Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Buffalo Bisons (AHL, 1969-70)

1969-70 Regular Season--Bisons vs. Baltimore Clippers
     Before the Sabres, Buffalo was home to the American Hockey League's Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons existed from 1940-70, and played their home games at Memorial Auditorium. The franchise was sponsored by Pepsi-Cola, and their logo was a Pepsi bottle cap with a stylized "Buffalo" script written across the center.
     Fred Shero, future "Broad Street Bullies" Flyers coach, was back behind the bench for the final season of Bisons hockey. Buffalo repeated as Western Division champions that year, going 40-17-15. The Bisons ran away with the division that season, as they were the lone Western team to finish above .500. Second place Hershey trailed Buffalo by 23 points, and Buffalo was just five behind league-best Montreal. Buffalo fans responded to the the Bisons' great season, as a league-best 6,745-per game average walked through "The Aud's" turnstiles.
     Buffalo scored the third-most goals that year, with 280 pucks crossing the goal line. Guy Trottier led the charge on offense, potting 55 goals and 88 points. Five other players scored at least 25 goals that season.
     The Bisons sported the best defense in the AHL in 1969-70, allowing a measly 193 goals. The team used two netminders that year: Gilles Villemure and Al Johnstone. Villemure, who would join the New York Rangers the following season, played in 65 games, with a 2.52 GAA and eight shutouts. Johnstone played in 13, with a 3.49 GAA and no shutouts. Villemure got the nod for the postseason.
     The Bisons gave their fans something to cheer about in their final season. Buffalo drew the Quebec Aces in Round One of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Quebec finished with a mediocre 27-39-6 record, barely making the playoffs. However, the Aces took a 2-1 series lead on the strength of two overtime wins. Buffalo recovered to rattle off three straight wins and eliminate the pesky Aces to advance to Round Two. In the round-robin format, the Bisons emerged with a 3-1 record and drew the Springfield Kings in the Calder Cup Finals. The Bisons then went out with a bang, crushing the Kings in four straight games to win the Calder Cup for the fifth, and final, time.
     This is a 50-page program, loaded with black-and-white (but a few color) advertisements and articles. First off, you can't beat the original price for the program: $0.50! There's a team photo of the 1969-70 Bisons as well as an article about Fred Shero. Ticket prices for that year were between $2-4.00. There's also an article about the format change for the playoffs, with a remark about how the Sabres will debut the following year. Local ads include Rich's Ice Cream, Marlette Plating, Bonanza Steak House, Dave & Len's Deli and Simon Pure Beer. Schmidt's Beer sponsors the roster pages. According to that page, the Bisons defeated Baltimore, 4-3.

Aftermath: The Bisons would fold following their Calder Cup championship and were replaced by the NHL's expansion Buffalo Sabres for the 1970-71 season.

American Hockey League Statistics: 1969-70 (from 

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