Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Iowa Stars (CHL, 1969-70)

1969-70 Regular Season--Opponent Unknown
     The Iowa Stars arrived from Memphis after the 1968-69 CHL season. They played their home games at McElroy Auditorium in Waterloo, Iowa. The franchise was still affiliated with the Minnesota North Stars. John Muckler remained with the team as the General Manager, but Parker MacDonald was now Head Coach.
     The Stars had their best season in 1969-70. Iowa went 35-26-11, second place in the league (the CHL had no divisions that year). Their 81 points were just one shy of league-leading Omaha.
     Iowa had the league's top offense that year, scoring 252 goals. They were led by Mike Chernoff, who scored 36 goals and 75 points. Two other players, Bill Orban (31 goals) and Grant Erickson (31) joined Chernoff in the 30-goal club that season. Three other players had at least 20 goals.
     On defense, Iowa was middle of the pack, allowing 232 goals, fourth-highest in the seven-team league. They used three goaltenders that season. The main netminder was Gilles Gilbert, who would go on to a long NHL career with Minnesota, Boston and Detroit. Holdover Fern Rivard and newcomer Ken Broderick served as his backups.
     Qualifying for the Adams Cup Playoffs, Iowa drew the Tulsa Oilers for Round One. Tulsa finished just one point behind Iowa in the regular season. In the best-of-seven series, the Stars downed the Oilers in six games. In the Finals, the Stars drew the Omaha Knights, and were quickly knocked off in five games, outscored 25-18 in the process.
     Program look familiar? That's right, it's pretty much the same as the one from Memphis. Only real difference is this program is green instead of the bright red of the South Stars program. It has the same amount of pages (46) and features pictures of Waterloo Junior Hockey. There are a few players on the Stars roster that went on to the big leagues, including Gilbert, Dick Redmond (Mickey's brother) and Marshall Johnston. Rick Dudley went on to coach in the NHL with Buffalo.

Aftermath: The Iowa Stars continued to struggle at the gate, drawing just 2,229 per game to McElroy Auditorium. The franchise folded following the 1969-70 season. Waterloo later became home to the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, which remain in town to this day. An AHL franchise called the Iowa Stars existed from 2005-08, but that franchise played in Des Moines.

Central Hockey League Statistics: 1969-70 (from hockeydb.com) 

Memphis South Stars (CHL, 1968-69)

1968-69 Regular Season--Opponent Unknown

     The Memphis South Stars were part of the old Central Hockey League, a nine-team circuit based mostly in the American Southwest. The Stars were affiliated with the Minnesota North Stars and played their home games at the Mid-South Coliseum. They replaced the Memphis Wings, who moved to Fort Worth after the 1966-67 season.
     John Muckler was behind the bench for both seasons the South Stars existed. In their inaugural season, the South Stars went 24-34-12, good enough for third place in the Northern Division and a first round exit in the playoffs. Memphis drew the second-fewest fans that season, as 2,315 per game went to Mid-South for hockey.
     1968-69 was even worse for Muckler and the South Stars. Memphis plunged to the CHL basement, going a woeful 14-41-17. Their meager 45 points were 21 points behind the next-worst team, Fort Worth.
     The South Stars struggled on both offense and defense. They scored only 208 goals, worst in the league. Doug Senior topped the Stars on offense, with 22 goals and 60 points. Four other players scored 20 or more goals.
     On defense, the Stars allowed a league-worst 304 goals. Memphis used three different goaltenders that season. Carl Wetzel (39 games) and Fern Rivard (29) were the two main netminders that year, with Gary Bauman making it into six games.
     Despite the poor record, the South Stars did have some talent. Former Detroit Red Wing Parker MacDonald played in 28 games, with 6 goals and 17 points. Defenseman Lou Nanne went on to a 10-year career with Minnesota, later joining the North Stars front office. And then there was Bill Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy would play over 10 years in the big leagues as well, most of which in Minnesota.
     Decent-sized program for it's time. This one has 46 pages, mostly black and white, but there are a few color ads. There's even an article about "How to Enjoy Hockey" and women's interest in the sport. This is the only time I've seen a South Stars program, and I grabbed it. Don't think I paid too much for it either.

Aftermath:  The South Stars' poor performance didn't help matters at the box office. Attendance dipped to around 1800 per game in an arena that sat just over 10,000 per game. After two seasons of poor attendance and rising debt, the franchise relocated to Waterloo, Iowa, for the 1969-70 season. Hockey would not return to Memphis and the Mid-South Coliseum until 1992, when the Memphis River Kings of the new CHL arrived in town. The Coliseum, placed on the list of US National Register of Historic Places, closed in 2006.

Central Hockey League Statistics: 1968-69 (from hockeydb.com)
Mid-South Coliseum (from wikipedia.org)   

Monday, January 6, 2014

Indianapolis Checkers (IHL, 1986-87)

The second Checkers program I found online. Definitely an eye-catching cover. Kinda reminds me of that arcade hockey game "Hit the Ice".

1986-87 Regular Season--Opponent Unknown
     Following the 1983-84 season, the Central Hockey League folded. The Checkers, along with Salt Lake, responded by joining the IHL for the 1984-85 season. The IHL was still a Midwestern-based league at the time, giving the Checkers several nearby opponents, including new rival Fort Wayne. The team was originally owned by Al Savill, former owner of the Grand Rapids Owls. After one season, Savill sold the franchise to Larry Woods.
     By now, the Checkers played their home games at Market Square Arena, which sat 15,900 and was also the home of the Indiana Pacers. The Islanders were no longer the parent club, having dropped the Checkers after the 1983-84 season. Instead, Indianapolis relied on New Jersey and Minnesota for prospects.
     Veteran minor-league coach Ron Ullyot was Head Coach/GM of the 1986-87 Checkers. Veteran forward Charlie Skojdt was now Ullyot's assistant coach, as well as Director of Sales.
     The Checkers had a mediocre season in 1986-87, going 37-38-7. Their 81 points were good enough for fourth place in the Western Division, 23 points behind league-leading Fort Wayne. They had the third-best offense in the IHL that season, piling up 360 goals. Indianapolis was led by Ron Handy, who scored 55 goals and 135 points on the year. George Servinis followed him with 41 goals and 95 points. Four other players had at least 20 goals on the season for Ullyot's squad. The defense was another story, as the Checkers allowed a league-worst 387 goals. They used five different goaltenders that year, including future NHLer Jon Casey, who made it into 31 games. 
     The Checkers qualified for the Turner Cup Playoffs that season and drew the top-seeded Fort Wayne Komets in Round One. Indianapolis battled the Komets in a close series, but fell in six games.
     Another nice Checkers program. What drew me to this one was the cover. Again, reminds me of that old arcade game, Hit the Ice. There's an article in here about owner Larry Woods' desire to bring NHL hockey to Indianapolis. It even details four important criteria that Indianapolis must reach in order to make it to the NHL. The last one was attendance, and it was said that the Checkers must average about 6,000 per game in order to draw interest from the NHL. Very interesting article, kind of a reach for Indianapolis, but that city would have fit in with the Norris Division at the time.

Aftermath:  Attendance continued to be a problem for the Checkers, and after the 1986-87 season, the franchise relocated to Denver, Colorado, and renamed Colorado Rangers for the 1987-88 season. Indianapolis was granted an expansion franchise, the Indianapolis Ice, for that season. In 1989-90, the Ice became the primary affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, and won their only Turner Cup. The franchise remained in the IHL through 1998-99, then joined the new CHL. The team folded after the 2003-2004 season. And no, Indianapolis never joined the NHL.

IHL Statistics: 1986-87 (from hockeydb.com)

Indianapolis Checkers (CHL, 1981-82)

The first Checkers program I saw on eBay. Bought it a few years ago.

