Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Honors for Art Dorrington

Here's a more detailed article on Art Dorrington, his induction into the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, and his work with the Art Dorrington Ice Hockey Foundation by John McGourty at NHL.com. Well worth the read... http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=380666

According to the Jan 27, 1958 Utica Daily Press Dorrington' leg was broken when he "collided with Clinton Coach Ed Calhoun who drew a five-minute penalty tripping." Dorrington had a two-and-a-half hour operation to put a pin in his fractured femur. According to the attending doctor "he (Dorrington) is through playing hockey for this season. He should be able to play next year, however."

"Life of Art" Dorrington from Atlantic City Weekly

Here's a brief article about Art Dorrington who was the Eastern Hockey League's leading goal scorer in it's first two seasons (1954-56) after reforming from the old EAHL. The article is by Lori Hoffman of Atlantic City Weekly and was posted February 10, 2005. The photo of Dorrington is from the New Haven Tomahawks of 1951-1952 EAHL.

"Life of Art

Ice hockey pioneer Art Dorrington signed a contract with the New York Rangers in 1950. As a member of the Atlantic City Sea Gulls, he became the first black professional hockey player in the United States. Dorrington is still making news, this time for his work with local youth through the Art Dorrington Ice Hockey Foundation, which provides free hockey equipment, instruction and educational programs for low-income youth. Dorrington retired from the Atlantic City Sheriff's Department in 1994. He rounded up the financing to start his youth program in 1998 with the motto, "On the ice, off the street." This past year he was inducted into the Atlantic City Hall of Fame. As part of the Atlantic City Free Public Library's salute to African-American History Month, on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 2pm, Dorrington will talk about his career and life. We spoke to him for a preview.
Q: When you signed with the Rangers, was the expectation that you would get a chance to play in the NHL?
A: Yes. I was supposed to stay in New York and play with the New York Rovers but they were on the road. The Rangers had an agreement with the Sea Gulls so I came here and played.
Q: You faced ethnic slurs. How did you handle it?
A: It didn't bother me too much because my teammates supported me [most were fellow Canadians shocked by the racism]. I didn't have problems in Atlantic City. It was when we went to Washington and Baltimore. Once we played in Troy, Ohio and they told me I couldn't stay at the hotel. The rest of the players walked out.
Q: After you were hurt and had to retire, why did you make Atlantic City your home?
A: I met a local girl and we got married [that would be his wife of 47 years, Dorothie, a retired teacher]. I liked the place and there were a lot of opportunities."
Q: What motivated you to create your foundation?
A: I was working at the rink on the Boardwalk and I didn't see any black kids. I asked why, and was told the equipment was too expensive. [Later] I was invited to a program, Ice Hockey in Harlem, and decided if they get black kids on the ice in Harlem, I can do it in Atlantic City."
-- Lori Hoffman"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eddie Ferenz, Johnstown Jets Player, EHL Jersey Devils GM, Philadelphia Phillies Travelling Secretary

Eddie Ferenz was best known as the traveling secretary for the Philadelphia Phillies for 30 years. He was also a player for the Johnstown Jets back in the 1950s, a PA announcer and front office guy with the Philadelphia Ramblers in the early 60s, Assistant GM with the Johnstown Jets, and GM for the Jersey Devils. In 1967 alone, Ferenz started the year in the Johnstown Jets front office, spent the summer as PA announcer at Connie Mack Stadium for the Phillies, and then in September was named General Manager of the EHL Jersey Devils. Nice work if you can get it.

Edward Ferenz Obituary - Camden, NJ Courier Post


Bill Conlin, Philadelphia Inquirer : Remembering Phillies traveling secretary Eddie Ferenz

Philadelphia Daily News: Remembering Eddie Ferenz

Philadelphia Inquirer: Eddie Ferenz dies; was Phils Traveling secretary

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where Else But In The Eastern Hockey League?

Here's a fine job of stating why the EHL was more fun to watch than the NHL by the Baltimore Clippers beat writer Edward C. Atwater from "Sunlight on Sports" in the December 9, 1955 Baltimore Sun...
"Let them have their Rockets and their Pocket Rockets, their tie games, their low scores, their 20,000 screaming fans.

So they are big league -- the National Hockey League. We're the minors with the Clippers, and we like it. Where else but in the Eastern could you see results like 8-7, 7-6 and 3-2 and 4-3 in overtime all under the same smoky ceiling?

Where else could a team win, 11-1 on Sunday and lose 14-1 on Tuesday? Where else could three teams (Baltimore, Washington and Clinton) be tied for second -- two games off the pace -- with the season one-third gone?

So the league is populated with veterans on the way out and youngsters hoping to go up. Do you know a better combination? It's perfect for smoothness and calmness -- and for pure slam-bang flailing away, I-hope-I-hit-the-goal hockey.

We've got Bibber O'Hearn to glide down the ice, contemptuously faking foes to their knees, the fulfillment of his every man's desire to get rid of his enemies with a flick of the wrist.

And we've got youngsters -- Ken Murphy, Ralph DeLeo, Gerry Sullivan and the others -- with their great speed to buzz around the net and shoot, and shoot and finally to look and shoot and score.

And when that score comes, the roar will rock Carlin's rafters. Don't try to talk above it. The goal was made through a thousand shouted instructions and each coach shares in the exultation.

Don't sit next to Charley Rock, the owner. He'll split your ear drums as the battle flows and if it ebbs too far, he may sell you the franchise.

Fights? Yes, we've got them too, but nobody tries to wipe out the other side, plus the officials a la Richard. It's more like neighborhood boys grappling, punching the air, and pulling each other's sweaters off; or an exchange of calling cards to signify that one or both has reached the limit of sly nudges with the stick or skates or elbows or maybe just words.

The fights are minor, like the league is minor, but it's fun. Fun for the spectators at least.

Some of the players' fun may diminish at times. For instance, starting tomorrow, the Clippers will play seven games in nine days. They'll be in Clinton tomorrow night and home against Washington Sunday; at New Haven Tuesday and home against the same club Wednesday; at Philadelphia Friday, at Clinton again the following day, and then home against Clinton Sunday Dec. 18."
Three "youngsters hoping to go up" on that 1955-56 Baltimore Clippers team that Mr. Atwater didn't mention were John Muckler, John Brophy and the pictured Les Binkley. How fun must that have been? (btw, The Clippers jerseys were orange with black and white trim.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The John J. Carlin Trophy

The January 9, 1956 edition of the Baltimore Sun speaks of how the Carlin family, owners of Carlin's Iceland Arena - where the Clippers played, donated the John J. Carlin Trophy to be presented to the EHL's leading scorer each season.

Two weeks later, in the wee hours of January 23, 1956, Carlin's Iceland Arena burned to the ground.

Given that the John J. Carlin Trophy was given each year for the rest of the EHL's existence, one can surmise that it was not in the arena when it burned.

