Monday, April 24, 2023

The EHL Syracuse Blazers Historical 1972-73 Season

Follow the 1972-73 Syracuse Blazers through their historic 1972-73 Eastern Hockey League season week by week 50 years later. The Blazers' 63-9-4 record is one of the finest in hockey history, not to mention they won the last EHL Championship ever. So, this is also a history of the final EHL season, as seen through the lens of the Syracuse Blazers. As you will note "week"s are relative. (I originally started with "Days", but that quickly became unsustainable.)

P.S. If you know where the Blazers put the Walker Trophy (that's the one in the middle), please let us know so we can get it to the Hockey Hall of Fame where it belongs. Thanks!

Week 1: Summer 1972. April 25 - September 30, 1972

Week 2: Preseason. Oct 2-11, 1972

Week 3: October 11, 1972
Syracuse Blazers 8 at New England Blades 3

Week 4: October 13, 1972
Syracuse Blazers 6 at Jersey Devils 2

Week 5: October 15, 1972 
Syracuse Blazers 9 at Clinton Comets 3

Week 6: October 16-23, 1972
Oct 18 Clinton Comets 0 at Syracuse Blazers 5
Oct 20 Syracuse Blazers 3 at Johnstown Jets7
Oct 22 Syracuse Blazers 3 at Suncoast Suns 2

Week 7: October 24-31, 1972 
Oct 24 Syracuse Blazers 2 at Charlotte Checkers 3
Oct 25 Syracuse Blazers 5 at Greensboro Generals 9
Oct 26 Syracuse Blazers 6 at Roanoke Valley Rebels 2
Oct 27 Suncoast Suns 0 at Syracuse Blazers 5
Oct 29 Syracuse Blazers 5 at New England Blades 4

Week 8: November 1-7, 1972
Nov 1 Syracuse Blazers 2 at New England Blades 1
Nov 3 Johnstown Jets 3 at Syracuse Blazers 7
Nov 4 Syracuse Blazers 2 at Johnstown Jets 4

Week 9: November 7-13, 1972 
Nov 10 Clinton Comets 3 at Syracuse 6
Nov 11 Syracuse 4 at Clinton Comets 5 
Nov 12 Syracuse 9 at Rhode Island Eagles 3

Week 10: November 14-22, 1972
Nov 14 New England Blades 2 at Syracuse 6
Nov 15 Johnstown Jets 2 at Syracuse 3
Nov 17 Syracuse 6 at Jersey Devils 3
Nov 18 Jersey Devils 3 at Syracuse 6
Nov 21 Syracuse 6 at Cape Cod Cubs 3

Week 11: November 23-30, 1972 
Nov 23 Syracuse Blazers 4 at Johnstown 3 
Nov 24 Syracuse Blazers 6 at Clinton 4 (Utica) 
Nov 26 Syracuse Blazers 3 at Rhode Island 4 
Nov 29 Long Island 3 at Syracuse Blazers 7

Week 12: November 30 - December 6, 1972 
Nov 30 Syracuse Blazers 3 at Johnstown Jets 3 
Dec 1 Syracuse Blazers 8 at Clinton Comets 1 
Dec 3 Jersey Devils 2 at Syracuse Blazers 5 

Week 13: December 7 - 14, 1972
Dec 7 Long Island Ducks 1 at Syracuse Blazers 8
Dec 9 Jersey Devils 4 at Syracuse Blazers 8
Dec 13 Clinton Comets 3 at Syracuse Blazers 6

Week 14: December 15-23, 1972
Dec 16 Rhode Island 0 at Syracuse Blazers 11
Dec 20 Johnstown 0 at Syracuse Blazers 4
Dec 22 Syracuse Blazers 7 at Cape Cod 4
Dec 23 Cape Cod 0 at Syracuse Blazers 11

Week 15: December 24-31, 1972 
Dec 27 Johnstown Jets 4 at Syracuse Blazers 9 
Dec 29 Syracuse Blazers 7 at Clinton Comets 2 (Utica)

Week 16: January 1-7, 1973
Jan 3 Clinton Comets 3 at Syracuse Blazers 9
Jan 5 Greensboro Generals 0 at Syracuse Blazers 11
Jan 7 Clinton Comets 0 at Syracuse Blazers 7

