This was the only season of Saginaw Gears hockey I did not have in my collection. Cross one off the "white whale" list....
|1978-79 Regular Season|
Gears vs. Fort Wayne Komets
|Stat Sheet from Program|
The design of the cover seems to be typical for that season, only the color was changed. The picture on the front is from an autograph signing at the McDonald's across the street from the arena. Gears players Doug Keans, Mark Suzor, Dave Westner, Stu Irving and Dennis Desrosiers were on hand that day with lots of photos to sign for the fans.
As for the rest of the program, it's 55 pages long, in black-and-white on glossy paper. One page is dedicated to analyzing broadcaster Al Blade's signature, stating that Blade "has a stubborn streak, is intuitive, broadminded and selective of friends". Tuffy Mufflers has their usual "Find the Puck" contest, with the winner receiving tickets to the next Gears home game. Local advertisements include the Banana Tree Tavern, Garber Pontiac/Cadillac, Peet Packing Company and the Saginaw Steering Gear factory.
|Team Photo Album|
After this game, the Gears would stumble through a 9-17-1 record the rest of the way, dropping to third in the North with a 35-35-10 record. Their 80 points were 15 behind the first-place Port Huron Flags, and just five ahead of fourth-place Flint. Six different Gears had at least 30 goals that year, led by center Marcel Comeau, with 45 goals and 110 points. Defenseman Mark Toffolo led not only the Gears, but the entire IHL, in penalty minutes with an incredible 557, easily a career-high. Saginaw went through four goaltenders that season. Two future NHL netminders, Doug Keans and Bob Froese, led the way in games played. Froese would be traded to Milwaukee during the season, and Tim Thomlinson would take over as Keans's backup. Bob Parent would also tend net for the Gears, but would be dealt to Port Huron after just two games.
The Gears faced the second-place Kalamazoo Wings in Round One of the Turner Cup Playoffs. Saginaw was quickly swept aside by the K-Wings, being outscored 21-10 in a four-game sweep. Kalamazoo then crushed Flint in four straight in Round Two, then won their first-ever Turner Cup in seven games over Grand Rapids.
Saginaw Gears 1978-79 Program, 10 February 1979
International Hockey League Statistics: 1978-79 (from hockeydb.com)
Associated Press. "Saginaw Hockey Franchise Could Fold". Argus-Press, 9 June 1981.