Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Flint Generals (IHL, 1969-70)

1969-70 Regular Season
Generals vs. Des Moines Oak Leafs
     Flint's long run in professional hockey began in 1969, when a group led by Frank Gallagher purchased an IHL expansion franchise for the Vehicle City. The team was called "Flint Generals" in a nod to the city's close ties to General Motors, which had several factories in town then. Gallagher, a former IHL commissioner as well as former General Manager of the Port Huron Flags, was named GM of the new Generals. He then named Ken Hodge as the team's first head coach. The Generals would play at the similarly new IMA Sports Arena, which held 4.031 with 1,000 standing room.
     The new Generals went through the usual growing pains in Year One. Flint finished the 1969-70 season in last place, with a 21-39-12 record. Their 54 points were six behind the Fort Wayne Komets and 46 behind league-best Muskegon. The Generals were actually strong on defense, allowing 270 goals, fourth-fewest in the IHL. This was thanks to a midseason trade with Muskegon that brought in goaltender Bob Perani. Perani solidified the Gens' netminding and quickly became a fan favorite, playing in 34 games that year.
Generals Roster (as of 3/4/1970)
     It was the offense, or lack thereof, that did the Gens in that season. Flint scored a league-worst 217 goals. Wally Kozak, fresh off a stint with the Canadian National Team, led Flint with 27 goals and 78 points. Ron Ringler, the team's first selection in the expansion draft (from the Port Huron Flags), scored the most goals on the team with 29. Two other Generals had at least 20 goals that year, Doug Abel and Wayne Ego. Randy Prior, the winger on this program's cover, scored 16 goals and 28 points between Port Huron and Flint.
     Thanks to their last-place finish, the 1969-70 Flint Generals did not qualify for the playoffs. This would be the only season in franchise history (including their four-year stint in Saginaw) that the Generals would not qualify for the postseason, a remarkable stretch of consistency. Off the ice, the Generals did quite well, as fans flocked to the IMA to see the new team play. Flint would have strong attendance in the IHL for years, until the recession and plant closings of the early 1980s.

Oak Leafs Roster (as of 3/4/1970)
   This is the first program from the inaugural season I have been able to buy, and it came from the United Kingdom, of all places! It's 24 pages, all black and white, expect for the pink roster sheet. That night's opponent was the Des Moines Oak Leafs. The Leafs were, by far, the western-most team in the Great Lakes-based IHL. The Leafs featured player-coach Bob Perrault, who had a couple stints in the NHL during the Original Six era. Strange to see a goaltender double as head coach. Defenseman Larry Klewchuk and left winger Steve Sutherland would later win Turner Cups with the Port Huron Flags. No idea who won this game.
     As with all programs, this one has it's fair
share of local advertisements. Several of them are General Motors related, which makes sense due to the strong presence the company had in Flint at the time. Car ads include the 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the 1970 GS455 Stage 1. Each IHL arena is given it's own page, and several of them also list the attendance numbers. The standard pages of official signals, rules of the game and "hockey facts" are there too. Other local advertisements include Valley Coach Lines, Weinstein Electric Co., Genesee Bank, Heap Big Beef and AC Spark Plugs. WTRX AM 1330 has a full-page ad as well, featuring the "Sports Hotline" with Dick Bing. Interesting that 1330 played music and had news broadcasts as well back then. That station still exists, but is a "Sports Talk" channel affiliated with CBS Sports.
 

References:
IHL Statistics: 1969-70 (from hockeydb.com)

1 comment:

  1. Hi there I would love to buy this program off you if at all possible! I recently obtained the game worn jersey of what Is to be believed is Randy Prior and I would love this program to accompany the jersey if you would be willing to let it go

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