Week 17: January 8-14 1973
Jan 9 Johnstown Jets 2 at Syracuse Blazers 4
Jan 11 Syracuse Blazers 5 at Clinton Comets 2
Jan 12 Cape Cod Cubs 4 at Syracuse Blazers 12
Jan 13 Syracuse Blazers 4 at Johnstown Jets 2
Jan 14 Long Island Ducks 2 at Syracuse Blazers 4

Week 18: January 15-21, 1973
Jan 16 Syracuse Blazers 5 Long Island Ducks 1
Jan 19 Syracuse Blazers 3 at Clinton Comets 2 (Utica)
Jan 20 Syracuse Blazers 6 at Cape Cod Cubs 3
Jan 21 Syracuse Blazers 7 at Jersey Devils 3

Week 19: January 22-28, 1973
Jan 24 Johnstown Jets 3 at Syracuse Blazers 3
Jan 26 Jersey Devils 0 at Syracuse Blazers 6
Jan 28 Roanoke Valley Rebels 2 at Syracuse Blazers 9 

Week 20: January 29 - February 5, 1973
Jan 30 Cape Cod Cubs 3 at Syracuse Blazers 8
Jan 31 Johnstown Jets 1 at Syracuse Blazers 6
Feb 1 Syracuse Blazers 4 at Clinton Comets 6 (Utica)
Feb 2 Charlotte Checkers 2 at Syracuse Blazers 6
Feb 3 Syracuse Blazers 3 at Johnstown Jets 3
Feb 4 Rhode Island Eagles 1 at Syracuse Blazers 6

Week 21: February 6-12, 1973
Feb 7 Clinton Comets 0 at Syracuse Blazers 11
Feb 9 Johnstown Jets 3 at Syracuse Blazers 3
Feb 10 Jersey Devils 2 at Syracuse Blazers 6
Feb 11 Syracuse Blazers 4 at Johnstown Jets 1

Week 22: February 13 - February 19, 1973
Feb 14 Long Island Ducks 2 at Syracuse Blazers 9
Feb 15 Syracuse Blazers 1 at Johnstown Jets 3
Feb 17 Cape Cod Cubs 2 at Syracuse Blazers 5

Week 23: February 20 - February 26, 1973
Feb 21 Clinton Comets 6 at Syracuse Blazers 14 
Feb 22 Syracuse Blazers 3 at Rhode Island Eagles 2 
Feb 23 Syracuse Blazers 9 at Clinton Comets 0 (Utica) 
Feb 24 Syracuse Blazers 3 at Clinton Comets 2 
Feb 25 Syracuse Blazers 9 at Long Island Ducks 3

Week 24: February 27 - March 4, 1973 
Feb 28 Johnstown Jets 0 at Syracuse Blazers 7 
Mar 1 Clinton Comets 4 at Syracuse Blazers 9 
Mar 3 Syracuse Blazers 5 at Johnstown Jets 3 
Mar 4 Johnstown Jets 1 at Syracuse Blazers 4 
Syracuse Blazers 63-9-4

Week 25: March 5 - 17, 1973
Mar 7 Rhode Island Eagles 1 at Syracuse Blazers 6
Mar 10 Rhode Island Eagles 0 at Syracuse Blazers 1 FORFEIT
Mar 16 Syracuse Blazers 5 at Rhode Island Eagles 3
Mar 17 Syracuse Blazers 4 at Rhode Island Eagles 1
(Syracuse wins series 4-0)
Week 26: March 18 - 28, 1973
Mar 21 Cape Cod Cubs 1 at Syracuse Blazers 2
Mar 23 Cape Cod Cubs 1 at Syracuse Blazers 11
Mar 24 Syracuse Blazers 4 at Cape Cod Cubs 3
Mar 27 Syracuse Blazers 3 Cape Cod Cubs 1
(Syracuse wins series 4-0)

Week 27: March 30-April 14, 1973
Apr 1 Roanoke Valley 5 at Syracuse Blazers 4
Apr 4 Roanoke Valley 1 at Syracuse Blazers 17
Apr 5 Syracuse Blazers 7 at Roanoke Valley 4
Apr 8 Syracuse Blazers 4 at Roanoke Valley 6
Apr 10 Roanoke Valley 1 at Syracuse Blazers 15
Apr 12 Syracuse Blazers 4 at Roanoke Valley 1
(Syracuse wins Series 4-2, EHL Championship & Walker Trophy)
Part 1 - Syracuse Articles:
Part 2 - Roanoke Articles:

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

EHL All-Stars Tour of Russia, Czechoslovakia and Latvia, January 15-29, 1964

From January 15-29, 1964 the Soviet Union hosted a tour of an Eastern Hockey League All-Star Team of United States citizens. The following are the articles (the games are mostly AP blurbs) from the tour, plus video of the Moscow game, and memorabilia from the Ken Murphy collection. There were two games in Prague, of which the EHL won one, but there were no articles on those. This poster is for the game vs Riga Daugava in Latvia.

