Thursday, April 28, 2016

Roanoke Valley Rebels (1970-71, EHL)

1970-71 Regular Season
Rebels vs. Charlotte Checkers
     The Roanoke Valley Rebels were members of the Eastern Hockey League. They began as the Salem Rebels in 1968, but relocated to Roanoke, VA, after the Roanoke Valley Civic Center was opened in time for the 1970-71 season.
     Colin Kilburn was named Rebels head coach in 1969 and was behind the bench for 1970-71 as well. Kilburn's Rebs went 31-34-9, good enough for third place in the Southern Division. Their 71 points were 14 points ahead of the Nashville Dixie Flyers, but a whopping 46 behind first place Charlotte, the opponent for this program.
     Roanoke scored the third-fewest goals that season, with a paltry 257--only Clinton and Jacksonville scored less. Dave Parenteau led the Rebel attack, potting 30 goals and 87 points. Late-season pickup Dale MacLeish scored 41 goals with three different teams that season. Three other Rebels scored at least 20.
     Roanoke struggled keeping the puck out of the net that year, allowing 303 red lights to flash. The team employed two goaltenders that year: Jim Letcher and Bill Woodyatt. Letcher worked the lion's-share of games in 1970-71.
     The Rebels made it to the EHL Playoffs that season and faced the Greensboro Generals in Round One. The Rebels didn't last too long, as the Generals advanced in five games (best-of-seven). Charlotte would win the league championship over New Haven.
     This program has 36 pages, all black and white. Roanoke, Virginia, is not the first town you think of when you think of "hockey cities", but it actually has a fairly long hockey tradition. There's are articles about the coach, the history of the franchise and the history of the sport. There's also a section called "Hockey Vocabulary", which defines the terms used in the sport. Local advertisements include Billy Budd Restaurants, Frontier Restaurant and WFIR 960 AM.

Aftermath: After the EHL folded in 1972-73, the Rebels joined the southern-based teams in forming the Southern Hockey League. The franchise folded after the 1975-76 season. A new Rebels franchise would join the ECHL in 1990, change their name to first Rampage then Express, before folding in 2004. The Port Huron Beacons of the UHL would attempt to fill the void the Express left, but were a disaster on and off the ice, folding in 2005. The area has been rumored to be a future expansion site for the Single-A Southern Professional Hockey League. 

References:
Eastern Hockey League Statistics: 1970-71 (from hockeydb.com)

Rhode Island Reds (1958-59, AHL)

1958-59 Regular Season
Reds vs. Buffalo Bisons
     The Rhode Island Reds were a storied franchise in the American Hockey League. The franchise was born (or is that "hatched"?) in 1926, and lasted for 51 seasons. They played their home games at the Rhode Island Auditorium, and were affiliated with the Boston Bruins for 1958-59.
     Jack Crawford, longtime Bruins defenseman, was head coach for the Reds that season. Crawford's Reds collapsed to the AHL cellar, going 28-40-2. Their meager 58 points were four points behind fifth-place Springfield and 22 behind league-best Buffalo (the opponent for this program).
     Rhode Island scored 222 goals that year, second-fewest in the AHL. Former Maple Leaf Cal Gardner was tops with 24 goals and 63 points in 68 games. Ray Ross was the only other Red with 20+ goals.
     On defense, the Reds allowed the second-most goals in the AHL, as opponents scored 282 times. Three goaltenders were in the nets for Rhode Island that year. Leading the way was veteran NHLer and future Hall of Famer Harry Lumley. Lumley was the odd man out in the NHL that year--remember, there were only six goaltending jobs in the league back then. Future Port Huron Flag Norm Jacques and Harvey Bennett were the other two goalies. The top defensive scorer that year was Jack Bionda, with 9 goals and 26 points to go with 144 points. Don Cherry's brother Dick Cherry was also on the blue line that season.
     No playoffs for the Reds that year, as the fourth place Hershey Bears skated off with the Calder Cup championship.
     This is one of the smallest programs I own, with only 19 pages. It's all black-and-white, but printed on glossy paper. Each Reds player from that season has their photo and a short bio. There are the usual articles about the front office and the rules of the game too. Local advertisements include Providence Automatic Car Wash, Inc., Autocrat Coffee, Baker Auto Co. (selling Studabakers!), Knickerbocker Beer and Narragansett Lager Beer.

