-77 in the EHL, WHA and NAHL. In the World Hockey Association, Paul played 28 games for the Quebec Nordiques in 1972-73 and five with the Michigan Stags/Baltimore Blades in 1974-75.

Larose’s top year in pro hockey came in 1971-72 with the Syracuse Blazers of the Eastern Hockey League. Paul finished his second year of pro hockey with 67 goals and 62 assists for 129 points over 75 regular season games. His 67 goals led the EHL and his 129 points placed him second behind teammate Ray Adduono’s 165. Syracuse reached the finals before being swept by the Charlotte Checkers.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Brian Conacher: Head Coach of the Mohawk Valley Comets


brian conacher toronto maple leafs rookie hockey card
Son of National Hockey League great Lionel Conacher, Brian Conacher played his share of NHL hockey before he became a head coach in the North American Hockey League. Conacher coached the Mohawk Valley Comets for the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons, along with 12 games at the start of 1975-76. He wasn’t given much to work with and the Comets were not very successful.

Brian Conacher – Head Coach


In Conacher’s first year as head coach of the Mohawk Valley Comets, the team placed last in the seven team NAHL with 42 points over 74 games. The Comets finished 19 points behind the sixth place Binghamton Dusters and 70 points behind the first place Syracuse Blazers.

1974-75 saw a great improvement in the Comets. The team totalled 25 more points than the previous season with 67 over 74 games. Mohawk Valley finished sixth out of eight teams and got their first taste of the Lockhart Cup post season. However, the Comets fell in the opening round to the Binghamton Dusters, another team much improved over the previous season.


Mohawk Valley’s success in 1974-75 was largely due to the goaltending duo of Michel Dion and Jim Park, both in their first year with the club. Dion went on to play several years in the WHA and NHL while Park played three years in the WHA. Jim won the Terry Sawchuk Trophy in 1979-80 as the goaltender on the team in the Central Hockey League with the least goals against.

Twelve games into the 1975-76 season, Conacher was replaced by Ted McCaskill. During those 12 games, Brian returned to ice for three, scoring two goals and assisting on another. McCaskill played four games in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars in 1967-68 and was a regular in the World Hockey Association in 1972-73 and 1973-74 with the Los Angeles Sharks. In 1974-75, he played 40 games in the NAHL with the Binghamton Dusters, his final games as a pro hockey player.

The team didn’t fare much better under McCaskill, placing third of five teams in the East Division with 64 points in 74 games. The Comets then fell in the opening round of the playoffs to the Syracuse Blazers.

Brian Conacher – Pro Hockey Player


Brian Conacher played a total of 155 regular season games in the National Hockey League between 1965-66 and 1971-72 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. He also appeared in 12 playoff games, all during the 1966-67 season when the Maple Leafs captured the Stanley Cup championship.

Brian played one last year of pro hockey in 1972-73 before ending up behind the Mohawk Valley bench. He played for the Ottawa Nationals in the inaugural season of the WHA. Over his career, he also played in the AHL and CHL. Conacher played for Canada at the 1964 Winter Olympics and the 1965 World Hockey Championships. He was a Calder Cup champion in the American Hockey League with the Rochester Americans in 1965-66.

Brian Conacher – Author


In 2007, Conacher published a book titled As the Puck Turns: A Personal Journey Through the World of Hockey. The book chronicled his diverse life in hockey and peeked inside one of the sport’s royal families.

 

 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dave Hanson: The Man, The Foil and The Legend


dave hanson johnstown jets nahl
Dave Hanson really needs no introduction to any true North American Hockey League fan. Hanson was a last minute replacement for Jack Carlson in the 1977 hockey cult film ‘Slapshot’. Dave played Jack Hanson, one of a trio of Hanson brothers on the fictitious Charlestown Chiefs, along with Jeff Carlson and Steve Carlson.