Part 1 - Articles leading up to the Tour:

Bonus - Game 1 Video from Moscow:

Part 2 - The Tour (Jan 15-29, 1964):

Part 2A -The Tour (Johnstown Articles):

Part 3 - Thoughts on Returning Home:

Part 3-A - Thoughts on Returning Home (Jim McNulty - Charlotte):

Part 4 - Memorabilia from the Ken Murphy Collection:

This series followed the Soviet 6-city EHL Tour in December 1963, which you can read about here:

Monday, August 22, 2022

Soviet Tour of the Eastern Hockey League December 1963.

In December 2020, I posted to our EHL Facebook group day-by-day newspaper articles from the home cities of a 6-city Soviet Tour of the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) which occurred 57 years earlier in December 1963. The dates listed are the newspaper dates, so the games were the prior day. There is a lot of prelim, so if you want to read just about the games, then start at "Day 21".

Nashville Dixie Flyers Norm Ryder Checks Russian Veniamin Alexandrov, Dec 25, 1963
from The Tennessean Dec 26, 1963

The results of the series were:
Dec 17, 1963 Soviets 12 at Greensboro Generals 3
Dec 18, 1963
Soviets 6 at Charlotte Checkers 3
Dec 20, 1963
Soviets 12 at Philadelphia Ramblers 2
Dec 21, 1963
Soviets 9 at Johnstown Jets 6
Dec 22, 1963 Soviets 4 at Knoxville Knights 4
Dec 25, 1963
Soviets 4 at Nashville Dixie Flyers 1

The following month, January 1964 a team of EHL All-Stars made a tour of Russia. The next blog will cover those articles.

Day 1: Jan-Oct 1963 Articles
Day 2: Nov 1963 Articles
Day 3: Nov 30, 1963
Day 4: Dec 1, 1963
Day 5: Dec 2, 1963
Day 6: Dec 3, 1963
Day 7: Dec 4, 1963
Day 8: Dec 5, 1963
Day 9: Dec 6, 1963
Day 10: Dec 7, 1963
Day 11: Dec 8, 1963
Day 12: Dec 9, 1963
Day 13: Dec 10, 1963
Day 14: Dec 11, 1963
Day 15: Dec 12, 1963
Day 16: Dec 13, 1963
Day 17: Dec 14, 1963
Day 18: Dec 15, 1963
Day 19: Dec 16, 1963
Day 20: Dec 17, 1963
Day 21: Dec 18, 1963 Soviets 12 at Greensboro Generals 3
Day 22: Dec 19, 1963 Soviets 6 at Charlotte Checkers 3
Day 23: Dec 20, 1963
Day 24: Dec 21, 1963 Soviets 12 at Philadelphia Ramblers 2
Day 25: Dec 22, 1963 Soviets 9 at Johnstown Jets 6
Day 26: Dec 23, 1963 Soviets 4 at Knoxville Knights 4
Day 27: Dec 24, 1963
Day 28: Dec 25, 1963
Day 29: Dec 26, 1963 Soviets 4 at Nashville Dixie Flyers 1
Day 30: Dec 27-31, 1963 Soviets 5 U of Denver 0, Soviets 6 U of Denver 3

As I've stated elsewhere, once the EHL Facebook group got going (Currently 3300+ members and growing), there's not a whole lot of need to "blog", since I usually do continuous posting there. But sometimes like this the blog format is a lot cleaner than trying to search Facebook.

Tom Telaar

Saturday, September 10, 2016

2016-17 EHL Southern Division Arena Hockey Tour

Knoxville Civic Coliseum
EHL - Knoxville Knights 1961-68
SPHL- Knoxville Ice Bears since 2002-03
For the first time in many years there will be minor pro hockey teams in 4 arenas that were once home to Eastern Hockey League (EHL) Southern Division teams - a league that has been out of business for 44 years. And this is just the Southern Division.

