Showing posts with label oakland seals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oakland seals. Show all posts

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Joe Szura of the Cape Codders

joe szura 1972-73 o-pee-chee wha los angeles sharks
Joe Szura played just 14 total games in the NAHL. His NHL career consisted of 97 games with the Oakland Seals. Doesn't seem worthy of an article, huh? But, this guy did have some noteworthy success in the American Hockey League and I believe Szura's is an interesting story.

Joe Szura – NAHL

Joe played ten regular season games for the Cape Codders during the 1974-75 NAHL season. It was his last year in pro hockey and he contributed with three goals and two assists. The Codders finished fifth in the eight team league, 12 points behind the fourth place Johnstown Jets.

In the playoffs, the Codders lost in the opening round to the Jets, three games to one. Szura played in all four games, adding an assist. Done. That is the extent of Joe Szura's career in the North American Hockey League.

Here's a tidbit for those not familiar with the Codders. They played out of the Cape Cod Coliseum in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The venue opened in 1972 and seated 7,200 for hockey. Just 12 years later, in 1984, the arena was closed and converted to warehouse space.

Joe Szura – Junior and Minor Pro

Szura played his junior hockey with the Fort Williams Canadiens from 1956-57 to 1958-59. He followed that up with nearly nine full seasons in the minors before playing his first game in the National Hockey League, playing for teams in the EPHL and AHL.

He was a Calder Cup champion in 1963-64 with the Cleveland Barons. The Fred Glover coached team was lacklustre during the regular season, finishing third in the four team Western Division. Joe had a great year offensively with 23 goals and 44 assists for 67 points over 72 games.

It was in the Calder Cup playoffs in 1963-64 where Szura exploded to lead the Barons to one of the greatest playoff runs in hockey history. Over nine games, he scored 13 goals and assisted on six more for 19 points – numbers not normally seen in the defensive minded AHL. The Barons did the impossible and went undefeated through their three rounds. In the first, they knocked off the Rochester Americans in two games. In the semi-finals, they swept the Hershey Bears in three. In the finals, the swept the Quebec Aces in four for the championship.

Two years later with the Barons, 1965-66, Joe had the best offensive season of his pro career. He scored 46 goals and assisted on 30 for 76 points. He finished third in the league in goal scoring, one behind co-leaders Alain Caron of the Buffalo Bisons and Dick Gamble of the Rochester Americans. He was named a First Team All-Star but couldn't produce in the playoffs. Over 12 games, he scored just one goal and totalled just five points. Cleveland reached the Calder Cup finals but fell to Rochester.

Szura returned to the AHL after his very short career in the NHL to play three more years from 1969-70 to 1971-72. In the first year, played with the Providence Reds, his 46 assists tied for seventh in the AHL.

In 1970-71, Joe led the Reds offensively in the regular season and playoffs. His 53 assists were good for second in the AHL and his 74 points tied him for fifth. Providence finished first in the Eastern Division and reached the Calder Cup finals before losing to the Springfield Kings.

In his final year in the American Hockey League, 1971-72, Joe played for the Baltimore Clippers. He finished fifth in goal scoring with 38 and ninth in the race for the John B. Sollenberger Trophy with 76 points. Joe helped the Clippers to the Calder Cup finals before losing out to the Nova Scotia Voyageurs.

Joe Szura – Major League Hockey

joe szura 1968-69 o-pee-chee rookie card oakland seals
The career minor leaguer was saved by NHL expansion. The Oakland Seals took him in the ninth round of the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft, 53rd overall. At the time, he was property of the Montreal Canadiens. In Oakland's first season, Joe played just 20 games.

In 1968-69, Szura played 70 regular season games for the Seals. Once again, he had Fred Glover guiding him as head coach. Oakland qualified for the post season for the first time and faced off against the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round. Szura played all seven games for the Seals with the team coming up short. Oakland held a 3-2 lead in the series at one point and outscored the Kings 25-23 over the seven games.

When the World Hockey Association came along, Joe jumped at the chance to play in the big leagues again. In 1972-73, the WHA's inaugural season, he played for the Los Angeles Sharks. In 1973-74, he played alongside the Howe family with the Houston Aeros. In all, he appeared in 115 regular season WHA games, scoring 21 and assisting on 39. He played 12 playoff games for the Aeros but didn't register a point.

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
1960-61 Montreal-Hull/Ottawa EPHL 65 10 24 34 20
1961-62 North Bay Trappers EPHL 68 27 35 62 24
1962-63 Cleveland Barons AHL 72 15 29 44 20
1963-64 Cleveland Barons AHL 72 23 44 67 33
1964-65 Cleveland Barons AHL 67 32 30 62 26
1965-66 Cleveland Barons AHL 72 46 30 76 22
1966-67 Cleveland Barons AHL 68 27 42 69 32
1967-68 Buffalo Bisons AHL 43 13 22 35 16
1967-68 Oakland Seals NHL 20 1 3 4 10
1968-69 Oakland Seals NHL 70 9 12 21 20
1969-70 Providence Reds AHL 72 21 46 67 23
1970-71 Providence Reds AHL 70 21 53 74 39
1971-72 Baltimore Clippers AHL 72 38 38 76 20
1972-73 Los Angeles Sharks WHA 73 13 32 45 25
1973-74 Houston Aeros WHA 42 8 7 15 4
1974-75 Cape Codders NAHL 10 3 2 5 0

NHL Totals
90 10 15 25 30

WHA Totals
115 21 39 60 29

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.