Having no backup arena in Baltimore (2 had been proposed the previous year, 1 private, 1 public, but both fell by the wayside.) the Clippers were transferred to Charlotte, NC. But that's another blog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When the Long Island Ducks became the Massachusetts Ducks

Goalie Guy DeNoncourt is as out of place on this shot as his Long Island Ducks teammates were in the 1973 playoffs when they became the Massachusetts Ducks. The South Yarmouth, MA based Ducks played a total of 4 Eastern Hockey League games, all losses, in the 1973 playoffs against the Cape Cod Cubs.
03-06-73 Syracuse Post-Standard, p 14
DUCKS REINSTATED IN EHL PLAYOFFS

By DON PICKARD
An apparent player-owner feud which resulted in Long Island Ducks owner Al Baron yanking his team out of the upcoming Walker Cup Playoffs has been settled at EHL headquarters and the Ducks will begin opening round play Friday in Cape Cod. Baron, reportedly having difficulty meeting certain bonus provisions in the contracts of several of the Long Island players, had earlier Monday announced that his team was going out of business and that it would not be able to meet its 1973 playoff obligations.
At a hastily-called meeting of EHL executives in New York City, a stop-gap arrangement was made in which the Ducks will be home-based in the same arena as their Cape Cod foes. Should they win. the opening series, the Ducks will continue to use the South Yarmouth rink as their home ice in any ensuing series. For the remainder of the playoffs they will be known as the Massachusetts Ducks.
Unstated here is the fact that the Long Island Ducks failed to win any of their last 14 games in the last 4 weeks of the season (and their existence). They still made the playoffs by one point over the Jersey Devils (Jersey would have won the tiebreaker for taking on the tougher schedule after the New England Blades dropped out of the league in November). On the final day of the regular season, the Devils beat the Ducks 9-3 at Long Island. Afterwards, Al Baron congratulated Devils coach Jim Hay and told him that the Ducks were dropping out of the playoffs and that Devils were in since they were a much more deserving team. (The fact that the Devils were only 4 points behind Long Island and Rhode Island as of January 31, and still couldn't catch them might dispute this point.)

The Massachusetts Ducks entire game history:
MAR 9, 1973 - Friday - Massachusetts Ducks 2 at Cape Cod 6 (Cape Cod leads series 1-0)
MAR 10, 1973 - Saturday - Massachusetts Ducks 1 at Cape Cod 3 (Cape Cod leads series 2-0)
MAR 13, 1973 - Tuesday - Cape Cod 2 at Massachusetts Ducks 1 (0:43 of OT) (Cape Cod leads series 3-0)
MAR 16, 1973 - Friday - Cape Cod 8 at Massachusetts Ducks 5 (Cape Cod wins series 4-0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rookie of the Year Larry Pleau was a Veteran

With Veterans Day upcoming this week, I am reminded of American hockey pioneer Larry Pleau who won EHL Rookie of the Year honors in 1968-69 with the Jersey Devils while serving as an Army Private at Fort Dix. The original NHL.com article by John McGourty which I had bookmarked seems to have disappeared. Fortunately it was saved by Spider-man (really) at this link.

Image: Army Pvt. Larry Pleau (4) of Fort Dix and the Jersey Devils scores against Syracuse. From l to r: Syracuse goalie Anton Gale; Syr d - Bob Graham; Jersey F - Dennis Plant; Syr d - Doug Hillman; Jersey F - Larry Pleau.


..."After my third season, I got drafted into the U.S. Army and took basic training at Fort Campbell, Ky. I got my orders for advanced basic training and then on Labor Day weekend, I got a call from Murray Williamson, who was coaching the U.S. Olympic team. In those days, the military was big on its association with amateur athletics. I had a tryout in Minnesota, made the team and was assigned there by the Army. I was lucky I was able to continue my career. I'm not sure it's fair but it happens.

"After the Olympics, I was assigned to Fort Dix (in New Jersey). My commanding officer said, "What am I going to do with you, you've only got 10 months left?" I told him I had worked at a golf course and I got assigned to the base golf course. While I was there, I played for the Jersey Devils in the old Eastern League, out of Cherry Hill, N.J. My sergeant loved hockey and let me go. I never practiced, just played, and won rookie of the year. We had Forbes Kennedy's brother Jamie, a good little player from Windsor, Bobby Brown, and goalie Bobby Taylor, who played for the Flyers. Longtime Flyers scout Marcel Pelletier was our coach. We had one goalie in those days and Taylor got tossed one game. Pelletier filled in for him. Only problem, Bobby was a left-hand glove and Marcel was right-handed so Marcel wore hockey gloves the whole game."
"The funniest part was Marcel asked the players who would play goal and they all ran for the bathroom," said Taylor, now a color analyst for the Tampa Bay Lightning. "The trainer was supposed to be the backup but he didn't even come into the room and we never saw him again until we were on the bus. They never scored on Marcel and we won, 2-1.

Larry was by far the best player in the League. He'd have never been there but for his military commitment."
"We had a southern division and I remember a road trip where we left Cherry Hill on a Monday morning and drove to Jacksonville, Fla., and played the next night," Pleau said. "We got on the bus after the game and drove to Charlotte and played the next night and got on a bus and drove to Knoxville, Tenn. Got in at 7 a.m., woke up at 2 p.m., played in Nashville that night and drove back to New Jersey. Got in at 6 a.m. and played that night, then drove to Syracuse and played the following night. All that for $40 a game and $6 a day meal money?"

Pleau spent the 1969-70 season between the Canadiens and their AHL affiliate in Montreal, then made the big club the next season, only to be hurt and limited to 19 regular-season games. That was enough to get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, though...

As a side note, the goaltender on that 1968 US Olympic Team with Pleau was Pat Rupp who had been the Devils original netminder starting the 1964-65 season.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Those Exotic EHL Cities...

I just got back from a 2-week vacation in western Canada. It was fun passing through towns like Abbotsford (with their new AHL franchise), Chilliwack, New Westminster, Kamloops and their various hockey histories, wondering if I would spy the arena where the teams played.

It was all very reminiscent of what I remember and some of you EHL fans have told me you remember, which was the allure of those exotic EHL cities. Many of us were kids when the EHL was around (I was barely 15 when the league folded). Places like Greensboro, Charlotte, Knoxville, Nashville, Jacksonville, Salem/Roanoke, Johnstown, New Haven seemed a million miles away, yet somehow approachable, attainable. Where were these places? What were they like? Unlike NHL cities that we all knew about, we knew nothing about these towns, except maybe Nashville. I remember my first trip to any of these areas, eyes all a-bug looking for the arenas as we drove through, thrilling at seeing the town names on road signs.

I'm possibly the first person who when they went to Nashville the first time was 100 percent focused on seeing the hockey arena, or even a sign for it. With every sign that said Nashville, my heart said Dixie Flyers (I'm not sure if they were still in existence at that time). Of course, it was a family vacation, and I was a young teenager, so I couldn't exactly say "lets go see the hockey arena". Besides I didn't know what it was called, or where it was. We just passed through the north end of Nashville long enough to have lunch at a barbecue place and head west. The last time I was in Nashville as an adult, the arena for the Predators was being built, but it never dawned on me (in the 90s) to go look up the Dixie Flyers arena, which apparently is still right there in downtown.

The one that I still kick myself about is Charlotte. I had a chance to go to a Checkers ECHL game a few years back. My wife and I were exhausted from work (we were in town to do a trade show) and I was confused about where the Checkers were playing (some places said Independence Arena, some said Cricket Arena). Not being able to get a straight answer, I passed. I had no idea at the time that that was the old Charlotte Coliseum where the EHL Checkers had played, or that that was their last year there, before they tore out the iceplant.

I went to college in NC, in no small part to my fascination with the EHL cities that had been there. Having passed through the state a few times on family vacations, I always thrilled to signs that read "Greensboro" or "Charlotte", or especially both. I thought North Carolina was one of the most beautiful places I had been. On my first trip back to college after break, my mom and I stopped in Roanoke for the night. It was just off the interstate, just barely in the city limits at the Best Western, but it was very exciting just to be there. The signs to Salem and Roanoke taunted me each trip home, with no chance of talking anyone into stopping. I stayed in Roanoke once after college, but I was so car sick from driving the Skyline Drive that I didn't get out at all.