Aftermath: The Reds would stick around for another 18 seasons before relocating to Binghampton, New York, for the 1976-77 season. The franchise still exists as the Hartford Wolf Pack. Providence would return to the AHL with the Providence Bruins in 1992.

References:
American Hockey League Statistics: 1958-59 (from hockeydb.com)

Kansas City Red Wings (1978-79, CHL)

1978-79 Regular Season
Red Wings vs. Salt Lake Golden Eagles
     Detroit's top farm club was back in Kansas City and the Central Hockey League for the second straight season. The Kansas City Red Wings, formerly the Kansas City Blues, played their home games at Kemper Arena, which held 16,031 fans.
     Larry Wilson, former Detroit Red Wing, returned behind the bench. Ted Lindsay doubled as GM in both Detroit and Kansas City. The KC Wings were coming off a 33-40-3 fifth place season in 1977-78, missing the playoffs. Wilson's bunch improved to 37-36-3, good enough for third place in the CHL. Their 77 points were 24 points behind league-best Salt Lake (that night's opponent) and seven ahead of fourth-place Fort Worth.
     The Wings could score that year, lighting the lamp 301 times, third overall in the league. Mal Davis led the way with 42 goals and 66 point in 71 games. Two other players, Roland Cloutier and Jim Malazdrewicz, were the other Wings to score at least 30 goals that year. Four others scored at least 20.
     The defense struggled that year, allowing 306 goals, which was the third highest amount in the CHL. Kansas City used three different goaltenders. NHL veteran Ron Low led the way between the pipes in KC. Low, who was the odd-man-out when Detroit signed free agent Rogie Vachon that offseason, played in 63 games for Kansas City, going 30-28-2 with a 3.86 GAA and no shutouts. Larry Lozinski went 4-6-1 with a 3.92 GAA in 13 games, while Dave Johns made it into two games.
     The Kansas City Red Wings opened the Adams Cup Playoffs against the Dallas Black Hawks. Dallas finished 45-28-3 and in second place in the CHL that year, 16 points ahead of the Wings. The series was a mismatch, as Dallas swept the Wings aside in four straight. The Hawks would go on to win the Adams Cup in five games over Salt Lake.
     Another small program, just 35 pages, all black and white on glossy paper. The usual things are there, such as descriptions of infractions and rules of the game. There's also an article about "Women and Hockey", which claims that "Women and hockey go together like Simon and Garfunkle". Now, since Paul Simon wants nothing to do with Art Garfunkle, does that mean women want nothing to do with hockey? The article also notes how hockey's speed and action "will gratify and appeal to a female's senses" and gives women "a sense of security...belonging and exclusivity". Ooookay. There is a letter from Detroit owner Bruce Norris, a bio about Larry Wilson and an article about that night's opponent, the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. Local ads include Continental Hotel, Pete Franklin Chrysler-Plymouth, Jennie's Italian Restaurant and Lenny and Bert's Lounge.

Aftermath: The Kansas City Red Wings, as of the date of this program, were averaging over 4,000 per game to Kemper Arena. However, Detroit pulled the plug on the franchise after the 1978-79 season and transferred their top farm club to Glenns Falls, New York, and the AHL for next season. Kansas City would later be home to the IHL's Kansas City Blades and UHL's Kansas City Outlaws.

References:
Central Hockey League Statistics: 1978-79 (from hockeydb.com)
"Women and Hockey", Kansas City Red Wings Program, 1978-79 season

Portland Buckaroos (1964-65, WHL)

