Showing posts with label mohawk valley comets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mohawk valley comets. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bob Jones: NAHL Scoring Leader 1974-75

bob jones syracuse blazers
Bob Jones was a fringe player in the world of professional hockey that found great success over his two years spent in the NAHL. Jones played 1974-75 with the Syracuse Blazers and 1975-76 with the Mohawk Valley Comets. In both seasons, he surpassed the 100 point plateau, leading the league in assists and points while a member of the Blazers.

Bob Jones – NAHL

In 1974-75, Jones played 67 regular season games for the powerhouse Syracuse Blazers. He scored 38 goals and assisted on 76 for 114 points. Bob tied for sixth in goal scoring while leading the NAHL in assists and points. Syracuse finished first overall in the eight team league with a 12 point cushion between themselves and second place. Yet, the Blazers fell in the semi-finals to the fourth seed Johnstown Jets.

The following year with the Mohawk Valley Comets, Jones scored 39 and assisted on 70 for 109 points over 69 regular season games. The league was much more offensive and he placed just sixth for assists and ninth for points. The Comets placed third in the five team East Division and lost in the first round to the Syracuse Blazers.

Bob Jones – Junior

Jones spent four years in the OHA Junior A from 1962-63 to 1965-66. All four years were spent with the same organization but the Guelph Royals became the Kitchener Rangers after the first year. In 1964-65, his 39 goals placed him tenth in the league. Over his OHA career, he totalled 171 points over 209 regular season games.

In 1965-66, Kitchener finished seventh in the nine team league with just 41 points over 48 regular season games. Yet, after knocking off the Niagara Falls Flyers in the opening round and the Toronto Marlboros in the semi-finals, the Rangers earned a berth in the Robertson Cup finals against Bobby Orr and the Oshawa Generals. Oshawa came out ahead, four games to one. Over 19 playoff games, Jones scored 11 and assisted on 14 for 25 points.

Bob Jones – Minor Pro

From 1966-67 to 1971-72, Bob spent most of his time in the minors, either in the CPHL, WHL and AHL. In 1969-70, he was part of the magical Buffalo Bisons AHL club that exited the league on a high. With the Sabres entering the National Hockey League for the 1970-71 season, it was known that 1969-70 was the last year for the Bisons.

The Fred Shero coached Bisons reached the Calder Cup finals and swept the Springfield Kings in four for the championship. Bob led the team with ten assists and 15 points over 14 playoff games. During the regular season, he scored 25 and assisted on 37 for 62 points over 71 games.

Bob Jones – Major League

His NHL experience was limited to just two games, played with the New York Rangers in 1968-69. However, Jones played 161 games in the World Hockey Association between 1972-73 and 1975-76. Bob wore a number of jerseys in the WHA, starting with the Los Angeles Sharks and moving on to the New York Raiders / New York Golden Blades / Jersey Knights mess. He also appeared with the Michigan Stags and Indianapolis Racers.

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.

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.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mike Zuke: 1976-77 Mohawk Valley Comets Goal Scoring Leader

mike zuke st. louis blues o-pee-chee hockey card


Mike Zuke played just 48 games in the North American Hockey League in 1976-77, the NAHL’s final season. Yet, Zuke led the Mohawk Valley Comets with 42 goals while appearing in 65% of the team’s 74 regular season games. The goal total placed him tied for eighth in the NAHL with Henry Taylor of the Johnstown Jets.

1976-77 was Zuke’s first year of pro hockey after four years with Michigan Tech. Mike remains Michigan Tech’s all-time leader in goals, assists and points. He finished the 1976-77 season with 42 goals and 29 assists for 71 points. He also appeared in fifteen games in the World Hockey Association with the Indianapolis Racers.

The 1976-77 Comets went through a pair of player / coach’s in Bob Woytowich and Bill Horton. The team reached the post season but fell in the first round to the Binghamton Dusters. Zuke didn’t play in the playoffs. The Indianapolis Racers lost in the second round of the WHA playoffs but Mike didn’t appear in any of those games, either.

Pro Hockey

Mike was drafted into the two major hockey leagues in 1974. At the NHL Amateur Draft, the St. Louis Blues took him in the fifth round, 79th overall. In the WHA Amateur Draft, it was the Indianapolis Racers selecting him in the fourth round, 47th overall. He would go on to play for both teams.

In the WHA, Zuke appeared in 86 regular season games. There was his fifteen games with the Racers in his rookie season while the rest of WHA games were played the following year with the Edmonton Oilers.

Mike moved to the National Hockey League for the 1978-79 season, escaping the WHA a year before the rebel league’s demise. He played 455 regular season games in the NHL between 1978-79 and 1985-86 with the St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers.

After several years behind the bench as assistant coach of his hometown Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League in the 1990’s, Zuke has settled in St. Louis, Missouri. He currently owns Mike Zuke Enterprises, a company that specializes in sports apparel.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bob Woytowich: A Pro Hockey Career Wrapped Up in the NAHL

bob woytowich winnipeg jets hockey card 1972-73 o-pee-chee wha


Bob Woytowich played part of one season in the North American Hockey League at the tail end of his pro hockey career. Woytowich was a player / head coach of the Mohawk Valley Comets for the first 37 games of the 1976-77 NAHL season, the last year for the league.

In 37 games, the defenseman assisted on ten goals and sat two minor penalties. He was replaced by another player / head coach in Bill Horton. The Comets finished sixth in the eight team league and were ousted in the opening round of the Lockhart Cup playoffs by the Binghamton Dusters. 1976-77 was Woytowich’s final year playing pro hockey.

Pro Hockey Career

Bob played pro from 1960-61 to 1976-77. He appeared in 503 games in the National Hockey League between 1964-65 and 1971-72 with the Boston Bruins, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings.

In 1967-68 with the expansion Minnesota North Stars, Bob helped the team reach the Stanley Cup semi-finals against the St. Louis Blues. The North Stars lost the series in seven games but outscored the Blues 22-18. Four of the seven games went into overtime with the seventh game being decided in double overtime.

In 1969-70, Woytowich found himself in another semi-final series against the Blues, this time as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blues won the series in six games. Bob played in the NHL All-Star game in 1970, the only time in his career.

Woytowich also played 242 regular season games in the World Hockey Association between 1972-73 and 1975-76. He played for the Winnipeg Jets and Indianapolis Racers but had his most success in Manitoba with the Jets reaching the finals in 1972-73, the inaugural season of the WHA, before bowing out to the New England Whalers in five games.

Bob Woytowich died in 1988 at the young age of 46.


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.