Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kalamazoo Wings (1982-83, IHL)

1982-83 Regular Season--Wings vs. Saginaw Gears
     Before I give the recap for this season, take a look at the cover. See what the K-Wings foward is wearing? Those are called Cooperalls, a long-legged hockey pant that was around during the early 1980s. Two NHL teams, Hartford and Philadelphia, even wore these things at this time. Cooperalls were much lighter than traditional equipment, and allowed players more agility. However, they were also a safety risk, as they greatly reduced friction, sending players hurtling quicker across the ice. They were soon declared unsafe and discontinued. Note the continuation of the pants stripes along the sides of the K-Wings' jerseys.
     Anyway, on to that season. 1982-83 saw the IHL expand to eight teams with the arrival of the Peoria Prancers. They also brought back the two-division format after a one-year hiatus. Kalamazoo was now in the Western Division, along with Milwaukee, Muskegon and Peoria. They were still part of the Detroit Red Wings farm system.
     The 1982-83 K-Wings were again coached by JP LeBlanc, and finished second in the new West Division. However, their miserable 32-44-6 record was their worst in several seasons. Milwaukee ran away with the division crown that year, 22 points ahead of the K-Wings.
     Offense was a big letdown that season, as Kalamazoo scored the fewest goals in the league, 311. Bill MacNaught's 82 points (21 goals) led the team. Steve Banonis led the team in goals with 42. Four other players scored at least 20 goals.
     The K-Wings were middle-of-the-pack on the defensive side of the puck. The team allowed 341 goals that season, good enough for fourth in the IHL. Three different goaltenders defended the K-Wings net that year, led by Georges Gagnon, who played in 56 games. Michel Dufour played in 23 games before being dealt to Milwaukee. Larry Lozinski returned to play in 12 games.
     Despite their weak record, Kalamazoo again qualified for the Turner Cup Playoffs. They would face third-place Muskegon in Round One, and knocked off the Mohawks in four games (best of 5). They then ran into first place Milwaukee, who clipped the K-Wings in five games (best of 7), outscoring them 18-9 in the process. Milwaukee would fall to defending champion Toledo in six games in the Finals.
     Another nice program, 38 pages just like the previous two. Lots of black-and-white local ads, from Fetzer Broadcasting to Gilmore's ("A Kalamazoo Tradition since 1881"). That night's opponent was the Saginaw Gears, who were in their final season. No idea when the game was played, since there is no insert. And you can't forget the picture of the infamous Cooperalls!

Sources:
Rosenhek, Eric, The Death of the Cooperall. The Good Point, May 12, 2009.
Wikipedia Article: Cooperalls
International Hockey League Statistics: 1982-83 (from hockeydb.com)

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