Showing posts with label rejean lemelin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rejean lemelin. Show all posts

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.