After college, I hoped to stay in NC, and even subscribed to the Greensboro, Charlotte and Winston Salem Sunday papers for awhile, looking for the right opportunity that never came. This was well past the end of the EHL, so the charm and allure of the places transcended mere hockey.

So here is my reality. I have not only never seen an EHL game outside of Cherry Hill Arena. I have also never knowingly even seen another EHL arena. (For instance, I have probably passed the warehouse that used to be Cape Cod Coliseum, but didn't know what it was. I think I also passed within a block of the Knoxville Coliseum, or even saw it, but didn't know what it was.) There's still time. Knoxville, Johnstown and Syracuse still have teams in the old arenas. Johnstown and Syracuse are the reasonable possibilities for this year, weather permitting. Still, it's Knoxville that is the one that calls to me. The one with the EHL team that was defunct by the time I saw my first EHL game; the city less likely to have a team on any given year; the one that takes the extra day's drive to get to and home from; the road less traveled; the adventure more exotic. Maybe if I factor in a Virginia Tech hockey game at Roanoke Civic Center, hmm...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bob Costas' first game broadcasting the Syracuse Blazers

Here's a great story from Bob Costas as related by Herm Card of Eagle Newspapers. Of course, Ouimet never played for Johnstown until they were in the NAHL. (Likewise, Costas probably never broadcast the EHL, but only the NAHL in 1973-74 at the age of 21.) Still, it's a great story.

http://www.cnylink.com/cnynews/view_news.php?news_id=1255107035

“My first job in broadcasting was the Eastern Hockey League, broadcasting the Syracuse Blazers games for WSYR radio. They paid me 30 dollars a game plus five dollars meal money on the road. I rode the bus with the team, plugged an electronic gadget into the phone line in the press box and broadcast back to SYR. My very first game was at Johnstown, the team they based a team on in the movie Slap Shot.

“To prepare, I got the rosters of the teams and studied them till the players were like members of my own family. Then, just before game time, I noticed that the Johnstown owner had sprung for new uniforms – all the numbers were different.

“There was no time to relearn the numbers, so when the first Johnstown player on the ice was a guy wearing number 2 named Fran├žois Ouimet, I decided that he was about to play the game of his life.”

Costas continued, with a big grin on his face, “No matter what the play, Fran├žois was in on it. He scored all the goals and even assisted on his own. He checked everybody, including himself, into the boards. He was in on every play. He was everywhere.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jerry Frizzelle, EHL defenseman, right-wing

Eric G. "Jerry" Frizzelle
Eric G. "Jerry" Frizzelle, of Perkasie, formerly of Fort Pierce and Stuart, Fla., and Levittown and Wrightstown, died Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009, at Grand View Hospital, West Rockhill Township. He was 74.
He was the husband of Nancy Lou (Burr) Frizzelle, who died June 25, 1990.
Born in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, he was the son of the late Eric G. and Edith (Smith) Frizzelle.
Jerry worked in auto sales for most of his life and was a self-employed car wholesaler in Fort Pierce, for many years.
Jerry played EHL hockey for the former Philadelphia Ramblers, Clinton Comets and Johnstown Jets. He was an avid golfer and also enjoyed playing cards.
******************
Jerry also played for the Jersey Larks and Knoxville Knights. He started out as a right-winger, scoring 44 goals on Clinton's top line in 1955-56, his first year out of juniors (Peterborough Petes). After a year in England, with Wembley, Jerry came back to the states to play defense for the Johnstown Jets. He paired with all-star defenseman Dave Lucas for some of his stay in Johnstown. On January 8, 1959 he was picked up by the Philadelphia Ramblers, the team he played the bulk of his career with. Frizzelle scored a lot of key goals for the Jersey Larks playoff push in 1961. He was listed as right wing in his brief 8-game stint with Knoxville, but was back at defense for the remainder of his career with the Ramblers.

******************

The Jerry Frizzelle Photo Collection courtesy of Sharon Frizzelle Fazio



******************

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dennis Hextall, Knoxville Knight, named IHL Commisioner

The International Hockey League named former Knoxville Knight, Dennis Hextall as commisioner this week. Hextall played the 1966-67 season with Knoxville racking up 20 goals, 56 assists and 202 penalty minutes in 61 games at left wing.
Here's the article from the IHL website: IHL HONORED TO ANNOUNCE HEXTALL AS NEW LEADER

The IHL website is: http://www.ihl-hockey.com/


Finding the Atlantic City Boardwalk Trophy by Chuck the Writer

Anyone who has done any basic web searching on the EHL has come across Chuck Millers' classic "FROM ATLANTIC CITY TO TORONTO: The Boardwalk Trophy and the Eastern Hockey League". It's one of the first articles you come to on the front page of http://TheEHL.com

Now Chuck has a follow-up blog for the Albany Times-Union:
Finding the Atlantic City Boardwalk Trophy

Both of Chuck's articles are well worth the read.
Photo of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Trophy at the Hockey Hall of Fame by Chuck Miller.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Russ McClenaghan, EHL Vet Also Played Professional Baseball

We lost another EHL veteran this week in Russ McClenaghan, from a heart attack at 74. Here's a nice article on him from the Moncton Times and Transcript...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Times and Transcript article
It’s the wee hours of the morning at the Fredericton Motor Inn two decades ago in early June of 1989.

Russell (Mert) McClenaghan, who passed away Saturday, Aug. 8 of a heart attack in Long Island, N.Y., and a group of teammates from the 1950s Maritime junior baseball champion Lewisville Keefe Cubs, who had been inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame the night before, are reminiscing about the good old days.

I wrote in my column afterwards that McClenaghan’s situation was different than his teammates’ experience — he played both professional baseball and semi-pro hockey in the same calendar year.

“I’m really kind of sorry I didn’t concentrate on just baseball and give it a better shot,” said the barrel- chested, bullet-like throwing former catcher and outfielder who played with both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Braves organizations in the 1950s.

“There were so many people in baseball who said I had a good chance of making the Major Leagues — my teammates would have in my opinion — but it was one of those things. I was young and liked to play both baseball and hockey. However, the two seasons overlapped. If you made the playoffs in hockey, it meant you arrived at the tail-end of spring training (in baseball), which hindered your chances,” said McClenaghan, a carpentry supervisor in Long Island, N.Y., at the time.

“I was in shape for hockey when I reported to spring training, but I had to start all over when I got there. The co-ordination is a bit similar, but you use different muscles and it takes time to get adapted. Having a bat in your hand and a hockey stick in your hand is an entire different story.”

* Al Kubski, who managed the Grand Forks, N.D., Chiefs in the Northern League when McClenaghan played there, pleaded with him to stick to baseball only. “He wanted me to play winter ball in San Juan where he was managing,” recalled McClenaghan. “I probably should have and forgotten about hockey, but it’s like I said before...I really enjoyed playing both hockey and baseball.” His older brother Murray, a pitcher with the Keefe Cubs, had suggested he stick to baseball as well, but Mert told him the money was better in hockey at the time.

McClenaghan was signed off the Keefe Cubs by the late Clyde Sukeforth in 1953. That was the same season the Lewisville team won their first of two consecutive Maritime junior baseball titles.

They won when McClenaghan tripled home Keith Bourgeois from first with one out in the bottom of the ninth, with the Cubs beating Reserve St. Joseph of Cape Breton 4-3 to sweep the best-of-five series at Lewisville, 3-0.

