Friday, March 29, 2013

Syracuse Blazers: 2 Time NAHL Champions

syracuse blazers north american hockey league logo
The Syracuse Blazers were a relative comet crossing the hockey sky. The franchise entered the Eastern Hockey League in 1967-68 and lasted out the final six years of the EHL’s existence. The club then joined the newly formed North American Hockey League in 1973-74 and when the NAHL ceased operations after the 1976-77 season, so did the Syracuse Blazers. However, in that short ten year period, the Blazers achieved greatness.

The first two years in the EHL were rocky, to say the least. Syracuse won just 21 of 144 regular games over the 1967-68 and 1968-69 seasons combined. In 1971-72, the Blazers reached the Walker Cup finals before losing to the Charlotte Checkers.

In 1972-73, the final year of the EHL, the team was nothing short of legendary. Syracuse won 63 of 76 regular season games, losing nine and tying four for a whopping 130 points. The team charged to the finals and took the final Walker Cup with a victory over the Roanoke Valley Rebels.

Blazers in the NAHL

Syracuse played in all four NAHL seasons between 1973-74 and 1976-77. The team won the Lockhart Cup championship in the first and last years.


Syracuse finished first overall in the inaugural NAHL season with 54 wins and 112 points, 19 more than the second place Maine Nordiques in the seven team league. The Blazers met the Long Island Cougars in the finals and captured the championship with a four game sweep.

Mike Morton was the team’s offensive leader, finishing the regular season with a modest 95 points. The Blazers were intimidators, to say the least. Syracuse players finished 2-3-4 in the NAHL for penalty minutes. Dave Ferguson sat 371, Gary Sittler (brother of Hockey Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler) accumulated 316 while the infamous Bill Goldthorpe sat 285 in just 55 games.

The Blazers were coached by Ron Ingram, his only year as head coach of the team. Ingram played pro hockey from 1955-56 to 1969-70, mostly in the American Hockey League. Ingram did find his way into 114 career NHL games with the Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers.


The Blazers once again finished first overall in 1974-75 but the numbers were not quite as spectacular. Syracuse won 46 games and finished with 95 points, 12 ahead of the second place Philadelphia Firebirds in the eight team league. The team played an incredibly even semi-final series with the Johnstown Jets. Each team scored 26 goals and the series went to the seventh game with the Jets edging out the Blazers 5-4.

Bob Jones was the team’s offensive leader in 1974-75 with 114 points. Garry Peters was behind the bench for his only year as the team’s head coach. In fact, it was his only year of coaching in pro hockey. Peters played pro from 1963-64 to 1973-74. He appeared in 311 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins. He also played 57 World Hockey Association games with the New York Raiders franchise (and its many reincarnations).


The NAHL expanded to ten teams and split into the East and West Divisions. Syracuse finished second in the East, 31 points behind the Beauce Jaros. The Blazers and Jaros met in the semi-finals and Beauce swept the series.

Doug Brindley led the team offensively with 101 points. Dan Belisle stepped behind the bench for his first of two years as the head coach. Belisle played pro from 1957-58 to 1970-71 and appeared in four NHL games with the New York Rangers during the 1960-61 season. Dan went on to become the head coach of the Washington Capitals for the 1978-79 season and 16 games into the 1979-80 season.


The Blazers went out the way they came in, as champions. The league was down to one group of eight teams and Syracuse finished first overall with 48 wins and 99 points. Like 1973-74, it was the Maine Nordiques finishing second, this time 14 points behind the Blazers. The two teams met in the finals with the Blazers sweeping in four games.

Bernie Johnston set the team’s NAHL high with 124 points. There were three players that reached the 50 goal plateau. Johnston scored 53, Tom Milani led the team with 56 and Jim Cowell scored exactly 50. Belisle once again coached the team.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bill Goldthorpe: aka Ogie Ogilthorpe

bill goldthorpe syracuse blazers minnesota fighting saints
He was the inspiration for the character Ogie Ogilthorpe in the movie ‘Slapshot’ and he was every bit as fearsome in real life as he was in the movie. Yet, the side of Bill Goldthorpe that wasn’t represented in the 1977 cult classic was his scoring ability.