Dave Hanson – NAHL


Hanson played parts of three years in the NAHL from 1974-75 to 1976-77, all with the Johnstown Jets. In his first year, he placed third in the league for penalty minutes with 249. Ahead of him were Gary Sittler, brother of Darryl, of the Syracuse Blazers and teammate and movie brother Jeff Carlson, also of the Jets. Just three PIM behind Dave was teammate Jack Carlson. In that first year, the brawling Jets won the Lockhart Cup, sweeping the Binghamton Dusters in the finals.


The following year was Hanson’s last full season in the NAHL. He finished second in the league for penalty minutes with 311. Ahead of him, a far, far distance away was Gilles Bilodeau of the Beauce Jaros with 451 PIM, an NAHL record.

In 1976-77, the last for the league, Hanson played just six games for the Jets before never really unpacking his suitcase for the rest of the season. Dave played for four other teams in pro hockey, the Hampton Gulls of the SHL, Rhode Island Reds of the AHL, Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA and the New England Whalers of the WHA.

Dave Hanson – Pro Hockey


Hanson played pro from 1974-75 to 1983-84 in a handful of leagues, including the NAHL, SHL, AHL, WHA, CHL, NHL and IHL. He was not drafted into the NHL but was a fourth round pick of the Fighting Saints at the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft, 59th overall. Dave appeared in 33 National Hockey League games with the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars. In the World Hockey Association, he played 103 total regular season games with the Fighting Saints, Whalers and Birmingham Bulls.

Perhaps Dave’s pinnacle in pro hockey came in 1980-81 with the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League. He placed fifth in the league for PIM but, more importantly, won a championship. The Red Wings won the Calder Cup with a victory over the Maine Mariners in six in the finals. Maine outscored Adirondack 22-19 in the series on the strength of a 10-1 drubbing in game four.

Dave Hanson – The Author


In 2008, Hanson authored Slap Shot Original: The Man, the Foil, and the Legend. This is a firsthand account of the behind-the-scenes antics while filming Slap Shot. Dave also gets into how the movie changed his life, along with the other cast members, taking them from minor hockey league players to movie stars.

Big names abound with Bob Costas and Gordie Howe providing the Foreward. Also included are introductions from Jeff Carlson and Steve Carlson, the other two thirds of the Hanson Brothers.

The book is having a bit of a re-release on October 1, 2013. Slap Shot Original: The Man, The Foil and the Legend will once again be available via Amazon. The book qualifies for Amazon’s pre-order guarantee, meaning if you pre-order and the price drops before the book is available for shipping, they refund the difference.

If you order the book and the DVD of the original movie ‘Slapshot’, you just might qualify for free shipping if the total is $25 or more!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Don Hay - Philadelphia Firebirds


don hay philadelphia firebirds nahl
Long, long before he was the legendary coach of Canadian junior hockey, Don Hay put in a decent year of pro hockey with the Philadelphia Firebirds in the NAHL. It was 1976-77, Hay’s last year as a player and the league’s last year of existence.

Don Hay – NAHL


Hay played just one year in the North American Hockey League, 1976-77 with the Philadelphia Firebirds. The Firebirds moved on to the American Hockey League for the 1977-78 season but Don hung up the blades and headed back to British Columbia.

The right winger played the full 74 game schedule for Philadelphia, scoring 20 goals and assisting on 15 for 35 points, while also sitting 96 minutes in the sin bin. He played in all of the Firebirds four playoff games, contributing two assists. After finishing fourth in the eight team league, Philadelphia met up with the Erie Blades in the opening round of the Lockhart Cup playoffs, falling three games to one.

Don Hay – Pro Hockey


After playing two years of junior hockey in the WCHL, 1972-73 with the Calgary Centennials and 1973-74 with the New Westminster Bruins, Hay was drafted into both major hockey leagues. However, he was drafted very deep.

At the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, Don was taken by the Minnesota North Stars in the 12th round, 193rd overall. It got worse at the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft. Hay was taken by the Houston Aeros way down in the 16th round, 230rd overall.

