Monday, May 2, 2016

Rochester Americans (1974-75, AHL)

1974-75 Regular Season
Americans vs. Syracuse Eagles
     The Rochester Americans have been one of the longest-lasting minor league hockey teams in history. Starting in 1956, the Amerks have been a member of the American Hockey League every season since--only the Hershey Bears and Fort Wayne Komets have lasted in the same city longer.
     In 1974-75, the Amerks were the primary affiliate of the Boston Bruins. Rochester's previous coach was now the bench boss in Boston. You might have heard of him. Outrageous suits, 12-inch collars, controversial fan of "Rock 'em, Sock 'em" hockey? That's right, Don Cherry. Cherry was replaced by Dick Mattiussi, former defenseman. Mattiussi inherited a talented bunch, as the working agreement with Boston allowed the Americans to keep the best players from last year's team and the Bruins' former affiliate, the now-defunct Boston Braves.
     The 1974-75 Americans would finish 42-25-9, good enough for second place in the Northern Division. Had they played in the Southern Division, the Americans would have ran away with first place, but ended up just five points back of Providence in the North. Rochester fans flocked to the War Memorial that year, averaging 5,510 per game in the 7,010-seat arena.
     Rochester scored the most goals in the AHL in '74-75, with 317 goals (tied with Providence). Center Doug Gibson led the attack, notching 44 goals and 116 points in 75 games. Two other Amerks hit the 40-goal plateau: Barry Merrell and Dave Hynes. Ron Garawasiuk (36) and Gordie Clark (22) had at least 20.
     On defense, the Americans were almost as good, allowing just 243 goals, which was the second-fewest in the AHL (not counting Baltimore, a mid-season casualty). Dave Reece and Bob Snedden more or less shared the netminding duties that year. Reece went 19-16-7 with a 2.92 GAA and 1 shutout, while Snedden went 22-7-2 with a 3.14 GAA. Ken Broderick made it into 3 games (1-2-0, 5.00 GAA).
     Rochester qualified for the 1975 Calder Cup Playoffs. Their first opponent was Nova Scotia, who the Americans eventually put away in six games (two went to OT). In Round Two, the Amerks ran into an inspired Springfield Indians club. The Indians started the season as the Springfield Kings, then were purchased by original owner Eddie Shore, who renamed the team and watched them get hot at the right time. Springfield downed the Amerks in six games, then went on to defeat New Haven to win the Calder Cup.
     Pretty nice program, 55 pages that are mostly black and white, though some ads are in color. Articles include a rehash of the previous seasons and the revival on and off the ice for the Americans. Dick Mattiussi has his own bio page. There's also a memorial page to former Americans player "Red" Armstrong, who died in 1974. The most interesting article is called "Rink Ramblings", which has news from around the AHL and Boston. As of this program, the Amerks were "closing in on the 100,000 mark in attendance that season. Local ads include Uncle Angelo's, WROC 1280 AM, Rochester Griffins Lacrosse and Genesee Beer.
     That night's opponent was the Syracuse Eagles, who included former NHL goaltender Jacques Caron and legendary tough guy Bill Goldthrope (the inspiration for Ogie Oglethorpe in Slapshot).

Sources:
1974-75 Rochester Americans Program
American Hockey League Statistics: 1974-75 (from hockeydb.com)

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