Monday, December 30, 2013

Virginia Red Wings (AHL, 1972-73)

Norfolk, Virginia--a hockey hotbed to say the least, right? Well, they've had a few teams over the years, and are currently home to the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL. I found this Virginia Red Wings program on eBay a few years back.


1972-73 Regular Season--Wings vs. Rochester Americans
     The Virginia Red Wings were an AHL franchise that existed from 1971-75, originally called the Tidewater Wings for their inaugural season. They were the primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings for all three seasons and were owned by Bruce Norris. The team played it's home games at the Norfolk Scope, which seats just over 8000 for hockey. 
     In 1972-73, the Wings were led by former NHLer Doug Barkley, who doubled as Coach/GM. That season would be the team's finest in their five-year history. Virginia finished with an excellent 38-22-16, good enough for third place in the Western Division. The 92 points the Wings rang up was just three behind second-place Hershey, but 21 behind league champion Cincinnati. Attendance didn't reflect the success on the ice, as the Wings averaged 3,357 per game, fourth-lowest in the league.
     The Wings were sixth-best in the AHL in goal-scoring that season, lighting the red light 258 times. Art Stratton was the team's top scorer, with 30 goals and 80 points. Five other players scored 20 or more goals. 
     On defense, the Wings were even better, allowing only 221 goals, third-best in the league. They employed three goaltenders that season, led by Doug Grant's 51 games with a sparkling 2.54 GAA. George Hulme and John Voss were the other two netminders that year.
     The Wings met the Hershey Bears in Round One of the Calder Cup Playoffs that year. The series went the limit, but Virginia advanced with a 5-3 win in Game 7. They then faced the tall task of battling the red-hot Cincinnati Swords in Round Two. Virginia put up a fight, but fell in six games, outscored 21-13 in the process. 
     Kind of a small program. This one has 50 pages, almost all of which are black and white (there are a couple color ads). There's an article about former Wing Henry Boucha "Making it in Detroit". There's also an article about that night's opponent, the Rochester Americans, with a picture of then-Americans coach Don Cherry (you've heard of him, right?). The Wings roster that night featured former Port Huron Wings forward Len Fontaine, who would go on to play several more seasons in the minors, mostly in the IHL. 

Aftermath: Barkley would be replaced by Bob Lemieux the following season, which saw the Wings slump to a league worst 22-44-10 record. Barkley returned the following season and the Wings rebounded to a 31-31-13 record, tops in the South Division. They were easily knocked off by New Haven in five games (best-of-seven) in Round One. Despite drawing a franchise-best 3,532 per game that season, attendance was not high enough to keep the franchise afloat. The Virginia Red Wings ceased operations after the 1974-75 season.


Sources:
AHL Statistics: 1972-73 (from hockeydb.com)




1 comment:

  1. Can I buy this program or get a high quality scan of Henry Boucha article?

    Please contact me: johnaboucha@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete