Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fort Wayne Komets (1982-83, IHL)

1982-83 Regular Season--Komets vs. Flint Generals
     As you can see by the program, 1982-83 was the 31st straight season of Komets Hockey. By now, the team had changed their colors slightly, dropping black for royal blue. Former Komets center Ron Ullyot was back behind the bench, and the team was a secondary affiliate of Vancouver, Washington and Winnipeg.
     Ullyot's Komets had a fine season in '82-83, with an excellent 45-26-11 record, giving them 101 points on the year. They finished second place in the Eastern Division and overall in the IHL. the Komets were second only to Huber Trophy champion Toledo and 21 points ahead of third place Flint.
     Fort Wayne had the second-best offense in the IHL that year, piling up 377 goals on the year. Ron Ullyot had a pair of 50-goal scorers that season, as both Ron Leef and Barry Scully each had 57. Leef led the team in points with 120. Two others scored at least 30 goals, and four other players had at least 20.
     The Komets were slightly weaker on the blueline, allowing 344 goals, fifth overall in the IHL. They used four different goaltenders that year, but Darrell May and Dan Sanscartier played the bulk of the games in the Fort Wayne net. Sanscartier played the majority of postseason games.
     Fort Wayne opened the Turner Cup Finals against the Flint Generals. The best-of-five series went the limit, with each team winning on home ice. The Komets took Game 5, 4-3, to advance to Round Two. They wouldn't last long, as they ran into the powerful Toledo Goaldiggers, who shredded the Komets in 5 games (best-of-seven), outscoring them 26-17 in the series. Toledo would then win it's second straight--and final--Turner Cup in six games over Milwaukee.
     Another nice Komets program at 47 pages. For it's age (31 years old), it's in excellent condition. There are a few color ads, but the majority is black-and-white. This program is from a March 16, 1983, game against the Flint Generals. The Generals, led by longtime IHL coach Ted Garvin, were led by veteran forward Len Fontaine and 50-goal scorer Tony Fiore. In net, the Generals had a fine 1-2 punch, with future Montreal Canadien Steve Penney and fellow youngster Rick Knickle, who would go on to a stellar minor league career and play in a few games with the Los Angeles Kings. There's an article by Komets Coach Ron Ullyot and a short "Around the I" article as well. Local ads include Scott's Discount Foods, WFFT-TV 55 ("Now 24 Hours a Day!") and Smitty's Lanes.

Sources:
International Hockey League Statistics: 1982-83 (from hockeydb.com)

Port Huron Wings (1971-72, IHL)

I already covered the Flags/Wings franchise early in this blog, but I wanted to give the '71-72 Wings their own post. I did some research on the Flags/Wings this past Saturday at the St. Clair County Library in Port Huron, browsing through the Times Herald microfilm.


     Shortly after winning their second Turner Cup, the Port Huron Flags signed a working agreement with the
1971-72 Regular Season--Wings vs. Dayton Gems
Detroit Red Wings. As a nod to their new affiliation, the Flags changed their name to the Port Huron Wings, and wore uniforms identical to the parent club. Detroit would also use McMorran Arena as their home for training camp. Ted Garvin was back behind the bench, along with General Manager Morris Snider.
      Garvin's new-look Wings finished the 1971-72 season in second place, with a 37-31-4 record. Their 78 points put them 11 points ahead of third place Flint, but 22 behind Huber Trophy-winning Muskegon. Despite the second-place finish and coming off a championship the previous year, the Wings averaged just 1800 fans per game.
     The Wings had the fifth-best offense in the IHL that season, scoring 276 goals. They were led by Len Fontaine, who had 41 goals and 86 points in 70 games. Don Grierson led the team in goals with 44. Four other Wings scored at least 20 goals that year.
     Port Huron was also fifth-best in goals against that year, allowing 262 red lights. The team used four different goaltenders that year. George Hulme and Brian Cropper were the main netminders that season, playing in nearly the same amount of games that year. Cropper played the majority of games in the postseason.
Back-to-Back Champs: 1971-72 Port Huron Wings
     The Wings began their defense of the Turner Cup against the Flint Generals. In a close best-of-five series, Port Huron downed Flint in four games to advance to the semi-finals. The Wings then faced the Fort Wayne Komets, who earned a first-round bye. This was another best-of-five affair, and Port Huron needed all five games to eliminate the Komets, taking Game 5, 4-2, at McMorran Arena.
     In the Turner Cup Finals, the Wings faced the Muskegon Mohawks, the top team in the league, who made quick work of the Dayton Gems in the semifinals. The Mohawks were heavily favored, but Port Huron stunned the critics by jumping out to a 3-1 series lead. Muskegon won Game 5 at home, 5-1, to force a Game 6 in Port Huron.
     A city record crowd of 3,582 packed McMorran Arena for Game 6, the Wings' third sellout that
From the Times Herald microfilm at St. Clair Library
postseason. After a scoreless first period, Port Huron jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second, on goals from Al Genovy and Bob Brinkworth. It would remain 2-0 until late in the third, when the Wings' Steve Sutherland and Wayne Ego scored two empty-netters late in the third to seal the victory. Exuberant Wings fans poured on the ice after the buzzer sounded, celebrating Port Huron's second straight Turner Cup victory.
     Commissioner Bill Beagan, during the Turner Cup presentation, called Port Huron "The Green Bay of the International Hockey League". Sutherland, Brinkworth, Charlie Shaw and Larry Klewchuck paraded the Turner Cup around McMorran ice. Wings fan Walt Gierman, in turn, paraded goalie Brian Cropper (pads and all!) around the ice.
     Decent program at 29 pages. All of them, of course, are black-and-white. There are some game pictures, and articles about each team in the IHL that year. There's also a letter from Morris Snider, the Wings' GM, and an article from Wings Coach Ted Garvin. Local advertisements include Chick n' Joy, Bob Bair Chevrolet and London's Dairy. The Snoopy cartoon, strangely, is for an upcoming event at the Detroit Olympia, not McMorran Arena. There is also a flyer for an upcoming Wings-Komets game, in which "over 500 pounds of turkey will be given away between the second and third periods". Can't argue with that!

From the Times Herald Microfilm at St. Clair Library
     Last Saturday, I went to the St. Clair Library in Port Huron to do some research on my Flags/Wings programs. I printed off a few articles and took some notes about the game programs I had, along with the 1972 championship and the 1981 folding of the team. I found the picture of the Turner Cup being paraded around the ice, and the picture on the left as well. This was taken with about 2:39 left in the game, shortly before the Mohawks pulled goalie Glenn "Chico" Resch for an extra attacker. Some fan at the game tossed a live rooster on the ice, obviously hinting the Mohawks were chickens. On one hand, that's pretty funny, but on the other, I feel bad for the rooster, probably scared to death. And how does someone sneak a live rooster into a hockey game?! Or why, for that matter?
     Pretty cool pictures and articles I found. I was able to get the results for most of the Flags/Wings programs I own. Not this program though, as there was no date. Might have to go check the archives out again.

     Sources:
International Hockey League Statistics: 1971-72 (from hockeydb.com)
"A Night to Remember", Port Huron Wings 1972-73 Season Magazine, Author Unknown.
Walker, Joe. "Full House (Plus Rooster) See PH Wings Win It All". Times Herald, April 18, 1972. (from the Times Herald microfilm archive, St. Clair Library, Port Huron)
"Can This Really Be Happening?". Times Herald, April 18, 1972 (picture and caption from the Times Herald microfilm archive, St. Clair Library, Port Huron)

New England Whalers (1977-78, WHA)

1977-78 Regular Season--Whalers vs. Indianapolis Racers
     The New England Whalers were one of the original members of the World Hockey Association, the second major league that was born in 1972. The Whalers, originally playing in Boston, won the first Avco Cup championship (the WHA's equivalent to the Stanley Cup). The Whalers would then relocate to Hartford, Connecticut, and the new Hartford Civic Center.
     In 1977-78, the Whalers won a bidding war for Gordie, Mark and Marty Howe. The Howes had played the past several seasons with the Houston Aeros, but left that team after a falling out with ownership. The Howes were joined by former NHL stars Dave Keon and Johnny McKenzie, along with Jack and Steve Carlson (two-thirds of the infamous Hanson Brothers of Slapshot fame). Harry Neale was coach of the Whalers that year, with Jack Kelley as Director of Hockey Operations.
     The 1977-78 Whalers had an excellent season, going 44-31-5, good enough for second place in the WHA. Their 93 points put them 8 points ahead of Houston and 9 behind league-best Winnipeg. New England fans helped lead the Whalers to the third-highest attendance average in the WHA, with 8,661 per game showing up at the Civic Center.
     Neale's Whalers had the third-best offense in the league that year, pumping in 335 goals. The ageless Gordie Howe led the team on offense, with 34 goals and 96 points. Not bad for 50 years old! Three other players--Mark Howe, Mike Antonovich and George Lyle--joined Mr. Hockey in the 30-goal club that year. Three other players, including Dave Keon, scored at least 20.
     The Whalers topped the circuit on defense, allowing just 269, one less than Winnipeg. New England used
1977-78 Regular Season--Whalers vs. Edmonton Oilers
two different netminders that year, Al Smith and Louis Levasseur. Smith, who played several years in the NHL and an original Whaler, went 30-20-3 with a 3.22 GAA and 5 shutouts in 55 appearances. Levasseur, who came over from Edmonton the previous year, went 14-11-2 with a 3.50 GAA and 3 shutouts in 27 appearances.
     Entering the Avco Cup Playoffs, the Whalers drew the Edmonton Oilers in Round One. New England would make quick work of the Oilers in their best-of-seven series. The Whalers demolished Edmonton in five games, outscoring them 26-9, to advance to the semifinals vs. Quebec. After similarly dusting off the Nordiques in five games, the Whalers met the Winnipeg Jets in the Avco Cup Finals. New England's luck ran out, as the red-hot Jets crushed the Whalers in four straight games, outscoring them 24-8 in the process.
     The first program is from a regular season matchup between the Whalers and the Indianapolis Racers. Indy featured former NHLer Bill Goldsworthy, but finished dead last in the WHA, with a pathetic 24-51-5 mark. The following season, the Racers would become a footnote in history as the first pro hockey team of Wayne Gretzky. Very nice program, 72 pages that are mostly black-and-white, but there are a few color pages. There's an article on Gordie Howe in the Hall of Fame, articles about the team and the rest of the WHA, and lots of statistics. Local advertisements include Garbo's Restaurant, The Hartford Insurance and Mitchell of Simsbury Auto Dealer.
     The second program is from another regular season game later in the year, this time against the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers were a much stronger team than the hapless Racers, finishing fifth with a 38-39-3 record. Glen Sather's Oilers were also the most popular team in the league, averaging 10,235 per game at the Northlands Coliseum that year. This program is even bigger, with 80 pages. Local ads include Nationwide Storage and Moving Company, WKSS FM 96 and WPLR (Voted "Best Album Rock Station of the Year" for 1977). Two ticket stubs from that night's game are stapled to the front cover.


Sources:
World Hockey Association Statistics: 1977-78 (from hockeydb.com)

White Whales: Programs I'm looking for...

Even though I have a ton of programs, there are still a few programs I'm still looking for. Here are my "White Whales":

1. 1980-81 Port Huron Flags: The final season of the Flags. Haven't seen a program for that franchise in awhile on eBay. The team didn't draw too well that final season, so a program from that season might be a bit tricky to find.

2. 1978-79 Muskegon Mohawks: 3-32-3 in the first half of the season. The Mohawks that year didn't just hit rock bottom, they slammed head-first into it at 100 mph. Have only seen schedules from that season on eBay and nothing at trade shows/flea markets.

3. Flint Spirits: I bought my first Spirits program at Gibraltar Trade Center in Mount Clemens, and got a 1989-90 Spirits program on eBay. Again, have only seen schedules and the occasional pack of cards online since.  Would love to have more Spirits programs

4. 1987-88 Saginaw Hawks: The only Hawks program I own is from a Hawks-Spirits game Dad and I went to back in 1988-89. I saw a Hawks program years ago at the antique flea market in Midland, but the seller wanted $20. Haven't seen any programs online.

5. 1984-85 Flint Generals: The final season of the Generals. There's one on eBay for $29.99, but that's a bit pricey for me.

6. 1991-92 Flint Bulldogs: The first season of the Bulldogs. There's a Utica Bulldogs program on eBay, but the price is $49.99 due to Gordie Howe's autograph. No sight of Flint Bulldogs programs...though you can get Bulldogs T-Shirts at Spreadshirt.com! :)

 To be honest, I haven't seen too many programs from the IHL or this state lately. Nothing too interesting or in my price range, to be honest.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Saginaw Gears (1979-80, IHL)

1979-80 Regular Season--Gears vs. Flint Generals
     The Saginaw Gears were in their eighth year of existence in 1979-80. The Gears were a secondary affiliate of both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings. Don Perry was Coach/GM and Wren Blair was owner. 
     After going .500 in 1978-79, the Gears improved to 43-27-10 in '79-80, second place in the North Division. They were just one point ahead of third place Port Huron and three back of league champ Kalamazoo. Saginaw featured the third-best offense in the IHL that year, scoring 349 goals. Rookie sniper Scott Gruhl led the Gears with 53 goals and 93 points--not bad for a rookie season! Warren Holmes, Marcel Comeau and Claude LaRochelle each scored over 30 goals that year, and five other Gears scored at least 20. 
     Saginaw finished third in the league on defense, allowing 306 goals. They used four different goaltenders that season. Bob Froese, who later played with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, played in 52 games that year. He was joined in the Gears net by Ted Tucker, Julian Baretta and Doug Keans.
     The Gears had a reputation for icing one of the toughest teams in the IHL over the years, and 1979-80 was no different. Don Perry's squad racked up 2184 penalty minutes that year, and had a few notorious tough guys on their roster. Leading the pack was left wing Mel Hewitt, who had 504 penalty minutes in 70 games! Defenseman Jim Branton was next, with 313 minutes in the "sin bin", and fellow defenseman John Gibson had 293 minutes. Three other Gears had over 100 PIM.
1979-80 Photo Album and Ticket Stub
     The Gears opened the Turner Cup Playoffs against the Milwaukee Admirals that season. The series turned ugly quickly, culminating in a brawl late in Game 2 that left Admirals forward Carey Haworth in a pool of blood on the ice, thanks to Gibson. The Admirals protested the Gears' use of "excessive violence" and demanded they be kicked out of the postseason. When the IHL declined to do so, the Admirals forfeited the remainder of the series. Saginaw then ran into the Fort Wayne Komets in Round Two. The Komets would not be intimidated, and made quick work of the Gears, advancing in five games. Kalamazoo would win their second straight Turner Cup, downing Fort Wayne in six games.
     Programs from 1979-80 are probably the most colorful Gears programs I own. This one is from a November 24, 1979, contest against the Flint Generals. According to the cover, the Gears downed the Generals 5-2, scoring two goals in the third. 
     This program is 47 pages with various colored illustrations. That night's Squirt/Dr. Pepper poster player was left winger Bryan Coates, who scored 26 goals and 60 points before being traded to Muskegon. Coates, a minor league veteran, was in his final season of hockey that year. There's an article about former Gear Paul Evans, then with the AHL's Maine Mariners, and one about Gears goalie Bob Froese. Local ads include Gracie O's Pizza Factory, Saginaw Steering Gear (where the Gears got their name) and the Bavarian Inn of Frankenmuth. Again, nice program. My parents bought a bunch of Gears programs and photo albums for me at an antique store in Saginaw a couple years ago. I have a program from every season but 1978-79. Still looking...