Goldthorpe played in the North American Hockey League sporadically from 1973-74 to 1975-76. His only season that came close to be considered full was 1973-74 with the Syracuse Blazers. In 55 games, Bill sat 285 minutes in the penalty box, a 5.2 PIM per game average. However, he also scored 20 and assisted on 26 more for 46 points. He also appeared in three playoff games in the World Hockey Association with the Minnesota Fighting Saints.

The Blazers finished first overall, winning 54 of 74 regular season games and totalling 112 points, 19 better than the second place Maine Nordiques. Despite playing just 55 games, Goldthorpe had the fourth highest penalty minute total in the NAHL that season. Nick Fotiu of Cape Cod led with 371 while Bill’s Syracuse teammates Dave Ferguson and Gary Sittler finished 2-3.

That year, the NAHL had a round robin in the opening round of the playoffs with the top five teams playing each other twice in order for one team to be eliminated. Syracuse lost just one game to advance to the semi-finals. They took out the Johnstown Jets 4-1 to reach the finals against the Long Island Cougars. The Blazers easily swept Long Island, outscoring their opponents 27-5 over the four games. Goldthorpe accumulated 50 PIM over 15 playoff games but also scored five and assisted on eight for 13 points.

1974-75 was a bit of a dud for Goldie, playing just two games for the Blazers, his last two with the club. He also appeared in seven WHA games with the Michigan Stags franchise.

Goldthorpe found himself with the Binghamton Dusters for a portion of the 1975-76 nahl season. He started the season with a single game as a member of the Erie Blades. He had no points and earned 22 minutes in the box. With Binghamton, Bill went to the sin bin at an 8.2 PIM per game pace. In 19 games with the Dusters, he sat 156 minutes. However, he also went at nearly a point per game pace with 17. He also played 26 games in the WHA, 12 with the Ottawa Civics franchise and 14 with the San Diego Mariners.

His days in the NAHL and WHA had drawn to an end after 1975-76. Goldthorpe had two more seasons in minor pro hockey that would make Ogie Ogilthorpe proud. In 1976-77, playing for the Richmond Wildcats of the Southern Hockey League, Goldthorpe played 25 games and sat 169 minutes. In usual Goldthorpe fashion, he also scored six and assisted on 12 for 18 points.

1978-79 was Goldie’s last real hurrah. He played 39 games for the San Diego Hawks of the PHL and sat 267 minutes in the box. He hadn’t much lost his offensive touch with 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points.

A documentary on Goldthorpe’s life was apparently filmed in early 2012 with the title ‘Ogilthorpe’. The short film got a lot of press before being released but we can’t seem to find much info on it now. There were two websites ( and but neither are currently operational.


Monday, March 25, 2013

John Brophy: A Great Coaching Career Started in the NAHL

john brophy head coach long island cougars nahl

John Brophy spent just one year in the North American Hockey League and that came a year after his long playing career was over. Brophy was the head coach of the Long Island Cougars for the 1973-74 inaugural NAHL season.

The Cougars finished third overall in the seven team league, 20 points behind the second place Maine Nordiques and 39 behind the first place Syracuse Blazers.

The opening round of the 1973-74 playoffs featured a round robin with the top five finishing teams. Each team played the other four twice. The Cougars came out with 4-3 record, third among the five. Only one team was eliminated from the group and, ironically, it was the Maine Nordiques. Maine went a dreadful 1-7 after such a great regular season.

In the 1973-74 semi-finals, Long Island took out the Cape Cod Cubs in six games to earn a shot at the Syracuse Blazers in the Lockhart Cup finals. It was no contest. Syracuse swept the Cougars and outscored Long Island 27-5 over the four games.

John Brophy’s NAHL career ended with that series but a lengthy and successful coaching career had begun. It is suggested that his NAHL legacy lives on in theatre. Brophy is reported to be the model for the character Reggie Dunlop, played by Paul Newman, in the movie Slapshot.

Playing Career

John Brophy played 1,142 regular season games in the Eastern Hockey League from 1952-53 to 1972-73. The tough defenseman accumulated and astronomical 3,825 penalty minutes over that time. That number equates to nearly 64 hours or more than two and a half days.

He was EHL PIM leader in the following years:

·         1959-60. 190 PIM with the Charlotte Clippers.

