Sunday, September 14, 2014

Toledo Goaldiggers (1977-78, IHL)

1977-78 Regular Season--Opponent Unknown
     The Toledo Goaldiggers joined the IHL as an expansion franchise shortly after the Hornets skipped town. They wisely hired ex-Port Huron Wings coach Ted Garvin as head coach/GM, and made the playoffs in their first season. The Diggers then stormed to the Turner Cup Finals, completing the legendary "Miracle on Main Street" by defeating the Saginaw Gears in seven games to win the Cup in their inaugural season.
     The Toledo Goaldiggers existed from 1974-86, and are considered by many fans to be the glory years of pro hockey in Toledo. By 1977-78, the Diggers were firmly established as a dangerous team in the IHL. They were coming off a seven-game defeat in the Finals to Saginaw, and the Sports Arena was packed on a nightly basis. Ted Garvin's squad were affiliated with the New York Rangers and Cleveland Barons.
     Toledo finished in second place in the South Division, with a solid 34-28-18. Their 86 points were third highest in the IHL that year, 11 points behind division champion Fort Wayne. The Diggers had the third highest offensive output that year, pumping in 331 goals. They were led by IHL veteran Len Fontaine, who played for Garvin in Port Huron. Fontaine scored 34 goals and 88 points that season. Barry Scully led the team in goals that year with 42. Future "Miracle on Ice" member Mike Eruzione chipped in 30 goals and 86 points.
     On defense, the Diggers were in the middle of the pack, allowing 316 goals. The team used five goaltenders, including Tony Piroski, Lindsay Middlebrook and Ted Tucker. Piroski played the majority of the regular season games, but Middlebrook got the nod for the playoffs.
     The Diggers qualified for the postseason again in 1977-78, and faced lowly Milwaukee in round one. Toledo made quick work of the Admirals, shoving them aside in five games (best of seven) to face Fort Wayne in Round Two. The Diggers upset the Komets in five games, outscoring them 26-13 in the series, to advance to the Turner Cup Finals. The Diggers faced the Port Huron Flags, Garvin's old squad, in the finals, and it was a thriller. In a back and forth series, Toledo hung on to win 4-3 in Game Seven to win their second Turner Cup in four years.
     This program came with an insert featuring Goaldiggers forward Greg McPhee. The program is 54 pages thick, with all sorts of ads and article. Local advertisements include Vernors, Schlitz Beer and Crimping Tree Design Hair Cutting. There is no roster sheet, so no idea who the Goaldiggers played in that game. Nice drawing on the front.

Sources:
International Hockey League Statistics: 1977-78 (from hockeydb.com)

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