Friday, September 18, 2015

Muskegon Fury (CoHL, 1995-96)

1995-96 Regular Season--Fury vs. Saginaw Wheels
     The Muskegon Fury were members of the Colonial/United Hockey League. They joined the league as an expansion franchise, replacing the recently departed Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL. The franchise was owned by Tony Lisman, who was also General Manager. Bill Stewart was the Head Coach The Fury played their home games at 5000-seat LC Walker Arena.
     The Fury had a fine season both on and off the ice in 1995-96. Muskegon captured the West Division crown with a solid 40-27-7 record. Their 87 points were three points ahead of second place Thunder Bay, but 20 behind Tarry Cup-winning Flint. LC Walker Arena saw an average of 3,383 fans per game file into the building that year, third highest in the league.
     The Fury iced a low-scoring team that year, lighting the lamp just 273 times, third-lowest in the league. Brett Seguin led the way on offense, with 106 points on the strength of 31 goals. Steve Walker had a team-best 43 goals. Two other players scored over 30 goals.
    
1995-96 Yearbook
Muskegon was much better on defense, tying the Flint Generals for the lowest amount of goals allowed with 248. They were led in goal by Rich Parent, who went 23-7-4 with an excellent 2.44 GAA and 2 shutouts in 36 games. Brian Greer made it into 27 games (8-10-2, 3.75 GAA) and Mike Parson got into 19 games (9-7-1, 3.64 GAA). Female goaltender Erin Whitten split time with Muskegon and Flint that season as well.
     The Fury would draw the Detroit Falcons in Round One of the Colonial Cup Playoffs that spring. The Falcons, in their final season, went a mediocre 33-32-9, 12 points behind Muskegon in the standings. But with star goalie Parent with the IHL's Detroit Vipers, the Falcons upset the Fury in five games. Flint would go on to win their first Colonial Cup in six games over the Thunder Bay Senators.
     The program and the yearbook are both from an estate sale. My parents picked these up for me a long time ago. The program is from a game against the Saginaw Wheels on March 2, 1996. The Fury won the game, 4-1.
     The program is in pretty good shape. There's a crease down the middle, but there are no torn pages. It's 44 pages, almost all in color on glossy paper. Most of it is advertisements, though there are a couple articles. There's one about "The Persepective of Being a Fury Fan" and "An Afternoon with the Muskegon Fury". There's also a "Fic-tionary", which is a list of favorite phrases by the team's colorful radio voice, Terry Ficorelli. Local advertisements include Jones Sporting Goods, Breakaway Bicycles, Meijer and Leppinks Food Center.
     The photo album is in excellent condition, 40 pages with no tears or creases. All the pictures inside are black-and-white and include bios of each player. There's also a league directory and game-by-game results for the 1994-95 season.

Aftermath: The Fury were always a dangerous team, and became a league powerhouse in the late 1990s. They won their first Colonial Cup in 1999, dethroning two-time champion Quad City in six games. They would win three more in six years. Lisman sold the Fury in 2008 to Stacey Patulskey, Jeff Patulskey and Tim Taylor, who changed the team's name to Muskegon Lumberjacks. The newly christened Lumberjacks were strong on the ice, even making the (now) Turner Cup Finals in 2009. Off the ice was a different story, as the sagging economy led to fewer and fewer paying customers. In 2010, it was announced that the Lumberjacks were folding and being replaced by a USHL franchise with the same name. The new Lumberjacks still exist to this day, though under new ownership.

References:
Colonial Hockey League Statistics: 1995-96 (from hockeydb.com)

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