* Meanwhile, Sukeforth had joined the Pittsburgh Pirates organization from the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he had played catcher and later coached and scouted with the National League team. Sukeforth, who had done the scouting, was the only other person in the room when Dodgers president Branch Rickey told Jackie Robinson of his plans to sign him to a contract to play in Montreal (the Triple A Royals) in 1946. Robinson became the first black to play in the Majors in 1947.

Sukeforth, coaching in the Dodgers’ bullpen, passed over Carl Erskine and sent in Ralph Branca, who served up the famous three-run homer (the one heard around the world) in the bottom of the ninth to Bobby Thompson. The homer gave the New York Giants (now San Francisco) a come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Dodgers in the third and deciding game of a best-of-three playoff series and the 1951 National League pennant.

Sukeforth also played a role in drafting Roberto Clemente from the Brooklyn organization in the 1954 Rule V draft. He died at age 98.

* The Philadelphia Phillies were also interested in McClenaghan, but Sukeforth really impressed the Ormstown, Que.-born/Monctonraised athlete, so he signed with the Pirates. “He came to my house and talked to my parents. He went that extra mile and really convinced my folks to have me sign with the Pirates,” recalled McClenaghan.

* I recall Sukeforth taking a ferry trip to P.E.I. to watch Mert play against Summerside Curran and Briggs. After we won the series and later the Maritime title, Mert signed with the Pirates (he received a modest bonus) and worked out in their bullpen before joining Brunswick, Ga., of the Class D Georgia Florida for the end of their season.

* By the late 1950s, more than half a dozen baseball and hockey combined seasons were behind McClenaghan, The injuries on the diamond had piled up, so Mert decided to hang up his spikes and concentrate on semi-pro hockey, but unfortunately, he suffered more injuries.

He played hockey until the 1970s in the Eastern and International Leagues with such teams as Philadelphia Ramblers, Long Island Ducks, New Haven Blades, Omaha Knights and Toledo Blades.

McClenaghan, who played with Moncton High Purple Knights, was also a top junior player with Sussex Rangers and North Sydney Franklins and attended the Detroit Red Wings training camp one season.

* Notes: McClenaghan’s death brought the number of former Junior Keefe Cubs players who are deceased to 11. Others from the N.B, Sports Hall of Fame, N.B. Baseball and Moncton sport shrines teams (1951-54) who have passed away include — Eddie Belliveau, Eddie Booth, Val Caissie, Frank Cleveland, Paul Goguen, Jim Hopper, Allie Maddison, Don Mitchell, Don Simmons and Keith Nelson. Also deceased are team sponsor Jack Keefe; head coach Gene (Foggy) Boudreau and assistant coaches Art Mellish and Johnny Gordon. The Keefe Cubs won the N.B. title 1951- 54; the N.B.-P.E.I crown 1952, ‘53 and ‘54 and the Maritime crown in 1953 and ‘54.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Russ McClenaghan Ramblers Photo Courtesy: Mike Hersh's "UniWatch" Flickr Photostream

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

EHL Franchise History

1954 is the first year that the old Eastern Amateur Hockey League (EAHL) formed in 1933 became known as simply the Eastern Hockey League (EHL), which is the major reason I use that as the starting year for TheEHL.com. (Whereas the EHL 1959-60 yearbook refers to that year as the 25th anniversary of the EHL.) The EAHL shut down for the 1953-54 season, and when it reformed as the EHL, such standard EAHL teams as the Boston Olympics and the Atlantic City Seagulls, and the MSG based New York Rovers were no longer in the league. 1954-55 was the first EHL season of the Clinton Comets and New Haven Blades. The following year, Worcester dropped out and the "modern day" EHL footprint really started with the re-admitance of the Johnstown Jets back from two years in the IHL, the addition of the Philadelphia Ramblers, and Baltimore moving to Charlotte after their arena burned down.

Within that 20 year period, the EHL was a relatively stable league as minor leagues go. Most of the franchise movement was in the first two years and the last two years. There were 17 total "new" franchises, of which two only lasted 1 year and both were experiments of sorts. The 1954-55 Worcester Warriors were allegedly the old Boston Olympics franchise. However, they were also an attempt to see how a team of local US amateurs would fare up against teams of mostly Canadians. Their main purpose was to fill a spot in the league, so that the other teams could fill out their schedules for that year. The 1964-65 NY Rovers were created as a test of having a development team at MSG for the Rangers. In the end, the development was deemed a success, but the cost of running the franchise was deemed not.

Below is a list of "new" franchises, and where they moved to. It's possible that all of these moves were not exact franchise shifts. In the case of the Jersey Larks moving to Knoxville, I've seen it written as the Jersey franchise being discontinued and at the same time Knoxville starting, and I've seen it written as a straight franchise shift. Since the GM, Ray Miron, and most of the players remained the same (even back from the Washington Presidents), I list that as all one franchise.

On the other hand, the Suncoast Suns appeared at the same time the Nashville Dixie Flyers disbanded. They were clearly a new franchise, though at least in their first exhibition game wore the old Nashville pants. They also received a lot of Nashville players, but this was after Greensboro had purchased all the Nashville players and then sold the players they didn't want from the combined Nashville/Greensboro rosters to Suncoast.

Simple name changes were the Charlotte Clippers becoming the Checkers, the Washington Lions becoming the Presidents, and the NY Rovers becoming the Long Island Ducks. If like me you saw the Charlotte Clippers being as silly as the Hartford Whalers - nautical names for land based cities - know that there was actually a minor league football Charlotte Clippers that played all through the 40s.

The Salem Rebels became Roanoke Valley when they started splitting their home games at the Roanoke Civic Center. Likewise, the Jacksonville Rockets became the Florida Rockets for several seasons, playing part of their home schedules in West Palm Beach and St. Petersburg. They later reverted back to just Jacksonville.

No team played a full schedule of games every season in the same city. Clinton played a partial season in 1954-55, while also playing in the Eastern Ontario League that year. Johnstown was in the IHL for the 1954-55 season. New Haven was forced out of town to Springfield, MA for the 1972-73 season, but the New England Blades folded by Thanksgiving. The Baltimore/Charlotte franchise played full schedules every year, but were not in the same location.

The most franchises in any year was 12, in both 1967-68 and 1972-73.

1954-55
Baltimore Clippers (1954-55) -> Charlotte Clippers (1956-60)-> Charlotte Checkers (1960-73)
Clinton Comets (1954-73)
New Haven Blades (1954-1972) -> New England Blades (1972)
Washington Lions -> Washington Presidents (1957-60)-> Jersey Larks (1960-61)-> Knoxville Knights (1961-68)
Worcester Warriors (1954-55)

1955-56
Johnstown Jets (1955-73)
Philadelphia Ramblers (1955-64) -> Jersey Devils (1964-73)

1959-60
Greensboro Generals (1959-73)
New York Rovers/Long Island Ducks (1959-61/1961-73)

1962-63
Nashville Dixie Flyers (1962-71)

1964-65
New York Rovers (1964-65)
Jacksonville Rockets/Florida Rockets (1964-71)

1967-68
Syracuse Blazers (1967-1973)
Salem Rebels/Roanoke Valley Rebels (1967-73)

1971-72
Suncoast Suns (1971-73)

1972-73
Rhode Island Eagles (1972-73)
Cape Cod Cubs (1972-73)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wally Sprange - Nashville Dixie Flyers

I was looking for a shot of the Nashville Dixie Flyers "pegasus" uniforms and came across this blog from Lowetide (an Edmonton Oilers based blog) on Wally Sprange. Jackpot on the photo, eh? As I recall, the one time I saw Sprange and the Dixie Flyers in the 1969-71 timeframe, they had "NASHVILLE" written across the front of their purple jerseys. I still haven't found a photo confirming that jersey.

