Friday, December 20, 2013

Broome Dusters (1977-78, AHL)

The Broome Dusters, what a great name! Does the caveman look familiar? That's right, the team's logo was designed by Johnny Hart, the creater of the BC comic strip and a Binghamton resident.

1977-78 Regular Season--Dusters vs. Springfield Indians
      The Broome (as in Broome County, New York) Dusters began in 1973 in the old North American
Hockey League, a Double-A pro league in the northest. They played four years in the NAHL, then transferred to the AHL in 1977.
     According to this program, the franchise was a late addition to the AHL for 1977-78. Binghamton's population at the time was about 64,000, which was second-lowest in the league. The 4,855-seat Broome County Veteran's Memorial Coliseum was the smallest in the league. However, despite those stats, attendance for the Dusters was strong. That night's game against Springfield was the 135th straight game (playoff or regular season) with a crowd of over 4,000. The program also noted that "the team hasn't played before a home-ice crowd of less than 3,000 since 1973".
     Larry Kish was Head Coach of the 1977-78 Dusters and Paul Brown was General Manager. The team's colors were gold and brown, a combination rarely seen in pro sports anymore.

1977-78 Regular Season--Dusters vs. Hampton Gulls
     The 1977-78 Dusters finished in last place in the Northern Division. Their record of 27-46-8 put them 25 points behind third-place Springfield and 33 points behind division champion Maine.
     On offense, the Dusters scored 287 goals, third-worst in the league. Joe Hardy's 87 points led the team, while Richard Grenier was tops in goals with 46. Four other players, besides Hardy and Grenier, scored over 20 goals for the Dusters.
     Defense let Binghamton down that season. The Dusters allowed a league-worst 377 goals. Kish went through seven different goaltenders, including team executive Jacques Caron! The netminder who played in the majority of the games is Ken Holland. Holland appeared in 39 games, with a 12-19-3 record and 4.28 GAA. Name sound familiar? That's correct, that's the same Ken Holland that's currently the General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings.
     Despite the poor season, the Dusters did have a strong following. Binghamton drew the second-highest crowds in the AHL that year, as 4,636 per game made it to Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
     That night's opponent was the Hampton Gulls, coached by long-time minor leaguer John Brophy. The Gulls weren't long for this world, and folded in February of 1978.

1977-78 Regular Season--Dusters vs. Hershey Bears

     The programs from this season are pretty simple. They are 19 pages, printed on yellow or tan paper.
There are quite a few ads and a few articles. There is a black-and white poster of a Dusters player with each program.
     Take a look at those Dusters jerseys! You don't see striping like that anymore, especially with brown and yellow as team colors. Definitely straight out of the mid-1970s, especially with yellow as the team's home color! If you've ever seen Slapshot, the Dusters jerseys were the inspiration for the jersey that Hanrahan's jersey in that memorable scene.
     I have programs from a couple more seasons of the Dusters, 1978-79 and 1979-80. I'll post those next.

Being Little is an Advantage. Henderson, Dave. Broome Dusters vs. Springfield Indians program, 1977-78 season.
Broome Dusters Statistics: 1977-78 (from

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