Showing posts with label bill goldthorpe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bill goldthorpe. Show all posts

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.


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.


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.



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.