The most memorable part of that game was Nashville scoring a goal in the second period against Jersey goalie Gilles Banville. The goal was insignificant in the big scheme of things, until they announced the shots for the period: Jersey 10, Nashville 1. I hope to track down the boxscore on that next time I'm back in Jersey.

I did see Nashville's purple pants one more time, on October 7, 1972, when the Suncoast Suns played their first game ever, a 7-1 exhibition victory over the Jersey Devils at Cherry Hill Arena. The game was a fundraser for the South Jersey Minor Hockey Association, which I played in that year - possibly the worst player in the league. Apparently, the Suns pants hadn't arrived, yet. So, they used the old purple Nashville pants. Imagine the green Suncoast jerseys with orange and yellow trim with green, orange and yellow stockings (see http://SuncoastSuns.com) and purple pants. It was one of my favorite hockey uniforms of all time.

Sprange won the John Carlin Trophy as EHL leading scorer in 1970-71 with 45 goals and 89 assists for 134 points. Nashville folded at the end of that season, and the players were bought by Greensboro. The Generals kept the players they wanted, including Sprange, from their team and the ex-Dixie Flyers and sold the rest to the new Suncoast franchise. Sprange was a second team All-Star with Greensboro in the EHL's last season of 1972-73 season, with 40 goals and 92 assists for 132 points.

Wally Sprange Links:
http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=10326

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Edgar "Chirp" Brenchley, coached Philadelphia Ramblers and New Haven Blades

Here's a link to something called buyroadwarrior, which cranks out seemingly totally random blogs for no particular stated reason: http://buyroadwarrior.com/?p=2176 . This blog is on Edgar "Chirp" Brenchley. Here's an excerpt:

Coaching career

In 1955, Brenchley became the head coach of the Philadelphia Ramblers in the EHL. He stayed with the Ramblers for three seasons — also having iced for them once in the 1955–56 season. He became the head coach for the Sudbury Wolves for the 1962–63 season. The following season, 1963–64, he joined the Port Huron Flags as head coach before joining the St. Catharines Black Hawks for the 1964–65 season. Brenchley retired from coaching after the 1965–66 season which he had spent with the Toledo Blades

Retirement and after

Between 1967 and 1974 Brenchley served as a professional scout for both the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Brenchley was posthumously inducted into Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame in 1990 and the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.

Awards and honours

  • Olympic gold medalist in 1936.
  • World Championship silver medalist in 1937.
  • European Championship gold medalist in 1937.
  • Inducted to the Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame in 1990.
  • Inducted to the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.
Not only was Brenchley a gold medalist with Great Britain in 1936, but he also scored the game winning gold medal goal. http://ezinearticles.com/?Olympic-Hockey---The-Early-Years-Trivia&id=2132928

Brenchley played for the Hershey B'ars, Atlantic City Seagulls, Washington Lions, New York Rovers, Baltimore Blades, Johnstown Jets and Philadelphia Falcons of the old EAHL (which preceded the EHL). According to hockeydb.com, he also suited up for one game while coaching the Philadelphia Ramblers in the EHL.

Brenchley probably received the most EHL publicity being fired as coach (reassigned to scouting) of the New Haven Blades early in his first year of coaching them in 1959. The Blades were 7-16-3 and in last place at the time.

From the December 18-27, 1959 Bridgeport Post, the Blades players went on strike for their coach over the manner of his firing. Brenchley learned of the firing from some players via radio report. Owner and new GM Nathan Podoloff, who did the firing, was in Washington hiring new coach Wally Kullman away from the Washington Presidents. (This appears to be a standard practice during the whole length of the EHL. You could sign a player away from another team, if you made him your coach.) Even the six shareholders of Elm City Hockey, the group that owned the Blades, did not know that Podoloff had fired Brenchley. After several meetings, the players ended up playing all of the scheduled games.

In 1966 Brenchley was signed as a scout for southern Canada by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and later became their head scout.

From the 03-14-75 Winnipeg Free Press:
Edgar (Chirp) Brenchley, a scout for Washington Capitals of the NHL, died Thursday morning at the age of 63 ... He had been with the Capitals for a little over one year.
Brenchley moved to Niagara Falls from England when he was 12, and as an adult actually ran a tourist boat at the falls. So, if you're old enough to have been at the Niagra Falls back in the 50s and had a guide with a British accent, maybe it was Chirp Brenchley.

Chirp Brenchly Links:
Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame: http://www.nflibrary.ca/swof/default.asp?pg=results&Query=brenchley&Submit=Search
Hockeydb.com: http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=13389
British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame: http://www.ihjuk.co.uk/hall_of_fame/brenchley.htm

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Barry Buchanan, Rangers #19 pick in 1968, Clinton Comets defenseman

From the Rangers Ramblings blog, a look back at #19 draft selections by the Blueshirts, including Barry Buchanan (listed as "Bruce") who played defense for the 1968-69 Clinton Comets.

http://www.rangerramblings.com/2009/06/23/rangers-2009-1st-round-draft-preview/

Before we look ahead at potential Rangers’ targets in the first round, let’s take a look at the team’s history with the 19th overall selection.

The Rangers have made the 19th overall selection three times in their history.

In 1968, the Blueshirts drafted defenseman Bruce Buchanan with the 19th overall pick – which was the final selection of the second round that year. Buchanan never played a game in the NHL and his post-Junior career highlight was being a part of the 1968-69 Clinton Comets who won the EHL’s regular season title. The 5-9/160 blueliner was the Rangers lone pick among 24 selections.

Back in 1968, the only players eligible for the Draft were those 17 and older who were not being sponsored by an NHL team. The next year, the NHL changed the eligibility requirements and opened the Draft up to any amateur player under the age of 20.

Other Barry Buchanan listings on the web:
http://hockeydraftcentral.com/1968/68019.html
http://hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=10822

Hockeydb lists Barry as having played 34 games with New Haven in the 1967-68 season, but newspaper accounts show him playing for Weyburn in the WHL throughout that season. So far, I haven't found newspaper accounts of a Buchanan playing for the Blades in 1967-68.

Newspaper accounts also show a defenseman Bob Buchanan who started the 67-68 season with the Jersey Devils and was picked up on waivers by the Syracuse Blazers on December 12, 1967. He is not listed in hockeydb.com for that season.

Barry was invited back to the Comets for the 1969-70 season, but signed with the Iowa Stars, who were the top farm club of the Minnesota North Stars.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Floyd "Butch" Martin of the Johnstown Jets

Butch Martin was a two-time 2nd team EHL All-Star winger(1963 & 64) with the Johnstown Jets. He was also first team All-Star coach in 1963.

Here's an article from the Globe and Mail on Butch, mostly about his Canadian Olympic Bronze and Silver medals:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/floyd-butch-martin/article1151394/

Same article, different site:
http://www.ctvolympics.ca/hockey/news/newsid=10965.html?cid=rssctv
..Martin later returned to play for the Dutchmen and, after his two Olympic appearances, played pro for the Johnstown Jets of the Eastern Hockey League and briefly for the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL.

...After a stint at player-coach with the Jets, Martin returned home to become the second head coach of the Kitchener Rangers. In his one season with the major-junior club, he helped develop future NHLers Walt Tkaczuk and Mike Robitaille.

