Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kalamazoo Wings (1979-80, IHL)

1979-80 Regular Season--Wings vs. Port Huron Flags
     The Kalamazoo Wings joined the International Hockey League as an expansion franchise in 1974-75. They were a farm team of the Detroit Red Wings and were owned by Ted Parfet. The Wings played their home games in new Wings Stadium, a 5,121-seat stadium.
     In 1978-79, the Wings captured their first-ever Turner Cup championship, besting the Grand Rapids Owls in seven games. New head coach Doug McKay would improve on that success in 1979-80. The Wings would win the regular season title that year, going 45-26-9, three points ahead of second place Saginaw and six ahead of Southern Division leader Fort Wayne.
     McKay's K-Wings led the league in both offense and defense. Kalamazoo potted 366 goals on the year. They were led by Tom Milani's 49 goals and 111 points. Tom Ross joined Milani in the 40-goal club, lighting the red light 43 times to go with 103 points. Seven other K-Wings scored over 20 goals on the season.
     Kalamazoo was equally strong on defense, as they allowed a miniscule 274 goals. The next closest team that year, Port Huron, allowed 300. Larry Lozinski and Georges Gagnon were in goal for Kalamazoo that year. Lozinski, who eventually played 30 games for Detroit in 1980-81, played 69 games for the K-Wings and all the playoff games. Gagnon filled in for 18 that season, and would go on to a long minor-league career, mostly in Kalamazoo.
     In the postseason, the K-Wings would "Go For It...Again", as this program says. As the top team in the league, Kalamazoo drew lowly Muskegon in Round One. The K-Wings made short work of the rival Mohawks, hammering them in 5 games (best of 7), outscoring them 29-11 in the process. Second Round opponent Port Huron was a more formidable opponent, as the Flags pushed the K-Wings to six games (three in OT) before falling.
     Kalamazoo would face Fort Wayne in the 1980 Turner Cup Finals. Fort Wayne took a 2-1 series lead on the defending champs before the K-Wings regrouped and swept the last three games to take the series. It was the second straight Turner Cup championship for the franchise.
     Almost all of the pages in this program are blue-and-white. This program has 38 pages with all sorts of local advertisements, from Century Buick to WBUK "Big Buk Country" 1560 AM. The opponent for that night's game was the Port Huron Flags, who would finish just seven points behind the K-Wings in the North Division race. The ad on that page, for Peschke Great American Hot Dogs (The Official Wings Hot Dog, no less!) is the lone color ad in the program. Nice program for it's time. Nice-looking cover graphic too.

International Hockey League Statistics: 1979-80 (from

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