Monday, March 3, 2014

Lorne Rombough: Long Island Cougars 1973-74

lorne rombough long island cougars
1973-74 was a great year for Lorne Rombough. He was a fifty goal scorer in his only year in the North American Hockey League and played his only three games of major league hockey with the Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association.

Lorne Rombough – NAHL

In 1973-74, Lorne played 68 regular season games for the Long Island Cougars in the inaugural season of the NAHL. Rombough scored 50 goals and assisted on 42 for 92 points on the John Brophy coached team. He led the Cougars in goals and points. Lorne’s 50 goals placed him fourth in the league and he was the last of four players to surpass the 50 goal plateau that season. His 92 points placed him tenth in the league.

As for the Cougars, the team placed third in the seven team league, one point below .500. Yes, just two of seven teams had winning records in the 1973-74 NAHL. This imbalance certainly showed in the playoffs. Long Island reached the Lockhart Cup finals before being swept by the Syracuse Blazers in four games. The Blazers outscored the Cougars 27-5 in the series.

Lorne Rombough – Pro Hockey

In 1967-68, Lorne was team captain with the State University of Buffalo in U.S. College Hockey. The team went undefeated during the 15 game regular season but fell to Oswego State in the playoffs, their only loss of the season.

Rombough played pro hockey from 1969-70 to 1979-80 in a handful of leagues that includes the IHL, EHL (2 versions), AHL, NAHL, WHA, SHL, PHL and NEHL. His actual first pro game came in 1968-69 when he appeared in a single game with the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL. Lorne scored a goal in that first taste of pro hockey.

Lorne played for the predecessor of the Cougars, the Long Island Ducks of the EHL. In 1971-72, he placed ninth in the Eastern Hockey League with 42 goals in 75 regular season games. He also assisted on 35 for a total of 77 points that year.

As mentioned, he got his lone shot at major league hockey in 1973-74. Rombough played three games with the Chicago Cougars of the World Hockey Association. His short stay was pretty impressive with two goals and an assist for the WHA club.

Perhaps, his best year in pro hockey came in 1974-75 with the Hampton Gulls of the SHL. Lorne scored 56 goals and assisted on 43 for 99 points over 72 regular season games. Rombough placed second in the league for goal, three behind league leader Andre Deschamps of the Charlotte Checkers. The two were the only players that season to surpass the 50 goal mark. Lorne’s 99 points placed him fourth in the SHL.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Curt Brackenbury: NHL Enforcer Honed His Craft In The NAHL

curt brackenbury 1979-80 o-pee-chee rookie hockey card quebec nordiques
Tough guy Curt Brackenbury played most of his second year of pro hockey in the North American Hockey League with the John Brophy coached Long Island Cougars. It served as a bit of transformation in his game after providing more of an offensive role in 1972-73 with the Jersey Devils of the EHL. His penalty minutes ballooned from just 66 with the Devils in 1972-73 to the fifth highest in the NAHL in 1973-74.

Curt Brackenbury – NAHL

Brackenbury played in the NAHL for just the 1973-74 season, the first in the league’s four year history. With the Long Island Cougars, Curt played 45 regular season games, scoring eight goals and assisting on 20 for 28 points while sitting 194 minutes in the penalty box. His 194 PIM placed him fifth in the NAHL, 91 behind fourth place Bill Goldthorpe of the Syracuse Blazers and a whopping 177 behind the league leader, Nick Fotiu of the Cape Cod Cubs.

Over 17 Lockhart Cup playoff games, Brackenbury added five goals and an assist while spending nine minutes short of an hour in the sin bin. The Cougars reached the Lockhart Cup finals before being swept by Goldthorpe and the Syracuse Blazers.

The 1973-74 season was not exclusive to the NAHL for Curt. He played in 13 games with the Des Moines Capitols in the IHL, along with four games for the Chicago Cougars in the World Hockey Association.

Curt Brackenbury – Pro Hockey

Brackenbury played pro hockey from 1972-73 to 1982-83 in the EHL, IHL, NAHL, WHA, SHL, NHL and CHL. As mentioned, his pro career started with a different role than what the rest of his career would quickly evolve into. With the Jersey Devils, he scored 17 goals and assisted on 27 for 44 points over 68 games. He sat just 66 minutes in the box.

After his year with the Long Island Cougars, Curt followed John Brophy to the SHL and the Hampton Gulls for the 1974-75 season. Soon after, he was a regular in the WHA. Between 1973-74 and 1978-79, Brackenbury played 265 regular season games in the World Hockey Association with the Cougars, Minnesota Fighting Saints and Quebec Nordiques. He scored 41 and totalled 91 points while accumulating 753 PIM.

In the Avco World Trophy playoffs, Curt played an impressive 48 games, adding 14 points and 161 PIM. In 1976-77, he helped the Quebec Nordiques to the finals against the Winnipeg Jets. Quebec won the championship with the series going the full seven games.

In 1975-76, Curt’s year was split between the financially crippled Minnesota Fighting Saints and the Nordiques. His combined 365 PIM over 74 regular season games led the WHA.