Don played pro hockey from 1974-75 to 1976-77. In his first two years, he bounced around the IHL. In his final year, of course, he spent the full season with the Firebirds.

Don Hay – The Coach


Hay has been coaching hockey since 1986-87, mostly in the WHL. He had a few shots at the National Hockey League, acting as assistant coach of the Calgary Flames in 1995-96, head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996-97 and assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks in 1997-98. He got a chance at the head coaching job with the Flames in 2000-01 but was quickly replaced midseason. Besides a stint as head coach of the Utah Grizzlies in the AHL from 2001-02 to 2003-04, it’s been the WHL all the way.

Five times, Hay has been behind the bench of an Ed Chynoweth Cup champion in the WHL. He was an assistant coach in 1989-90 and 1991-92 for the Kamloops Blazers as they captured the championship. The 1991-92 team went on to win the Memorial Cup tournament. Don was head coach of the Blazers in 1993-94 and 1994-95 as Kamloops won both the Ed Chynoweth Cup and Memorial Cup in both seasons. In 2005-06, he was head coach of the Vancouver Giants team that won the WHL championship.

Don has also twice been the bench boss of Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. In 1995, Canada won gold in Red Deer, Alberta with what many consider to be the best WJC team ever. Canada went undefeated in the round robin only tournament. Hay returned to coach the 2012 Canada team in the WJC tournament jointly held in Calgary and Edmonton. Canada took the bronze medal.

Hay has coached the Vancouver Giants since 2004-05. Besides the Blazers and Giants, Don also had a two year stint with the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.

 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Gord Brooks of the Philadelphia Firebirds


gord brooks philadelphia firebirds nahl
Gord Brooks played two years in the North American Hockey League, 1975-76 and 1976-77, both with the Philadelphia Firebirds. As a junior, he was part of a historic London Knights event. He played parts of three years in the National Hockey League and was an award winner in the AHL.

Gord Brooks – NAHL


In 1975-76, Brooks scored 39 goals and assisted on 54 for 93 points over 66 regular season games with the Firebirds. His 93 points placed him just third on the high scoring Philadelphia squad. However, in the Lockhart Cup playoffs, Gord led the way with 15 goals and 32 points over 16 games as the Firebirds won the championship with a final series victory over the Beauce Jaros.

The following year, Brooks stepped up his offensive performance but the Firebirds were a bit of a dud as a team. With 65 goals and 59 assists for 124 points over 74 regular season games, Gord led the team in goals and points. In the NAHL, he was second in goals and fourth in points. However, Philadelphia lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the Erie Blades. Following that, the NAHL ceased to exist and the Firebirds joined the American Hockey League. Brooks went along for the ride.

Gord Brooks – Junior


Gord played two years in the Ontario Hockey Association (what is now the OHL) in 1968-69 and 1969-70. His first year was spent with the Hamilton Red Wings (the current day Erie Otters).

During the 1969-70 season, Brooks was traded from Hamilton to the London Knights. He played 12 games for London in the playoffs with the Knights winning their first ever playoff series with an opening round victory over the Peterborough Petes. London then fell to the Toronto Marlboros in the following round.

Gord Brooks – Pro Hockey


The St. Louis Blues selected Brooks in the fourth round of the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft, 51st overall. He played a total of 70 regular season games in the National Hockey League, two with the Blues in 1971-72, 30 more with St. Louis in 1973-74 and 15 with the Washington Capitals in their inaugural season, 1974-75.

He played pro from 1970-71 to 1983-84, appearing in the CHL, NHL, WHL, AHL, NAHL, IHL and Austria. 1977-78 was a definite career highlight on a personal achievement level. With the Philadelphia Firebirds, in their first year in the AHL, Gord put up 42 goals and 56 assists for 98 points over 81 games. His point total tied him with Rick Adduono of the Rochester Americans for the league high and earned him a share of the John B. Sollenberger Trophy. Adduono saw time in the NAHL, as well, with two games as a member of the Binghamton Dusters in 1975-76.