Sources:
International Hockey League Statistics: 1979-80 (from hockeydb.com)

Boston Braves (1971-72, AHL)

1971-72 Regular Season--Braves vs. Rochester Americans
     In 1971-72, hockey was red-hot in Boston, where Bobby Orr and the Bruins dominated the NHL. Hockey was so popular, the Bruins purchased an AHL expansion franchise to play at Boston Garden. The new team was called the Braves, and were, naturally, the top affiliate of the Bruins. The team was coached by Bep Guidolin, a former NHL forward who would go on to coach the Bruins a year later.
     The Braves would have their best season, on and off the ice, in 1971-72. Off the ice, the Braves were a smash success, averaging 11,208 per game, easily the highest in the league. The Braves finished in second place in the East Division, with a sparkling 41-21-14 record, just behind league best Nova Scotia. Guidolin's Braves had the fifth-best offense in the AHL, scoring 260 goals. They were led by former NHL winger Doug Roberts, who scored 35 goals and 75 points. Garry Peters led the team in goals with 39, and Don Tannahill was the other 30 goal scorer. Two other players had at least 20 goals.
     Boston topped the AHL in defense, allowing only 191 goals. Both Braves goaltenders would eventually make it to the NHL. Starting goalie Dan Bouchard had an excellent 2.51 GAA in 50 games with four shutouts. Bouchard would later play in the NHL with Atlanta/Calgary, Quebec and Winnipeg. Backup Ross Brooks played in 30 games, with a 2.38 GAA and one shutout. Brooks would spend part of the next four seasons with the Bruins.
     The Braves would face the Providence Reds in Round One of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Boston would zip by Providence in five games (best of seven), outscoring the Reds 20-14. However, they would run into a red-hot Nova Scotia Voyageurs squad. The Vees hammered the Braves in five games, allowing only five goals in the series. They would go on to win the Calder Cup in five games over Baltimore.
     Took forever to find a Boston Braves program, and it wasn't too cheap. It's a nice program though, at 36 black-and-white pages. Lots of articles about Braves players and personnel. Local ads include Bobby Orr, Inc., Rockingham Raceway (harness races) and Bob Lee's Islander Restaurant. The colorful cover is autographed by Terry O'Reilly, in his rookie pro season that year. O'Reilly, "The Tasmanian Devil", would go on to a long career as a Bruins power forward, piling up goals and penalty minutes. That night's opponent was the Rochester Americans, featuring 37-year old veteran defenseman Don Cherry (ever hear of him?).

Aftermath: Braves attendance would drop like a lead balloon after their inaugural season, bottoming out to a measly 1,328 per game in 1973-74. Most of the blame went to increased competition in the Boston area, as the New England Whalers of the WHA began play in the 1972-73 season. NHL expansion also hurt the Braves, as the team lost, among others, goaltender Dan Bouchard. After suspending operations, the Bruins maintained the franchise rights of the Braves, paying a small fee to the AHL to keep the team mothballed. The franchise rights were eventually sold to the Winnipeg Jets, who transferred the team to Moncton, New Brunswick, calling them the Moncton Hawks.

Sources:
American Hockey League Statistics: 1971-72 (from hockeydb.com)
Boston Braves (AHL), from Wikipedia

Phoenix Roadrunners (1973-74, WHL)