Prior to last season only the Knoxville Ice Bears were playing in an EHL Southern Division arena, and the Knoxville Civic Coliseum has been at risk of being replaced for years. In 2015-16 the dormant Augusta Riverhawks franchise was moved to Macon, and the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte was renovated in order to move the Checkers back from the less-fan-friendly Time-Warner Arena. This season the SPHL placed the expansion Rail Yard Dawgs in Roanoke.
Charlotte Coliseum (Bojangles Coliseum)
EHL - Charlotte Clippers / Checkers 1956-73
AHL - Charlotte Checkers since 2015-16

I put the schedules of the four teams together. What I found was, there is no 4-game stretch where you can see games in all four arenas. In fact there is only one 5-game stretch that works. So, I took Macon out of the equation since they only had a handful of EHL home games. Here are those 3-game weekends with Charlotte, Roanoke and Knoxville:


Saturday December 16
Mississippi at Knoxville 7:35
Saturday December 17
Fayetteville at Roanoke 7:05
Sunday December 18
Grand Rapids at Charlotte 1:00

Thursday January 12 Mississippi at Roanoke 7:05
Friday January 13
Columbus at Knoxville 7:30 OR Mississippi at Roanoke 7:05
Saturday January 14
Cleveland at Charlotte 6:00 
Sunday January 15
Huntsville at Knoxville 3:00

Friday February 10
Macon at Knoxville 7:30 OR Stockton at Charlotte 7:15
Saturday February 11
Stockton at Charlotte 6 PM OR Evansville at Knoxville 7:30
Sunday February 12
Macon at Roanoke 3:05

 Roanoke Civic Center (Berglund Center)
EHL - Roanoke Valley Rebels 1971-73
SPHL - Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs starting 2016-17
Friday March 24
Peoria at Knoxville 7:30 OR Columbus at Roanoke 7:05
Saturday March 25
Columbus at Roanoke 7:05 OR Peoria at Knoxville 7:30
Sunday March 26
Chicago at Charlotte 1:00

Through some fluke of improbability theory and minor league arena scheduling, there is no weekend where you can see the three SPHL teams at home. However, if you substitute Virginia Tech hockey for Roanoke Rail Yard Dogs, you can see:
Friday January 6
Evansville at Knoxville 7:30
Saturday January 7
Pensacola at Macon 7:35
Sunday January 8
Ohio at Virginia Tech 2 PM
(For those like me who have seen or may get to see Charlotte separately - this may be the best option.)

Macon Coliseum (Macon Centreplex)
EHL - Jacksonville Rockets 1968-69 

(6 home games including first pro hockey game in Georgia)
SPHL - Macon Mayhem since 2015-2016
Which brings us to: 
Tuesday April 4
Macon at Roanoke 7:05 (last home game)
Wednesday April 5
San Antonio at Charlotte 7 PM
Thursday April 6*
Alan Alda at Greensboro Coliseum, NHL Islanders at Carolina and Minor League Baseball opening day
Friday April 7
Roanoke at Macon 7:35 OR Pensacola at Knoxville 7:30
Saturday April 8
Roanoke at Macon 7:35 OR Pensacola at Knoxville 7:30 (last home games)
+(Sunday April 9
Texas at Charlotte 1 PM - last home game)

*On April 6th there may be non-hockey events playing at one of the remaining EHL Southern Division:
Greensboro Coliseum (April 6 - Alan Alda)
Nashville Municipal Auditorium
Salem Civic Center
Mississippi Coliseum (Nashville Dixie Flyers - 1 home game - first pro hockey game in MS)
Uline Arena (Washington Lions/Presidents)
West Palm Beach Auditorium - Jehovah's Witness' Christian Convention Center (Florida Rockets 1966-68)

We are incredibly fortunate that these places of EHL history are still with us. Minor league hockey teams are fleeting and this may be the last best chance to see these historic places. Lets go see some games while we still have the chance!

If you'd like to discuss EHL Hockey please join us on the Eastern Hockey League Facebook Group. We have many players, officials and fans of the old league. We invite you to come join us!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Canada Games Torch named for the first Greensboro Generals coach, Roly McLenahan

Florence Morning News 09-15-59, p. 10
McLenahan Leads Greensboro Team In Hockey League
Veteran Coach Roly McLenahan will guide the Greensboro Generals in their first season of Eastern
Hockey League play. Ken Wilson, general manager of the new club, announced the 37 year-old Canadian's appointment Thursday. McLenahan a native of St. Catherines, Ontario led the Cincinatti Mohawks of the IHL to four straight championships brfore taking over at Rochester of the AHL in 1957-58. In his playing days, McLenahan defenced for the National Hockey League 's Detroit Red Wings and the AHL's Cleveland, Hershey, Buffalo and Indianapolis cubs.