He started the 1980-81 season in Austria but returned to finish off the year in the IHL with the Saginaw Gears. In his 39 regular season games for Saginaw, Brooks contributed a decent 42 points. In the Turner Cup playoffs, he totalled 17 points over 13 games. The Gears swept the Kalamazoo Wings in the final series to capture the championship.

In 1981-82, Brooks played a full year with Saginaw and turned up the offensive volume. Over 82 regular season games, he scored 49 goals and assisted on 64 for 113 points. His point total placed him third in the league. The Gears once again reached the Turner Cup finals but were ousted by the Toledo Goaldiggers in five games. It was, for the most part, the swan song of Gord’s career.

 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bob Collyard


bob collyard philadelphia firebirds nahl
Bob Collyard played professional hockey from 1970-71 to 1982-83. Collyard spent three years with the Philadelphia Firebirds of the NAHL from 1974-75 to 1976-77. During his stay in the North American Hockey League, Bob put up great numbers in each season.

NCAA/WCHA


Collyard spent three years playing for Colorado College in the WCHA from 1968-69 to 1970-71. In his first year, he led the league with 31 goals and 48 points over just 25 games. In his first two years, Bob was selected to the NCAA 1st All-American Team.

Pro Hockey


After just his first year at Colorado College, Collyard was picked by the St. Louis Blues in the seventh round of the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft, 73rd overall. Bob went on to play pro hockey from 1970-71 to 1982-83 in the CHL, NHL, WHL, NAHL, AHL, Germany and IHL.
His National Hockey League experience consists of ten games with the Blues during the 1973-74 season. He was picked up by the Washington Capitals in the 1974 NHL Expansion Draft but never played for the Capitals.

Bob showed off his soft hands in 1972-73, leading the Central Hockey League with 50 assists as a member of the Fort Worth Wings. In his first year in the American Hockey League, 1977-78, with the Philadelphia Firebirds, Collyard finished second in the league with 62 assists, just one behind Joe Hardy of the Binghamton Dusters. That year, he finished fourth in points with 90, eight behind league leader and teammate Gord Brooks.

NAHL


Over his three years in the NAHL, Collyard scored 118 goals and assisted on 230 for 348 points over 216 regular season games. His playoff numbers were even more impressive with 18 goals and 30 assists for 48 points in 24 games. Most of those playoff numbers came in 1975-76 when the Firebirds won the Lockhart Cup. Bob scored 12 goals and assisted on 25 for 37 points.

In 1974-75, Collyard scored 42 and assisted on 61 for 103 points. He placed fourth in the league for goals, second for assists and tied for third in points. Bob led the Firebirds in all three categories and was named to the NAHL Second All-Star Team.

The following year, 1975-76, Bob’s numbers increased but so did everyone else’s in the NAHL. His 45 goals placed him eighth, his 84 assists were good for second and his 129 points put him in fifth among NAHL scoring leaders. He led Philadelphia in assists and points. As mentioned, he led the way in the playoffs as the Firebirds captured the Lockhart Cup championship. Once again, Collyard was named a Second Team All-Star.

In his final season, 1976-77, Bob’s goal total dropped to 31 but his assists increased to 85 for a total of 116 points. Collyard led the team in assists and finished second in the NAHL. His point total placed him seventh overall. Once again, Bob was a Second Team All-Star.

Collyard carried on as a member of the Philadelphia Firebirds for two more years in the American Hockey League after the demise of the NAHL.

USA National Team


Twice, Bob was a member of the United States contingent at the IIHF World Hockey Championships. In 1978, he scored a goal and assisted on five for six points over ten games. The tournament was held in Prague, Czechoslovakia and the U.S.A. finished sixth out of eight countries. That year, the Soviet Union won gold, Czechoslovakia won silver and Canada took bronze.

In 1979, Collyard played in eight games and scored two goals. The U.S. fell to seventh out of eight teams. The tournament was hosted in Moscow. Once again, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia took the first two positions with Sweden winning the bronze.