1973-74 Regular Season--Roadrunners vs. Denver Spurs
     There have been numerous teams that have been called "Phoenix Roadrunners" over the years, in leagues from the ECHL to the WHA. The first version played in the Western Hockey League, a minor-pro circuit in Western North America, from 1967-74. The Roadrunners previously played as the Victoria Maple Leafs in British Columbia. The team played their home games at the Arizona Veterans' Memorial Coliseum. They were coached by Alex "Sandy" Hucul, a long-time minor league defenseman who played the last five years of his career in Phoenix.
     Coming off their first Patrick Cup championship, the Roadrunners finished in first place in the WHL. Their 43-32-3 record was three points ahead of second place Salt Lake. Hucul's squad boasted the second-best offense in 1973-74, scoring an even 300 goals. Murray Koegan led the charge, with 31 goals and 87 points. Former Detroit Red Wing Howie Young led the team in goals with 37. Four other Roadrunners had at least 20 goals.
     Phoenix was also in second place in goals against, allowing just 273 red lights to turn on. The team used three different netminders that year. Gary Simmons, who would make it to the NHL with the California Golden Seals and LA Kings, played in 49 games that season, going 30-16-1 with a 3.00 GAA. Former Muskegon Mohawk Dave Hainsworth went 9-13-2 with a 4.07 GAA in 26 appearances. Don Caley went 3-3-0 with a a 3.68 GAA in seven appearances.
     The Roadrunners didn't have much difficulty defending their Patrick Cup championship. In Round One, they drew the San Diego Gulls, who finished in third place. Phoenix swept aside the Gulls in four straight, outscoring them 19-13, to advance. In the Patrick Cup Finals, the Roadrunners faced the Portland Buckaroos, who finished in fourth place, just five points back. However, Phoenix annihilated the Buckaroos in five games, outscoring them 20-9, to win their second straight Patrick Cup.
     This program has 40 pages, most of them are black-and-white, but there are a few color ads. Dave Hainsworth is on the front cover. Local ads include Sharkey's Pizza, KPHO TV5 (which broadcast several Roadrunner games that year) and Cobre Tire. Nice program, don't see too many WHL Roadrunners programs.

Aftermath: The WHL was already on life support by 1973-74, losing several cities to the 1968 and 1970 NHL expansions and increased competition from the new World Hockey Association. The league would merge with the rival Central Hockey League after this season. The Phoenix Roadrunners would not join the CHL, though, opting for the WHA, keeping a roster very similar to last year's Patrick Cup champion squad. The Roadrunners were unable to build on their WHL success, and would fold after the 1976-77 season. Phoenix would be home to the CHL, Pacific League, IHL and ECHL Roadrunners franchises over the next three decades. In 1996, the Winnipeg Jets would relocate to Phoenix, becoming the Phoenix (later Arizona) Coyotes. 

 Sources:
Western Hockey League Statistics: 1973-74 (from hockeydb.com)
Phoenix Roadrunners (WHL), from Wikipedia

 

Fort Wayne Komets (1967-68, IHL)

1967-68 Regular Season--Komets vs. Des Moines Oak Leafs
     1967-68 was the sixteenth season of Fort Wayne Komets hockey, all in the IHL. The team was coached by Ken Ullyot, who had been with the franchise since 1958. The Komets played
     Having lost to Toledo in the 1967 Turner Cup Finals, the Komets slipped to fourth place in '67-68. While Muskegon ran away with first place, the battle for the second-fifth slots was hotly contested. Fort Wayne finished 30-29-13, their 73 points one ahead of Toledo and just five behind second place Dayton.
     The Komets were also in fourth place in offense, scoring 282 times that year. Fort Wayne legend Len Thornson led the team with 38 goals and 97 points. Three others, Bob Baird, Randy Gates and Merv Dubchak, joined Thornson in the 30+ goal club. Three others scored at least 20 goals.
     The Komets had the second-best defense in the IHL that season, allowing just 272 goals. Fort Wayne used three different goaltenders that year. Robbie Irons, who would go on to a long career with the Komets, played in the majority of the games (43), with Jerry Randall getting the nod in 35. Pete Neukomm played just one game in net that season.
     The Komets barely clinched the last playoff spot, only one point ahead of fifth place (and defending champ) Toledo. They faced the Dayton Gems in Round One. There would be no return to the Turner Cup Finals, as the Gems polished off the Komets in six games, winning the clincher at Fort Wayne, 3-2 in overtime. The Muskegon Mohawks would go on to win the Cup in five games over Dayton.
     First of all, this program was scanned horizontally, since it has a team picture on the front. Pretty small program, only 19 pages. There are short bios about members of the Fort Wayne press, and an article by Ken Ullyot. Local ads include Penguin Point Drive-In ("For Those Who Care and Little Time to Spare"), Yankee Drummer Restaurant and Atz Ice Cream Shoppe. There are also team photos of the '66-67 Komets as well as the midget and Pepsi Komets. In short, a small and to-the-point program.