Bobby Taylor CFL & EHL

Defenseman Bobby Taylor (not to be confused with Jersey Devils goaltender Bobby Taylor) had a 14 year career in the CFL, while playing for EHL New Haven Blades, Jersey Devils, Johnstown Jets, Long Island Ducks and Salem Rebels during that time. The web is strangely silent about his playing both sports. I do have an article that says that "policeman" Bobby Taylor signed with the Jersey Devils in January 19, 1967, after finishing his Toronto Argonauts season, and that he had played with Victoria and Seattle in the WHL previously. That would appear to match him up with this Bobby Taylor at Wikipedia shows this Bobby Taylor playing with Argonauts in 1966 and 1967. His short hockey seasons, and changes of teams (makes sense, since a team might not need a defenseman suddenly in January) seem to bear out that this was the same guy. Still I'm not seeing any mention of this anywhere on the web. I might have a scoop.

Jersey Devils 16 Syracuse Blazers 15 - Highest Scoring EHL Game Ever

On Saturday Night February 24, 1968 at Cherry Hill Arena, the Jersey Devils and Syracuse Blazers combined for an EHL record 31 goals as the Devils beat the Blazers 16-15. Below is more-or-less the Holy Grail of EHL boxscores.

It's possible that 31 goals is a professional hockey record. (Yes, the EHL was technically "amateur", but the players were paid and it was part of the NHL farm system.) I haven't found any larger score in any professional leagues, but minor leagues come and go and records are lost or hard to find. I also believe Tim McCormick's record 12 point night still stands across hockey. It's also possible that Reg Meserve's 4 minor penalties in the third period would at least tie a Devils' team record.

One of the problems of pasting together EHL history is that often hometown newspapers didn't publish on Sunday back then. The Camden Courier-Post, the Jersey Devils home paper was no exception. Since there was usually a Sunday game as well, Saturday's game many times scarcely got a mention and rarely a box score or picture in the Monday paper. In the case of the February 26, 1968 Camden Courier-Post it was also inaccurate as according to the box score, Gordie Stratton had 5 goals and only 1 assist, instead of the 5 goals and 5 asists the article states. Stratton's inaccurate total would have beaten the previous EHL record of 9 points in a game, set by Bill Purcell of the Baltimore Clippers in 1948. Note also that the Devils got shut out by New Haven loaner goalie Roger Wilson 6-0 the next night in spite of 43 shots on goal. Syracuse lost to the Johnstown Jets 11-4 on Sunday.

This game only tied a goal scoring record for Jersey. The Devils also scored 16 goals in a 16-7 victory over Jacksonville on January 19, 1965. The 23 combined goals is the largest previous EHL score I'm aware of.

Here's the scoring breakdown for the 16-15 game...

Fred Bassi 3 4 7 0
Gordie Stratton 5 1 6 0
Lorne O'Donnell 2 4 6 0
Reg Meserve 1 5 6 10
Billy Christodal 2 3 5 0
Bobby Boucher 1 2 3 0
Wayne Kitchen 1 2 3 0
Don Rozich 1 1 2 0
Ray Crew 0 2 2 2
Ted Szydlowski 0 2 2 4
Andre Daoust 0 1 1 0
Bob Peters 0 1 1 4
Ron MacPherson 0 0 0 7

Tim McCormick 5 7 12 2
Ray Adduono 2 5 7 0
Joe Marich 4 2 6 0
John Chapman 2 2 4 15
Ed Skyhar 1 3 4 0
Wayne Caufield 1 2 3 0
Chris Finnerty 0 1 1 0
Bill Lastic 0 1 1 10

The one thing I've gained from trying to write about this amazing game is the need for centralized minor league hockey records. I personally need to create a Team and League Records page at . This also shows that historical record keeping is not static, but ever changing during a league's run. It's just as important to know what the records are for, in this case, February 23, 1968 as they are for after the league has ended.