 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

NAHL 1975-76 Scoring Leaders


beauce jaros nahl north american hockey league
Hockey history was made in 1975-76 and probably went unnoticed by pretty much everyone. In the lowly North American Hockey League, the WHA farm league that the movie ‘Slap Shot’ was inspired by, the first professional hockey player scored more than 200 points in a single season.

Joe Hardy – Beauce Jaros


Jocelyn ‘Joe’ Hardy was the head coach of the Beauce Jaros but also the league’s offensive fireplug.  Hardy totalled 208 points on 60 goals and 148 assists in just 72 games to beat Wayne Gretzky to the punch by six years. Joe’s next highest total over his professional career was just 93 points in 1976-77. Hardy played 63 games in the NHL with the California Golden Seals and 210 games in the World Hockey Association.

Richard Grenier – Beauce Jaros


Richard Grenier, also of the Beauce Jaros, finished second with 160 points on 77 goals and 83 assists. It was a career year for Grenier who was a fifth round pick of the New York Islanders at the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft. Richard appeared in ten NHL games, all with the Islanders in 1972-73. He also dressed for 34 WHA games with the Quebec Nordiques in 1976-77. He finished his pro hockey career following the 1989-90 season after several years in Europe.

Luc Simard – Cape Codders, Beauce Jaros


Luc Simard was twice a 60+ goal scorer (67 and 73) in the NAHL, a 68 goal scorer in the EHL and a 90 goal scorer in the QMJHL. He led the QMJHL in the junior league’s inaugural season with 174 points on 90 goals and 84 assists in just 56 games. Guy Lafleur did not have more points than Simard that year but did score an amazing 130 goals. Luc finished third in 1975-76 with 149 points in a season split between the Cape Codders and the Beauce Jaros. It was Luc’s final year of professional hockey.

Alain Caron – Beauce Jaros


Alain Caron, in the last of his seventeen years in pro hockey, finished fourth with 137 points. Caron was yet another member of the Beauce Jaros. Caron scored 78 goals and assisted on 59. It was his third time scoring more than 70 goals in a season. In 1961-62 with the Amherst Ramblers of the NSSHL, he scored 76 in just 47 games. In 1963-64 with the St. Louis Braves of the CPHL, Caron scored 77 goals in 71 games. Alain appeared in 60 NHL games with the Oakland Seals and Montreal Canadiens, along with 195 games in the WHA with the Quebec Nordiques and Michigan Stags.

Bob Collyard – Philadelphia Firebirds


Bob Collyard of the Philadelphia Firebirds finished fifth with 129 points, 79 behind Joe Hardy, on 45 goals and 84 assists. Collyard was in his second of three years with the NAHL Firebirds and played two more with the franchise after they joined the AHL. Bob was a seventh round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 1969 and played ten games with the NHL club in 1973-74, his only NHL action.

 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dale MacLeish

dale macleish philadelphia firebirds nahl
Like many who played in the North American Hockey League, Dale MacLeish’s stay was relatively short. MacLeish, the older brother of NHL star Rick MacLeish, played for the Philadelphia Firebirds in 1974-75 and nine games into the 1975-76 season.

NAHL


In 1974-75, Dale played 48 games for the Firebirds, scoring 19 goals and adding 18 assists for 37 points. He played in all of Philadelphia’s Lockhart Cup playoff games that year, but contributed no points. The Firebirds bowed out in the opening round to the Long Island Cougars, three games to one. At the same time, in Philadelphia, Rick MacLeish was playing an integral part in the Flyers second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

Nine games into the 1975-76 season, MacLeish moved on to the Roanoke Valley Rebels of the Southern Hockey League. He had previously spent time with the Rebels in the Eastern Hockey League. The Firebirds went on to win the Lockhart Cup that season, beating the Beauce Jaros in the finals, four to two.

Junior Hockey


MacLeish played two years of major junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey Association. In 1965-66 and 1966-67, Dale was a member of the Peterborough Petes. Brother Rick would join the club the following season and play three years with Peterborough.