1981-82 Regular Season--Checkers vs. Salt Lake
      Indianapolis joined the Central Hockey League for the 1979-80 season after several seasons in the World Hockey Association. The new team was called the Checkers and were the primary farm team of the New York Islanders. They played their home games at the 8,421-seat State Fair Coliseum.
     For the 1981-82 season, the Checkers were still affiliated with the Islanders, in the middle of their legendary dynasty. Indianapolis was coached by Fred Creighton, who was also General Manager. Creighton's squad had a solid season, going 42-33-5. That record was good enough for third place in the North Division, eight points behind league-leading Salt Lake.
     The Checkers scored the fourth-fewest goals that season, with 319 in the net. They were led by Don Laurence, who had 43 goals and 98 points. Two other players, Charlie Skojdt and Steve Stoyanovich, scored over 40 goals, and five others scored at least 20. 
     Indy was much better on defense, as their 259 goals allowed was the lowest number in the CHL. Creighton used three different goaltenders that year. Future NHLer Kelly Hrudey played the bulk of the games for the Checkers. Hrudey, in 51 games, went 27-19-4 with a 2.95 GAA and 1 shutout. Rober Holland played in 30 games, going 15-11-1 with a 3.41 GAA on the year. Lorne Molleken was called up from Toledo of the IHL for four games.
     The Checkers drew the Tulsa Oilers in Round One of the Adams Cup Playoffs. Indy destroyed the Oilers in three straight, outscoring them 16-3, to advance to Round Two. They faced the Wichita Wind and swept them aside in four straight to advance to the Finals. The Checkers faced the Dallas Black Hawks for the Adams Cups. In a close series, the Checkers downed the Hawks in six to win their first-ever Adams Cup. 
     Overall, 1981-82 was a pretty good season for the New York Islanders organization. The Isles' IHL team, the Toledo Goaldiggers, won the Turner Cup in five games over Saginaw. The Checkers won their first ever Adams Cup championship over Dallas. And, to top it off, the Islanders won their third-straight Stanley Cup, sweeping aside Vancouver in four.
     This program's 32 years old, but it's in excellent shape. It has 44 pages, mostly in black-and-white. Lots of pictures, ads and articles. There's also an article on the return of hockey to the Coliseum. Checkers netminder Kelly Hrudey would eventually make it to the Islanders and carve out a long career in the NHL, including stops in Los Angeles and San Jose. The Checkers also featured minor-league tough guy Frank Beaton. Beaton did score 13 goals and 41 points, but also piled up 270 penalty minutes, earning his nickname "Seldom".

Aftermath: The Checkers would repeat as Adams Cup Champs in 1982-83 and lost in the Finals in 1983-84. When the Central League collapsed after that season, the Checkers joined the IHL with Salt Lake for the 1984-85 season. 

Central Hockey League Statistics: 1981-82 (from hockeydb.com) 

Salt Lake Golden Eagles (IHL, 1984-85)

1984-85 Regular Season--Eagles vs. Kalamazoo Wings
     The Salt Lake Golden Eagles joined the IHL for the 1984-85 season. They played their home games at the 10,594-seat Salt Palace. The team was a farm club of Hartford, Calgary and the New York Rangers that season. 
     The IHL was the franchise's third pro league. They were originally part of the old Western Hockey League, then joined the Central Hockey League in 1974 when the WHL collapsed. They remained in the CHL until 1984, when that league folded as well. The Golden Eagles were, by far, the farthest-west team in the IHL, which had been a Great Lakes bus league for years. 
     For the 1984-85 season, the Golden Eagles were led by Head Coach Tom Webster. Webster's bunch finished their first IHL campaign with a 35-35-12 record. Their 82 points put them in third place in the Western Division, 13 points ahead of fourth place Indianapolis and 23 behind league-best Peoria.
     The Golden Eagles were fifth-best in the IHL on offense that season, scoring 332 goals. They were led by Scott MacLeod, who scored 51 goals and a league-leading 139 points. Two other players scored over 40 goals (Paul Lawless and Brent Sapergia) and three others had 20 or more goals.
     Defensively, Salt Lake nearly allowed as many goals as they scored. Their 323 goals surrendered were the fifth-highest in the IHL that season. The Golden Eagles went through eight different goalies, though Dave Parro and Dave Meszaros had the majority of ice time. 
     Salt Lake reached the Turner Cup Playoffs in their first IHL season. They faced Fort Wayne in Round One, and stretched the Komets to the limit before falling in seven games.
     Nice program for the Eagles. It has 46 pages, mostly black-and-white but quite a few color pics as well. That night's opponent, the Kalamazoo Wings, featured future Muskegon Lumberjack Dave Michayluk and future NHL goaltender Ron Hextall.