Martin continued to play old-timers hockey into his early 70s and still plays golf a few times a week at the Westmount Golf and Country Club. (Martin was asked if his handicap was still under 10. "No. When your age increases, so does your handicap," he said.)
From: The Waterloo County Hall of Fame:
FLOYD "BUTCH" MARTIN
b. 1929

Floyd Martin was born in Floradale in 1929. He began his hockey career with the Waterloo Siskins Jr. B., Guelph Biltmore Jr. A and the K-W Dutchmen. Because of his Mennonite upbringing, he wouldn't play hockey on Sundays and in October 1950, he quit the Dutchmen. He also cancelled a contract which he had signed with the New York Rangers. He resumed his career with intermediate and senior teams in Elmira but returned to the Dutchmen in 1956. He went with them to the Olympics in Cortina, Italy (1956) and Squaw Valley, California (1960) where they won bronze and silver medals. In 1961 he travelled with the Chatham Maroons on a goodwill trip to Russia and Sweden. From 1961 to 1964 Martin played for the Johnstown Jets of the Eastern league, including two years as coach.

He joined the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL as coach for one season. He spent three years as playing coach of the Guelph Regals and coached Guelph Junior B's in 1968 and 1969. He has played Polar Kings old-timers hockey since 1975.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What is a Dixie Flyer?

I used to roll my eyes at the name Nashville Dixie Flyers. Like "Solar Bears", "Sound Tigers", "Ice Bats" (or Ice Anything), or River Blades (or Anything Blades), Dixie Flyers always sounded like a forced pairing of two words that don't go together. I had assumed it was just a southernization of the name "Flyers". The fact that the Dixie Flyers were named in 1962, five years before the Philadelphia Flyers came into existence never quite dawned on me.

Even the Hockey News was confused on this point. If one looks back they'll find in some papers "-10" after the Nashville in the EHL standings, meaning that the Hockey News thought they were affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers. To my knowledge the two teams never had a working agreement.

As it turns out, the Dixie Flyer was a passenger train that originally went from Nashville to Jacksonville (very EHL) in 1890. It's route was later extended from Chicago to Miami. Its last run was in September of 1965, in the middle of the Nashville Dixie Flyers' existence.

As far as I know, Nashville never used a train as any part of their logo. They did have a Pegasus logo after winning the cup in 1967.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Butch Songin, Boston Patriots Quarterback Played in the first AFL Game and for the Eastern Hockey League Worcester Warriors

While looking for pictures of EHL players, I found this shot of Ed "Butch" Songin (hand raised to coach Lou Saban of the Boston Patriots) of the 1954-55 Worcester Warriors. It's from this article in the Boston Globe about Saban's passing.

Songin appears to be the only player to have played in the AFL/NFL and also the EHL. He played in the CFL, also - waiting until his season ended with the Hamilton Tiger Cats before signing with the EHL Warriors in 1954.

Songin is mentioned in this article by Evan Weiner about players who played both hockey and football for nhl.com Hockey Wasn't Berry's Only Game .

The Warriors were a team made up of American amateurs as a bit of an experiment to see how they would fare against the other Canadian-filled teams. The Warriors also enabled the EAHL to reform after a year off into the EHL, merely by icing a team. The Hudson Valley Bears of the EPHL performed a similar function this year, with similar results - the results being few wins, few fans and often getting shellacked.

The original EHL schedule had Worcester playing every Tuesday at home, though many of these were later cancelled. Road games, except for nearby New Haven were usually played on weekends so the players could make the games. Bill Ballou gives a good account in his March 29, 2007 Worcester Telegram article: Short-lived Warriors Had Fun.

Like a few of the purely amateur Warriors, who needed day jobs, Butch Songin appears to have only played home games and one at New Haven. Aside from the CFL, he also missed a game for a snowstorm, a game that the league cancelled due to rescheduling, and another game where he played for the the "Boston Collegians" on January 2, 1955.

Here's a recap of Songin's lone EHL season as quoted from Worceter Telegram articles. The dates are the date of the newspaper, not the games.

Worcester Telegram, December 7, 1954
Ed (Butch) Songin, the ex-Boston College football and hockey star, has informed the Worcester Warriors that he will definitely be on hand. Songin signed last week has been resting up after a starring season with the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League
The Warriors won their first game (1-6) beating league-leading Clinton 6-5, however Songin did not play and no reason was given in the paper.

Worcester Telegram, December 14, 1954

Ed (Butch) Songin, the ex-Boston College star, and more recently a performer in the Canadian grid league, will make his first appearance tonight and will team with (Rod) O'Connor on defense.
Worcester Telegram,December 15, 1954

Songin, making his debut with the Worcesters as a result of little skating or practice and help the starring (Dusty) Burke (from Athol, MA) and the improved O'Connor in the games to come.
Songin had two assists in his first game, a 6-5 home win over the New Haven Blades:

O'Grady (Duffy, Songin) 17:09 1st - Frank O'Grady's long shot from the left, after a pretty combination play in which Ed (Butch) Songin, the ex-B.C. star, and Duffy helped, made it 3-2 (New Haven) just before the period closed.

Duffy (Cahoon, Songin) 16:45 2d - Duffy locked it up again at 4-4 on a pass from Songin.
Worcester Telegram, December 21, 1954

Songin, the burly ex-B.C. footballer, who made his debut with the Warriors last Tuesday, will be back to the team with Burke at the points. Songin, busy playing football with Hamilton in the Canadian Football League, wasn't in his best shape last week. But he has been skating daily since and expects to be in full stride from here in.
There was a huge east coast snowstorm and the Washington Lions, along with the individual Warriors players barely made it to the arena by game time. Songin didn't make it to the game. The Warriors (3-6) won their third game 5-3 in front of 304 fans.

December 29, 1954
Songin played in a 7-5 home loss to the arch-rival New Haven Blades before a sellout crowd of 1014 at Worcester Arena. Songin didn't make the box score or any mention in the article.

The following night at New Haven, possibly Songin's only road game, was a 10-2 loss to the Blades. Songin picked up an assist for 3 points in 3 games.
Jordan (Sennott, Songin) 9:12 3rd

January 2 & 3, 1955
The Warriors lost 7-1 vs. the Washington Lions at Uline Arena, and 10-4 vs. the Baltimore Clippers at Carlins Iceland. Songin did not make the trip. In fact, there is an article next to the Baltimore game article which shows Butch Songin and Jimmy Duffy stayed home and each scored for something called the Boston Collegians - not to be confused with Boston College which both had played for in the late 40s - beating St. Francis Xavier from Nova Scotia at Boston Arena in front of 2648.

Worcester Telegram, January 5, 1955
Songin had two goals, but the New Haven Blades beat the Warriors 5-3 on 2 late 3rd period goals.

Songin (Ceglarski, Burke) 18:58 2d- The Warriors however after the game stopped for a few minutes because of a pair of fights between Dick Hamm and Don Perry and Rod O'Connor and Al Fontana, broke the ice as Songin drove the puck past goalie Jack Geutens (Also spelled Geuten and Geutin in the box score) at 18:50. Both clubs were playing with three men on the ice at the time.
Len Ceglarski, who assisted is better known today as the highly successful hockey coach at Clarkson and Boston College. This may have been his only point as a pro (well, amateur) , but that's another post.
Songin (Sennott) 12:32 3rd - Worcester, however, trailing 3-1 seconds after the third period opened, dispalyed its best hockey of the game and tied the game at 12:32 on Butch Songin's second goal.
January 16, 1955
Songin (nor partner Burke) did not play in New Haven, an 8-1 Blades rout.

