|1993-94 Regular Season: Smoke vs. Utica Bulldogs|
The Smoke were back for Year 3 in 1993-94. Ken Gratton, who took over as coach during the previous season, was retained as Head Coach Don Robertons was the General Manager that season. The Smoke made a slight change to their logo, using a silhouette of a maple leaf behind the "Smoke Train".
The Smoke took a big step back in 1993-94, with a 28-26-10 record. Their 66 points were good enough for second place in the Eastern Division, though 28 points behind league-best Thunder Bay. Had the Smoke played in the Western Division, they would have finished in last place. Coming off the championship the previous season, attendance increased to about 2,005 per game in 1993-94.
Brantford's offense was middle-of-the-pack that season, as the Smoke potted 308 goals. The Smoke were led by local boy Paul Polillo, who scored 42 goals and 141 points. Polillo, a Western Michigan University graduate and Supplemental Draft selection of Pittsburgh, was one of the greatest players in Colonial/United/International League history, a pure sniper who annually was near the top of the league in points. Greg Walters (42) and Jamey Hicks (37) joined Polillo in the 30+ goal club. It's a dropoff after that, as Andy Bezeau (midseason acquisition from St. Thomas) was the next-highest scorer with 18.
Defense was a letdown for Brantford that year. The Smoke allowed a league-high 348 goals. The team went through 8 different goaltenders in 1993-94, with Pete Richards leading the way in net. Richards, a former Flint Spirit and original Smoke player, had a 17-17-7 record with a 5.04 GAA. Among the other 7 netminders was Darcy Austin, who was traded to Brantford from the Flint Generals.
The Smoke qualified for the postseason for the third straight year. They faced the Muskegon Fury in Round One and swept them aside in three straight. However, their luck ran out in the semi-finals, as they faced the Thunder Bay Senators. The Senators blew away the Smoke in four straight, outscoring them 27-11 in the process. Thunder Bay would then defeat the Chatham Wheels in five games to win their second Colonial Cup in three years.
Very nice program for the Smoke that season. It's 80 pages, all black-and-white, and loaded with
|April Fools: Doug Gilmour of the Brantford Smoke|
Colonial Hockey League Statistics: 1993-94 (from hockeydb.com)