Monday, September 5, 2016

Baltimore Clippers (AHL, 1971-72)

1971-72 Regular Season
Clippers vs. Hershey Bears
     Baltimore has had a long history in the American Hockey League. Prior to the Skipjacks and Bandits, Baltimore was home to the Clippers, who began play in 1962. Terry Reardon returned as Head Coach and General Manager. The Clippers played their home games at the Baltimore Civic Center, which held 11,329. For the 1971-72 season, the Clippers were the primary affiliate of the NHL's California Golden Seals.
     Reardon's Clippers successfully defended their Western Division crown in '71-72, but it wasn't easy. In a hotly contested division race, the Clippers finished with a 34-31-11 mark. Their 79 points tied with Hershey and was one point ahead of Cincinnati. The fourth place Cleveland Barons were just five back of Baltimore. Leading the way on offense for the Clippers was left winger Peter Laframboise, who what 37 goals and 81 points. Center Joe Szura had the most goals on the team, popping in 38. As a team, the Clippers scored 240 goals, third-fewest in the AHL.
     Team defense was much stronger that season. The Clippers allowed 249 goals, fourth-lowest in the AHL. Five different goaltenders were used in 1971-72, but Bob Whidden was the main netminder. Whidden played in 44 games with a 3.33 GAA and two shutouts. His career would go as high as the WHA, as Gerry Cheever's backup with the Cleveland Crusaders. As of this program, Whidden's backup in the Baltimore net was Jim Shaw, who was in goal for four games with a 4.25 GAA. Shaw played the majority of playoff games. A defenseman of note was veteran Kent Douglas. Douglas was the 1963 Calder Trophy winner as the NHL's top rookie while playing in Toronto and was part of the Leafs Stanley Cup win that year. Douglas bounced in and out of the NHL after that. In 1971-72, he scored 6 goals and 37 points.
     The Clippers opened the 1972 Calder Cup Playoffs against the fourth place Cleveland Barons. The series went to six games, but Baltimore advanced after a 4-1 win at Cleveland. Round Two's opponent was the Cincinnati Swords and, again, the series went to six before the Clippers advanced. In their first-ever Calder Cup Finals, Baltimore ran into the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, Montreal's top affiliate. Despite scoring only 8 goals, the Clippers were able to stretch the series to six games (even taking a 2-0 lead) before falling.
     I have two Clippers programs, and I believe this is the second one I got. While there is no date for the game, judging by the stats on the roster sheet, I'm guessing it's from the game on April 2, 1972. The program is 40 pages long, mostly black-and-white, but the roster sheet is in color. Pages 4-7 feature in-game pictures, one of which features future NHL executive Craig Patrick. A "History of Hockey" article is featured on page 13, while the ownership and front office of the Clippers are featured on pages 14 and 15. Each Clippers team picture through 1970-71 is included on pages 34-35.
     As usual, there are a ton of advertisements. The roster sheet is sponsored by National Bohemian Beer. This ad features the National beer bottle flanked by two cartoon characters: a pelican and a man with a banjo (if you know their names, let me know). Other advertisements include Watson's Garden Center, Frankford Garden Liquors, WFBR CBS Radio 13 and the Brass Rail.

References:
AHL Statistics: 1971-72 (from hockeydb.com)
1971-72 Baltimore Clippers Souvenir Program
     

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