Aftermath: The Golden Eagles would capture back-to-back Turner Cup Championships in 1986-87 and 1987-88. They would remain in town through the 1993-94 season. Declining attendance would force owners to sell the franchise to Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson, who would move the team to Auburn Hills, Michigan, and rename them the Detroit Vipers. Salt Lake City would return to the IHL when the Denver Grizzlies arrived. The Grizzlies would play in the IHL, AHL and, as of now, the ECHL.

IHL Statistics: 1984-85 (from hockeydb.com)
Salt Lake Golden Eagles Records (from hockeydb.com)

Peoria Prancers (IHL, 1983-84)

The Peoria Prancers, what an..."interesting" name. With the logo they had, couldn't the team name have been something like, I don't know, Stags or Bucks or even Chargers (see, it's charging...)? I'm sure fans of the other IHL teams at the time had some fun with this nickname.

1983-84 Regular Season--Opponent Unknown
     The Peoria Prancers joined the IHL as an expansion franchise for the 1982-83 season. The Prancers were owned by Ken Wilson and played at the recently opened Carver Arena. In their first season, Peoria was dead last in the IHL. Their miserable 25-47-10 record was nine points behind the next two worst teams (Muskegon and Saginaw). The Prancers went through three different coaches in that forgettable first season.
     In Year Two, Peoria hired Pat Kelly as Head Coach. Wilson returned as General Manager. The Prancers had three NHL affiliates in 1983-84: Calgary, Chicago and the New York Rangers.
     The Prancers had another awful season, and only the horrific Muskegon Mohawks kept them out of the league cellar. Peoria finished the season with a 29-45-8 record. Their 66 points were 20 points ahead of Muskegon, but 17 behind Kalamazoo, who took the last playoff spot.
     Kelly's Prancers had the second-weakest offense in the IHL that season, scoring only 298 goals. They did have some weapons on offense, though. Ian MacInnis led the team in scoring, with 38 goals and 82 points. Mike Prestidge actually led the team in goals, with an even 40. Three other players had over 20 goals for Peoria that year. The defense struggled as well, allowing 392 goals, second-worst in the IHL. The Prancers went through seven goaltenders that season. Jeff Lastiwka made it into 39 games before being traded during the season to Milwaukee.
     Found this a few years ago on eBay. Pretty decent program for such a weak team. It has 64 pages, all black-and-white, and lots of ads, pictures and articles. I heard about this team and always got a good laugh about the nickname. Had to have this program when I first saw it online. Don't see too many Prancers programs (or anything, for that matter) for sale. 

Aftermath: The Prancers never showed a profit in their two-year existence, and came close to folding after the 1983-84 season. Instead, the Peoria Civic Center acquired the franchise in order to keep the arena's main tenant in town. A "Name the Team" contest was held during the off-season and fans chose the much tougher nickname "Peoria Rivermen". Even more importantly, the Rivermen became the primary affiliate of the NHL's St. Louis Blues. In 1984-85, the new Rivermen sailed to a 48-25-9 record, the best in the IHL. They then defeated the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the Turner Cup Finals to win the franchise's first-ever Turner Cup. The Rivermen would remain in the IHL through the 1995-96 season, then would relocate to San Antonio. Peoria would be part of the ECHL, AHL and, currently, the SPHL, and all of those teams have been called the Rivermen.

Will it Play in Peoria? The Pittsburgh Press, August 3, 1984. (from Google News Archive)
IHL Statistics: 1983-84 (from HockeyDB.com)