Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fredericton Express (AHL, 1982-83)

1982-83 Regular Season--Express vs. Moncton Alpines
     The Fredericton Express were in their second year of existence in 1982-83. They were members of the American Hockey League and were primary affiliates of the Quebec Nordiques and Vancouver Canucks. They played their home games at 3,278-seat Aitken Centre.
     Jacques Demers was back behind the bench for the sophomore season of Express hockey. Fredericton enjoyed a huge turnaround in 1982-83, as Demers guided the Express to a brilliant 45-27-8 record. Their 98 points (53 more than last season) were 11 better than second-place Nova Scotia and three behind league-leading Rochester. An average of 3,012 fans attended Express games that season.
     The Express pumped in 348 goals that season, fourth-most in the AHL. Tony Currie led the attack, scoring 47 goals and 95 points. Tim Tookey was next with 24 goals and 67 points. Four other players had at least 20 goals that season.
     Team defense was stellar that year, as the Express allowed only 284 goals, a league-low. Demers had five goaltenders at his disposal. The two main netminders were Brian Ford and Clint Malarchuk. Ford played in 27 games, posting a 14-7-2 record with a 3.49 GAA and no shutouts. Malarchuk played 25 games with a similar record of 14-6-5, 3.11 GAA and 1 shutout. Frank Caprice, Ken Ellacott and Michel Dufour also saw time "between the pipes". Ellacott, who went 11-6-0 on the season, drew the nod for the playoffs.
     Frederiction opened the 1983 Calder Cup Playoffs against the Adirondack Red Wings. The Wings were 21 points behind the Express, but put up a fight in the series. It took Fredericton six games (two in overtime) to eliminate the Red Wings and advance. In Round Two, the Express ran into the Maine Mariners, who upset them in six games to advance to the Calder Cup Finals, where they lost to Rochester in four straight.
     This is kind of a small program, with only 40 pages. Like many programs, it's loaded with statistics and advertisements. Defenseman Terry Johnson was the full-page insert player that night. There are articles about Jacques Demers, the arenas of the AHL and the viability of the league. Local ads include CFNB 530 AM ("Voice of the Express"), Myers's White Rum, Karnes Kitchen Ltd. and Wood Ford of Fredericton (co-sponsors of the $10,000 Score-O game with CFNB). There's also a full-page color ad for Panasonic VHS players, which apparently could be held in one hand by then!

Aftermath: The Express would remain in Fredericton through the 1987-88 season, then relocated to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and be renamed "Halifax Citadels". The franchise still exists as the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins. Fredericton would be home to the Fredericton Canadiens for the next 11 seasons. That franchise still exists as the Bakersfield Condors.

American Hockey League Statistics: 1982-83 (from 

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone have ticket stubs from the Fredericton Express? I have a few from their Canadiens existence but none from when Express was their moniker.