January 19, 1955
Songin (nor partner Burke) did not play in exhibition game against the US National team, which included Worcester Warriors Johnny Titus, Walter Greeley and Frank O'Grady.

A road trip followed, which I can only assume Songin did not make.

February 7, 1955
Two Songins in the lineup, H & W, neither one Butch. From hockeydb.com we can derive that these were probably Walter (confirmed in a later article) and Harold, who I read somewhere were Butch's brothers. Harold got an assist and Walter got a high sticking minor.

February 13, 1955
A Songin, presumably Walter, was listed as a forward for the Warriors in a 14-2 loss at Clinton according to the Utica Observer.

February 23, 1955
Walter was a no show in spite being tabbed as on the top line in the previous day's paper. No Songins played as the New Haven Blades routed the Warriors 20-3 in the Warriors final game of the year and ever in the EHL. The Washingtoin Lions protested this game. An article in the February 26, 1955 Washington Post reads...

Thanks to a decision by league president Tom Lockhart, acting on a protest by Washington general manager Jack Riley, the Lions received a boost in their bid for second (place). Lockhart ruled that New Haven's 20-3 victory over Worcester Monday was an unofficial game as that game along with Worcester's final matches with Washington and Baltimore had previously been cancelled.
So the final EHL tally for Butch Songin appears to be:
4 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, no PIMs. 1 win 3 losses.

Still that's enough to be the only known player to have played in the EHL and the AFL/NFL, though not the only EHLer to have played professional football...

A Few 2008 EHL News Links...Clinton Comets, Syracuse Blazers, Greensboro Generals

Here's a few 2008 EHL news links that I'm removing from http://TheEHL.com front page, but wanted to save.

Thursday, October 2, 2008
Skaters Flock to Clinton By Marques Phillips Utica Observer-Dispatch
CLINTON - For more than a half a century, the ice at Clinton Arena has been a blank canvas for figure skating artists to use their pallet of spins, jumps and dance moves to sculpt a skating identity...more

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Greensboro Booster Club is having a meeting Wednesday night, Sept.17th at Shoney's on Regional Road, Eat: 6:00, Meet: 7:00PM. Head Coach Mark Richards and Assistant Coach Sean Cowan for the Cyclones will be there. Everyone is invited to attend.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 Syracuse.com
War Memorial Gets an Update Onondaga County is on the hook for repairs it promised the Crunch
By John Mariani, Staff writer.

July 22, 2008
Clinton Comets to appear at fundraiser Utica Observer-Dispatch
CLINTON — The Clinton Comets will be together again. Or at least a few of them will be next Wednesday at one of two gatherings to raise funds for the Reschetnikow Benefit Fund. “An Evening with the Clinton Comets” will be held from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 30 at VFW Post 9591 on Franklin Avenue, with coach Pat Kelly, captain Jack Kane and several other members of the very successful and wildly popular Eastern Hockey League team of the 1950s and 1960s scheduled to attend... more

Friday, May 1, 2009

36 Years Ago Today - The EHL Dissolves into the NAHL and SHL



On April 12, 1973 the Syracuse Blazers won the EHL championship. As Ray Adduono skated around the rink with the Walker Trophy, it broke into three pieces. This was symbolic of what was about to happen to the EHL, splitting into three pieces (the NAHL, the SHL and the others) on May 1, 1973 at the last ever league meeting. Here's the AP Wire version of the story...
NEW YORK (AP) - The Eastern Hockey League, at its annual meeting in New York Tuesday, announced the formal dissolution of the EHL and the creation of two seperate leagues, one based in the north and the other operating out of the south, to fill the void.
The northern league, titled the North American Hockey League, plans to begin play this fall with a minimum of six teams. Charter members include the Cape Cod Cubs, Mohawk Valley Comets, Johnstown, Pa. Jets and the Binghamton, N.Y. Dusters. At least two additional NAHL entries are expected to be named shortly, with franchises from Rhode Island and Lewiston, Me. having the inside track. A Long Island entry is also a possibility. Cape Cod, Mohawk Valley and Johnstown were members of the now disbanded EHL. The NAHL, which is scheduled to begin a 74-game regular season Oct. 12, chose Jack Newkirk of Cape Cod as temporary chairman and Ed Stanley of Mohawk Valley as treasurer.
Earlier Tuesday, the Southern Hockey League was formed, with franchises granted to Charlotte, N.C., Greensboro, N.C., Winston-Salem, N.C., Roanoke Valley, Va. and St. Petersburg, Fla.
Binghamton and Lewiston had previously applied for EHL membership, and both were expected to be in the league for 1973-74.

It's interesting that Ed Stanley, who was the Clinton Arena manager who got Clinton into the league in 1954 became treasurer of the new NAHL. In 1973, Clinton had just been sold to a group of locals in a "Save the Comets" kind of deal. The new ownership, splitting the team between Clinton and Utica, renamed the team the Mohawk Valley Comets. Stanley was not one of the owners.

Of the teams not mentioned...
Syracuse Blazers owner Bill Charles had been angling all season to get into the AHL. They ended up back in the NAHL.
The Jersey Devils are a blog in themselves of things going wrong for them at that time. They were hoping for a northern division in the SHL or a southern division in the NAHL, neither of which happened. They were given two weeks to make a decision which league to join. In spite of the Philadelphia Blazers moving to Vancouver within that timeframe, the Devils never made it to the next season.
The Long Island Ducks, also affected by a local WHA franchise, had tried to fold at the end of the 1973 regular season - and even told the Devils to take their spot in the playoffs, before the league intervened and made the Ducks play. On May 24, 1973, the Long Island Cougars, under different ownership and as a farm team of the WHA Chicago Cougars, were accepted into the NAHL.
Rhode Island never made it to the gate.

In the south, Baltimore, Alabama were listed as possibilities for other first year franchises, but neither developed. The Macon Whoopees were added as the sixth SHL franchise that summer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kent Douglas 73, Former Leafs and LI Ducks Defenseman

One of the unfortunate realities of a blog about a league that has been out of existence for 36 years, is that a lot of your current news is going to come from obituaries. Today we salute Kent Douglas who, according to hockeydb.com played one game for the Long Island Ducks in the EHL's final season 1972-73.

Born Feb.6, 1936, in Cobalt, Ont., Douglas won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year with the Leafs in 1962-63. He won the Stanley Cup with the Leafs that year and assisted on the Cup-winning goal.

Clinton Comets Revisited

Here's a remembrance of the Clinton Comets by Richard L. Williams, Town and Village Historian, for the Clinton Historical Society.

