Saturday, December 30, 2017

Flint Generals yearbook (IHL, 1973-74)

     I recently bought two yearbooks from the Flint Generals of the IHL. This one is from the 1973-74 season. It's a 40-page book, all in black-and-white, and on glossy paper. Each player for that season has a full page photo and a short bio. The statistics and a team photo for each Generals season are included. Stats for every player that wore the "blue and gold" are listed in the back of the yearbook. Flint Journal sportswriter Len Hoyes added an article previewing the remainder of the 1973-74 campaign. 
     One thing that Hoyes noted in his article was about attendance:
"With all of their problems, the Generals were still attracting fans at a rate of 3,950 per game. Attendance was down slightly, but Flint's percentage rate of almost 100 percent remained the envy of minor league hockey." (Hoyes, 1974)
     The original Generals were a popular team for most of their existence, and attendance only bottomed out when the region's economy tanked in the late 1970s-early 1980s. But 3,950 per game in a 4,021-seat arena is incredible! And apparently those numbers were lower than in previous years! The UHL Generals, at their peak popularity in the mid-1990s, averaged a little over 3,700 per game. IHL attendance figures are hard to find, so this was a very interesting stat.

     The Generals stumbled to a 30-43-3 record, just two points ahead of last-place Port Huron. They won their first-ever series, downing the Toledo Hornets in 3 games (best of three) before bowing out to the eventual champion Des Moines Capitols in 5 games (best of seven) in the semifinals.

Here are a few notable players from the 1973-74 Flint Generals season:

     Bob Perani was acquired from the Muskegon Mohawks in a midseason trade. He stabilized the Flint net and became the first star player in Generals history, playing in 34 games, posting four shutouts and a sparkling 2.86 GAA on a last place expansion team. Perani would finish his career with the Generals, retiring after the 1973-74 season. He would open Perani's Pizza Arena in 1972 and Perani's Hockey World in 1976, a hockey equipment business that would grow into several franchises in the United States and Canada. He would later become part owner of the IHL's Flint Spirits in 1985 and the UHL's Flint Generals in 2007. He was also one of two original Generals to have his number retired by the UHL franchise. The IMA Sports Arena, the home of the Generals, would eventually be renamed "Perani's Hockey World and Event Center" (later Perani Arena) in his honor. Bob Perani passed away at age 69 in 2012 while flying from Detroit to Tokyo.

     Doug Manchak joined the Generals for the 1972-73 and immediately made his presence felt, with 64 points in only 63 games. A consistent goal-scorer in his first three seasons in the IHL, Manchak hit career highs in 1974-75, leading the league in goal scoring with 61 goals. Injuries derailed his promising career, and he was traded to Toledo during the 1975-76 season. A popular player in his day, Manchak's #16 was retired by the UHL's Flint Generals in 1998, along with teammate Bob Perani's #1. Manchak sadly passed away in July of 1998.

     Wayne Zuk arrived in Flint after a midseason trade with the Toledo Blades. A consistent goal-scorer throughout his IHL career, Zuk's best season came in 1972-73, his first as the Generals' captain, as he scored 51 goals to go with 112 points. He followed that performance up with a 37-goal, 83-point campaign in 1973-74, a season that saw Zuk play in two games with the WHA's Edmonton Oilers, the highest level of hockey he played in his career. Zuk would be traded to the Saginaw Gears during the 1975-76 season. In 1976-77, the final season of his career, Wayne scored 24 goals and 63 points and helped lead the Gears to their first Turner Cup Championship.

     Frank Beaton had one of the greatest nicknames for an enforcer: Seldom. He arrived in Flint in 1973 as an undrafted left winger after two seasons in the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League. He played two seasons in the "blue and gold" and established himself as one of the tougher players in the IHL. In his rookie season of 1973-74, Beaton had 9 goals, 23 points and 190 penalty minutes in 66 games. He followed that up with a 4-goal, 21-point and 175-PIM year in 1974-75. Frank went on to have a long career in hockey, spent mostly in the minors with a few seasons in the WHA. He made it to the NHL for two games with the New York Rangers in 1978-79, followed by a 23-game stint in 1980-81. He retired after the 1982-83 season with the Birmingham South Stars of the Central Hockey League.


Hoyes, Len. Article about the 1973-74 Flint Generals Season (no title). Flint Generals 1973-74 Yearbook.

1973-74 Flint Generals Yearbook

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