Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Kalamazoo Wings (IHL, 1985-86)

1985-86 Regular Season--Wings vs. Flint Spirits
     The Kalamazoo Wings were in their eleventh season of existence in 1985-86. Owned by Ted and Martha Parfet, the K-Wings were members of the International Hockey League (IHL) and affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks. They played their home games at the 5,113-seat Wings Stadium.
     Bill Inglis returned as Head Coach and General Manager of the K-Wings that season. Prior to arriving in Kalamazoo, Inglis was head coach of the Toledo Goaldiggers from 1980-84, winning two Turner Cup titles in the process. In 1984-85, Kalamazoo finished with a 40-35-7 record (4th place in the Eastern Division). They knocked off the defending champion Flint Generals in 7 games in Round One, but were swept aside by the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
     The K-Wings improved on that season in 1986, jumping to second place in the Eastern Division with a stellar 47-29-6 record. Their 100 points were just five behind the first place Muskegon Lumberjacks, 12 behind Huber Trophy-winning Fort Wayne.
 
1985-86 Kalamazoo Wings
 Coach Inglis had a fine offensive team, as the K-Wings lit the lamp 341 times, fourth-highest in the IHL. They were led in points by Bill Terry. Terry, a former Michigan Tech standout, had 43 goals and 109 points in 78 games. Wayne Crawford was the lone 50-goal man on the roster, scoring 51 goals to go along with 102 points. Future Flint Generals coach Robbie Nichols had 38 goals, while Neil Hawryliw (midseason acuqisition from Muskegon) and Lawrie Nisker each had over 20. Former Saginaw Gear Brent Jarrett popped in 18.
     Defense was a little suspect that year, as the Wings allowed 310 goals, fourth-most in the league. Kalamazoo used four goaltenders that season. The main netminder was longtime K-Wing Georges Gagnon. Gagnon, who recently had his number retired by the ECHL Wings, played in 63 games in 1985-86, sporting a 3.40 GAA and 3 shutouts. Former Red Wing Corrado Micalef, Shawn MacKenzie and Dave Ross were the backups that season. Gagnon drew the starting job in the postseason.
K-Wings and Flint Spirits line-ups
     The K-Wings qualified for the Turner Cup Playoffs for the eleventh straight season. For the second consecutive season, they drew the Saginaw Generals in Round One. The Generals dispatched the Wings in six games to advance to the Eastern Division Finals, where they fell in five games to Muskegon. The Lumberjacks then swept aside Fort Wayne to win the Turner Cup.
     Nice 54-page program, and all the pages are in black-and-white and on glossy paper. That night's
opponent was the expansion Flint Spirits. Not sure of the score, but judging by how the season went for the Spirits (and the marks on the roster sheet), I'm guessing Kalamazoo won. The usual team records, stats from the previous season, and IHL team directory is included. The K-Wing on the cover of the program is Wayne Crawford, battling with a Fort Wayne Komet for the puck. Local advertisements include Standard's Music, D&G Vac, Cork 'N Cleaver, McDonald Dairy Company and The Chicken Dock. Page 18 has a Score-O stamp on the Harold Zeigler Lincoln-Mercury-BMW advertisement.

Aftermath: Bill Inglis coached the Wings through the 1986-87 season, then left the bench to concentrate solely on the GM position. The Kalamazoo Wings would remain in the IHL through the 1999-2000 season, but withdrew from the league due to the rising costs. The franchise would jump to the UHL and remain in that league until 2009, when they would join the ECHL, where they remain to this day.

References:
International Hockey League Regular Season Statistics: 1985-86 (from hockeydb.com)

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