Discuss the game further with Syracuse forward (and former Devil) Wayne Caufield and other EHL players and fans at the Eastern Hockey League Facebook Group.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Visit to Cherry Hill Arena - January 2013

Okay, okay, I know they tore down Cherry Hill Arena, aka The IceHouse, aka Delaware Valley Gardens, aka The Centrum in the 80s, and finally put in the grocery store that they had been threatening to put up through the life of the Arena. But I still paid a visit to the hallowed grounds (mostly because I haven't found a shot of the half-empty mall on the web, and I'm here to bring history alive, even if it's from today and not terribly interesting.) Today, the grocery store, in it's last life a ShopRite, is still empty after at least 4 years. But if you stand far enough back you can feel like you're in the parking lot of the Cherry Hill Arena, except there aren't any potholes. Below: Cherry Hill Arena in the 1960s, and more or less the same view in January 2013 (Click on any of the photos to enlarge)...

For those who arrived at this particular blog while searching for something totally else, the Cherry Hill Arena was famous in EHL land as being the home of the Eastern Hockey League Jersey Devils in from 1964-1973. Martin Brodeur started his career playing as an 18 year old for the 1964-65 Jersey Devils and still refuses to retire at age 67.*** For the 1960-61 season the Arena was known as the Icehouse, and was located in Delaware Township, because they hadn't finished the Mall that gave the town its name (Cherry Hill), yet. That year the EHL Jersey Larks played there at the corner of Brace and Berlin Roads. The team was also known as the Haddonfield Larks. Though you could walk to downtown Haddonfield from there, it was not in Haddonfield, unless PO Boxes count.The Larks, carrying debts from their previous season as the Washington Presidents, sold so well that the following year they moved to Tennessee to become the Knoxville Knights. The Philadelphia Ramblers played some home games at the renamed Delaware Valley Gardens, until they moved to the once again renamed Cherry Hill Arena themselves in 1964, becoming the Jersey Devils until going defunct in 1973, along with the EHL.

But enough about history, lets see what is up at the current location. The view from Berlin Road (the ShopRite is straight back in the center)...
 The view from the Brace Road entrance, and a list of shops in the mall...
 If you want to put an ice plant in the ShopRite, call Kimco Realty...

 And finally, one last look across the parking lot as we say "Good Night and Good Hockey"...

***Okay I fibbed on Martin Brodeur, but you initially bought it, right? However, his father Denis Brodeur did play goal for the EHL Charlotte Clippers, leading the team from first to worst in the 1958-59 season.

I did see Martin Brodeur's actual first game with the New Jersey Devils, which he won 4-2 over the Bruins. We didn't really know it was Martin, instead assuming that the Devils had acquired veteran goaler Richard Brodeur. The game was especially memorable, since my Bruins fanatic friend, got to see my contention, which was that Ray Bourque, while an offensive star was also a defensive liability. Bourque gave up the puck on the Devils first two goals, and then basically assisted on a beautiful pass right up the slot on the Devils' game winning goal. I think that was the game I asked my buddy to be my best man at my wedding. So, all in all, a memorable event. But, seriously Martin, time to retire. Okay, I still resent the NHL New Jersey Devils stealing the EHL Jersey Devils' name, and not even getting that it's about the "Jersey Devil" a mostly South Jersey phenomenon, and not Satan.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bob Gillson, Goaltender, EHL Washington Presidents & Johnstown Jets, 1958-59

Bob Gillson - Owen Sound Mercurys
Bob Gillson was the regular netminder for the Owen Sound Mercurys for the ten years of their existence in the Senior Ontario Hockey Association. (SOHA) from 1947  to 1957. As a boy, Bob had ”rickets” and it was feared he would not be able to walk. His strong determination got him beyond this problem. Bob became part of the Toronto Maple Leaf system but was 4th or 5th on the depth chart. The Leafs wanted to send Bob to one of their western teams for development, but he opted to jump ship in 1947 and go to Owen Sound, where he had a very successful career. He was regarded as one of the top senior hockey goaltenders in Canada. Owen Sound won the Allan Cup (senior hockey supremacy of Canada) largely due to Bob in 1951. (On a side note: Les Binkley (Baltimore and Charlotte Clippers) played in an Allan Cup playoff game for the injured Gillson. Binkley had just turned 16 and the Sarnia Sailors overwhelmed him that night, scoring 8 goals.)  Bob Gillson was voted into the Owen Sound Sports Hall of Fame and still lives there. He is one of two surviving members of that Allan Cup winning team.
‘Mr. Gillson goes to Washington’ His boss Jim Keeling owner of the Owen Sound Mercurys and the then Collingwood Mercurys told Bobby to go to Washington – they had goaltender problems and needed help to get in the playoffs. Keeling was an owner of a Ford dealership in Owen Sound, hence the Owen Sound and Collingwood Mercurys. Jim was a long time friend of Lou Pieri, owner of the Providence Reds, and for this season, also the Washington Presidents as a farm team for Providence. Gillson had also signed a “C” contract with Providence in 1948 which might still have been in force in 1958. At any rate it seems the call to Washington came through Pieri. Several players who played with the Mercurys were one time Providence property - Tom Burlington, Pat McReavy, Bill McComb and Andy McCallum. Another Providence connection - it seems Pieri sent old Providence hockey equipment up to Owen Sound. Bob still has the pants which had been in a museum in Southampton Ont. but discarded and returned to Gillson via Doug Gillespie (former teammate) a few years ago.