When the WHA ceased after the 1978-79 season, Brackenbury played his first games in the National Hockey League with Quebec. Between 1979-80 and 1982-83, Curt played in 141 NHL regular season games with the Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues. He appeared in just two Stanley Cup playoff games, both with the Oilers.

In Curt’s final year of pro hockey, he appeared in just six games with the Blues. Brackenbury finished up the 1982-83 season in the Central Hockey League with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, playing in 44 games.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rick Dorman

rick dorman milwaukee admirals
Rick Dorman was, whether the league liked it or not, what the North American Hockey League was all about. He could score, 17 goals in his lone NAHL season, but it was his league leading 238 penalty minutes in 1976-77 that defined Dorman’s game. A junior with the Flin Flon Bombers, a team that Bobby Clarke made famous, Dorman played pro through the 1984-85 season but got his start in the NAHL.

Rick Dorman – NAHL

Rick played his first pro season, 1976-77, in the NAHL with the Johnstown Jets and Erie Blades. As it was the last season of the league’s existence, it was Dorman’s only year in the NAHL. He started out with the Jets but appeared in just nine games. His offensive numbers were decent with two goals and four assists for six points. Rick sat 44 PIM in those nine games.

Dorman moved on to the Erie Blades and played 52 regular season games with the club. He scored 15 and assisted on eleven for 26 points while sitting 194 minutes in penalties. The Nick Polano coached Blades reached the Lockhart Cup semi-finals before falling in five games to the Syracuse Blazers. In the playoffs, Rick added four assists over nine games and sat an additional 48 minutes in the box. It’s no surprise that he led Erie in PIM for both the regular season and playoffs.

Rick Dorman – WCHL

Dorman played two years in the WCHL (present day WHL), 1974-75 and 1975-76. In his first season, he played exclusively with the Flin Flon Bombers. Over 67 games, he scored 16 and assisted on 23 while sitting a whopping 442 minutes in penalties. He place second in the league to Jerry Rollins, a player that started out the season with the Bombers before moving to Winnipeg.

In his second season, Rick played a combined 60 regular season games with the Bombers and Winnipeg Clubs. He scored 11 and assisted on 23 with a total of 346 PIM. He placed second in the sin department again, this time to Ted Olson, a player that split his year between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Calgary Centennials.

He returned to the league in an executive capacity for a short time, about a decade ago. In August, 2003, Rick was named the General Manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors. However, in October, 2004, before the 2004-05 season started, Dorman was let go by the club.

Rick Dorman – Pro Hockey

Rick played pro hockey from 1976-77 to 1984-85 in the NAHL, USHL, IHL and AHL. However, most of his time was spent in the IHL. In his second pro year and his first in the IHL, Dorman sat 475 PIM over 76 regular season games with the Dayton/Grand Rapids Owls. He finished second, behind Alvin White of the Kalamazoo Wings who amassed 510 penalty minutes.

1979-80 was Rick’s only full year in the American Hockey League and he made his mark. With the Binghamton Dusters, he placed fifth in the league for PIM with 267 over 77 games. The league leader that year was Chris Nilan of the Nova Scotia Voyageurs with 304 PIM.

Two years later, Dorman showed off his offensive abilities a bit with the Flint Generals of the IHL. Sure, he placed fifth in the league with 288 PIM but he also scored 15 and assisted on 42 for 57 points over 77 games.

In his final year of pro hockey, Rick still had it in him. With the Indianapolis Checkers of the IHL, he placed sixth in the league with 263 PIM over a full 80 game schedule.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nick Polano in the NAHL: End of a Player. Start of a Coach

nick polano philadelphia blazers world hockey association
Nick Polano played just a small amount of games in the North American Hockey League but was a head coach for two full seasons. The man that would become head coach of the Detroit Red Wings for three years in the 1980’s finished his playing career and started his coaching career in the NAHL.

Nick Polano – NAHL

Polano played 19 regular season games for the Cape Cod Cubs during the inaugural 1973-74 NAHL season. The defenseman scored one goal and assisted on five. He also acted as head coach, replacing Bronco Horvath midseason.

In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, Cape Cod was bounced in six by the Long Island Cougars in the semi-finals. Nick played eight playoff games with just an assist to show for his efforts.

After a year away from the league, Polano returned as head coach of the Erie Blades for the 1975-76 NAHL season. The Blades placed third in the five team West Division during the regular season. In the playoffs, Erie fell in the opening round to the Philadelphia Firebirds. The series went the full five games with the Firebirds winning three games to two. At one point, the Blades had a 2-1 series lead.

Polano returned to Erie for 1976-77, the final season of the NAHL. The Blades finished fifth in the eight team league. Erie then advanced to the semi-finals before losing to the Syracuse Blazers, four games to one.