In his second year with the Petes, the legendary Roger Neilson took over as head coach. Peterborough was led by Mickey Redmond, who would go on to injury shortened NHL stardom with the Detroit Red Wings. Mickey’s brother Dick was also on the team. Dick also went on to play in the National Hockey League.

Pro Hockey


Dale was a fourth round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 1966 NHL Amateur Draft, 22nd overall. At that time, the draft still didn’t mean anything. MacLeish played pro hockey from 1968-69 to 1975-76 in the Central Hockey League, EHL, SHL and NAHL.

It was in the EHL that MacLeish enjoyed his most success. Between the Jacksonville Rockets and the Roanoke Valley Rebels, he appeared in 270 regular season games, scoring 138 and assisting on 139 for 277 points.

Dale MacLeish played in the last ever Eastern Hockey League final series in 1972-73. Roanoke Valley lost to the Syracuse Blazers in six games. The Blazers outscored the Rebels 51 to 18. The following year, the teams from the EHL split up to create the NAHL in the north and the SHL in the south.

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

1965-66 London Nationals to Play in the NAHL


london nationals 1965-66 program
The London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League began as the London Nationals of the OHA in 1965-66. The Nationals changed names to the Knights three years later and remain with that nickname today. Today, the London Knights are one of the most successful teams in, not only the OHL but, the entire Canadian Hockey League. In 1965-66, success was but a distant dream.

London placed ninth in the nine team league in their inaugural season and were the only team to not advance to the post season. The league was led during the regular season by the Peterborough Petes but it was Bobby Orr and the Oshawa Generals that took the Robertson Cup championship in the playoffs.

Four members of the 1965-66 London Nationals went on to play in the North American Hockey League.

Neil Clairmont


Clairmont played three years in the OHA from 1964-65 to 1966-67. In his first year, he appeared in just one game with the Toronto Marlboros. Neil’s 1965-66 season was played with the Nationals. In his final year, Clairmont split his season between London and the Peterborough Petes.

In 1963, Clairmont was a second round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the NHL Amateur Draft, 12th overall. He played in the NAHL from 1974-75 to 1976-77, all with the Binghamton Dusters.

Moe St. Jacques


St. Jacques played two seasons in the OHA, 1965-66 and 1966-67, all with the Nationals. He was a second round pick of the Montreal Canadiens at the 1966 NHL Amateur Draft, eleventh overall. Moe played with the Johnstown Jets in the NAHL during the 1974-75 season.

Jim Blain


Blain was a travelling man over his three years in the OHA. Between 1965-66 and 1967-68, he played for the Nationals, Toronto Marlboros, Ottawa 67’s and Niagara Falls Flyers. His experience with London consists of just four games played at the start of his junior career.

Jim played in the NAHL over the entire history of the league, 1973-74 to 1976-77. His first three years were with the Maine Nordiques and he played with the Beauce Jaros in 1976-77.  During the 1972-73 season, the first for the World Hockey Association, Blain played 70 games for the Quebec Nordiques, his only major league action.

Norm ‘Rocky’ Farr


Farr previously played eleven games with the Montreal Junior Canadiens in 1963-64 before playing in 47 of London’s 48 regular season games in 1965-66. The goalie then split his 1966-67 season between the Nationals and the Oshawa Generals. Rocky has a place in London Nationals / Knights hockey trivia, being the first in franchise history to be named an OHA All-Star.

Norm played 19 games in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres over a three year span. He played just one game in the North American Hockey League, with the Johnstown Jets in 1975-76. He allowed eight goals in that match.

 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eddie Mio: 17 Games with the Erie Blades


eddie mio detroit red wings hockey card

Eddie Mio in the NAHL


Eddie Mio got his start in professional hockey with the Erie Blades of the North American Hockey League. Mio played 17 regular season games with the Blades during the 1976-77 season, the last year of the NAHL, recording a 3.27 goals against average. He also appeared in two Lockhart Cup playoff games as the Blades lost out in the opening round to the Philadelphia Firebirds, three games to one.