Bob Gillson
Toronto Staffords 1946-47
Gillson flew from Toronto to New York. He took a cab from the airport to the railroad station in New York He took the train to New Haven and met the Washington team there. He is uncertain if he played that night or the next. Bob was carrying his goal pads and equipment for the entire journey.(everything but the hockey stick.). In Washington he stayed at the Dodds Hotel. He was the only hockey player staying there. Washington did not make the playoffs. Bob says he is not sure if Georges Vezina or Terry Sawchuk could have got them in (with a good-natured laugh).

Here's 8 games I can verify he played with Washington, as per the Washington Post:
Jan 29, 1959 Washington 3 at New Haven 5
Jan 31, 1959 Washington 6 at Charlotte 5 (OT)
Feb 5, 1959 Washington 1 at Charlotte 4
Feb 7, 1959 Washington 6 at Charlotte 4
Feb 10, 1959 Washington 1 at Philadelphia 5, Gillson 31 Saves
Feb 11, 1959 Washington 1 at Clinton 3, Gillson 31 Saves
Feb 14, 1959 Charlotte 3 at Washington 6, Gillson 25 Saves
Feb 15, 1959 Charlotte 13 at Washington 2
Totals: 8 Games, 42 Goals against. 3 Wins 5 Losses.

Feb 17, 1959 Nipper O'Hearn brought in by the Presidents to replace an ailing Gillson.
Feb 21, 1959 Goaltender Harvey Bennett acquired by the Presidents from the Providence Reds.
Feb 25, 1959 The Washington Presidents will use their 6th goalie of the season tonight, Ed Giacomin.
Bob Gillson - October 2010

EHL history is not cut and dried as it may seem. The 1959-60 EHL Yearbook says that Bob Gillson played 9 games giving up 44 goals for Washington and Johnstown combined. If we subtract out the Washington stats above, then Gillson would have given up 2 goals in 1 game for Johnstown. Bob himself is "absolutely sure" that he played a game for Johnstown, replacing an injured goalie, possibly even in a playoff game. Johnstown used a slew of replacement goaltenders at the end of the season and throughout the playoffs.

However, the book Slap Shots and Snapshots, which has extensive game by game stats for the Jets does not show Gillson having played for Johnstown. I contacted Mike Piskuric who did stats for the Slap Shots and Snapshots. He verified that he found no record of Gillson playing for Johnstown. However, he does show Frazer Gleason, Jets backup goalie having played 33 minutes, and giving up 2 goals, as a replacement on Feb. 27, 1959. (The EHL Yearbook does not show Gleason having played.) Is it possible that Gillson actually played, and the statistician or newspaper sports reporter just assumed that it was Gleason who played? We have no way of knowing for sure. Which is why EHL stats, like any hockey stats that were kept on type written pages, are not as cut and dried as things are in today's computer age.

Bob Gillson Stats from 1959-60 Eastern Hockey League Yearbook:
Games: 9 (Washington-Johnstown)
Goals Against: 44
Shutouts: 0
Goals Against Average: 4.89
(In case you're wondering, 9 full games divided by 44 goals would come to 4.89, so it's probable that the GAA is not taking into account Overtime or any partial games played.)

Note: This article is written from e-mails from Charlie MacDougall hockey historian from Owen Sound, about his discussions with Bob Gillson. The photos were also sent by Charlie.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

EHL Roadtrip 2010 - Day 1 (Part 4) - Syracuse War Memorial Arena

It's almost exactly a year since I last blogged my 2010 EHL Roadtrip. To catch up...
and on to Syracuse...