1964-65 Regular Season
Buckaroos vs. Victoria Maple Leafs
     The Portland Buckaroos were in their fifth season of existence in 1964-65. The franchise began as the New Westminster Royals, who played from 1945-59. The Buckaroos were members of the Western Hockey League, a minor-pro circuit based in the West Coast of the United States and Canada. This was prior to the NHL's 1967 Expansion, so the WHL was practically the closest thing to major league hockey.
     Hal Laycoe, longtime NHL defenseman (mostly with Boston), followed the team from New Westminster and was back behind the bench this season. The team had yet to miss the playoffs, and 1964-65 was no different. Laycoe's Buckaroos went 42-23-5, first overall in the WHL. Portland's 89 points were 13 better than the second-place Seattle Totems. As a result of the great season,  just under 8,200 per game attended Buckaroos games.
     The Buckaroos' offense pumped in 267 goals, tops in the league. They were led by Art Jones, who scored 34 goals and 90 points in 70 games. Pat Stapleton, who would go on to a long career in the NHL, followed Jones with 29 goals and 86 points. Andy Hebenton, who played several seasons with the New York Rangers, scored 34 that year. Tom McVie (the cover-boy of this program), led the team with 37 goals.
     Portland's defense was pretty strong as well, allowing the second-fewest goals in the WHL with just 218. They used three different goaltenders that year, but Don Head (who would appear off-and-on in the NHL) led the way with 50 games played. Stapleton was the top defensive scorer. Doug Messier and Connie "Mad Dog" Madigan added toughness to defense, with 175 and 158 PIM, respectively.
     The Buckaroos faced the Vancouver Canucks in Round One of the 1965 WHL Playoffs. The Canucks were a distant third place, going 32-32-6. Portland won the best-of-seven series in five games, but the Canucks made it interesting, winning Game 1, 6-3, and were only blown out in Game 5.
     Portland advanced to the Patrick Cup Finals against the Victoria Maple Leafs, who upset the Seattle Totems in seven. The Leafs barely edged out San Francisco for the final playoff berth that year, with a dismal 32-36-2 record. Victoria won Game 3, 4-3 in overtime, but the Buckaroos won their second Patrick Cup championship in five games.
     This is one of the smaller programs I own, just 36 pages. It is mostly black-and-white with some red highlights to the ads. Lots of advertisements and statistics. Information about that night's visiting team, the Victoria Maple Leafs. As of this game, the Buckaroos were one point ahead of Seattle for first place, with a 24-15-4 record. Victoria was in fourth (21-23-1). Local ads include the New Heathman Hotel, Shakey's Pizza Parlors, Sunny Jim Fine Foods and KOIN-TV6, a CBS affiliate.

Aftermath: The Buckaroos stuck around for another 10 seasons. The Western Hockey League at one point attempted to challenge the NHL as another major league, but lost several key cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver) to NHL expansion in 1967 and 1970. The league then went into a tailspin and collapsed after the 1973-74 season. After the WHL folded, the Buckaroos joined the semi-pro WIHL, but that league folded shortly after. Portland is now home to the WHL Portland Winterhawks.


References:
Western Hockey League Statistics: 1964-65 (from hockeydb.com)    

Monday, April 18, 2016

Detroit Vipers (IHL, 2000-01)

2000-01 Regular Season--Vipers vs. Orlando Solar Bears
     The Detroit Vipers were in their seventh season of play by 2000-01. Since relocating from Salt Lake City Utah, the Vipers were a big success both on and off the ice. The team made the playoffs each season from 1994-99, reaching the Turner Cup Finals twice, winning the Cup in 1997. Off the ice, the Vipers rewrote the IHL record books for attendance. The franchise often packed the Palace of Auburn Hills and were at or near the top of the IHL in attendance average.
     A turning point for the franchise came in 1999, when owner Bill Davidson purchased the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.  After years of being an independent franchise, the Vipers became the Lightning's top farm club. The Lightning were a bottom feeder in the midst of a total rebuild, so the cupboards were not exactly stocked with talent. Due to a rash of injuries on the parent club, the Vipers used 63 players in 1999-2000. This led to the team crashing to the IHL cellar, with a miserable 22-52-8, by far a franchise low.
     2000-01 was even worse. Former defenseman Brad Shaw retired to step behind the bench to lead the young Vipers. Didn't matter, as the team was buried deep in the IHL cellar yet again. It wasn't even close, as Detroit's horrific 23-53-6 record was 39 points back of fifth-place Milwaukee in the East Division. The next worst team in the league, Kansas City, was 25 points better than the Vipers. Attendance slumped seriously this season, as the Vipers averaged only 5,163 per game, easily the lowest in team history.
     Not surprisingly, the Vipers were the worst in both offense and defense. The team scored a miniscule 184 goals, 24 behind second worst Utah. Leading this offensive "attack" was Martin Cibak, who notched 10 goals and 38 points in 79 games. That's right, the leading scorer had 38 points in 79 games! Nils Ekman was the lone 20-goal scorer, notching 22 in only 33 games.
     The defense was just as brutal, as the Vipers allowed 311 goals, 38 more than Kansas City. Detroit saw seven goaltenders bounce in and out of the lineup. Leading the way was Dieter Kochan. Kochan was a fine goaltender in the UHL with Binghampton, but no netminder would find success with this group. Dieter played in 49 games, going 13-28-3, with a 3.55 GAA and no shutouts. Evgeny Konstantinov was his backup for most of the season, playing in 27 games with a 4-15-2 mark and 4.26 GAA. Other netminders include former NHLer Mark Fitzpatrick, future Canuck Dan Cloutier, Ryan Hoople, Markus Helanan and David Mitchell. The days of Rich Parent, Rick Knickle and Jeff Reese were a distant memory.
     No playoffs for the second straight year. Only three teams were eliminated from postseason contention, and the Vipers were far and away the least competitive.
     Despite the pitiful season, the Vipers put out a great-looking program. It's 112 glossy pages, loaded with color and  black-and-white pictures and ads. Each player from that season has a color picture and a bio, along with a question-and-answer section. The hockey personnel of both the Lightning and Vipers are highlighted as well. Lots of stats too, not only for the Vipers but also the IHL. Each team has their own section as well. Local ads include Meijer, Young Country 99.5 FM, Bill Fox Chevrolet and the Palace Grille.
     Got this program from the final game of the season, which also turned out to be the final game, period. The Vipers played host to the Orlando Solar Bears that night. Despite playing behind an offense with all the firepower of a pop gun, Dieter Kochan stopped 30 of 32 shots to lead the Vipers to a 3-2 triumph over the eventual champions, in front of an estimated crowd of 7,000. After the game was over, the PA system played The Doors' classic song The End. Kind of "hint-hint", wasn't it?

Aftermath: 2000-01 was the last hurrah for not only the Vipers, but the rest of the IHL. The league had shrunk over the past few seasons, from a high of 19 teams in 1995-97 to just 11 by 2000-01. Facing increasing financial problems and several teetering franchises, the league disbanded after the Turner Cup Finals, won by the Orlando Solar Bears. Six teams (Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Chicago, Utah, Houston, Manitoba) joined the AHL after the season, while Cincinnati dropped to the ECHL. The rest of the league, including the Vipers, folded. The Vipers last two seasons were a nightmare, as the team went 45-105-14, thanks to the pitiful, talent-barren Tampa Bay Lightning. What a way to ruin a great hockey club.

Sources:
International Hockey League Statistics: 2000-01 (from hockeydb.com)

Saginaw Spirit (OHL, 2015-16)