·         1960-61. 290 PIM with the New Haven Blades.

·         1961-62. 281 PIM with the Long Island Ducks.

·         1964-65. 241 PIM with the Long Island Ducks.

Over his EHL career he played for the Troy Uncle Sam Trojans, Baltimore Clippers, Charlotte Rebels, Charlotte Clippers, New Haven Blades, Long Island Ducks, Philadelphia Ramblers and Jersey Devils. He was on one championship team during that time and two other teams that were finalists.

The 1956-57 Charlotte Clippers were first overall with a whopping 30 point lead over the second place Philadelphia Ramblers. In the semi-finals, the Clippers beat the New Haven Blades 4-2 in the semi-finals before facing the Ramblers in the finals. Philadelphia did all they could but fell to Charlotte in seven games.

The Clippers toned it down a bit the following season but still found success. The team finished first overall but just one point ahead of the Washington Presidents. Charlotte once again met New Haven in the semis with the Blades pushing the Clippers to the limit before succumbing. Charlotte then met the Presidents in the final series and fell to Washington in another series that went the limit.

In 1960-61, Brophy was with the New Haven Blades. The team finished first in the Northern Division and third overall. In the first round of the playoffs, New Haven beat the Greensboro Generals 5-4 in an unorthodox nine game series. The Blades earned a bye through the second round and landed directly in the finals against the Johnstown Jets. Johnstown took out the Blades 4-2.

Coaching Career

Brophy found himself behind one hockey bench or another from 1973-74 to 2006-07 and even found himself as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1986-87 to 1988-89.

John coached his first major league hockey in 1978-79 as head of the Birmingham Bulls of the World Hockey Association. The ‘Baby Bulls’ had an outstanding lineup of teenagers playing their first professional hockey. Rick Vaive, Michel Goulet, Craig Hartsburg, Rob Ramage, Gaston Gingras and Pat Riggin mixed with former NHL veterans like Paul Henderson and Ernie Wakely. If the WHA had survived past the 1978-79 season, this team had the makings of a powerhouse.

Birmingham finished the regular season sixth in the seven team league and did not qualify for the post season. The seventh team was the Indianapolis Racers, a team that folded after 25 games. Still, Brophy was the final recipient of the Robert Schmertz Memorial Trophy as the WHA’s coach of the year.

His true claim to fame, however, came after the WHA and after his tumultuous times in Toronto under Harold Ballard. John Brophy is an ECHL coaching legend. In the league that began play in 1988-89, no other head coach has won three Kelly Cup championships. All John’s post season success came behind the bench of the Hampton Roads Admirals.

In 1990-91, the Admirals took out the Greensboro Monarchs in five games to win the Kelly Cup. The following year, they swept the Louisville IceHawks for the repeat. In 1997-98, Brophy completed his triple as the Admirals shot down the Pensacola Ice Pilots in six games.

In 2003, the ECHL changed the name of the trophy for coach of the year to the John Brophy Memorial Award. Ironically, Brophy was never name ECHL coach of the year despite all his success. In 2009, he was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Reggie Lemelin: It All Began in the NAHL

rejean lemelin o-pee-chee rookie hockey card calgary flames
A true product of the North American Hockey League that went on to a lengthy NHL career was Rejean Lemelin. Better known as Reggie, Lemelin played three years in the NAHL with the Philadelphia Firebirds from 1974-75 to 1976-77.

Lemelin played two years of major junior hockey in the QMJHL, 1972-73 and 1973-74, with the Sherbrooke Castors (Beavers). He was selected in the seventh round of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. He was the 12th goaltender selected in the draft and went on to play more games in the NHL than any of them. Included in that group above him was Mike Palmateer, selected in the fifth round by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Palmateer played 356 games in the NHL while Lemelin played over 500.

Reggie was also selected way down in the 13th round of the World Hockey Association Amateur Draft in 1974. He was taken by the Chicago Cougars 209th overall.

With the NAHL Firebirds, Lemelin was the team’s leading goalie for each of the three seasons. During his time with Philadelphia, Reggie collected eleven shutouts in what was a league with a heavy dose of offense.

In 1975-76, he shared goaltending duties with five others but still played more games at 29. The Firebirds won the Lockhart Cup championship with a 4-2 victory over the Beauce Jaros in the final series. However, Lemelin played just three games during the playoffs with Roger Kosar and Gaye Cooley sharing the bulk of the action.

