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.

 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eddie Mio: 17 Games with the Erie Blades


eddie mio detroit red wings hockey card

Eddie Mio in the NAHL


Eddie Mio got his start in professional hockey with the Erie Blades of the North American Hockey League. Mio played 17 regular season games with the Blades during the 1976-77 season, the last year of the NAHL, recording a 3.27 goals against average. He also appeared in two Lockhart Cup playoff games as the Blades lost out in the opening round to the Philadelphia Firebirds, three games to one.

That season, Mio backed up Lynn Zimmerman, Erie’s main goalie for 1975-76 and 1976-77. Zimmerman played pro from 1966-67 to 1977-78 in a handful of leagues, including the EHL, AHL, CHL, WHL, NAHL and WHA. In the World Hockey Association, Lynn played for the Denver Spurs, Ottawa Civics and Houston Aeros.

Eddie Mio in Pro Hockey


During his four year stint at Colorado College from 1972-73 to 1975-76, both the WHA and National Hockey League came calling. Mio was taken in the seventh round of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, 124th overall, by the Chicago Black Hawks. That same year, he was also selected in the tenth round of the WHA Amateur Draft by the Vancouver Blazers, 138th overall.

Eddie played pro hockey from 1976-77 to 1985-86 on teams in the NAHL, WHA, AHL, CHL and NHL. He played in the World Hockey Association in 1977-78 and 1978-79 with the Indianapolis Racers and Edmonton Oilers. He followed the Oilers to the NHL after the demise of the WHA. Mio played in the NHL from 1979-80 to 1985-86 with the Oilers, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.

Mio was the number one goalie with the Oilers in 1980-81 and with the Rangers in 1982-83. In that 1980-81 season, Eddie was in the hunt for the Art Ross Trophy with five assists – not bad for a goalie. In both 1981-82 and 1982-83, Mio saw the bulk of his Stanley Cup playoff action, appearing in eight games each year with the Rangers. Each year, New York made it out of the preliminary round but in each year they fell to the powerhouse New York Islanders in six games.

In a bit of useless hockey trivia, The Rangers traded Eddie to the Red Wings, along with Ron Duguay and Ed Johnstone for Mike Blaisdell, Willie Huber and Mark Osborne. In his final year of pro hockey, 1985-86, Mio played 18 games for the Red Wings and posted a dismal 6.32 goals against average.

 

 

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.

1975-76


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.

1976-77


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.

 

 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Long Island Cougars


long island cougars north american hockey league nahl logo

Long Island Cougars


The Long Island Cougars played in the North American Hockey League for the first two seasons of the league’s existence, 1973-74 and 1974-75. The team was affiliated with the Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association.

The Long Island hockey franchise originated as the Long Island Ducks in the Eastern Hockey League in 1959-60. With the demise of the EHL after 1972-73, the Ducks carried on in the NAHL. The team played out of the Long Island Arena in Commack, New York. The arena sat 4,000 and was only home the Ducks / Cougars franchise ever knew. Long Island Arena was closed in 1996.

1973-74


The Cougars were coached in their first year by EHL legend and future NHL coach John Brophy. Long Island placed third in the seven team NAHL during the regular season with 73 points over 74 games. The Cougars finished 39 points behind the first place Syracuse Blazers.

In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, Long Island went 4-3 in the opening round, which was played in a round robin format. This set up a semi-final matchup with the Cape Cod Cubs. The Cougars beat the Cubs four games to two to earn a berth in the final series against Syracuse. The Blazers easily handled Brophy’s troops in a four game sweep. Syracuse outscored Long Island 27-5 in the series.

During the regular season, the Cougars were led offensively by Lorne Rombough. Lorne played 68 games, scoring 50 goals and assisting on 42 for 92 points. He was one of just four players with 50 or more goals in the NAHL that season. His 92 points placed him tenth in the league’s scoring race.

1974-75


The Cougars weakened in their second year in the NAHL. Long Island finished seventh in the eight team league with 63 points in 74 games. John Brophy was gone as head coach and in his place was Ron Racette. Racette was an outstanding junior coach in the QMJHL during the 1970’s, taking both the Cornwall Royals and Quebec Remparts to the President’s Cup finals.

Despite their low ranking going into the post-season, Long Island came up big in the quarter-finals with a three to one upset of the Philadelphia Firebirds. In the semi-finals, the Cougars came close to another upset when their series with the Binghamton Dusters went the full seven games. Binghamton came out on top, winning four games. However, the Dusters outscored Long Island by a close margin, 24-22. Two of the games needed overtime to decide a winner.

Offensively, the Cougars were led by Dave Walter. Playing in just 62 games, Walter scored 38 goals and assisted on 42 for 80 points. NAHL superstar Joe Hardy played four games with the club while spending most of his season in the WHA with the Chicago Cougars, Indianapolis Racers and San Diego Mariners. The following year, with the Beauce Jaros, Hardy would set NAHL records with 148 assists and 208 points. He became the first professional hockey player to surpass 200 points in a season.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dave Staffen: NAHL Record for Most Goals in a Season

binghamton dusters north american hockey league
NAHL


A website called the Encyclopedia of the North American Hockey League cannot be even close to complete without an article on the man with the record for most goals in a single season. Dave Staffen set that mark in the NAHL’s final season of existence, 1976-77, as a member of the Binghamton Dusters.

In tandem with Rod Bloomfield, who recorded 124 assists in 1976-77, Staffen put in an incredible 87 goals over 74 regular season games. Of course, he led the league in goals. With 40 helpers, his 127 points placed him tied for second in the league, behind Bloomfield’s 173.

Dave toned it down in the post season, scoring six goals and assisting on five over ten games. After finishing third overall in the eight team league, the Dusters were swept by the Maine Nordiques in the semi-finals.

The only other year Staffen played in the NAHL was 1975-76. He started the year with the Erie Blades and played 62 games with the club. His final ten games of the season were played with the Syracuse Blazers. Combined, he scored 41 goals and assisted on 27 for 66 points. His goal total played his tenth in the league.

In the 1975-76 post season, Dave scored eight goals in eight games for the Blazers with no assists and a hefty 41 minutes in penalties. Syracuse reached the semi-finals before being swept by the Beauce Jaros.

Junior Hockey


Staffen played three years in the Ontario Hockey Association from 1971-72 to 1973-74. After playing his first year exclusively with the Kitchener Rangers, Dave was traded to the Hamilton Red Wings during the 1972-73 season. The following year, Hamilton traded him mid-season to the Ottawa 67’s.

Pro Hockey


Staffen was drafted into both the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association. At the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, Dave was taken in the ninth round by the Minnesota North Stars, 148th overall. In the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft, it was the New England Whalers that selected him in the 13th round, 211th overall.

Dave played pro hockey from 1974-75 to 1977-78 in the IHL, NAHL and AHL. In his rookie year, split his season between the Lansing Lancers and Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL. He played a combined 74 games, scoring 37 goals and assisting on 27 for 64 points – decent numbers for a first year player.

When the NAHL shut down after the 1976-77 season, the Dusters moved to the American Hockey League. Staffen came with the team to the AHL for the 1977-78 season but played just three games, scoring one goal. He went on to finish the season in the OHA Senior circuit before retiring from the game.