2015-16 Regular Season--Spirit vs. Soo Greyhounds
     The Saginaw Spirit just completed their 13th season in the Ontario Hockey League. The team is still owned by Dick Garber of Garber Buick and continues to play at Dow Event Center.
     The Spirit iced one of the youngest teams in the OHL this past year. When I bought this program, only right winger Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay) was drafted, though the team did have two overage players.
     Saginaw went into the season with higher expectations due to the experience the young roster gained last year. However, the team struggled from the start, costing coach Greg Gilbert his job. He was replaced midseason by scout Moe Mantha. Mantha coached the Michigan Warriors the past five seasons and was a former Spirit coach as well. Saginaw finished the season at a dismal 24-36-5-3 record. Their 56 points were good enough for fourth place in the West Division, 35 points behind first place Sarnia and 10 ahead of last place Flint. 3,354 fans per game watched the Spirit play this season.
     The Spirit had issues putting the puck in the net, as they scored just 209 goals, sixth-fewest in the league. Artem Artemov led the team in scoring, with 19 goals and 55 points. Kris Bennett and Connor Brown led in goals with 24 each, and just two others had at least 20.
     On defense, Saginaw struggled mightily, allowing the third most goals in the OHL (282). The team went through four different goaltenders that season, with Evan Cormier playing the most games. Cormier, a midseason acquisition last year, struggled in 58 games, with a 21-27-7 record, a 3.72 GAA and one shutout. Cameron Zanussi, picked up from Mississauga during the year, made it into just 8 games (1-3-1, 5.14 GAA). David Ovsjannikov and Brandon Bonello were the other netminders this season.
     The Spirit did qualify for the postseason as a #8 seed. That set them up with the Erie Otters, who went 52-15-1, tops in the league. Most experts didn't give Saginaw much of a shot in this series, and were proven correct. Erie swept aside the Spirit in four straight, though Game Four was a close one. The Spirit will go into the offseason looking for a new coach, as Mantha will likely return to scouting.
     As usual with the Spirit, a great-looking program. It is 74 pages, all on glossy paper and loaded with color pictures and ads. Each player has their own color bio, and there is an article about the revived "I-75 Rivalry" with Flint. Local advertisements include Saginaw Valley State University, Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame, Garber Automotive and WNEM TV5.


Sources:
Ontario Hockey League Statistics: 2015-16 (from hockeydb.com)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New York Islanders (1985-86, NHL)

1985-86 Regular Season--Opponent Unknown
     The Islanders were in their 15th year of existence by now. The first half of the 1980s was very kind to the Isles, as the team won 20 straight playoff series, make five straight Stanley Cup Finals appearances and win four straight Cups (1980-83). It's unlikely that the NHL will ever see a stretch of dominance like this again.
     By 1985-86, while the Islanders were still a contender, the core of the dynasty was aging. The previous season saw the Islanders slip to third place and lose to Philadelphia in the division finals. 1985-86 proved to be more of the same. Al Arbour's club went 39-29-12 that season. Their 90 points were 20 behind first-place Philadelphia, and 12 ahead of the fourth place Rangers.
     The Isles scored 327 goals in 1985-86, eighth-most in the high-flying NHL. As usual, they were led by sniper Mike Bossy. Bossy was a model of consistency in his NHL career, having scored at least 50 goals in each season at this point. 1985-86 was no different, as "Boss" popped in 61 goals to go with 123 points in his last full season. Fellow veteran Bryan Trottier and young star Pat LaFontaine were the other players with at least 30 goals on the year. Four other Islanders, including defenseman Denis Potvin, had at least 20.
     New York was even better on defense, allowing just 284 goals, fifth-lowest in the NHL. Billy Smith and Kelly Hrudey split the work in net that year. Hrudey went 19-15-8 in 45 games, with a 3.21 GAA and 1 shutout. Smith went 20-14-4 in 41 games, earning a 3.72 GAA and 1 shutout. Both saw action in the playoffs.
     For the eleventh straight year, the Islanders made the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, their stay would be short-lived. Waiting for them were the Washington Capitals, who went 50-23-7 and just missed winning the division. The Isles were swept aside by the Caps in three straight, managing just 4 goals in the process. Montreal, with rookie goaltender Patrick Roy, would win a surprise Stanley Cup in five games over Calgary.
     This program came with the 1976-77 Isles program. I don't have any from the dynasty years, but I have one from before the dynasty, and one from after. Very nice program, with 62 pages of glossy color pictures. Highlights of the previous season are included. The top players each have their own full-page bios and there is a team photo as well. Articles include "At Home on Long Island" and "Team Comeback". There are also photos from the team's first annual "Come Along With the Islanders" cruise on the Cunard Lines. Advertisements include Clairol Hairsetters, Beck's Beer and Long Island Savings Bank.