According to Wikipedia, the original Clinton Arena burned down September 11, 1953. The Comets played in both the Western Ontario League and a partial schedule in the EHL for the 1954-55 season. The Comets played a combined 74 games (35-35-4), which at that time was considered a very long season.
This makes me wonder if Clinton had been a new franchise for the 1953-54 EAHL season, and if their arena burning down had an affect on the EAHL not playing that year. After that year off, the EAHL reformed into the "modern" EHL for the 1954-55 season. Ed Later Note: No, Clinton was not in the EHL's plans until September 1954, when a meeting for a New York State league was held at the same time as a meeting for restarting the EHL.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jersey Larks' Gerry Devaney and Bob Bingley in Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame


Here' a nice little excuse to post about the Jersey Larks. Gerry Devaney bio page from the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame...
In 1960 with senior hockey on the skids in Canada Gerry was signed by the Jersey Larks of the Eastern U.S. Hockey League and backstopped the Larks through the 1960 and 1961 season.
Also in the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame, a 1971 inductee, is Devaney's teammate on the Larks, Bob Bingley (pictured left)
bio page from the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame...
He then joined the Washington Presidents in 1959-1960 in the Eastern Hockey League, and the Jersey Larks in 1960-61.
The Larks were only around for the 1960-61 season, playing in The Ice House in what was either Haddonfield or Delaware Township, NJ. The Ice House had attempted to host an EHL team as far back as 1956, but the league denied the application on grounds of being within the territorial rights of the Philadelphia Ramblers. For the 1960-61 season the Washington Presidents were moved to The Ice House and renamed the Jersey Larks. The Larks had an instant rivalry with the Philadelphia Ramblers. They even battled for the "Weber Trophy", which was donated by Delaware Township Mayor Christian Weber. I'm pretty sure that the Ramblers won that. They were up 3-1-1 after 5 games in the 8-game season series. The Larks lasted one season, but in spite of increasing attendance, ownership lost money. The franchise was forfeited when ownership failed to send its required 5% of the gate to the league. A group raised $50,000 to buy the Larks franchise and keep them in Jersey, but backed out when they found out that $25,000 of that would have to go towards paying down debt on the team. The franchise became the essence of the Knoxville Knights for the 1961-62 season. By 1964, Delaware Township had become Cherry Hill and the Ice House had become the Cherry Hill Arena. The Philadelphia Ramblers, after their best financial year in 1962-63, went bankrupt after the 1963-64 season. The team was moved to Cherry Hill Arena and became the Jersey Devils. A couple of years later, Philadelphia was awarded an NHL franchise, the Flyers, and any possibility of reviving the Weber Cup was gone. (Pictured Right: Alex Kuzma in his Jersey Larks jersey)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maurice "Moe" Savard Inducted into Charlotte Checkers Hall of Fame

From GoCheckers.com : CHECKERS SET TO INDUCT NEW CLASS OF CHARLOTTE HOCKEY GREATS TO HALL OF FAME
3-25-09 CHARLOTTE, N.C. –There is a rich tradition of hockey in Charlotte and the Checkers are set to make the past present by inducting some of the legends of Charlotte hockey into the Charlotte Hockey Hall of Fame presented by American Airlines on Friday night at Time Warner Cable Arena when the team battles the Mississippi Sea Wolves.

Maurice “Moe” Savard:
If you’re looking for a player that was a staple of Checkers hockey in the early days of the Eastern Hockey League, then you will come across the name of Maurice Savard. The man they simply called “Moe” spent all but one game of his professional career in a Charlotte sweater. Amassing an amazing 755 points over nine seasons (303 goals, 452 assists), Moe was a real fan favorite in the early days of Checkers hockey. In his 55 games during the 1964-65 season, he did not record a single penalty minute. Ex-Checkers coach Fred Creighton once said “If I had 15 hockey players like Moe…I’d be taking money under false pretenses – I wouldn’t have to coach.” Coach Creighton’s words are a testament to the greatness of Moe on and off the ice.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jack McIlhargey and the 1972-73 EHL Jersey Devils at Cherry Hill Arena from NHL.com

NHL.com article:
McIlhargey Went From the Low Minors to the NHL

Who knew that Jack McIlhargey, John Brophy and Curt Brackenbury shared an apartment?

For me the essence is this:
McIlhargey made the jump to the NHL, but he thinks people are too judgmental looking at the old EHL as a place filled with legendary tough guys like Brophy, Don Perry, Kevin Morrison, Blake Ball and others who became movie characters in Slap Shot.

"I went to the Richmond Robins, which was the American Hockey League and was the Flyers' (farm team)," he said. "It was a good league. It was a very good league, but the Eastern League was a good league, too. There were a lot of good players back then. The Eastern Hockey League fans were good. They expected a tough brand of hockey and you gave it to them."
which reminds me of this bit from the National Post article on John Brophy's ECHL HOF induction :

The EHL was a blood-and-guts loop with teams scattered across the U.S. eastern seaboard. Games featured stick fights and brawls and a brand of nightly mayhem that inspired the cult movie Slap Shot, starring Paul Newman.

Newman's character, Reggie Dunlop, the player-coach with the bare-knuckle roster, was said to have been inspired by Brophy. But Brophy never liked the movie. He can't even watch it. He says it depicts a goon league and forgets some of the players could actually play.

It seems that a lot of people remember or the younger ones only know of the EHL as a "the Slapshot league". While those elements were present, the fact that there was some very good brand of hockey often missed. Remember the late sixties and early seventies was also the era of the Big Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies, and some nasty stick fights at the NHL level. So it's not as if the EHL was special in this regard. The entire hockey scene was doing the fighting part of Slapshot. The EHL merely had the busrides and the struggle to stay afloat. It had more talent than Slapshot depicts - players who would make the NHL and WHA on skill.

WHen I remember the EHL, I remember how fast and exciting it was. When I saw my first NHL game live, I couldn't believe how slow and plodding it was in comparison to the EHL. And that was a 12-2 NHL game. Certainly part of that is that some of the EHL ice surfaces were smaller, and that even the worst seat at Cherry Hill Arena was much closer to the action than most of the seats I've had NHL games. But most of it was how hard these guys played. This with a roster maxing out at 15, often less, and traveling by bus with one mattress to sleep on where some seats had been torn out to the next game.

Yes, the EHL had talent. Remember, before NHL expansion in 1967, there were fewer combined teams in the NHL, AHL, CHL and WHL, than there are teams in the NHL now. Which means that the players at the EHL and IHL level then were at the same level as today's AHL. Hundreds of EHLers made the NHL. (At some point I will have them all recognized at http://TheEHL.com ). Even a team as obscure as the 60-61 Jersey Larks sent Ross Brooks and Noel Picard to the NHL.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Philadelphia Ramblers Owner George L Davis Jr Obit

From this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer:
George Davis, society sportsman
George L. Davis, 86, of Pompano Beach, Fla., a sportsman and businessman who served on two Olympic committees and was a guest at Grace Kelly's wedding, died March 5 at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"He was a gentleman of charm, wit, insight, and integrity," his daughter Margaret Packer said.

Mr. Davis grew up in Mount Airy and graduated from William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor's degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was president of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity; was a member of the Kite and Key, an honor society; and played on the baseball, basketball, and soccer teams. During World War II, he served in the Navy in the States.

Mr. Davis married Kelly's sister Margaret in 1944. The couple had met in Ocean City, N.J., where their families had homes. Mr. Davis was president of Davis Building Supply Co. and later did business with his father-in-law, John B. Kelly Sr., a brick-company owner and three-time Olympic gold medalist in rowing....

In the 1950s, Mr. Davis co-owned the Arena, a skating facility in West Philadelphia, and for several years, until 1960, he owned the Ramblers, a team in the former Eastern Hockey League. He served on committees for the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team and for U.S. Olympic Figure Skating in 1960.

He loved golf, travel, and boating, his daughter said, and served on the board of Chris-Craft, a boat manufacturer....

The September 24, 1959 Bridgeport Telegraph states that
George Davis Jr., head of the Philadelphia Ramblers, was elected vice president of the expanded league. (The New York Rovers and Greensboro Generals were added as new teams in the EHL.)
The EHL had the George L. Davis Jr. Trophy for goaltender with best Goals Against Average, but that appears to go back to at least 1935 in the EAHL, when this George L. Davis Jr. was only 19. I'm researching to see what I can find on the matter.