That season, Mio backed up Lynn Zimmerman, Erie’s main goalie for 1975-76 and 1976-77. Zimmerman played pro from 1966-67 to 1977-78 in a handful of leagues, including the EHL, AHL, CHL, WHL, NAHL and WHA. In the World Hockey Association, Lynn played for the Denver Spurs, Ottawa Civics and Houston Aeros.

Eddie Mio in Pro Hockey


During his four year stint at Colorado College from 1972-73 to 1975-76, both the WHA and National Hockey League came calling. Mio was taken in the seventh round of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, 124th overall, by the Chicago Black Hawks. That same year, he was also selected in the tenth round of the WHA Amateur Draft by the Vancouver Blazers, 138th overall.

Eddie played pro hockey from 1976-77 to 1985-86 on teams in the NAHL, WHA, AHL, CHL and NHL. He played in the World Hockey Association in 1977-78 and 1978-79 with the Indianapolis Racers and Edmonton Oilers. He followed the Oilers to the NHL after the demise of the WHA. Mio played in the NHL from 1979-80 to 1985-86 with the Oilers, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.

Mio was the number one goalie with the Oilers in 1980-81 and with the Rangers in 1982-83. In that 1980-81 season, Eddie was in the hunt for the Art Ross Trophy with five assists – not bad for a goalie. In both 1981-82 and 1982-83, Mio saw the bulk of his Stanley Cup playoff action, appearing in eight games each year with the Rangers. Each year, New York made it out of the preliminary round but in each year they fell to the powerhouse New York Islanders in six games.

In a bit of useless hockey trivia, The Rangers traded Eddie to the Red Wings, along with Ron Duguay and Ed Johnstone for Mike Blaisdell, Willie Huber and Mark Osborne. In his final year of pro hockey, 1985-86, Mio played 18 games for the Red Wings and posted a dismal 6.32 goals against average.

 

 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Erie Blades


erie blades north american hockey league logo nahl
The Erie Blades played in the North American Hockey League in the NAHL’s final two years of existence. The team can best be described as mediocre. The Blades are indirectly related to the present day Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League. The team played their home games out of the Erie County Field House. The Arena had seating for 3,750 with an overall capacity of 5,250. The building now serves as a warehouse.

In their first year, the Blades were affiliated with the Denver Spurs / Ottawa Civics franchise of the World Hockey Association. In 1976-77, their affiliation switched to the WHA’s Houston Aeros.

1975-76


The Blades started out their first year with some NAHL big names on the roster. However, during the season, Dave Staffen, Larry Mavety and Bill Goldthorpe moved on. Erie finished third in the West Division with 75 points in 74 games during the regular season. In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, the Blades met up with the Philadelphia Firebirds in the opening round. The Firebirds took the series, three games to two.

Erie was coached in both their NAHL seasons by Nick Polano. Nick was fresh off a pro career that spanned from 1959-60 to 1973-74 in pretty much every North American league except for the NHL. He played 17 games in the WHA with the Philadelphia Blazers in 1972-73. The following year, he appeared in the NAHL with the Cape Cod Cubs before becoming the team’s head coach midway through the season. Polano went on to coach the Detroit Red Wings for three years from 1982-83 to 1984-85.

1976-77


Robbie Neale led the Blades offensively with 66 points in 56 games. Neale’s contribution was a far cry from league leader Rod Bloomfield who tallied 173 points with the Binghamton Dusters. Eddie Mio played 15 games in net for Erie. Mio went on to play in the National Hockey League from 1979-80 to 1985-86 with the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.

Erie finished fifth in the eight team league with 78 points over 74 games. The Blades exacted revenge on the Philadelphia Firebirds in the opening round, downing their rivals, three games to one. In the semi-finals, Erie was taken out by the Syracuse Blazers, four games to one. Syracuse went on to capture the Lockhart Cup championship.