With the end of the NAHL after the 1976-77 season, Lemelin continued on with the franchise in the American Hockey League for 1977-78 and part of 1978-79. His NHL start came in 1978-79 with the Atlanta Flames.

Reggie played in the National Hockey League from 1978-79 to 1992-93 with the Atlanta / Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins. Although he wears no Stanley Cup rings, Reggie and the Bruins came close in 1987-88. Lemelin appeared in 17 playoff games as the Bruins took out the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils before being swept by the Edmonton Oilers in the finals.

His career year on an individual level came in 1989-90. Along with teammate Andy Moog, Lemelin was awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy for playing 25 or more games with the team in the NHL with the fewest goals against. Rejean played 43 games while Moog played in 46. Lemelin’s goals against average was slightly better than his counterparts at 2.80 to Moog’s 2.88.

For hockey card collectors, Lemelin did not appear on major cardboard until the 1981-82 O-Pee-Chee set. The Rejean Lemelin rookie card appears as number 44.

Find Rejean Lemelin rookie cards on eBay, right now!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Philadelphia Firebirds

philadelphia firebirds north american hockey league nahl
The Philadelphia Firebirds played in the North American Hockey League for three years, from 1974-75 to 1976-77. After the NAHL met its demise after the 1976-77 season, the Firebirds continued on in the American Hockey League for two years before moving to Syracuse for one final season before folding. Gregg Pilling coached the Firebirds in each of the team’s three NAHL seasons. The team played out of the Philadelphia Civic Center, the same venue that housed the WHA’s Philadelphia Blazers during their only season in the league.


The Firebirds finished their first season in the NAHL (the league’s second season) second overall to the Syracuse Blazers. In the first round of the Lockhart Cup playoffs, the Firebirds fell to the Long Island Cougars 3-1. The Cougars finished the regular season seventh out of eight teams with 20 points less than Philadelphia.

Bob Collyard led the team in goals (42), assists (61) and points (103). He finished fourth in the NAHL for goals, second in assists and tied for third in points. Collyard was a team leader throughout the team’s NAHL history.

The most significant name on the Firebirds roster was goaltender Rejean Lemelin. For Lemelin, it was his first year of a lengthy pro career. Rejean played in the NHL from 1978-79 to 1992-93 with the Atlanta Flames / Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins. Lemelin played between the pipes for each of Philadelphia’s NAHL seasons.


Bob Collyard led the Firebirds in goals, assists and points again with 45 goals, 84 assists and 129 points. Collyard finished 8th in the NAHL for goals, second in assists and fifth in points.

The Firebirds finished second in the newly formed West Division with 90 points. The team finished third overall in the league to the Beauce Jaros, who finished with 110 points.

Philadelphia captured the Lockhart Cup championship with a 4-2 victory over the Jaros in the final series. In the first round, the Firebirds beat the Mohawk Valley Comets 3-1. In the semi-finals, Philadelphia took out rival Johnstown 4-1. An interesting note in that series is that the final game was won by the Firebirds 14-10.


In Philadelphia’s final year in the North American Hockey League, Gord Brooks led the team with 65 goals and 124 points. Bob Collyard led the club with 85 assists. Brooks finished second in the NAHL for goals and Collyard took second place is assists. Both finished in the top ten for points with Brooks finishing fourth and Bob finishing seventh.

The Firebirds finished fourth overall in the eight team league. In the playoffs, Philadelphia was knocked off 3-1 by the Erie Blades.

Notably on the roster for the full season with the Firebirds was Don Hay. Hay was in his final season of pro hockey and has since become a junior hockey coaching legend in Canada. He is the current head coach of the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Don has coached three teams to Memorial Cup championships, two with the Kamloops Blazers and one with Vancouver. He was the first head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes when they were moved from Winnipeg for the 1996-97 season. Hay also spent time as head coach of the Calgary Flames during the 2000-01 NHL season.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Alain Caron: The Other "Boom Boom"

alain caron o-pee-chee hockey card quebec nordiques
At 38 years old, Alain Caron became a legend of the North American Hockey League in what would be his final year of professional hockey. Caron suffered a heart attack in the off-season and was forced to retire from the game.