Aftermath: The Islanders would begin to slowly dismantle their core after this season. John Tonelli would be dealt during the season to Calgary and enjoy one last finals run with the Flames. Coach Al Arbour retired (for the first time) after the playoffs concluded. Bob Nystrom, one of the holdovers from the inaugural season, would play in just 14 games in 1985-86 and would be released. Mike Bossy would be hampered by nagging back problems and would be forced to retire after 1986-87. Billy Smith would retire after 1988-89. Trottier would stay with the team through 1990, then sign with Pittsburgh in time for their two-straight Cups. With owner John Pickett investing less and less into the organization, the Islanders would slide to last place by 1988-89 and stay there for most of the 1990s.
   
Sources:
National Hockey League Statistics: 1985-86 (from hockeydb.com)

New York Islanders (1976-77, NHL)

1976-77 Regular Season--Opponent Unknown
     The New York Islanders were in only their fifth season of existence in the NHL, yet were already considered a rising power in the league. Just three years into their existence, they came within a win from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. Their quick rise from expansion laughingstock to contender is quite impressive!
     Bill Torrey was back as General Manager, as was Head Coach Al Arbour. The previous season saw the Islanders go 42-21-17 (2nd place, Patrick Division) and hand the Montreal Canadiens their sole loss in the playoffs in the semifinals. 1976-77 continued the franchise's steady ascent up the NHL ladder. The team again finished second in the Patrick Division, with a 47-21-12 mark. Their 106 points were just six behind division leader Philadelphia and 26 ahead of third-place Atlanta. 14,965 fans per game jammed Nassau Coliseum to see the Isles that season,
     New York had the sixth-best offense that season, notching 288 goals. All-Star defenseman Denis Potvin (the team's first overall pick in 1973) lead the charge, scoring 25 goals and 80 points. Clark Gillies led the team in goals with 33, joining Bryan Trottier (30) as the team's 30+ goal scorers. New York featured a balanced attack that year, with five players (including Potvin) notching at least 20 goals.
     The Islanders had an excellent defense that season, allowing just 193 goals. In another season, that may have garnered a Vezina Trophy, but this was 1976-77, and the Montreal Canadiens were in another stratosphere in all categories. The Isles featured a tag-team combination in net for most of the 1970s in Billy Smith and Glenn "Chico" Resch. That year, Resch held the edge in games played (46), going 26-13-6 with a 2.28 GAA and 4 shutouts. "Battlin'" Billy played in 36 games, going 21-8-6 with a 2.50 GAA and 2 shutouts. Smith played the majority of the playoff games that year.
   Making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third straight year, the Islanders quickly dispatched the Chicago Blackhawks in the preliminary round, 2-0. In Round Two, they similarly swept aside the Buffalo Sabres to set up a rematch with Montreal, who obliterated St. Louis in their series.
     Montreal was having an unforgettable season that year. The defending champion Canadiens went 60-8-12 and were heavy favorites to run away with the Cup again. The Islanders, by far, gave Montreal it's toughest test in the playoffs. stretching the series to six games (including a Game 5 win at Montreal) before succumbing. Montreal would then crush Boston in the finals to win their second of four-straight Cups. Denis Potvin would be named to the 2nd All-Star Team. The Isles would console themselves by drafting future Hall-of-Famer and perennial 50+ goal scorer Mike Bossy in the 1977 Draft.
     I found this online awhile ago. I've become an Islanders fan the past several seasons (before they started winning again, btw) and wanted programs from their glory years. This is a pretty good one. It has 48 pages and most of them are color. The top players on that season's team each had full-page bios with color photos. There is also a roster for that season and bios of "future Islanders" from the farm system. Not as many ads as usual in this one. A few beer ads, including Schaefer (pull-tab can) and Budweiser. Local ads include Dairy Barn Stores, Citibank and Getty Unleaded Gasoline. There's also an order form for souvenirs. I have the pennant that's listed.

Aftermath: The Islanders seemed to plateau on their ascent to the top of the league after this season. Favored to reach the Finals in 1978, they were upset (and outmuscled) by the Maple Leafs in Round 2. After finishing first overall in 1978-79, the Isles were then upset by the arch-rival Rangers in the semis. After surviving a financial crisis and eventual sale to John Pickett, the Islanders finally broke through in 1980, winning the first of four straight Stanley Cups. They remain the last North American pro sports team to win four straight championships.

Sources:
National Hockey League Standings: 1976-77 (from hockeydb.com)