Sources:
International Hockey League Statistics: 1967-68 (from hockeydb.com)

Saginaw Gears (1974-75, IHL)

1974-75 Regular Season--Gears vs. Lansing Lancers
     1974-75 was the third season of Saginaw Gears hockey. The Gears were coming off a surprise run to the Turner Cup Finals in 1973-74, which they lost to the Des Moines Capitols. Don Perry returned as Coach/GM, and the Gears were a secondary affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, after two seasons in the Minnesota farm system.
     Saginaw would build on their Cinderella season by going 43-29-3, third place in the Eastern Division. Their 89 points put them 10 points behind the regular season champions, the Muskegon Mohawks, and ten points ahead of the fourth place Port Huron Flags.
     Perry's crew pumped in 302 goals that season, third-highest in the league. They were led on offense by power forward Dennis Desrosiers. "Rosie" scored 44 goals to go along with 80 points and 225 penalty minutes. Stu Irving, a member of the 1972 USA Olympic hockey team, had 32 goals and 76 points. Five other players had at least twenty goals that year.
     The Gears were fourth-best in the IHL on defense, allowing only 259 goals. The team used three different goaltenders that season, two of which later played in the NHL. The starter that year was Mario Lessard, who played in 59 games with a 3.22 GAA and 4 shutouts. Lessard would eventually make it to the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings. Mike Palmateer, who would later play with Toronto and Washington, made it into 20 games, with a 3.84 GAA and 2 shutouts. Roly Kimble played in 5 games with a 4.67 GAA. Lessard drew the nod for the majority of the playoffs.
Gears mini pennant (age unknown)
     The Gears would qualify for the Turner Cup Playoffs again in 1974-75, drawing the arch-rival Flint Generals in Round One. In the best-of-seven affair, the Gears court-marshaled (how's that for a verb?) the Generals in five games, allowing just 10 goals in the series. In Round Two, the Gears faced the first-place Muskegon Mohawks. After falling behind 3-1 in the series, Saginaw ripped off three straight wins, including an 8-2 series-clincher at Muskegon, to advance to the Finals. The Gears faced the expansion Toledo Goaldiggers for the Turner Cup, and the series was a classic. The two teams traded wins for the first six games before the Diggers won Game 7 in Saginaw, 6-5. Both teams set city attendance records during the Finals.
     The opponent for this progam was the Lansing Lancers, previously the Toledo Hornets, played on January 8, 1975. Saginaw entered the contest in first place with a 26-14-1, just two points ahead of Flint. Lansing, on the other hand, was 11-25-1, their miniscule 23 points just 3 ahead of the expansion Kalamazoo Wings. Not sure of the score, but Saginaw did win the game. Having only won 3 games on the road to that point, the Lancers were running on fumes by then. Their home stadium, Metro Ice Arena, sat only 950 fans (all bleachers), and they rarely even filled that. The Lancers would play just three games after losing to Saginaw, then fold after the IHL rejected owner Paul Bright's request to move to Grand Rapids. Defenseman John Gravel and goaltender Roly Kimble would join the Gears after the Lancers collapsed.
     These two teams only played each other four times in Saginaw, so not a common program by any means. It's 55 pages, mostly all black-and-white. Plenty of articles about the other IHL teams, and individual and team photos of the Gears. Forward Russ Friesen, in his final season of pro hockey, was the Coca-Cola feature player. Local advertisements include Farmer Peet's franks, Garber Cadillac and Pontiac and Rainbo Bread ("The 8-Hour Loaf"). I have another program from this year and it's identical to this one. Pretty sure this was the only design the Gears used that year.

Sources:
International Hockey League Statistics: 1974-75 (from hockeydb.com)
Saginaw Gears vs. Lansing Lancers statistics sheet, from 1/8/1975