A veteran of a pro hockey career that began in 1959-60, Caron played one game with the NAHL's Syracuse Blazers in 1974-75 before spending the full 1975-76 season with the Beauce Jaros. In 73 regular season games with the Jaros, Alain scored 78 goals and assisted on 59 more for 137 points. Uncharacteristic of the league, Caron accumulated just 26 minutes in penalties.

His 78 goals was the second highest single season total in NAHL history, behind just Dave Staffen who scored 87 the following season. He finished first in goal scoring in 1975-76 and his 137 points were good for fourth in the league. In the playoffs, he added 21 more goals and 13 assists for 34 points in just 14 games as the Jaros reached the Lockhart Cup finals before falling to the Philadelphia Firebirds.

His career from 1959-60 to 1966-67 was spent in the minor leagues. With expansion in 1967, Caron was finally able to make it to the big show. He was property of the Chicago Black Hawks when the Oakland Seals selected him in the expansion draft. He played 58 games with Oakland in 1967-68 and two more with the Montreal Canadiens the following year.

Alain played an additional 195 games of major league hockey in the World Hockey Association between 1972-73 and 1974-75 with the Quebec Nordiques and Michigan Stags / Baltimore Blades.

However, it was during his minor league days that Caron excelled. in 1962-63, with the St. Louis Braves of the Eastern Professional Hockey League, Alain was first in the league with 61 goals in just 54 games. An interesting bit of hockey trivia - second to Caron on the Braves was Phil Esposito in his first year of pro hockey. Esposito scored 36 goals and finished fifth in the league.

The following year, Caron was still with the Braves but the league had changed to the Central Professional Hockey League. He once again led in goals with 77. His 125 points were also the best in the league.

With the Buffalo Bisons in 1965-66, his goal total was a more down-to-earth 47 but it tied him for the Americna Hockey League lead with Dick Gamble of the Rochester Americans.

The man that was also named "Boom Boom" was dissed by the major hockey card companies, with exception of 1972-73. Alain Caron was included in the 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee NHL set that featured a selection of WHA players in the higher numbers. The Alain Caron rookie card (and only card) is number 324 in that set.

Find Alain Caron Rookie Cards at eBay, right now!

It was heart problems that forced Caron from the game and it was heart problems again in 1986 that ended his life at just 48 years old.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Paul Holmgren: Humble Beginnings in the NAHL

paul holmgren o-pee-chee hockey card philadelphia flyers
He had a fairly lengthy and successful NHL career and has been in the head office of the Philadelphia Flyers for many years. Yet, Paul Holmgren got his pro hockey start in the North American Hockey League.

Holmgren played just six games for the Johnstown Jets during the 1975-76 NAHL season. He would be known in the NHL as an enforcer but for his short stint in Johnstown, Holmgren was an offensive powerhouse who visited the sin bin relatively seldom. Afterall, the Jets had the ‘Hanson Brothers’ (Dave Hanson, Jeff Carlson and Steve Carlson) of Slapshot fame to do the team’s dirty work.

In his six games in the NAHL, Holmgren scored three goals and assisted on 12 for 15 points while sitting just 12 minutes in the box. The Jets finished first in the West Division and second overall in the NAHL. Johnstown lost in the semi-finals to eventual Lockhart Cup champions, the Philadelphia Firebirds. Also playing an offensive role for the Jets early in his pro hockey career was Bruce Boudreau.

Paul was a third round pick of the Edmonton Oilers at the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft, 38th overall. He was also taken by the Flyers in the sixth round of the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft, 108th overall. In that 1975-76 season, Holmgren also played 51 games in the World Hockey Association with the Minnesota Fighting Saints, six games in the AHL with the Richmond Robins and a single game in the NHL with the Flyers.

Holmgren played 527 regular season games in the National Hockey League between 1976-77 and 1984-85 and accumulated 1,684 penalty minutes. He was second in the NHL to Dave ‘Tiger’ Williams with 306 PIM during the 1980-81 season.

