Showing posts with label london nationals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label london nationals. Show all posts

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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bill Horton of the NAHL's Mohawk Valley Comets


bill horton mohawk valley comets nahl
Bill Horton, the cousin of Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Tim Horton, played two years in the North American Hockey League, 1975-76 and 1976-77. Both his years were with the Mohawk Valley Comets. Horton played just ten games in 1975-76 before appearing in a nearly full season of 66 games in 1976-77, the final year of the NAHL.

In 1976-77, Bill Horton was not only the Comets star defenseman. He was also the head coach of the team. Mohawk Valley finished sixth out of eight teams during the regular season. It wasn’t hard to reach the post season that year. The Beauce Jaros dropped out of the league after 30 games and the rest of the seven teams made the playoffs. The Comets lost in the opening round to the Binghamton Dusters, three games to two.

Playing Career

After one year of junior hockey in the OHA with the London Nationals (now the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League) in 1966-67, Horton played for the Dayton Gems in the IHL for the 1967-68 season. It would be the closest he’d come to a championship as a player. The Gems reached the IHL finals before losing to the Muskegon Mohawks in five games.

Bill played pro hockey from 1967-68 to 1981-82 in the IHL, EHL, WHA, SHL, NAHL, PHL and ACHL. He never played in the NHL but played 193 games of major league hockey between 1972-73 and 1974-75 in the World Hockey Association. In the WHA, Horton played for the Cleveland Crusaders, Los Angeles Sharks and Indianapolis Racers.

Horton played his final three years as a player / head coach, with an emphasis on the coaching. In 1980-81 with the Syracuse Hornets of the 2nd generation EHL, Bill played three games and sat 28 minutes in the penalty box. As a coach, he lasted ten games with just a tie to show for it. The following year, he played three games with the Mohawk Valley Stars of the ACHL, along with his coaching duties. Once again, he appeared in three games, this time sitting 43 minutes in the penalty box while assisting on one goal. Despite this ‘goonery’, for most of career, Bill kept his game clean.

Coaching Career

Horton coached in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League from 1981-82 to 1986-87. In his first year, as head coach of the Mohawk Valley Stars, he achieved the championship he could never find as a player. The Stars finished second overall in the six team ACHL. They met the Salem Raiders in the finals and won the series in six games for the title.

The following year, Mohawk Valley once again made it to the final series. Their opponent this time was the Carolina Thunderbirds. Carolina finished the regular season in first place. The Stars finished in third, 47 points behind the Thunderbirds. Carolina swept the final series in four games. The Thunderbirds went 8-0 in the 1982-83 ACHL playoffs.

In order to exact revenge on Carolina, Horton had to switch teams. In 1983-84, he was head coach of the Erie Golden Blades. The team finished second overall in the six team league, one point behind the first place Thunderbirds. The two met in the finals with Erie coming up victorious, winning the series four games to one.

Horton returned to Mohawk Valley to coach in 1985-86. The team was now known as the Comets again. Bill did not find much fortune with the team and was replaced early in the 1986-87 season.