By the time I got to Syracuse I had decided to postpone the Syracuse State Fairground Coliseum part of the trip until morning. Better to conserve and recharge the camera battery.

Of the 8 restaurants that Google Maps had listed about a block beyond the arena, I had already decided on "Komachi". I made sure to get to the arena plenty early to take pictures and have a nice Japanese dinner.

Top Photo: Front Entrance to the War Memorial. Just above the marquis you can see "Onandaga County War Memorial" in aluminum.

I used the Arena's directions, and exited off of West Street off of I-690. From there, the signs are pretty good to get you to the arena. Especially, if like me, you've somewhat memorized the streets. I parked at a lot that was catty-corner from the main entrance of the War Memorial for $7.

The noticeable external feature on the limestone and aluminum building is the use of words in a "severe blocky font", as the National Register of Historic Places calls it, around the outside of the building.

The main entrance proclaims "SPORTS MUSIC ARTS SCIENCE" in stone above the marquis which has "ONONDAGA COUNTY WAR MEMORIAL" in aluminum. Along the bottom of the arena, are the names of World War I and WWII battles, served by county residents. Unlike a lot of venues that are memorial in name, this building is truly a War Memorial.

I strolled down Harrison Street past the arena, and couldn't find Komachi (turns out it had moved 4 blocks away.) In fact only 3 of the 8 restaurants listed on Google Maps were actually there. One of them was closed. Another was clearly out of business. The Ale and Angus Pub was the only one open, and it was packed. I decided I'd just wait, take photos, and chance it on arena food.

I had picked this weekend to make the trip, partially because it was pre-snow season, but also because of the opponents. Tonight was the Hershey Bears, once of the old EAHL, and top farm-team of the Washington Capitals. I was a Caps season ticket holder during the Langway years in the 1980s. The following night, Franklin Pierce University (which is about an hour from my home in New Hampshire) was playing Utica College in the Clinton Comets' second home, Utica Memorial Auditorium.

The light was fading, and it was getting cold. It was still a half hour before the gates opened, but I went inside and bought my ticket. I was just going to get a cheap seat in the corner, figuring I'd be strolling a lot. I was here for the arena and the history more than the game. However, the woman behind the window pointed to a really nice seat about 10 rows back on the blue line, which is one of the places I like to sit, so I ponied up for the $25 ticket.

Hardly anyone was there yet, so I began looking around.

One of the first things I saw was this sign prohibiting cameras.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eastern Hockey League News - December 2011

Here's your Eastern Hockey League News for December 2011...

Here's a proposed "AA" hockey league with Johnstown, Greensboro & Roanoke on its "wish-list". Chuck Harrison from Johnstown, educated in hockey by EHL GM Ray Myron, is the commissioner.

Toot Cahoun of the 1972-73 New England Blades is coach at UMass. Check out item 4 in the Bakers Dozen below...

Scott Osbourne created "Gold Record" a DVD on the history of hockey in Nashville, with a great section on the EHL Nashville Dixie Flyers. The second half of this interview is Scott discussion how the project came together...

Salem Rebels mention by Dave Schultz...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Eastern Hockey League News - November 2011

Here's your Eastern Hockey League News for November 2011...

Chuck Miller, who helped find the EHL Atlantic City Boardwalk Trophy visits the Hockey Hall of Fame and sees the Trophy displayed for the first time.
Anyone who has researched the EHL on-line at all know of Chuck's original article on the Eastern hockey League and the Atlantic City Boardwalk Trophy.

"Between the Nitro Pipes, Ed Babiuk" by Anthony Dransfeld of the Kimberley (BC) Bulletin
Babiuk played for the Eastern Hockey League Jacksonville Rockets, Jersey Devils, Clinton Comets and Long Island Ducks.

A welding accident closed Clinton Arena on November 9.

A Celebration of Life for Charlotte Checkers' and New Haven Blades' Fred Creighton was held on November 11. Gregg Pilling was the MC for the event.

Hamilton College played a home game at Clinton Arena, home to the EHL Clinton Comets on November 22, here's some video...

An article from Chilliwack, BC on Richard Kramp (pictured left) who played for the EHL Charlotte Checkers in 1972-73.

"A True Slapshot Story", by Kirk Penton for the Winnipeg Sun. (A little past the EHL, but the EHL spirit was there.)

A few Nashville Dixie Flyers pics borrowed from around the web.

NEW! EHL Videos are now on-line at