Perhaps, his career year in the NHL came in 1979-80. In 74 regular season games with the Flyers, he scored 30 goals and assisted on 35 for 65 points. Staying in character, Paul also spent 267 minutes in the box. In the playoffs, he scored ten and assisted on ten more for 20 points in 18 games. The Pat Quinn coached Flyers finished first overall in the NHL with 116 points. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, Philadelphia lost just 2 games over the first three series before losing in six games to the New York Islanders in the finals.

Holmgren has been on the Flyers staff since retiring from the game, with exception of a stint as head coach of the Hartford Whalers between 1992-93 and 1995-96. Paul has been General Manager of the Flyers since taking over from Bobby Clarke during the 2006-07 season. For the past two years, Holmgren has been also GM of the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League.



Monday, March 18, 2013

Gilles Bilodeau: NAHL Single Season PIM Record Holder

gilles bilodeau beauce jaros nahl
Perhaps, the North American Hockey League, as shown in the movie ‘Slap Shot’, is best represented by Gilles Bilodeau. Gilles ‘Bad News’ Bilodeau had little to do with hockey and a lot to do with fighting and other violence on the ice.

Gilles played one year of junior hockey in 1974-75 with the Sorel Eperviers (Black Hawks) of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The year before, Sorel provided the hockey world with offense like it had never been seen before.

The team in 1973-74, led by Pierre Larouche and his 251 points, had seven players total more than 100 points, two over 200. Three Eperviers scored more than 90 goals during the 72 game regular season. Sorel finished first overall in the 10 team QMJHL but fell in the playoff finals to the Quebec Remparts.

As is often the case in junior hockey, the offensive power moved on to the pro ranks and the 1974-75 Eperviers were left with a group better fit for the boxing ring. Bilodeau sat 377 minutes in the penalty box over 62 games. Although a high total, it was nothing compared to teammate Roger Seguin who accumulated 494 minutes while somehow playing the full 72 game schedule without suspension. The two finished 1-2 in the QMJHL for the PIM category that season.

There were, of course, no National Hockey League takers for Gilobeau at the NHL Amateur Draft. He did, however, fit a certain mold that the World Hockey Association was looking for and the Toronto Toros selected him in the ninth round of the 1975 WHA Amateur Draft, 121st overall. Over his pro hockey career, Gilles played 143 WHA regular season games between 1975-76 and 1978-79 with the Toros, Birmingham Bulls and Quebec Nordiques.

It was in his first year of pro hockey, 1975-76, that Bilodeau made his presence known in the North American Hockey League. Gilles played 58 games with the Beauce Jaros while also playing 14 games for the WHA Toros. In those 58 games, he scored eight goals and assisted on 17 more for 25 points. But, it was his penalty total that gave him ‘fame’.

The Jaros were first overall and had the first player in pro hockey history to total more than 200 points in a season on the roster. Joe Hardy led the league with 208 points. Bilodeau was in the sin bin for 451 minutes, a 7.8 PIM per game pace. He finished first in the NAHL in that category, 140 minutes ahead of the next contender, Dave Hanson of the Johnstown Chiefs. In the playoffs, he added 46 more PIM, playing just five games while the Jaros cruised to the Lockhart Cup finals before losing to the Philadelphia Firebirds.

In his second pro season, Gilles sat 242 PIM in just 28 games for the Charlotte Checkers of the SHL. He played pro from 1975-76 to 1980-81 and had a two game stint with the Birmingham Bulls of the ACHL in 1983-84. Over 374 pro regular season games, Bilodeau sat 1,763 minutes in the box, a 4.7 PIM per game pace.

Bilodeau actually saw action in the NHL. After playing with the Quebec Nordiques in the final year of the World Hockey Association, 1978-79, he moved with the franchise to the NHL for 1979-80. Gilles played a total of nine games in the NHL with the Nordiques. Unfortunately, Gilles Bilodeau passed away in 2008.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rod Bloomfield: A Binghamton Hall of Famer

broome dusters binghamton new york nahl
Rod Bloomfield played the full four year duration of the NAHL with the Binghamton Dusters (also known as Broome Dusters). He carried on with the club for one more season, 1977-78, when the franchise joined the American Hockey League.

During his North American Hockey League career, Bloomfield played 288 regular season games, scoring 187 goals and assisting on 310 for 497 points. In the tradition of the NAHL, Bloomfield also sat 417 minutes in the penalty box.