Nick Polano – Pro Hockey

After two years of junior hockey, 1958-59 and 1959-60, with the Hamilton Tiger Cubs of the Ontario Hockey Association (Currently the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League), Polano moved on to a lengthy career in pro hockey. He never played in the National Hockey League but Nick was found everywhere else, including the IHL, EPHL, WHL, AHL, CPHL, WHA and NAHL.

His pro career started in 1959-60 when he split his final year of junior between the Tiger Cubs and the Louisville Rebels of the IHL. It ended with the Cape Cod Cubs in 1973-74.

Never a champion, he came close to Calder Cup victories in the American Hockey League twice. In 1966-67 with the Baltimore Clippers, Polano reached the AHL semi-finals before being ousted by the Rochester Americans. In 1970-71, as a member of the Providence Reds, Nick got a taste of the finals when the Reds faced off against the Springfield Kings for the Calder Cup. Springfield easily handled Providence with a four game sweep.

His only major league action came in 1972-73. As a member of the star-studded and underachieving Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association, Polano played 17 games on the point, contributing three assists.

Nick Polano – Coach

Polano carried on with the Erie Blades after the NAHL ceased to exist. He coached the Blades in the NEHL and EHL from 1978-79 to 1980-81.

In 1981-82, his NHL career was finally under way. He took an assistant coach job with the Buffalo Sabres under head coach Scotty Bowman. In his only year with the Sabres, Buffalo lost in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, 3-1 to the Boston Bruins.

The following year, he took the head coaching job with the Detroit Red Wings. He remained behind the bench in Detroit for three years from 1982-83 to 1984-85. In the first year, the Wings did not qualify for the post season. In 1983-84, Steve Yzerman’s rookie year with the club, Detroit made the post season but lost in the opening round to the St. Louis Blues, three games to one.

In his final year as a head coach in the National Hockey League, Polano once again led his team into the post season, despite a not so special regular season record. The 1984-85 Red Wings met the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round and were soundly thrashed. In the three game sweep, the Blackhawks outscored the Red Wings 23-8 on victories of 9-5, 6-1 and 8-2.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gerry Pinder: A Short But Productive Stay With The Maine Nordiques

gerry pinder 1972-73 cleveland crusaders hockey card
He spent little time in the North American Hockey League during the league’s final season, just like many filtered through the NAHL in its four years. Gerry Pinder played a total of 21 games in 1976-77 with the Maine Nordiques but certainly made an impact with the club.

Gerry Pinder – NAHL

After starting the 1976-77 season in the World Hockey Association with the San Diego Mariners, playing 44 games, Pinder joined the Nordiques and played in eleven regular season games. Gerry fit right in with six goals and three assists for nine points.

In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, Maine came as close to a championship as they would get, reaching the finals. Unfortunately, they were no match for Syracuse Blazers. Pinder played ten playoff games, scoring eight goals and assisting on two for ten points.

Gerry Pinder – Junior

Pinder played two years of junior hockey with the Saskatoon Blades, 1965-66 and 1966-67. In the first year, the Blades played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). In the second, Saskatoon played in the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (SMJHL), the direct predecessor to the current WHL.

In 1966-67, Gerry broke loose offensively. In 55 regular season games, he scored an amazing 78 goals and assisted on 62 for 140 points. He led the league in goals and points and placed fourth for assists while being named the league’s player of the year. As for the Blades, they didn’t fare so well. The team placed fifth in the seven team league over the 56 game schedule and were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Estevan Bruins.

Gerry Pinder – Team Canada

Before going pro, Pinder spent a few years with Canada’s national team. He competed in the 1968 Winter Olympic Games and the 1969 IIHF World Hockey Championships.

The 1968 Winter Olympics were held in Grenoble, France. Over seven games, Gerry scored one goal. The goal came in a 3-0 win over Sweden. Canada came out of the Olympics with a bronze medal. Joining Pinder on the Canadian team were future major league pros Fran Huck, Brian Glennie and Bill MacMillan.

The following year, Pinder was with Canada when they competed at the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden. In ten games, Gerry scored three and assisted on one. Canada placed fourth in the tournament.

Gerry Pinder – NHL

Pinder played 223 regular season games in the National Hockey League between 1969-70 and 1971-72. His first two years were spent with the Chicago Black Hawks and his final year in the NHL was with the California Golden Seals. Over that time, his numbers were quite respectable with 55 goals and 69 assists for 124 points. He also played 17 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs, all with Chicago.

With the California Golden Seals, Pinder was the offensive leader on the rag-tag team. His 23 goals and 54 points led the team while playing 74 of the team’s 78 games.

Gerry Pinder – WHA

Gerry jumped to the World Hockey Association for the league’s inaugural season in 1972-73. Between 1972-73 and 1977-78, Pinder played 353 regular season games, scoring 93 goals and assisting on 141 for 234 points. He played an additional 18 games in the Avco World Trophy playoffs, adding 15 points.

Over his WHA career, Gerry played for the Cleveland Crusaders, San Diego Mariners and Edmonton Oilers. His time with the Oilers was limited to just four games during the 1977-78 season. His best year was his first, scoring 30 goals for the Crusaders in 1972-73.