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.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Philadelphia Civic Center: Home of the Firebirds

philadelphia civic center
When the Philadelphia Firebirds played in the North American Hockey League for three years from 1974-75 to 1976-77, the team played their home games at the Philadelphia Civic Center. The full name was Philadelphia Convention Hall and Civic Center.

The Firebirds won a Lockhart Cup championship at the Civic Center in 1975-76. When the NAHL disbanded after the 1976-77 season, the Firebirds joined the American Hockey League and played out of the Civic Center for the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons before leaving town.

The Philadelphia Civic Center was opened in 1931. The arena held a capacity of around 9,000 for hockey. The venue was closed in 1996 and demolished in 2005.

The Civic Center was also home to a handful of other professional sports teams. In pro hockey, the Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association played at the arena for the 1972-73 season. It was the first year of WHA hockey and the only year that Philadelphia had a franchise. The team was meant to start as the Miami Screaming Eagles but had to move to Philly because of arena issues.

The Blazers were hyped by the signings of goaltender Bernie Parent and NHL budding superstar Derek Sanderson. Both soon after returned to the National Hockey League. The Blazers were relocated to Vancouver for the 1973-74 season.

Professional basketball in Philadelphia was rooted in the Civic Center. The Philadelphia Warriors of the NBA played their home games at the venue from 1952-53 to 1961-62. The team won a NBA title in 1955-56 with a victory over the Fort Wayne Pistons. For the 1962-63 season, the Warriors moved to San Francisco and are the present day Golden State Warriors.

The Philadelphia 76ers also called the Civic Center home from 1963-64 to 1966-67. The 76ers were relocated from Syracuse, New York after 1962-63. They were originally known as the Syracuse Nationals. The 76ers moved into the Spectrum for 1967-68, the same year the NHL’s Flyers moved in.

As for the Spectrum, it seated 17,380 for hockey. It closed in 2009 and was demolished in 2011.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Michel Plante of the Philadelphia Firebirds

michel plante philadelphia firebirds nahl
Michel Plante along with Bob Collyard and Gord Brooks led the Philadelphia Firebirds to the 1975-76 Lockhart Cup championship in the North American Hockey League. Plante played the final three years of the NAHL’s existence followed by one more year in pro hockey before retiring.

Michel Plante – NAHL

Plante played with the Philadelphia Firebirds for three years from 1974-75 to 1976-77. He appeared in 213 regular season games, scoring 102 goals and assisted on 140 for 242 points. Like the rest of the Firebirds, Michel really shone in 1975-76.

Over 73 regular season games in 1975-76, Plante scored 52 and assisted on 66 for 118 points. He placed fifth in the NAHL for goals, ninth for assists and seventh for points. In the playoffs, he added another 27 points over 16 games as the Firebirds captured the Lockhart Cup championship with a victory of the Beauce Jaros in six in the finals.

Michel Plante – QMJHL

Michel played for the Drummondville Rangers in the first three years of existence for the QMJHL, 1969-70 to 1971-72. Plante’s hometown Rangers ceased operations after the 1973-74 QMJHL season. In his final two years with Drummondville, Plante wore the ‘A’ on his jersey. In 1970-71, he led the team offensively with 39 goals and 54 assists for 93 points over 61 games.

Michel Plante – Pro Hockey

Plante was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, 75th overall. He played pro from 1972-73 to 1977-78 in the WHA, SHL, NAHL and IHL. Michel appeared in 92 regular season and four playoff games in the World Hockey Association with the Philadelphia Blazers in 1972-73 and 1973-74.

In his final year of pro, Michel almost had his second championship. He played for the Port Huron Flags in the International Hockey League. The Flags did not excel during the regular season, finishing fourth out of five teams in the IHL North Division with just the sixth best record in the nine team IHL.

However, the Flags knocked off the division leading Saginaw Gears in the opening round, four games to one. It then took just another five games to take out the second seed Kalamazoo Wings to earn a berth in the finals. Port Huron came up against the Toledo Goaldiggers and stretched the series to the full seven games before bowing out. Plante contributed 15 points over 17 playoff games to push the Flags to the finals.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paul Larose of the Maine Nordiques

paul larose quebec nordiques wha
Paul Larose played in all four North American Hockey League seasons and was one of the league’s most consistent offensive producers. Larose played all four years, his final four as a pro hockey player, with the Maine Nordiques, helping the club to a Lockhart Cup finals appearance in 1976-77.

Paul Larose – NAHL

Over 287 regular season NAHL games, Paul scored 179 goals and assisted on 248 for 427 points. Twice he topped the 50 goal plateau and surpassed 100 points in three of his four years.

In his first year with the Nordiques, Larose scored 53 and assisted on 66 for 119 points over 70 games. He placed third in the NAHL for goals, second for assists and third for points.

1974-75 saw Paul score 54 but add just 49 assists for 103 points in 73 games. He was the team leader with Maine for goals, assists and points. Larose’s 54 goals placed him second in the league, one goal behind Rod Bloomfield of the Binghamton Dusters. Paul placed tenth for assists and tied for third for points.

Larose once again led the Nordiques in goals, assists and points in 1975-76 with 41 goals and 73 assists for 114 points over 71 games. His assist total placed him fifth in the league. 114 points would have tied Paul for the league lead in 1974-75. In 1975-76, the total placed him down in eighth spot in a NAHL led by Joe Hardy of the Beauce Jaros who amassed an amazing 208 points.

In his final season of pro hockey, Paul’s numbers dropped but the Nordiques excelled with their most successful season in their stay in the NAHL. Over 73 regular season games, he scored 31 and assisted on 60 for 91 points. He placed eighth in the league for assists. Maine reached the Lockhart Cup finals before being swept in four by the Syracuse Blazers.

Paul Larose – QMJHL

Paul played just one year of junior in the QMJHL, Quebec’s contribution to the Canadian Hockey League. Larose started out the season with the Trois Rivieres Ducs, scoring 31 and totalling 66 points over 33 games before being traded to the Quebec Remparts. With Quebec, he also totalled 66 points but in just 24 games.

Combined, Larose played 57 games, scoring 52 and assisting on 80 for 132 points. In the high scoring QMJHL, Paul finished ninth for goals, fifth for assists and sixth for points. The Remparts were led by Guy Lafleur who scored 103 goals and totalled 170 points in 56 games.

Quebec was crowned President’s Cup champions as QMJHL playoff champs after sweeping the St. Jerome Alouettes in the finals. Larose finished second to Lafleur on the team for playoff points with 30 in 15 games. Guy amassed 43 in the same 15 games.

Paul Larose – Pro Hockey

Larose was taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the seventh round of the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft, 91st overall. He played pro hockey from 1970-71 to 1976-77 in the EHL, WHA and NAHL. In the World Hockey Association, Paul played 28 games for the Quebec Nordiques in 1972-73 and five with the Michigan Stags/Baltimore Blades in 1974-75.

Larose’s top year in pro hockey came in 1971-72 with the Syracuse Blazers of the Eastern Hockey League. Paul finished his second year of pro hockey with 67 goals and 62 assists for 129 points over 75 regular season games. His 67 goals led the EHL and his 129 points placed him second behind teammate Ray Adduono’s 165. Syracuse reached the finals before being swept by the Charlotte Checkers.

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.