Monday, January 6, 2014

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.

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

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