Rod led the league in goals during the 1974-75 season with 55. He was twice the NAHL assists leader with 73 in 1973-74 and an incredible 124 in 1976-77. In the final season of the league, Bloomfield was the scoring champion with 173 points. The point total was pretty incredible but a far cry from the NAHL record of 208 set the year before by Joe Hardy of the Beauce Jaros.

His four years with the Dusters in the NAHL and his one year with the club in the AHL were his only five years in professional hockey. He turned 26 years old during his first season and called it quits after during his fifth year due to an injury resulting from a puck to the eye. I still find it surprising he never saw at least some action with a WHA club. Sure, he was small with a listed playing height of 5’6” and weighing in at just 160 lbs. However, at the time, guys like Andre Lacroix in the WHA and Yvan Cournoyer in the NHL were proving the little guys could get it done.

Bloomfield was Binghamton’s team leader in each of the four seasons. In 1974-75, he led the Dusters to the Lockhart Cup finals before being swept by the Johnstown Jets in four games. Over 15 playoff games, Rod scored ten goals and assisted on nine more for 19 points.

The NAHL is known as the inspiration behind the cult classic move, Slap Shot. Although uncredited, Bloomfield acted as Paul Newman’s on-ice stunt double during the movie.

In 1999, Rod was inducted into the Binghamton Hockey Hall of Fame. It was just the Hall’s second year of existence. The Hall of Fame doesn’t have a web presence and is located inside the Broome County Veteran’s Memorial Arena. The Arena was completed in 1973, just in time for the Dusters to be its first tenants.

Bloomfield is also an inductee at the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame in Parry Sound, Ontario. He was inducted as an individual in 2011. In 2012, he was inducted again as a member of the 1961-62 Parry Sound Bantams, a team that also included Bobby Orr.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Guy Trottier: Coach and Star of the Buffalo Norsemen

guy trottier rookie hockey cards 1971-72 o-pee-chee toronto maple leafs
Guy Trottier played his last of 14 years in professional hockey with the Buffalo Norsemen of the NAHL. Trottier also acted as the head coach of the Norsemen, a team that finished fourth in the West Division with 30 wins and 60 points over the 74 game schedule. Buffalo met the Johnstown Jets in the opening round and lost three games to two. The final and deciding game of the series was a 1-0 win by the Jets. Trottier finished the year with a respectable 36 goals and 22 assists for 58 points over 56 regular season games.

Trottier played pro from 1963-64 to 1975-76, appearing in five different leagues, the IHL, AHL, NHL, WHA and NAHL. At the highest level, Guy played 115 games in the National Hockey League between 1968-69 and 1971-72 with the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. His World Hockey Association career lasted 174 games from 1972-73 to 1974-75 with the Ottawa Nationals, Toronto Toros and Michigan Stags.

guy trottier ottawa nationals hockey card 1972-73 o-pee-chee wha
In just his second year of pro hockey, Trottier tied for fourth place in the IHL with 46 goals as a member of the Dayton Gems. The following year, the numbers improved greatly with Guy placing third with 68 goals and tied for second with 132 points, just one off the leader. In 1966-67, He scored a career high 71 goals with the Gems to lead the IHL, 19 goals more than the second place finisher. His 135 point placed his second, four behind Len Thornson of the Fort Wayne Komets.

Trottier led the American Hockey League in goal scoring for the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons with the Buffalo Bisons. In the first year, he scored 45 goals and in 1969-70, the final year of existence for the Bisons, Guy scored 55.

Only two mainstream hockey cards were ever produced featuring Trottier. His 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee rookie card is valued as a common. The card had him in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. His 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee card is valued at a whopping $8 as it’s part of the first set of WHA hockey cards that came at the back end of the 1972-73 NHL set. Guy is on the card as a member of the Ottawa Nationals.

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
1957-58 Trois Rivieres Lions QHL 2 0 0 0 0
1963-64 Phila-.Greensboro EHL 27 14 16 30 38
1963-64 Port Huron Flags IHL 42 19 15 34 52
1964-65 Dayton Gems IHL 68 46 42 88 56
1965-66 Dayton Gems IHL 66 68 64 132 16
1966-67 Dayton Gems IHL 67 71 64 135 23
1967-68 Buffalo Bisons AHL 41 16 19 35 6
1968-69 New York Rangers NHL 2 0 0 0 0
1968-69 Buffalo Bisons AHL 72 45 37 82 21
1969-70 Buffalo Bisons AHL 71 55 33 88 8
1970-71 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 61 19 5 24 21
1971-72 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 52 9 12 21 16
1972-73 Ottawa Nationals WHA 72 26 32 58 25
1973-74 Toronto Toros WHA 71 27 35 62 58
1974-75 Dayton Gems IHL 20 12 5 17 6
1974-75 Toronto Toros WHA 14 4 4 8 4
1974-75 Michigan Stags/Baltimore Blades WHA 17 5 4 9 2
1975-76Buffalo NorsemenNAHL5636225859

NHL Totals
115 28 17 45 37

WHA Totals
174 62 75 137 89

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Joe Hardy: First Pro 200 Point Season

jocelyn hardy beauce jaros nahl
Jocelyn ‘Joe’ Hardy was one of the greatest to play in the NAHL. Wayne Gretzky is widely known as the first NHL player to achieve the 200 point plateau in a single season. A little known bit of hockey trivia is that Joe Hardy was the first professional player to reach 200 points and beyond in one regular season.

With the Beauce Jaros in 1975-76, Handy scored 60 goals and assisted on 148 for an incredible 208 points in just 72 games. Of course, the 148 assists and 208 points will always remain as NAHL records. Making this even more incredible is the fact that Joe also acted as the team’s head coach for the 1975-76 season. He led the Jaros to a first overall finish in the ten team league. Beauce reached the Lockhart Cup finals before losing to the Philadelphia Firebirds in six games.

Hardy played parts of three seasons in the NAHL from 1974-75 to 1976-77, appearing with the Long Island Cougars, Beauce Jaros and Binghamton Dusters. His pro career lasted from 1966-67 to 1977-78 with stops in six different leagues, including the NHL and WHA.

As the NAHL and the WHA went hand in hand, it’s not surprising that Hardy played 210 games in the Rebel League between 1972-73 and 1974-75. He was a regular with the Cleveland Crusaders in 1972-73, the World Hockey Association’s inaugural season. The following season, he saw 77 games with the Chicago Cougars. He split the 1974-75 season between the Cougars, Indianapolis Racers and San Diego Mariners.

Joe had stints in the National Hockey League in 1969-70 and 1970-71, playing a total of 63 games. In 1969-70, he played 23 games for the Oakland Seals, with an additional four games in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He also appeared in 46 games with the Providence Reds that year. The following year, he played 40 games with the same NHL franchise, although they were now known as the California Golden Seals.

In his final professional hockey season, 1977-78, Hardy played for the Binghamton Dusters, a franchise that made the move to the AHL with the demise of the NAHL. He finished first in the league with 63 assists and seventh in the league with 87 points. Joe returned the following season as head coach of the Dusters for one season.

His coaching career was resurrected in 1987-88 in the QMJHL. He coached the Shawinigan Cataractes for four years and the Beauport Harfangs for one.

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
1966-67 New Haven Blades EHL 72 28 51 79 77
1969-70 Providence Reds AHL 46 11 27 38 44
1969-70 Oakland Seals NHL 23 5 4 9 20
1969-70 Seattle Totems WHL -- -- -- -- --
1970-71 California Golden Seals NHL 40 4 10 14 31
1971-72 Nova Scotia Voyageurs AHL 65 18 42 60 105
1972-73 Cleveland Crusaders WHA 72 17 33 50 80
1973-74 Chicago Cougars WHA 77 24 35 59 55
1974-75 Long Island Cougars NAHL 4 1 2 3 2
1974-75 Chicago Cougars WHA 17 1 6 7 8
1974-75 Indianapolis Racers WHA 32 2 17 19 36
1974-75 San Diego Mariners WHA 12 2 3 5 22
1975-76 Beauce Jaros NAHL 72 60 148 208 98
1976-77 Beauce Jaros NAHL 22 7 36 43 30
1976-77 Broome County Dusters NAHL 28 22 28 50 19
1977-78 Binghamton Dusters AHL 73 24 63 87 56

NHL Totals
63 9 14 23 51

WHA Totals
210 46 94 140 201